STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE DATO’ SRI ANIFAH HJ. AMAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MALAYSIA AT THE SEVENTH GLOBAL FORUM OF THE UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILISATIONS (UNAOC) BAKU, AZERBAIJAN, 26 APRIL 2016

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firstly, I wish to thank the Government of Azerbaijan for hosting this Forum, and for the kind hospitality accorded to me and members of my delegation. Let me also extend my sincere appreciation to the UNAOC Secretariat whose tireless efforts have made it possible for us to convene today, in our common endeavor to enhance the work of the Alliance and strengthened its global network of partnerships.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The theme of this year’s Forum “Living Together in Inclusive Societies: A Challenge and A Goal” is indeed pertinent.

Inclusive societies are a goal that we should all aspire to achieve, given the many benefits that inclusivity brings. Only by adopting a culture of inclusion can we hope to achieve this goal. What this means is that every individual must feel respected and that they matter in the life of their community. Achieving this goal is not without its challenges.

Only inclusive societies enable its every member to fully participate and contribute in all aspects of life, including decision making processes. A participative approach to decision making and how the society is shaped, promotes a sense of ownership. This creates an environment conducive for living together in peace and harmony. Undoubtedly, this contributes to greater progress in development and success in nation building.

A truly inclusive society transcends all forms of differences such as race, faith, culture and gender. It ensures equal opportunity. While sustaining inclusive societies may seem a formidable challenge, what it requires to succeed is for all nations to take concrete steps to imbue and nurture positive values such as tolerance, acceptance, mutual understanding and moderation. They are important pre-requisites for peace and harmony.

Education plays a critical role in inclusive societies. It provides opportunities to learn that diversity is not an obstacle but it can be a strength that enriches life. Such an approach in turn cultivates understanding and appreciation of other societies, cultures and religions.

For the young, education provides the opportunity to instil values of respect and appreciation of diversity. At the same time, education can empower those who are marginalised or excluded from participating in decision-making.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Unfortunately, we are witnessing the rising influence of extremists who seek to divide our communities. They breed contempt and create discord through their extremist ideologies to serve their agenda. We must not allow them to succeed.

Malaysia is confident that the strong, united and informed voices of the moderates will be able to denounce and challenge extremist ideologies in an effective, coordinated and credible way. Defeating extremism requires the concerted efforts of peoples and nations around the world and their perseverance to strengthen the multi-racial and multi-faith democracy.

This is where we believe that the UNAOC has made a difference. Through focusing on its priority areas, particularly youth, media and education, it has created an avenue for moderate voices to come together and work out strategies to counter extremism and radicalization.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Moderation, as an approach, seeks to bridge differences, and address the various manifestations of extremism, including political and religious extremism. It is also an approach that should guide us in the conduct of international relations and foreign policy towards attaining global peace and harmony. In this regard, Malaysia is convinced that the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) can complement other like-minded initiatives such as the UNAOC that seeks to promote inclusive societies.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In sum, moderation is essential to sustain an inclusive and peaceful society. We firmly believe that it is an all-encompassing approach, not only in resolving differences and conflicts peacefully but also for ensuring sustainable and inclusive development, equitable growth, social harmony and mutual understanding within a country or region. It is a tool to diffuse tensions, negate radicalism and counter extremism.

It is our sincere hope that this Forum will further bolster cooperation in various relevant areas, strengthen existing partnerships and foster new partnerships to further the goals and initiatives of the Alliance.

Thank you.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia