“In a very complex geopolitical context, we spoke here in Fez of peace, of understanding, of mutual respect, of commitment to live together,” Mr. Moratinos told journalists, adding: “This is something that people need…They are hungry for peace. And I think that’s what we need to remember”.
‘People are hungry for peace’
In other activities on Wednesday, some 100 youth participants from different countries gathered at Fez’s University of Euromed to talk about “the future they want”. They emphasized the importance of intergenerational dialogue and the benefits that the younger generation could bring to the table in terms of countering hate rhetoric. Reinforcing Mr. Moratinos’ comments, the Foreign Minister elaborated on what Morocco stands for, and what the city of Fez represents, stating: “What has succeeded in Morocco can succeed in the world. What Morocco was able to do at the national level in terms of harmony and coexistence over the centuries, could be a source of inspiration for other regions.” In an interview with UN News, Antonio Vitorino, the Director General of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the agency he heads up is present worldwide, in 80 countries, “but we undoubtedly have very important operations on the African continent for the protection and support of migrants.” Speaking at a joint press conference, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the High Representative of the UNAOC, and Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, spoke about the Forum and its results. They also hailed the large, high-level participation that enriched the dialogue that took place during the two-day gathering.
Time to affirm tolerance, dialogue and understanding
In his opening remarks to the Forum on Tuesday, UN chief António Guterres hailed Fez “with its rich and secular history, [as] the ideal place to meet and engage in reflection on the state of our world.” The High Representative noted the Forum’s outcome text, known as the Fez Declaration, calling it a “roadmap for the international community, including the Alliance of Civilizations” and pointed to the Moroccan example that should be an inspiration to all. Overall, the Fez Forum saw animated participation by about 42 participants at the ministerial level, 90 heads of regional organizations and 12 former Heads of State or Government, a high point for the Alliance’s meetings, as stated by the Moroccan Foreign Minister.
‘We need to build on the Fez Declaration’
Ali Mahmoud from Lebanon, one of the participants at the Youth event told UN News that he and his counterparts in an association called ‘Adiyan’ are working on a programme to push back against hate speech and its impact on Lebanese society, whether psychologically or physically, through workshops and campaigns targeting everyone in the country. “The Moroccan model has yielded concrete results in terms of urgent needs for mutual respect, for brotherhood, peace, for understanding,” he explained. Noting that “the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, gave a special character to this meeting”, Mr. Nasser Bourita hailed the success of the Fez meeting in terms of participation but also the nature of the dialogues and discussions, pointing out that “the meeting came at a time when the world needs to affirm the value of dialogue, understanding and tolerance.” “The international situation today requires us to listen to the language of reason, the language of wisdom, and to assert that the values of dialogue are basic values, and that despite differences in interests and differences in religion and race, this humanity has a lot in common,” he asserted.
Dialogue across generations
Since its inception, the UNAOC has become a leading United Nations platform for intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation. It has connected governments, lawmakers, local authorities, civil society organizations, the media, and individuals devoted to promoting understanding across diverse communities. “Every day, everywhere, along with people who need us, IOM aims to translate the essence of the Declaration into concrete actions, to protect migrants, to support safe, orderly and regulated migration, and to fight against human trafficking, which is an attack against the fundamental rights of migrants.” Ali Mahmoud from Lebanon, one of the participants at the Youth event at Fez’s Euromed University Asked how he viewed the adopted Fez Declaration, Mr. Vitorino said, “Declarations are always important – politically. But it’s not enough. We need to build on the Declaration. And we are committed.”