Posted on May 04, 2011

The State of Qatar is fully committed to the consolidating of the objectives of the Fourth Forum of United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and its success, HE Minister of State for International Cooperation Dr. Khaled bin Mohammad Al Attiyah said in a message read out at the opening ceremony of the two-day Doha Pre-Forum 2011 here Tuesday.

Representatives of 108 Civil Societies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS) from all over the world are discussing, under the theme 'Connecting the UNAOC's Mission and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): an Agenda for Collaborative Action, the frame for the UNAOC's fourth forum to be held here in December 2011. "This Doha Pre-Forum will examine the best approaches to support the efforts to consolidate partnerships between all parties actively committed to the objectives of the UNAOC including civil society institutions that have now an influential voice in boosting the international community's efforts to achieve development and peace," said HE Dr Khaled.

"The Forum is ideal to make use of the efforts of civil society organisations to promote the values of the Alliance of Civilizations and the culture of dialogue between different ethnicities. "The State of Qatar is fully committed to the success of the Fourth Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations. It is now looking to exploit the relevant potential to establish co-operation with appropriate Alliance of Civilizations bodies, mainly the Secretariat of the United Nations in achieving the objectives, consolidating their advancements and producing a new breakthrough to attain and strengthen the splendid goals of the Alliance." He hoped the integration and inter dependency between the objectives of the Alliance and the MDGs will be attained.

HE Dr Khaled further said that although Qatar is a small country in terms of area and its population, it has a number of characteristics that could evolve it into a focal point, with its willingness to play a major role in the promotion of brotherhood among peoples and the consolidation of constructive dialogue among civilizations.

In his message delivered on behalf of Dr. Al Attiyah at the opening of the Doha Pre-Forum 2011 here Tuesday, by Vice-Chairman of the Qatar Committee for the Alliance of Civilizations Dr Hassan Ibrahim Al Mohannadi, said HE Minister of State for International Cooperation Dr Khaled, who is also Chairman of the Qatar Committee for the Alliance of Civilizations reiterated that "Qatar is a country where multi-lingual communities representing several cultures, meet, live freely, interact in a harmonious and respectful environment and evolve."

This excellent co-existence has enhanced mutual understanding between these mosaics of people; encouraged by Qatar's initiatives in mediating and resolving disputes and conflicts at regional and international levels. This has also spurred Qatar to look forward to effectively contributing to global humanitarian efforts and help achieve the outstanding goals of the international community, including the Alliance of Civilizations.

"We in Qatar have implemented several initiatives to promote understanding between peoples, cultures, religions and endorsing the culture of having dialogue as well as the establishment of institutions and bodies concerned with achieving the goals of the Alliance of Civilizations through its different programmes in education, youth, media and migration. Civil Society institutions enjoy a growing importance in our world today. In fact, they precisely reflect the aspirations of different social groups in every country and play, along with governments, private sector and business organisations, an increased role in achieving various aspects of sustainable development."

"We seek to play a bigger role in spreading the importance of dialogue among civilizations and promoting positive coexistence between communities of different cultures and civilizations. "In the light of this, the invitation of civil society organisations to collaborate on the activities of the Fourth Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations is of utmost importance since their roles in establishing projects that aim to achieve the objectives of the Alliance in various fields are crucial. We are confident that the discussions and ideas expected from the meetings of this Pre-Forum will shape an appropriate vision to develop the concept paper. We trust the design of the resulting work programme will contribute to the success of the Fourth Forum of the Alliance. ''We also trust this Forum will be the turning point in the process of the Alliance of Civilizations to promote the values of dialogue and the respect of other cultures, reduce conflict and eliminate tension by intensifying our efforts to achieve the development of human society globally."

In conclusion HE Dr Khaled wished the Doha Pre-Forum every success.

Empowered Youth Has 'a Role in Building Sustainable Society':

Empowered and inter-connected youth has a fundamental role to play as a catalyst of change towards the goal of building economically, socially and environmentally sustainable society, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Dr Jorge Sampaio said here Tuesday. "Well-prepared youth, with job skills, inter-connected social networks, associative movements all this is fundamentally vital to build a sustainable society not only with economic, social and environmental emphasis, but also with those driving forces who are doing everything they can to understand diversity and build goals for peace which are absolutely vital," said Dr Sampaio.

The UNAOC official spoke to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the sidelines of the two-day Doha Pre-Forum 2011 meeting of Non-Governmental Groups (NGOs) which will set the frame for the fourth UNAOC Global Forum here in December. Around 108 delegates from global NGOs, representing education, media, peace, culture, religion, the arts, sciences, vocation, human rights, youth and women's empowerment are attending the Doha Pre-Forum meeting under the theme, 'Connecting the UNAOC's mission and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG): an Agenda for Collaborative Action', at the Oryx Rotana Hotel in Doha.

The delegates are discussing the link between culture, development and peace. They will also explore further the connection between poverty-reduction and cultural patterns, history and social interaction between communities. Elaborating on the Forum's goals, Dr Sampaio said, "The Alliance was created as a fundamental step in creating a network of movements which will combat all the phobias and dividing lines that exist between cultures. It endeavours to transform the cultural diversity, difference in belief as something fundamental as not a liability, but an asset. This legacy is for generations to come."

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with the co-sponsorship of the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey, Jose Rodriguez and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had launched the UNAOC in 2005. Dr. Sampaio hailed HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser's initiative and contribution to this forum. "HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has played a prominent role since the beginning of this initiative. She was a member of the High Level Report which was recommended by Mr Annan at that time to draft the report on which the Alliance is based."

The Alliance is dealing with four key areas, mentioned in the report - education, media, youth and migration - and seeks to find a combination of top-bottom approach; coming from governments, international orgs and bottom-up since all such conferences have important local reference, said Dr Sampaio. To ensure the sustainability of the four key pillars, HH Sheikha Moza has reiterated on several occasions the need to explore further the synergy between the UNAOC objectives and the MDG goals.

"Everything that happens locally has an immediate worldwide repercussion," said Dr Sampaio. "We need to have partners NGOs, Foundations, Corporations in civil societies at large. All these groups are contributors to a network of work. We hope that we enlarge our knowledge here during this meeting ahead of the conference in December and hear voices of civil societies, have commitments and contributions which will help develop our work, the UN High Representative said. "We might as well start working as things are better in some areas and worse in others. This is something that has to be entrenched in people's minds. This is why education is fundamental to understand that there are different faiths and cultures, different identities which have to be accommodated with human dignity," said Dr Sampaio.

The UNAOC aims to forge collective political will, push for positive action from civil society groups which enhances co-operation among nations and people from diverse cultures and religions. The Doha forum, due to be held in December 2011 will focus on these issues and aim to renew the political commitment to the Alliance's agenda.