The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) was established in 2005 as a special political initiative of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, co-sponsored by the Governments of Spain and Turkey. A High-Level Group of experts was formed by the Secretary-General to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures, and recommend a practical program of action to address the issue. The Report of the High-Level Group provided analysis and put forward practical recommendations, which forms the core of the UNAOC implementation plan. In 2013, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser became UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, operating with the UNAOC Secretariat from New York City.
UNAOC has developed strong relationships with a wide range of partners including Member States, global and regional organizations, civil society groups, private foundations, media, and grassroots initiatives, all with the objective to improve cross-cultural understanding between peoples and societies. The High-Level Group identified four priority areas in its 2006 report: Education, Youth, Migration, and Media. UNAOC projects and activities revolve around these areas, guided by the assumption that they can play a critical role in reducing intercultural tensions and in building bridges between nations.
In accordance with the principles of the UN Charter, the recommendations of the High-Level Group, and priorities of the UN Secretary-General, UNAOC works toward a more peaceful and more inclusive world. It seeks to encourage mutual respect between peoples of multiple cultures, faiths and origins, in order to reject extremism and embrace diversity. UNAOC also aims at issuing recommendations to solve identity-based crisis and to promote cultural awareness in policy-making processes. The High-level group described UNAOC as an entity whose mission is to fight xenophobia and promote harmony between nations. It has been described by the UN Secretary-General as a soft power tool for bridging divides and promoting understanding between countries or identity groups, while preventing conflict and promoting social cohesion.
On March 1st 2013, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser assumed the leadership of UNAOC as High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Prior to his current position, Mr. Al-Nasser was the President of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The UNAOC Fellowship Program was launched in 2010 with the aim to build bridges between cultures and societies through dialogue and cooperation, and to reinforce the global commitment to live together in mutual tolerance and respect.
The Program was created to recognize the need for better understanding between peoples and societies from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America. Its ambition is to allow young professionals and emerging leaders from these societies to familiarize themselves with the cultural diversity and the daily reality of other countries, through a powerful empirical approach of intercultural dialogue and collaboration. The Fellowship is being funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany since 2012.