UNESCO Director-General at 1st International Conference on Preventive Diplomacy in the Mediterranean‎

On 30 May, at the invitation of H.E. Mr. Jose Garcia-Margallo y Marfil, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and in the context of the current membership of Spain in the UN Security Council, the Director-General attended the First International Conference on Preventive Diplomacy in the Mediterranean, on the theme of conflict prevention and the UN agenda. The Conference was held in Alicante, Spain.

'We need to move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention -- this should be the priority of diplomacy today,” declared Spanish Minister Margallo, emphasizing the need for leadership and ownership of the local, cultural and religious leaders in promoting dialogue and peace.

‎The conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain together with the non-profit institution Casa Mediterraneo, took place in the presence of H.E. Mr. Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo y Marfil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Honorable Mr. Gabriel Echavarri, Mayor of Alicante‎, H.E. Mr. Ximo Puig, President of Valencia's Regional Government, and H.E. Ms. Teresa Lizaranzu Perinat, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Spain to UNESCO.

The objective of the conference was to strengthen preventive diplomacy in North Africa and the Middle East and to explore current challenges across the Mediterranean region, sharing good practices in conflict prevention, to promote closer relations in the respect of human rights and cultural diversity of the region.

Minister Margallo reaffirmed Spain’s confidence and support to the UN and to multilateralism and emphasized the importance of the democratic founding values of the Mediterranean.‎

‎The Minister presented a set of proposals from his country in the context of Spain's membership of the UN Security Council – including to reinforce cooperation between the UN and regional institutions and the establishment of  a UN institution in North Africa, as well as supporting the designation of a Special Envoy of the SG to fight against terrorism, encouraging the creation of International Tribunal against Terrorism‎ and strengthening the judicial system to enforce respect for human rights with special focus on the training of national officials.

The Minister recalled also Spain's joint initiative with Italy for the  creation of a UNESCO special fund for the protection of cultural heritage in conflict situations.‎

‎The role of women, the media and civil society to promote security in the Mediterranean were amongst the priorities of discussions by the panelists, H.E. Mr. Ramtane Lamamra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria; H.E. Mr. Mbarka Bouaida, Minister Delegate to the Foreign Minister of Morocco; H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees; H.E. Ms. Natalia Gherman, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova;  H.E. Mr. Abdessatar Ben Moussa, Nobel Prize laureate and President of the Tunisian Human Rights League; H.E. Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean; H.E. Mr. Hisham Badr, Assistant Foreign Minister of Egypt for International Institutions and Organizations‎.‎

‎Minister Margallo underscored Spain's spearheading UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 2242 -- the latter adopted under the Spanish Presidency of the Security Council -- on women, peace and security to set up an informal global network of women active in conflict prevention, peace and security, including in preventive action, to share good practices, monitor the impact of UN's action in this context and integrate gender issues into conflict prevention strategies.

“This calls for a radical change in our tools to uphold women's rights and enhance their role in preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding,” declared Irina Bokova.‎

‎Participants gathered from North Africa, the Middle East and Europe at the international, governmental and intergovernmental, regional‎ and subregional level, and included religious leaders.

‎In this respect, the creation of a platform for interreligious dialogue between religious leaders for peace, especially in conflict regions, was mentioned by the Spanish Foreign Minister.

‎Panelists addressed challenges and opportunities for preventive diplomacy in the Mediterranean, notably in the face of growing migrations and cooperation, analyzing avenues to reinforce the promotion of human rights, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, and support for democratic governance as a mechanism for conflict prevention.‎

The Conference also featured representatives from the European Union, OSCE, ‎UN Women, UNDP, the Arab League, the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, and a number of non-governmental organizations, sharing insights on various aspects of preventive diplomacy -- notably the wealth of the Mediterranean identity residing in its rich diversity -- and pointing to new means for mediation and t foster alliances across the region while building on the endogenous resources of each country.

The Foreign Minister of Spain further referred to Spain's proposal to set up of a subsidiary body for preventive diplomacy of the Security Council to act as an alert to the ‎Council.

‎‎The Minister Delegate to the Foreign Minister of Morocco emphasized the manifold challenges of the region referring to the crisis in Middle East, wars in Iraq and Syria and growing challenges from migrations but also rising terrorism. She highlighted the importance of the inclusive approach amongst countries of the Mediterranean, the role of negotiation and the peaceful settlement of bilateral and sub-regional disputes‎.

“We need to anticipate the social crisis of younger generations, to address lack of social justice and reduce economic gaps and promote participatory democracy taking young people fully on board,” she declared.

In the framework of her visit to Spain,  on 31 May, Irina Bokova delivered a keynote address on Global Governance in the 21st Century to the Nueva Economia Forum‎ in Madrid in the presence of H.E. D. Inigo Mendez de Vigo y Montojo, Minister of Education of Spain, Mr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Garcia, President of the Forum, and an audience of representatives from the Spanish Government, the diplomatic corps, representatives from the economic and business communities, and the media.