Frequently Asked Questions
The UN Alliance of Civilizations
Third UNAOC Forum activities and events
The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC): about the initiative
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations seeks to reduce tensions across cultural divides, particularly when they threaten to inflame existing political conflicts or trigger new ones. Working with its global network of government partners, the Alliance promotes policies and initiatives aimed at improving relations between diverse cultural groups. It also works at grassroots level, promoting innovative projects in education, youth, media and migration in order to build trust, reconciliation and mutual respect among diverse communities.
- A unique project of the United Nations which aims to build trust and understanding across countries and communities, thereby countering the forces of polarization and extremism
- An action-driven initiative which implements and supports innovative projects on the ground
- A mobilizing force that achieves results in partnership with national governments, international organizations, religious and civil society groups, foundations, corporations, and the media
- A global matchmaker, connecting innovative grassroots leaders with policy-makers and foundations to help bring their ideas to life
- A powerful voice that strives to reduce tensions dividing communities and build upon common values and interests shared among diverse cultures and religions
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was established in 2005 as a UN initiative jointly supported by the President of the Government of Spain and the Prime Minister of Turkey. It emerged out of a conviction that, in order to achieve sustainable peace, long-standing divisions between cultures need to be addressed. This vision was articulated by the High-level Group of the Alliance, appointed by the UN Secretary-General to explore the roots of polarization in the world. In their report, members of the Group outlined a range of practical initiatives aimed at improving relations between diverse cultures. These recommendations – in the areas of youth, education, media and migration – provide the foundation upon which the Alliance developed its work.
To achieve its objectives, the Alliance developed a wide range of concrete and practical projects, such as:
- National Plans and Strategies for Intercultural Dialogue. These plans and strategies outline actions undertaken by Group of Friends countries to build trust and cooperation across cultural divides, feeding into Alliance initiatives and creating new policies to build inclusive and cohesive societies.
- Regional Strategies for Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation, providing impetus to regional projects on the ground and linking innovative intercultural initiatives across regions.
- The Rapid Response Media Mechanism, which connects journalists to a large network of experts capable of providing accurate and balanced comments on issues that threaten to widen intercultural divides (www.globalexpertfinder.org)
- The Alliance also created a Media Literacy Clearinghouse, an online network providing young minds with the tools they need to navigate the complex world of media and become critical media consumers (www.aocmedialiteracy.org)
- Projects that help educate the young so they do not grow up living with fear and hatred, such as the Clearinghouse on Education about Religions and Beliefs, which aims to prepare children for life in a multicultural environment by teaching them about religions and value systems other than their own (www.aocerb.org)
- The Alliance Youth Solidarity Fund, which provides support to a range of projects led by young people, empowering them to change perceptions and improve relations between diverse cultural groups
- Restore Trust, Rebuild Bridges, a cluster of projects in the field of intercultural dialogue and cooperation developed by a wide range of partners within a joint initiative launched by the Alliance and the Anna Lindh Foundation in the wake of the Gaza crisis.
- The Fellowship Program, which will allow young professionals from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the US to get acquainted with each other’s culture and get an insider’s view on the values, ideals and challenges that shape each other’s societies
- Dialogue Café, which uses cutting edge third generation video conferencing technology to create a global platform of conversations and many-to-many interaction, namely between young people in different parts of the world, and
- Plural +, a youth video festival giving young people the opportunity to share their views and opinions about migration, diversity and inclusive societies
In addition, the Alliance supports a number of related projects and initiatives, including:
Silatech, an initiative of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar and his wife HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, is an innovative social enterprise, created to meet the urgent need to generate new jobs and opportunities for young people starting first in the Arab world, where the challenge is at its most severe (www.silatech.com).
The Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund, which merged with Soliya in October 2009, is a pioneering non-profit organization using new technologies to facilitate dialogue between students from diverse backgrounds across the globe (www.soliya.net).
Third UNAOC Forum in Rio: objectives, activities and events
The Rio Forum will bring together a powerful network. More than 3,000 political and corporate leaders, mayors, civil society activists, youth, journalists, foundations, international organizations, and religious leaders will come together in Rio and agree on joint actions to improve relations across cultures, combat prejudice and build the conditions for long-term peace. President Lula da Silva of Brazil, Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain, Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Sampaio, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations will be among the high-level participants. The diverse city of Rio, built on years of cultural exchanges and cross-fertilization, will provide the perfect backdrop for efforts to address the complex challenges diverse societies face today.
The Rio Forum is:
A Forum for innovation. The event will showcase some of the most cutting-edge initiatives using imagination and creativity to build cooperation among cultures. The Illustration of Innovative Projects Sessions will feature ambitious and promising grassroots projects that have the potential to be scaled up and replicated in other diverse communities around the world. As a global meeting place, the Forum will create new opportunities for some of the world’s most dynamic civil society entrepreneurs, raising their profile with decision-makers and opinion leaders.
A Forum for partnerships. Rio will create a global interface connecting youth activists with business leaders; heads of foundations with grassroots bodies; human rights advocates with policy-makers; political leaders with civil society; heads of religious communities with academics, journalists and editors. Together, they will share ideas, develop new thinking, and agree on collaborative ventures to build mutual trust across cultural divides.
A Forum for ideas. Participants will have the opportunity to tackle such issues as: the challenge of promoting integration in multicultural societies, the influence of globalization on people’s sense of belonging and identity, the empowerment of women through education, the role of religious leaders in promoting peace and development and the impact of media on perceptions of other cultures.
A Forum for action. Through a diversity of working sessions, roundtables, workshops and debates, first-rate thinkers, business leaders, youth activists and policy makers will put their minds together to create new initiatives aimed at addressing intolerance and misunderstanding across cultures. They will agree on joint actions, make pledges and launch new projects. National Plans and Regional Strategies will be showcased, providing impetus to projects on the ground, linking innovative initiatives across regions and shaping new policies to involve all communities in pursuit of the common good.
More than ever, our world is shaped by intense interaction among diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities. This growing diversity is a source of enrichment and opportunity. But it can also lead to tensions, misunderstanding and hostility. That is why building peaceful relations among diverse cultures is one of the most important tasks modern societies are faced with.
- How can we create inclusive societies, founded on the respect for human rights and diversity?
- What kind of actions do we need to combat intolerance and prejudice?
- What tools do children and young people need to navigate an increasingly complex and multicultural world?
- What is the impact of globalization on people’s sense of belonging and identity?
- How do economic inequalities impact on relations among diverse communities?
These questions, which are at the heart of the work of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, are relevant to each and every one of us. That is why the Rio Forum will be an inclusive platform, bringing together the knowledge, experience and energy of a wide range of partners, all committed to rethink the way in which we deal with tensions across cultures and to agree on concrete, practical initiatives to promote trust and understanding.