Major new initiatives to promote tolerance launched at UN-backed forum

17 January 2008

Projects aimed at promoting understanding among cultures in the areas of media and youth were among the key initiatives launched at the United Nations-backed Alliance of Civilizations Forum, which just concluded in Madrid.

The two-day meeting in the Spanish capital brought together political leaders, the media, corporate and film industry executives, and grassroots and civil society leaders to promote the global campaign launched by the UN in 2005 to help overcome prejudices between nations, cultures and religions.

Among the initiatives announced at the Forum, which began on Tuesday, is a $100 million investment by Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser-el-Missned in a global youth employment initiative that brings together Governments and major multinational corporations.

The Forum also saw the launch of a multi-million dollar Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund, which will support the production and distribution of films that not only entertain but also combat stereotypes and promote understanding.

Other initiatives announced include an Alliance of Civilizations clearinghouse related to media literacy education and the establishment of a Youth Solidarity Fund aimed at providing grants to support youth-led programmes in the areas of intercultural and interfaith dialogue.

In his address to the Forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Alliance is “an important way to counter extremism and heal the divisions that threaten our world.

“Never in our lifetime has there been a more desperate need for constructive and committed dialogue, among individuals, among communities, among cultures, among and between nations,” he told participants.

The Forum was opened by Mr. Ban, along with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, and Mr. Ban’s High Representative for the Alliance and former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio.

 

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