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Statement made by Ambassador Mohan Pieris at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Group of Friends meeting,

Tuesday, 08 February 2022
H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris
New York

The distinguish High Representative,  The objective of the Alliance of Civilizations is to improve understanding and cooperative relations amongst nations and peoples across cultures and religions. It also facilitates the neutralization of the forces that fuel polarization and extremism. You will appreciate that forming an alliance with another civilization stands as a sure impediment that prevents both allies from announcing or declaring war on each other. It presents to us a situation where we can provide open borders and shared visibility which permits us to see everything on the map that the other cities and nations can see. Your laudable initiative that attempts to galvanize international action against extremism through the forging of international, intercultural, and international dialog and cooperation is commendable. The concept of an alliance nation must be appreciated as one working on behalf of the world's people; an intergovernmental mechanism supporting global humanitarian mission financing through an alliance of the world's nations, states, business and industry. 

I thank you for convening this meeting and allow me to express my sincere appreciation to the hard work of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations for its work progressing the UNAOC Plan of Action for 2019-2023.  


The incentive that created the UNAOC over 17 years ago was to deliver realistic programming to varying UN Bodies that took into account the diversity of our global community, even within the limits of  a relatively homogeneous national culture. This motivation still stands true, still stands relevant, and let me say stands as an even more important principle in today's times.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forms our common humanity, which threads the work of our organization and each subsidiary body provides the blueprint for our global and domestic policy making. The rights obligated to all citizens- from adequate healthcare to quality education, to dignity and liberty are high ideals we have strived to implement within the UN body and in our domestic institutions. However, the implementation of these high ideals and protection of rights need to satisfactorily deal with the growing diversity of today- and that has been the great challenge we are faced with.

Chair, we are witnessing today more so than ever increased polarization within our own borders and transnationally. We see more people viewing their universal rights as selectively implemented, and that their diversity in race, ethnicity and religion are unequally valued, which has led to the increased feeling of polarization.

It does not do us well to accelerate towards the implementation of the 2030 agenda or achieve in pure metrics the SDG goals if at its root people still disagree over issues of religion, race or culture which form individual identity and interests. Program building towards achieving the SDG’s needs to be complimented on the humane side, we need to build human connections if any agenda is to be long lasting.

What we need to foster alongside the implementation of the 2030 agenda is inclusive dialog. We need a forum where transparent dialog in every industry with all stakeholders from youth, civil society and government officials takes place without repercussion for preconceived notions. There are tough conversations to have but they must move from taking place in the fray to the open, where opportunity for mutual understanding across different identities, faiths and culture can take place.We need a springboard for this conversation, and I feel confident that in the short span of the UNAOC we have achieved the momentum for these dialogues and a journey towards a more peaceful and inclusive global point of view.

Sri Lanka welcomes the work and progress made by the UNAOC in its Plan of Action for 2019-2023, especially program initiatives focused on the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites. As a multi-ethnic nation, home to Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, incorporating racial diversity and multi-faith points of view equally in our domestic policy has been of utmost priority.

We further welcome the future trajectory of the action plan as it takes a preventive lense on the UNAOC mandate and leverages its UN partnerships to prevent and counter violent extremism conducive to terrorism with a special focus on youth stakeholders. Building up the interfaith connections and mutual understanding between the future generation is the ultimate guarantee of a better, equitable, inclusive and prosperous future. I wish the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations   success in its endeavors to bridge divides and promote harmony between nations, all with a view to preventing conflict and promoting social cohesion. 

Thank you.