UN chief identifies three 'urgent' situations where Alliance of Civilizations is well placed to contribute

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the Fifth Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Photo: UNAOC/Georges Schneider

The ongoing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians and the conflicts in Mali and Syria are urgent situations where the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is well placed to contribute to resolving.

That's what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening remarks to the Fifth Global Forum of the Alliance in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday.

Mr. Ban said "whenever tensions divide communities, the opportunity exists for the Alliance to build bridges and to help people move from conflict to collaboration".

On Syria, which he described as "an extraordinary mosaic of tribes, ethnicities, languages and religions" the Secretary-General said he is extremely concerned about the risk of sectarian violence and mass reprisals as the situation continues to worsen.

"When the conflict ends, Syrians will need help to rebuild damaged relationships so all can work together to restore their nation. The Alliance encourages efforts by partners – notably religious leaders from all denominations – to foster healing. In Mali, the extremists are in retreat, but not yet defeated. Their wanton desecration of sacred sites launched a global shockwave of outrage." (30")

On the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, the Secretary-General said a durable peace requires the resumption of meaningful negotiations backed by international engagement.

He urged the UN Alliance of Civilizations to support peacemakers on both sides.

Gerry Adams, United Nations.

Duration: 1'37"

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