Leaving conflict behind and embracing alliance.

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International Symposium on “Civilizations and cultures : from dialogue to alliance”

The most diverse cultures, beliefs and identities, all embody our common wealth. Our strength issues from our union in embracing universal values. A tempered dialogue, interaction and mutual knowledge will lead to peaceful and harmonious coexistence. Society has to be galvanised into action if we are to banish the root causes of extremism and violence and make the transition from a culture based on imposition to one of dialogue and conciliation. We must, on a daily basis, use words to achieve our principal, pressing mission, which is to build peace and establish alliances.

An alliance, within the framework of the United Nations, in an endeavour to dissuade, and where appropriate, swiftly and effectively confront any and all aggressions and provocations.

An alliance through which to respond to natural disasters and mitigate their impact by swiftly establishing joint actions deploying the appropriate human and technical resources.

An alliance to facilitate co-operation in preventing and treating disease and pandemics.

An international alliance against poverty.

An alliance, above all, to devise and implement appropriate strategies through which to address global issues which may no longer be resolved by a minority: energy, nutrition, water….Pre-emption is paramount if avoiding “surprises” which always harm the weakest are to be avoided.

An alliance aimed at protecting our common heritage, our cultural identity, our diversity and oneness, which constitute our wealth, together with the strength we derive from our shared values.

An alliance to further enhance mutual understanding and respect, peaceful dialogue and to bring about the transition from a culture of violence and imposition to one of dialogue and conciliation.

An alliance to provide universal access to lifelong education, which will enhance mankind’s distinctive ability to create on the basis of its own capacity to think, and the liberty to exercise free will without bowing to the dictate of others. An education which prevents the dissemination of stereotypes, disarms history and highlights the different aspects comprising the mystery of every human life.

An alliance which fosters active participation and reinforces a context of democracy and accountability in which human rights are fully exercised and respected.

Alliances which through their prevailing spirit of common solidarity protect those most vulnerable, children, young people, the elderly, the disabled….

Alliances which prevent and, when appropriate, identify and isolate extremist, fanatical, dogmatic and intolerant attitudes, in such a way that makes it feasible to gradually persuade others to abandon these positions of force and, should the case arise, effectively fight violence and terrorism.

Alliances to combat “fear and poverty”, as stated in the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through access to reliable information and freedom of expression, sharing in material goods and knowledge as a means to enhancing stability and security through justice and respect for human dignity, avoiding the creation of breeding grounds for frustration, extremism and aggression.

An alliance to arouse public clamour and bring about a peaceful change to the course society is currently following in pursuit of the short-term interests of a given few. The local, regional and global co-operation of the press, radio and television is essential to this mobilisation, possible today thanks to modern communications technology, (particularly mobile telephony).

An alliance encouraging interaction and exchange the World over, among and between the most unlikely, unrelated Academic and scientific institutions, the worlds of art and sport, local communities etcetera …..

An alliance ultimately borne of peaceful dialogue as opposed to imposition and use of force.

All these alliances are possible if civic society chooses to cease being a mere spectator and is willing to take up the reins of its own destiny. .The time has come for society and the organisations which act on its behalf, through their daily endeavours, to build a future of peace and integration befitting free men and women unshackled from the deadweight of addiction, fear and prejudice.

By: Federico Mayor Zaragoza

Tunis, January 30–February 1, 2006.