Diversity and Lessons to be Learned for Human Understanding

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In observance of the International Day of Commemoration, a time of recognition for the victims of the Holocaust, the DPI/NGO presented a briefing about tolerance in the midst of diversity. Ms. Diallo said she hopes this conversation will acknowledge all victims and remind people of the lives lost, as well as constant need to resist racism and violence. Ms. Mann discussed how the past has proven that racism is a learned behavior and can be counteracted. Ms. Kaidanow highlighted the importance of passing on Holocaust stories to preserve history, enabling the future generations to avoid similar mistakes. Ms. Kaidanow also claimed that education is the number one weapon against bigotry and ignorance. Ms. Sommer underlined that there is a rise in anti-Semitism–a sign that the fight against denial, apathy, and indifference is not over. Her approach is to use media to reach out with the educational programs, specifically through the social media slogan, #weremember.

Mr. Michaels revealed his organization’s efforts to bridge the gaps between Jewish and non-Jewish neighbors with the European Day of Jewish Culture. Ms. Mann remarked how the Nazis failed in their attempt to destroy Jewish culture and heritage. Then Mr. Sirois described the intricate pyramid of hate:

  • 1st layer: Acts of Bias, Crude Jokes
  • 2nd layer: Acts of Prejudice, Bullying and Exclusion
  • 3rd layer: Acts of Discrimination
  • 4th: Bias-motivated Violence
  • 5th: Genocide

Mr. Siois also mentioned that the pyramid will progress if unchecked and stressed the importance of curtailing the 1st and 2nd layers before progression. Mr. Siois ended the meeting with the rhetorical question: Who are we here today, and how will we be remembered tomorrow?

Meeting: DPI/NGO briefing entitled “Diversity and Lessons to be Learned for Human Understanding”

Date/Location: Thursday, January 25, 2018; 11:00-12:30; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ms.Hawa Diallo, Public Information Officer, NGO Relations Section, United Nations Department of Public Information; Ms.Kimberly Mann, Chief of Education Outreach, United Nations Department of Public Information; Ms.Sarah Kaidanow, NGO youth representative, Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC); Ms.Evelyn Sommer, Chair, World Jewish Congress North America; Mr.David.J Michaels, Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs, B’nai B’irth International; Mr.Jason Sirois, Director of No Place for Hate, Anti-Defamation League

Written By: WIT Representative Nicole Matsanov

 

The Disconnect Between Religion and Extremism

This meeting was held to discuss the issues surrounding extremism, particularly religious extremism.

Dr. Hamad started by noting political and economic improvements relate to the establishment of peace and increasing how long peace lasts.

Dr. Tangara mentioned how the enemy, in this case ISIS, is more sophisticated than many acknowledge. ISIS has taken to attacking societies by attacking their culture. Additionally, he stated that it is important to replace the ancient education that tends to have xenophobic ideals.

Mrs. Lodico commented on the importance of separation of state from religion, and of religion from state. She noted how the world lacks enlightenment, contributing to the number of jihadists. Finally, she discussed how social media has played a proliferating part in the spread of ISIS Propaganda. She said that they began with a single propaganda video, and since then their social media presence has only decreased. Additionally, she pointed out how Nazis never celebrated the genocides that they perpetrated, and yet ISIS has streamed their atrocities thanks to their access to social media. Finally, she stated that fights against ISIL needed to be holistic.

Dr. Durbak noted that Dr. Al-Suwaidi’s book exposed the exploitation of Islam by ISIS. She stated how individuals fell into ISIS as a result of issues in their environments, and pointed out how the uneven distribution of resources can lead to exploitation, powerlessness, and distress.

Reverend Dr. Thomas noted the similarities between some concept of mirages and the story of Jesus in the bible. He pointed out that in extremism, there is a disconnect between religion and reality, and noted that extremism is not confined to any particular region.

Meeting: Forum on “Extremism-A threat and a challenge that needs to be addressed”

Date/Location: Thursday, April 7, 2016; 10:00-12:00, Conference Room 8

Speakers: Dr. Tageldin Hamad, Secretary General, World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations; H.E. Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the UN; Mrs. Yvonne Lodico, Founder Grace Initiative, Former Director, UN Institute for Training and Research, NY; Dr. Christine Durbak, Chair and CEO World Information Transfer; Rev. Dr. Douglas Thomas, Adjunct Professor of Religion at Lincoln University, Oxford, Pennsylvania; H.E. Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR)

Written By: WIT Representative Olivia Gong

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Rebuilding Timbuktu’s Past for Mali’s Future

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To appeal for support of its work in restoring Malian monuments, the UNESCO hosted a press conference to inform the press on the progress. Ms. Jensen opened the conference by underscoring that destruction of culture “destroys not only the past, but also the future”. Citing Security Council Resolution 2164 and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, Ms. Jensen stated that the destruction of heritage sites inflicted in the city of Timbuktu, home to 16 World Heritage Sites, was illegal.

Turning the nuances of UNESCO’s assistance in rebuilding the Islamic mausoleums, Mr. Assomo highlighted that it is the local imams, masons and custodians of the mausoleums that determined the assistance required from UNESCO. He explained that the locality of the team is largely due to the fact that the restoration work is a sign of returning to normalcy to the people of Timbuktu, and leaving it to the hands of the locals empowers them to create conditions of peace and reconciliation. Mr. Assomo also highlighted the restoration work made to the Timbuktu manuscripts, a significant part of the city’s heritage. In this regard, UNESCO took up the responsibility of hosting a global summit on manuscripts in Mali to gather the best practices of restoration. He also appealed for a further funding of eight million dollars on top of the current funding to complete the unfinished business of restoration.

Responding to a question from the floor regarding the possibility of negotiating with the perpetrators of destruction, both representatives from UNESCO highlighted that the organization has, within their role as a normative agency of the UN, condemned such actions. It also alerted member states on the scale of damage and the need to intervene.

Meeting Title: Press conference on “Rebuilding Timbuktu: The restoration of an intellectual and spiritual capital and its vital role in Mali’s post-conflict recovery”
Speakers: Ms. Vibeka Jensen, Director of UNESCO Office in New York; Mr. Lazare Eloudou Assomo, UNESCO Representative to Mali; Members of the UN Correspondent Association
Location: Press Briefing Room, United Nations
Date: 27 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark