Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged members of the Alliance of Civilizations to combat extremism and promote tolerance at a time when universal values are being tested in many parts of the world, particularly in countries undergoing political transitions.
“Again and again, we are reminded that our differences are nothing compared to our shared humanity,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the opening session of the fourth United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Doha, Qatar.
More than 2,000 participants, including political and corporate leaders, civil
society activists and faith communities have gathered there to take part in the
UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum (UNAOC) to discuss how to improve relations
across cultures, combat prejudice and build lasting peace.
“Speaking out against extremism, advancing tolerance, standing for justice,
dignity and mutual understa
nding. These values are at the core of the Alliance of Civilizations,” Mr. Ban
said, noting that these principles were more important than ever during times of
“Everywhere, these values are being tested. We see in the daily news headlines:
in Syria, North Africa, across the Middle East, and beyond.”
Mr. Ban stressed the Alliance”s responsibility to prevent conflict and violence
by promoting dialogue and laying the groundwork for mutual understanding.
“The Alliance has a special role in speaking out when terrorists attack and kill
innocent people, when politicians stir hatred and exploit stereotypes to win
votes, when moderate voices struggle to be heard amid the politics of
polarization,” he said.
The Secretary-General underscored the need to help nations in transition in the
Middle East and North Africa who have been part of the so-called Arab Spring
“In some countries these transitions have been peaceful. Others have seen bloody
crackdowns. But in all, re
conciliation is essential for transformations to succeed,” he said. “There is
considerable scope for the Alliance to help these nations to shape their
Mr. Ban told members of the Alliance that empowering women and youth, along with
achieving sustainable development, should also be key areas of focus to ensure a
“I want the coming years to see an emphasis on the problems of women and
children, in particular — in health, in education, in creating jobs and new
opportunities on a scale never seen before,” he said.
He also warned against potential new divides that impact development, and called
on the Alliance to do its utmost to engage with students, families, activists
and their religious communities.
“Have a dialogue — far and wide. But also ensure that it leads to action —
real and concrete to make this world better for all people.”