(WNN) Vienna, Austria: Leaders from around the world, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Heinz Fischer of Austria, the Emir of Qatar Shaikh Hamad Al Thani, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, Foreign Minister Margallo of Spain, Foreign Minister Salehi of Iran, and many others are meeting in Vienna today for the 5th Global UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum (UNAOC).
Throughout the halls of the Forum, high-level conversations are taking place between these leaders to address current global issues such as Syria, Mali, Palestine, and the future of sustainable development. They’re also focusing on bringing the world together through doable efforts toward peace, as well as preventing the marginalization of women in culture and religion.
“More than half of the world population are strongly connected to religions and thereby share some strong moral common ground. Thus one would expect that ensuring protection of the right of freedom of religion or belief and promoting an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for religious and cultural diversity as well as multiculturalism would be less of a challenge. Yet, the reality leaves ample room for reflection and collective action at national, regional and international level in order to overcome the obstacles to full enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion, remedy intolerance, discrimination and social hostilities involving religion, and anchor harmony, respect, tolerance and non-violent coexistence in a positive and sound foundation whenever there is a need to counter those who oppose pluralism,” said an important joint statement made by UNAOC along with the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in preparation for this year’s forum.
This year’s forum is focusing on human dignity and equality at the table through the wide scope of religious tolerance that is especially needed for today’s world.
“In this Session this wide understanding of the status of all human beings as rights holders by virtue of their human dignity will be discussed as the basis for outlining the appropriate scope of freedom of religion or belief. While some States seem to limit it to a given list of religious options, it should include followers of traditional and non-traditional religions or beliefs, members of large or small communities, minorities and minorities within minorities, refugees, migrant workers, converts or re-converts and dissenters or other critical voices. One must also not forget the rights of women, who continue to have only marginalized positions within many religious traditions,” continued UNAOC with the Austrian Federal Ministry.
During a press conference today visiting dignitaries shared that the current conflicts in Syria are a key concern.
“The Alliance can become a major soft power tool to defuse tensions,” said this year’s incoming United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nasser Al-Nasser.
“Austria would be ready to host a conference of civil society partners from Syria, aimed at fostering healing and reconciliation between the various religious groups involved in the current conflict,” added Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger as the conversation covering the possibility of helping to bring peace to the region continued.
The 5th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is taking place February 27th-28th, 2013 as it brings more than 2,000 people from around the world to Vienna. This includes youth and civil society representatives, religious leaders, business leaders and others.
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