From August 28-30, I have been privileged to attend UNAOC youth event and global forum in Bali, Indonesia. It seems that most of general public, including some young Foreign Policy (FP) enthusiasts in my circle are not commonly aware of the existence of this UN sub-system. That being said, this blog is written to recount some stories and perspective I have extracted from attending such high level ministerial meeting, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) 2014.
If we see our world today, it might be globally agreed that violence or physical force of power is something everyone tries to avoid. However, at local levels, still, we see many societies facturing along cultural, religious, or ethnic lines. Hate speech is still recurring in some countries where Islamophobia, gender inequality and religious discrimination prevails. With this background, under Kofi Annan tenure, UN established an Alliance of Civilizations back in 2005, with the objective of seeking to galvanize international action against extremism, building bridge between Islam and western world and mediating cross-cultural understanding among general public globally.
This reminds me to a concept of `negative and positive peace` by Johan Galtung. If negative peace basically means the absence of violence, positive peace is the restoration of relationship and the creation of social system to serve needs of whole population. This, in the end, will create a durable peace.
Creating this system and norm is what I can think of what UNAOC makes of it.
Following is the main three key points I think worth to share from UNAOC forum.
1) SBY: “I see troubling signs that the world is not necessarily in a better shape.“
I should say that President of Indonesia, Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono (hereafter called SBY) is an eloquent public speaker and orator when it comes to multilateral forum like UNAOC (great job to his speech excerpt-team!).
His speech substantially put me in awe. SBY explicated that strategic rivalries in Asia, Ukraine crisis in Europe, Palestine that remains farther away from independece and Islamophobia in the western world are some signs that our world is not necessarily in a better shape.
However, SBY firmly believes that this situation is not to be taken for granted and this is the momentum for the alliance to make a difference in fighting ignorance, extremism and insjustice worldwide. The president took an example of Indonesia & Timor Leste (President Xanana Gusmao attending), countries of which have managed to evolve from enmity incurred by past dark history to a close bilateral relation.
The efforts of Indonesian government to employ reconciliation to end conflict in Aceh, in Poso, in Maluku and in Papua exemplifies that other nations can also deploy the state of art of reconciliation in ending conlict at regional, national and international level.
President SBY speech emerges as a limelight of UNAOC opening. The hope is there, for the countries and all actors to work it out down the road.
2) UNAOC affirm the importance of involving women and young people
As our world are inhabited by more than 40% populace age under 25 years old, young people strongly demands their voice to be taken into account when it comes to creating sustainable development. UNAOC are among the forefront system in the UN that commits to mainstream young people to its agenda.
As integral part of the forum, Ministry of Forign Affairs (MoFA) Indonesia organized youth event, one-day in prior to global forum to connect young people worldwide with diverse background to discuss the four pillars of global forum theme: 1) Education, 2) Media, 3) Migration and 4) Employment/ Entrepreneurship.
However brief the discussion we had on youth event (only half day!), young participants suceeded to come up with eight recommendations on the pressing issues under the four topics of the forum. The points of recommendation is accessible here: http://www.unaoc.org/wp-content/uploads/Youth-Recommendations.pdf
Ayanda Nxusani (South Africal) and I were very fortunate to be trusted as presenter of this youth recommendations to all UNAOC global forum participants. Watch the presentation of the recommendations here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/1st-plenary-6th-global-forum-united-nations-alliance-of-civilizations/3755261621001
3) Citizens of the world are becoming connected and empowered
One of the main discourses in the forum, which has orchestrated to my memory, is the role of media and especially social media that was greatly emphasized by delegations present at the forum.
Sudanese government delegate said “Media is a trailblazer yet a double-edge sword.“
Some groups in this world are doing their mission to spread hate speech, religious discrimination, islamophobia, and ethnic conflict through media so virally. At the other side of the sword, it is the role of United Nations, international organisations, governments and all stakeholders to make the best use of media to proliferate the message of peace, cross-cultural understanding and inter-communal perspective in our society.
In order to do it, I am also a firm believer that social inclusion is a principle that needs to be held by stakeholders in creating positive change in our society. By involving diverse background of actors, we would engender vibrant sociaty that is connected and empowered to bring about peaceful civilizations of the world. To make the history we want to see!
I would end the blog with a quote from UN Seretary General`s remark:
“I am inspired by Indonesia`s motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,“ or “Unity in Diversity“ which is the main theme of the Alliance of Civilizations. Unity in diversity is more than a slogan – it is a way of life and it is the way to peace.“ BAN KI MOON
Let us propagate this!