Open Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations held at UN

UNAOCH. E. Mr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser opened the UNAOC Annual Ministerial Meeting and elucidated that currently, we are facing some level of tension in every region of the world and world leaders have expressed their concerns on these important worries. Further, he said that the present state of global harmony is worrisome and current conflicts have cultural, religious or ethnic dimensions. The conflicts in Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe all have features of identity based divisions and the alliance is mindful of the disturbing facts. Moreover, he spoke of UNAOC’s 6th Global Forum in Bali which was themed: Unity in Diversity.

At Bali, the UNAOC involved stakeholders such as, youth, civil society, religious leaders and politicians in an interactive dialogue that is urgent in the present-day geopolitical atmosphere. Most importantly, they advocated for the empowerment of young people to help solve some of the ongoing situation around the world because we will eventually inherent the problems the world is currently facing. Co-sponsors of the UNAOC, the Governments of Spain and Turkey, were represented by their Foreign Ministers as they echoed each other’s statements. They both spoke of the UNAOC’s mission and vision as a guide for all to follow.

Next, the Foreign Minister of Tunisia denounced the recent activities by the militant group in Algeria who are linked to ISIS. Following his statement, the Foreign Ministers of Algeria explain that 9/11 was an attack on human civilization. He then said that Algeria has suffered immensely from terrorism and the global community should stand together against the barbarism. Statements were made by numerous Foreign Ministers and the Deputy Secretary-General H.E. Jan Eliasson wherein they agreed on working together to defuse tensions while involving religious leaders, grassroots organizations, youth and women leaders. Near the end, the
Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan offered the capital city of his country, Baku, as the host of the 7th Global Forum in 2016. The membership of the Group of Friends endorsed the offer by consensus.

Meeting Title: Open Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations (at the ministerial level) (organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC))
Date: September 26th, 2014
Location: Conference Room 3, United Nations HQ, New York
Speakers: The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations chairs the meeting, welcomes participants and delivers opening remarks under the theme “New and Emerging Ideological Threats to Global Peace & Co-Existence”; Remarks by the President of 69th Session of the General Assembly (tbc); Remarks by the co-sponsors (Spain and Turkey); Remarks by the Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate; Remarks by the Director of the Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force; Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Bulgaria, Mangolia, Finland, Netherland, Lithuania, Spain, Algeria, Finland, Netherlands, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Bahrain.
Written By WIT Representative: Modou Cham
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

New ways to provide food assistance

ImageTo encourage innovative means to provide food assistance to regions in need of humanitarian aid, Ambassador Patriota convened a panel discussion on this matter. In doing so, the Ambassador highlighted the Brazilian application of cash transfer to implement the “Bolsa Familia” safety-net programme as a way to motivate families to send children to school and to clinic check-ups.

In the context of short-term action, Mr. Mogwanja highlighted the difference between direct provision of food aid and cash-transfer style food assistance, the latter being preferable as it is a more economically sustainable tool. Mr. Janz stated that cash-transfer is a viable form of food assistance, as it pinpoints to the problem of lack of purchasing power of disaster victims without having crippled the local agricultural market by flooding the market with relief food. Mr. Janz elaborated on the benefit of cash-transfer food assistance, stating that it gives disaster victims dignity by giving them choices in food and enhances efficiency of aid by reducing the logistical cost of transporting food aid. Ms. Souza stated how the World Food Programme implemented the cash-transfer in conjunction with local purchase of relief material to further enhance food assistance’s positive impact to the local economy, a point which Ambassador Boureima echoed when detailing the “Nigerien feeds Nigerien” initiative in his country.

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Ms. Fink-Hooijer stated that the donor community in general support the cash-transfer initiative, but adopts a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the effectiveness of large-scale implementation in disaster relief. Ambassador Shearman echoed this point, and added that he hopes future cash-transfer can be implemented in form of cash handout instead of voucher to further reduce its distortion of the local market.

Meeting Title: Cash Transfers, Local Purchases and Social Safety-Nets: Bridging the Divide between Assistance and Development
Speakers: Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Ambassador Boubacar Boureima, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations; Darana Souza, Programme Coordinator for World Food Programme; Udo K. Janz, Director of UNHCR Office in New York; Israel Klug, Project Coordinator of PAA Africa Programme; Minister Counsellor Nuria Mohammed, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Florika Fink-Hooijer, Policy Director of ECHO; Martin Shearman, Ambassador for Development and Human Rights, UK Department for International Development; H.E. Ambassador Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations; Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Advisor of OXFAM; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch of UN OCHA
Location: Conference Room 5, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark