Remarks by Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos,
High Representative for UNAOC
at the UNOCT Quarterly Briefing to Member States

28 February 2023, Oiginally published on

Thank you Mr. Chair, Under-Secretary General Vladimir Voronkov,
UN office of Counter-Terrorism,
Dear colleagues,

2023 got off on a busy start for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Building on the success of UNAOC 9th Global Forum in Fez, Kingdom of Morocco in November 2022 and the initiatives that emerged from the forum, I wish to highlight what’s in the pipeline in the next few months:

1. Developing people-centric initiatives in Africa:

In the UN Secretary-General’s remarks to the Africa Dialogue Series he referred to ‘Aspiration 5 of Africa’s Agenda 2063 envisions a continent with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values, and ethics. It is a call for using the continent’s rich and diverse cultural and natural heritage as a catalyst for Africa’s growth and transformation. It is the right appeal at the right time. With spreading hatred and intolerance around the world, we must not only defend diversity but invest in it.’

Over the past years, we saw an unprecedented surge in violent extremism and terrorist attacks in Africa and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa considering that in 2021 most almost half of all deaths occurred on Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Sahel has been the most heavily affected, as a result of terrorist attacks on civilians, and religious sites rising tenfold since 2007.

Our Global Forum in Fez, saw the participation of a considerable number of women participants from Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Morocco. Despite some progress in women’s participation in peacemaking efforts, overall such efforts still struggle to include women in the mediation of cultural and religious conflicts.

It is also at the local level that Women’s contribution has long been marginalized whereas they stand as key actors of identity-based conflicts mitigation efforts as reaffirmed in the 2021 report by the Secretary General “Our Common Agenda” stating the need to put women and girls at the centre of security policy to better promote peace and prevent conflicts.

We are very pleased that UNGA Resolution 77/243 on the International Day for the Prevention of Violent Extremism as and when Conducive to Terrorism underlines in its preamble the important role of religious leaders among other stakeholders including intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia, and the media in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism.

It is also re-affirming that terrorism and violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.

In this context, UNAOC will continue to strengthen its work with women led and youth-led grassroots who work closely with their communities to promote cultural diversity and religious tolerance and mutual respect.

2. Sports for One Humanity:

During our Global Forum in Fez, we launched our new project Sports for One Humanity implemented jointly with Turkish Airlines. Ten grassroots sports-based projects have been selected as the recipients of the ‘Sport for One Humanity’ grant. The project identifies sport as a compelling strategy in promoting values critical for the world today, and the contribution of grassroots initiatives in advancing the potential of sport in fostering diverse and inclusive societies. The recipients have been benefitting from a comprehensive support program, consisting of online training. The next phase in March will be face-to-face workshop in Madrid facilitated by La Liga.

3. The Global Youth Forum for Preventing Violent Extremism Through Sports:

UNAOC delivered the 2nd in person Global Youth Forum for Preventing Violent Extremism Through Sports which was organized on the margins of the forum in Fez with the collaboration of the partners of UNOCT’s Global Sports Program, UNICRI and ICSS.

The youth participants were provided the opportunity to attend the forum’s sessions and engage with the broader UNAOC Youth Forum which included more than 180 youth . We plan to organize the 3rd forum by mid 2023.

4. Last but not least, I was very pleased to pay a courtesy visit to UNOCT’s Program Office in Madrid in which I continued the discuss I started here in New York with USG Voronkov regarding our collaboration in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites within the framework of UNOCT’s UN Global Programme on Vulnerable Targets.

That’s in a nutshell our foreseen activities relevant to PCVE in the next few months.

I thank you.