Spain and the Alliance of Civilizations

Spain and the Alliance of Civilizations

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), an initiative launched and supported by the U.N. secretary-general and co-sponsored by Spain and Turkey, aims to encourage dialogue and cooperation between different communities, cultures and civilizations and to build bridges between peoples and individuals, beyond their cultural or religious differences.

It is encouraging that more than 140 countries and international organizations have now joined UNAOC’s Group of Friends, which is committed to the principles of respect, mutual understanding and tolerance, and to embracing cultural diversity. The Spanish government strongly supports multilateralism. We are committed to this United Nations program, and intend to go on supporting and co-sponsoring the UNAOC – because Spain believes that now, more than ever, we need instruments like the Alliance of Civilizations to foster tolerance and cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue.

Spain is, therefore, working in close cooperation and coordination with the Turkish government to develop guidelines and projects for the Alliance of Civilizations, together with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir al-Nasser. Our commitment is demonstrated by Spain’s participation in all Group of Friends ministerial meetings – the most recent edition of which took place in New York last September – and forums, including the latest, held in Bali last August. The Spanish government has used these meetings and forums to promote diverse areas of action and programs. Achieving the peaceful co-existence of different cultures and religions is one of the greatest challenges facing the international community in the 21st century. We advocate expanding the alliance’s capacity to respond to global challenges, contributing to ending divisions and neutralizing any risks of polarization threatening international peace and security. To this end, Spain is working to give the UNAOC – as a tool of preventive diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution – more dynamic capacities, thus allowing it to help to eradicate the threats posed by extremism and violent radicalization.

Cultural and religious factors should be taken into consideration when devising peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding programs. Promoting democratic reforms is a key component of our work.

There is a close link between the values and objectives of the alliance and democratic processes. The UNAOC must, therefore, encourage key values such as tolerance, fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights and minorities. To combat all forms of extremism and stereotypes, tangible measures must be adopted in the fields of education, youth, the media and migration. Spain is, therefore, supporting and contributing to the UNAOC’s projects in these areas. The UNAOC’s comprehensive approach is balanced by specific measures that consider each society’s specific needs, through regional and local cooperation. We continue to promote the establishment of regional strategies, playing an active role in the negotiation and adoption of the regional strategy for Latin America, as well as the second action plans for Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, adopted at the Vienna Forum.
Today, the Alliance of Civilizations is one of the United Nations’ key platforms for cross-cultural dialogue.
Turkey and Spain have demonstrated our firm commitment to working toward a closer and more intense cooperation between the different countries and organizations that make up the Group of Friends, building bridges and promoting dialogue. Today, more than ever, we must continue to assert that diversity is a source of mutual enrichment, and strengthen the tools that prevent conflicts and divisions, such as the Alliance of Civilizations.