Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's initiative to proclaim 2016 as the Year of Multiculturalism is widely acclaimed as an important step aimed at strengthening relations among the world's peoples, says the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
He was addressing the opening session of the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), being held in Baku Apr. 26.
In the opening of his remarks, Al-Nasser expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev and the government of Azerbaijan for hosting the 7th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations on the theme 'Living together in inclusive societies: a challenge and a goal'.
"President Aliyev's leadership on this issue is especially noteworthy," added the UN official. "His initiative proclaiming 2016 as a Year of Multiculturalism is widely acclaimed as an important step that aims at strengthening relations among the peoples of the world."
"In that respect, we could not dream of a better venue than the city of Baku to hold this Forum," noted Al-Nasser.
"In the past few years I have had the privilege to promote multiculturalism and tolerance," he further said.
Al-Nasser said the Alliance of Civilizations is the soft power tool established to contribute to a more peaceful world by countering radicalization and polarization, by encouraging greater intercultural understanding and engaging in projects and programs that advance these goals.
"And today we all have the opportunity to explore the gains we have made, the challenges that we face and the possibilities that lie before us," he added.
Al-Nasser also said the Forum's theme this year - "Living together in inclusive societies: a challenge and a goal" - converges with the four pillars of the UN: peace and security, human rights, rule of law, and development.
"More directly, it converges with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Specifically, Sustainable Development Goal 16 calls upon us to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels'," he said.
Al-Nasser added that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security, and at the same time, peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development.
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