On 25 September 2013, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Director-General, Irina Bokova, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) His Excellency Mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. This renews and revitalizes the Memorandum of Understanding linking the two instances for a further two years.
Through this agreement, UNESCO and the AOC reaffirm their commitment to pursue joint efforts with a view to improving relations between peoples of different cultures, religions and traditions, so as to counter contemporary tendencies towards extremism and fanaticism, to promote mutual understanding and respect, with a view also to bridging divides amongst peoples.
The new agreement sets the goals the two partners expect to achieve, focusing specifically on youth and the media. It delineates an enhanced cooperation through the development and implementation of joint initiatives and programmes, also taking advantage of frameworks such as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), which was proclaimed last December by the UN General Assembly with UNESCO as lead agency.
Mr Al Nasser affirmed that the agreement formalizes the AOC's excellent cooperation with UNESCO, and stands to be "a partnership to complement each other in serving the international community." The Director-General underscored the heightened importance of the AOC in the current political context, when it is more vital than ever to promote diversity, dialogue among cultures and tolerance. "We have a responsibility in today's world to educate, to teach, to reconcile and to pass a strong message on our shared humanity. Together we can make a difference."