Madrid: A new UN “civilization” forum concluded on 16 January with a series of initiatives to combat intolerance between people of different cultures in the wake of the September 11 and other terror attacks.
The forum provided “a solid glimpse of a renewed hope that if we unite efforts we will bring some change to the world,” said Jorge Sampaio, the United Nations’ high representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.
It is a “unique example of the way in which the UN can adapt to the emerging challenges,” the former Portuguese president said in a closing speech to the delegates.
The Alliance of Civilizations Forum was the brainchild of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish prime minister, who proposed it at the UN General Assembly in September 2004, six months after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and four years after the September 11 attacks in the United States that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
It “responds to the crucial demand for building bridges of understanding across cultures,” Sampaio said.
He outlined 12 concrete initiatives from the two-day conference.
These included a $100-million fund to finance major film productions that promote cross-cultural understanding and counter stereotypes.
The fund, first announced by Jordan’s Queen Noor on 15 January, has an initial investment of $10 million and has established partnerships with Hollywood production and distribution companies.