The UN held an expert working group to research how to bring cultures together, and their findings revealed an emphasis on media, youth empowerment and migration was key. I agree! This is what young people and youth organizations have been saying for years. Student exchanges and investments in youth employment are key to reach young people – especially the youth majority of the Middle East – who feel disenfranchised and forgotten, and surveys should by and large would chose to leave their countries if they could. I hope the UN doesn’t lose sight of this important plan, and finds many ways to engage young people.
EDUCATION AND MEDIA KEY ASPECTS OF UN BID TO BRIDGE ISLAM AND WEST – ENVOY
New York, Jun 14 2007 6:00PM
Education, the media, youth and migration are at the heart of a two-year plan to bridge the divide between Islam and the West that was presented today to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by the United Nations envoy heading the global campaign on the issue, known as the “Alliance of Civilizations.”
Speaking to reporters in New York after his meeting with Mr.
Ban, Jorge Sampaio, the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, explained that the initiative is about
“building bridges between societies, promoting dialogue and
understanding, and forging collective political will to address
the world’s imbalances, tensions and sources of conflict.”
He said the Alliance will be focusing on four main fields of
activity – education, youth, media and migration. “Teaching
about other cultures and religions heightens students’ awareness of the beliefs and traditions that shape other people’s lives,”he said.
“Media consists of the most powerful means to promote knowledgeabout other cultures, understanding [and] mutual respect,” he noted, adding that migration is “a natural bridge between diverse communities.”
The plan presented today sets out a range of projects and
initiatives which the Alliance will support and help develop over the next two years, including a media fund to promote productions developed across cultural, religious and/or national lines, a Youth Employment Centre aimed at increasing work opportunities for young people in the Middle East, and a project aimed at expanding international student exchange programmes, according to a press release issued by the Alliance.
In addition, the Alliance will establish a “rapid response
media-based mechanism” to provide platforms for constructive debate during times of increased tensions around cross-cultural issues. It will also develop an “online clearinghouse” of best practices, materials and resources on cross-cultural dialogue andcooperation projects.
He also drew attention to an international forum, to be held in
Spain in January 2008, that will provide “a platform to forge
partnerships, launch new initiatives and stimulate projects” bygovernments, civil society, donors and the private sector. The forum – set to become an annual event – will also evaluate efforts and determine future action.
In addition, a voluntary fund will support the Alliance’s work.
The Alliance of Civilizations was created in 2005 at the
initiative of Spain and Turkey and under UN auspices to try to tackle fear and suspicion, bridge divides and overcome prejudicesand polarizations between Islam and the West. In April, Mr. Ban appointed Mr. Sampaio, a former President of Portugal, as the first UN High Representative for the Alliance.