HH Sheikha Moza calls to make Alliance of Civilizations Initiative a success

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HH Sheikha Moza calls to make Alliance of Civilizations Initiative a success

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, May 28, 2010

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, member of the High level Group of the UN Alliance of Civilisations and Unesco special envoy for basic and higher education, has called for gathering efforts in order to ensure that the third Alliance of Civilisations Forum “constitutes a turning point in the path of the Alliance of Civilisations.”

Addressing the opening session of the third Universal Forum For the Alliance of Civilizations, which opened in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, Her Highness said, “Five years after the Mallorca meeting, there is no doubt that we have gained a wealth of experience which have required us to examine the issues and to look forward rather than backwards”.

She said the contribution of this alliance is put to valuable use in achieving the millennium objectives within the timeline of 2015 which we have set.

“Over the past five years, our discussions were fruitful and beneficial, which allowed us to bring our visions closer; we tried as much as possible to build a common ground and to open constructive channels of dialogue pertaining to the issues which caused most concern,” Her Highness said.

She added: “I personally believe that this previous phase of dialogue was extremely necessary because it helped us to enhance our conviction that the objective of the Alliance of Civilizations was not and will never be to bridge the gap between the West and Islam nor to dispel the causes of tension between them. This phase as well, with all the fruitful dialogues it has known directed the course of our minds towards the real objective consisting of addressing global issues threatening the civilizations’ unity armed with the desire to develop a real understanding of our contemporary world which enhanced our conviction in the need to refuse preconceived judgments and ideas.”

In her address, Her Highness called for the adoption of a pragmatic approach which allows transforming of ideas into realistic, executable and viable programmes, saying, “reflection and action are necessary for change and progress” referring in this respect to Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s thought.

Highlighting the importance of cultural diversity, as a path towards peace, Her Highness said efforts undertaken by the international community after World War II were based on empowering all human communities by enabling them to enjoy the right to practice their sovereignty in its most significant meaning.

“Raising the subject of cultural diversity again under the umbrella of the Alliance of Civilizations stresses that there still exists uncertainties relating to the right for difference and for diversity,” she said. “Therefore, I believe in the need to work on promoting and strengthening the role of major regional groups to enable them to play an active role in ensuring peace and security.

“First, I firmly believe that the Arab community with its human, natural and strategic potential can, along with other major groups from Asia and Latin America and others form a driving force to enhance the values of the Alliance of Civilizations. Such a step falls within the principles of the Alliance.

As Freire once believed: Attempting to liberate the oppressed without their reflective participation in the act of liberation is to treat them as objects that must be saved from a burning building.

Second, you will agree with me that in order for the culture of peace to be more than just a symbol and perhaps an illusion, we must build trust and repel the doubts by eradicating the causes of tension and injustice."

Her Highness announced her rejection of the suffering of Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.

“As a citizen who takes pride in her Arab identity, rich civilization and cultural heritage, I, like hundreds of millions of my people, cannot accept the suffering of our brothers under siege in Gaza and the West Bank, whose values and cultural heritage in Jerusalem are threatened,” she said.

Shedding light on Palestinian issues such as Jerusalem, the separation barrier and deprivation from legitimate rights to education Her Highness posed the following questions: Are we really aware, as an international community of what Jerusalem represents not only to Arabs and to Muslims, but to the followers of all monotheistic religions and to humanity in its entirety?

Do we realise the symbolism represented by the discriminatory separation barriers which contradict the values of righteousness, justice and equality we are gathered today to uphold?

Do we truly comprehend the significance of the systematic cultural blackout targeting a people’s youth by depriving them of their legitimate right to education through the prohibition of construction materials and the essential learning tools. What can we expect from these youth?

Additionally, Her Highness yesterday visited the Pavilion of the State of Qatar at the exhibition of the Third Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations currently being held in Rio de Janeiro. 

Her Highness toured the Pavilion and examined photographs, prints and publications on display that reflect the overall efforts of the State of Qatar on the Alliance of Civilisations issue.

Her Highness was also briefed by members of the Alliance of Civilizations’ Qatari Committee on its goals, the valuable information displayed about the State of Qatar and Doha’s hosting of the Forum’s fourth session, due to be held next year.

Her Highness said: “We as Arabs take pride in the role led by the first Arab intellectuals who chose the North and South of the American continent to be their second home. She referred in this respect to Gibran, Ilya and Naimy and their contributions in the development of the Arab mind.

“These innovators and who followed their steps to this date, have contributed in forging close relationships with their new societies while at the same time never denying where they came from.

“They were rightly considered to be permanent ambassadors for two cultures and civilizations, transcending capably geo-political barriers, and have become a living symbol for a practical and realistic alliance which we all seek today."

On the major issues facing humanity and which it needs to confront with will and determination, Her Highness said they pertain to combating illiteracy, enhancing the right to quality education and cultural diversity, ensuring equal benefit from technological progress and scientific research, combating diseases and containing the environmental challenges threatening food security and environmental security.

“The fact is that we are facing a crisis in a globalization based on profit, not people. In fact, many societies, especially those in developing countries, are often viewed as subjects of laboratory experiments, rather than equal human beings with the right to environmental security.

"For example, the use of white phosphorus, cluster bombs and depleted uranium have caused irreversible damage to the Arab region in particular.

“Since the two Gulf wars scientists have been studying the long term effects of the use of depleted uranium on the environment and human population.

"And the region has witnessed a rise in the number of chronic and untreatable diseases since the first gulf war which has been connected to adverse effects on the environment in addition to birth defects," said Her Highness.