European Union External Action

EU Statement – UN Alliance of Civilisations Group of Friends Ministerial Meeting: Shaping a Better World in the COVID-19 Environment

New York, 29/09/2020 - 20:51, UNIQUE ID: 200929_20
Statements on behalf of the EU

29 September 2020, New York - Statement delivered by H. E. Mr Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Group of Friends Ministerial Meeting on Shaping a Better World: Building Cohesive and Inclusive Societies in a Challenging COVID‐19 Environment

Mr High Representative,


  1. The current pandemic affects our lives profoundly and has caused much suffering. It has also put at risk the progress achieved so far, in particular for survivors and those at risk of violence based on their gender, religious or ethnic grounds.


  1. The pandemic has also aggravated pre-existing trends of rising authoritarianism and increased the risks of further downward pressure on human rights in general, and civil and political liberties in particular. In some places, exclusionary identity politics have led to a flare-up of intolerance, an upsurge in incitement to hatred, and the scapegoating of religious communities.


  1. For the EU and its Member States, global cooperation and solidarity through multilateral efforts are the only effective and viable avenues to win this battle against COVID-19 and its consequences. Partnership with the UN, including the Alliance of Civilisations, and with others, is more important than ever to deliver results for the people who need them most.


  1. For the EU, protecting and promoting human rights is part of our founding principles but is also the expression of our wish to see a stable world based on human dignity. The EU is united in diversity. To promote equality and diversity is a question of rights, of credibility, of representation and of justice, but there is also a persuasive case for business: research shows that decisions made by a diverse and gender balanced team are better and more sustainable and that productivity increases.


  1. We must strive for a future where everyone, whatever their background, origin, gender or other visible or invisible differences, have a role to play in shaping a better future. Our commitments, however, can only make a real difference if they are accompanied by a genuine shift in our societies. We need to raise awareness, listen to people at risk, and focus on building more equal, better educated and peaceful societies.


  1. Education opens the possibility to improve our understanding of the world and its diversity, and that in turn makes us better understand the interests, needs and desires of others, so that we can treat them with respect and empathy.


  1. Our ability to live together and create inclusive societies is at the heart of the EU’s Exchange platform on religion and inclusion. The overall objective of the platform is to connect civil society actors inside and outside Europe and to enable a sustained exchange about how we live together in a globalised world of highly diverse societies. It wants to give voice and visibility to the contribution by civil society actors, whether young or old, believers or non-believers, to practical questions such as how to promote cultural diversity and a stronger sense of belonging.


  1. The exchange will take place in six different global venues as well as through a series of virtual meet-ups and preparatory discussions. The platform’s activities will focus on broad topics such as promoting active, participatory and inclusive citizenship, promoting inclusive and democratic societies, tackling the rise of exclusionary politics, conflict resolution and reconciliation, and fostering social inclusion through education.


  1. What is more, on 18 September the EU adopted a new Action plan to combat racism within Europe that sets out a series of concrete measures for the next five years. Amongst other commitments, the Commission will ensure that Member States fully implement relevant EU law and further strengthen the legal framework, if needed. The Action Plan brings together actors at all levels to fight racism in Europe more effectively, including through adoption of national action plans against racism.


  1. Finally, on the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, let me reassure you that the EU and its Member States stand by your efforts to promote tolerance and respect for cultural diversity and religious pluralism. Creating a culture of inclusion and fostering our ability to live together – at home and abroad – in the face of today’s challenges is not a small commitment. In this regard, the EU continues to be a staunch supporter of dialogue aimed at increasing mutual understanding and respect.


  1. We look forward to our continued cooperation in promoting respect and understanding among diverse identity groups and in building inclusive, cohesive and peaceful societies.
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