Inter-Faith and inter-civilization cooperatoin

His Excellency xxxxx

Excellences, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank the Government of Azerbaijan and Austria for inviting me to this conference. The topic of this conference is vital especially in view of the current humanitarian landscape and I am honoured to be part of this discussion. I had the honour to meet Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in October last year. I was encouraged by his comments that the world supported Azerbaijan when help was needed and now it is important for Azerbaijan to support the world. This conference also reflects on the commitment of Azerbaijan to support humanity. 2 The Government of Austria have also been very active in supporting humanitarian response globally and is an active member of the Donors Support Group for which we are very grateful. Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen Although there are different views and beliefs but there are many principles and values that run uniformly in all faiths and most prominent of them is peace, love, kindness and charity. Muslims, Christian and Jews, which are followed by over 50 percent of the world population believe in the same God. Rumi, a great scholar and poet of his time, wrote an interesting poem with the title “One Song” which I think beautifully depicts the commonalities of faith. 3 I would like to highlight part of the poem and I quote “What is praised is one, so the praise is one too, many jugs being poured into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks a little different on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light” In my view these commonalities are what interfaith and intercivilization should be promoting especially in the current time when the world is in dire needs of this. My views are reaffirmed by what Nelson Mandela said and I quote “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they an learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to human heart than its opposite.” 4 If we talk about Islam. This word has been derived from the Arabic word SALAM which means peace. A lot of emphasis in Islam has been given to peace and tolerance and so in Christianity and other faiths. One of my favourite quotes of Dalai Lama is and I quote “the purpose of region is to control yourself, not to criticise others”. Unfortunately, we do not see all these common messages of all faiths being promoted as much as it is needed. Therefore, this conference is also another important platform to highlight such messages. Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen To further highlight the importance of interfaith and inter-civilization cooperation to human solidarity I would like to share with you some key points that are faced by our world today. Despite global development gains, one in every 70 people around the world is caught up in crisis and urgently needs humanitarian assistance and protection. More people are being displaced by conflict. 5 Natural disasters and climate change also have a high human cost. These natural disasters affect 350 million people on average each year and cause billions of dollars of economic damage. Food insecurity is rising. In just two years between 2015 and 2017, the number of people experiencing crisis-level food insecurity or worse increased from 80 million to 124 million people. Humanitarian crises affect more people, and for longer. The number of people targeted to receive assistance through UN-led humanitarian response plans (HRPs) increased from 77 million in 2014 to 101 million in 2018. Now if we take a look at 2019, the Global Humanitarian Overview suggests that over 140 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in 55 countries. All these people do not belong to one religion or civilization. These figures point out that regardless of religion, faith and civilization people are suffering across the globe. 6 The recent example is the Cyclone Idai which was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and Southern Hemisphere. The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, which is 140 million, is quite huge. Therefore, to help alleviate the suffering of these people a collective effort is required. This is where a constructive dialogue on interfaith and inter-civilization plays a critical role to advocate for a joint action. Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen In my experience as a humanitarian where I have seen human suffering, I have also seen people generously providing assistance. If we talk about numbers,significant resources are provided, for the humanitarian response, by many generous donors from different parts of the world such as European countries, Gulf States, Canada, USA and Australia among many others. 7 Last month my office and the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the United Nations in Geneva organized an event in Geneva. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation delegate, during the event, underlined that the contributions from its Member States not only focused on Muslim countries but also to countries like Haiti, Philippines, Ecuador, Dominica Republic and Eritrea among many others. All this in encouraging and contributes to help prompt interfaith and inter-civilization cooperation. The sprit for alleviating the suffering of people in need regardless of their faith and civilization should be further promoted. Especially given that the estimated requirements to provide humanitarian assistance is US$25 billion. On average the Humanitarian response plans have been funded by 40 percent only. 8 In this respect I would also like to underline the potential of the faithbased financing which could help bridge the gap in responding to the needs. In my view faith-based groups have built a unique relationship with communities, which makes them well-equipped to contribute to the shifts required to put vulnerable people at the centre of global decision-making. Therefore, I want to use this platform to encourage all actors involved in faith-based humanitarian financing to engage with the multilateral humanitarian system especially to enable information sharing on the humanitarian giving and needs assessment. I firmly believe that the multilateral humanitarian system can further offer tools and services to the faith-based humanitarian organizations to help them allocate their resources where the dire needs are. This will also help improve the cooperation on interfaith and inter-civilization. 9 We at the United Nations have had positive experience with Zakat, which is one form of faith-based financing, and are ready to share this experience with organizations who are interested. I will end by a Russian Quote on Faith: Thank you for your attention.