Bridge making for projects on cultural diversities

Joint work on enhancing multicultural dialogue through media, education, youth and integration was the main topic of a meeting between international organizations in Montenegro and the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Jorge Sampaio.

“Our aim is to create an optimistic environment. We are not competitors or bureaucrats, we are bridge-makers, conveners and partners. We want cultural diversity on the agenda in order to support overcoming of the conflicts and prejudices”, said Sampaio highlighting Alliance’s efforts on developing a market of ideas on how to address diversities.

The former Portuguese President gave an overview of the Alliance which was established on 2005 as the UN initiative dedicated to promotion of multicultural dialogue and tolerance. Sampaio stated that the Alliance is aimed to support, through a network of partnerships, the development of projects that promote understanding and reconciliation among cultures globally.

“Diversities are instruments of peace and security and a part of the development agenda, they are fuel for progress in democracy”, stated Sampaio and highlighted that funding remains to be a great challenge in creating intercultural initiatives.

Sampaio also presented activities and projects for possible joint work with the UN system and other international organizations in the country. He said that Montenegro is an active member of the Alliance from the very beginning.

The UN Resident Coordinator ad interim and UNHCR Representative in Montenegro, Brita Helleland, informed Sampaio on highlights of UN’s work in the country, with particular emphasis on implementation of the Integrated UN Programme, a joint integrated framework of the Montenegrin Government and the UN System which articulates the ‘Delivering as One’ reform in the period 2010 – 2016.

“I believe Delivering as One is a fundamental step forward. It reflects strong commitment to respecting diversities, human rights protection and attachment to institution building”, said Helelland and reiterated commitment of the UN family in Montenegro to support building society which will fully overcome diversities and prejudices.

In an interactive dialogue, the participants discussed issues concerning media, youth, education, migration, cultural diversity, intercultural understanding and cooperation. Representatives of different UN agencies, OSCE and EU Delegation in Montenegro, briefed Sampaio on achievements, challenges and future plans in the field of addressing cultural diversities.

Sampaio stressed Alliance’s interests in national plans for addressing cultural diversities and praised Montenegro’s role in regional efforts aimed at overcoming polarization and distinctions created in recent conflicts. In regard to that, the UN High Representative highlighted the importance of the Alliance’s Regional Strategy for South-East Europe, in which the UN System in Montenegro is already a partner. He also briefed participants about the project “History that connects” focused on the region of former Yugoslavia, and presented initiatives for introducing various kinds of summer camps for the youth. Mr. Sampaio particularly emphasized the importance of Alliance’s flagship project – “Dialogue Café”, a platform for boosting dialogue on a planetary level – exchange of opinions in virtual cafes, using high tech tools.

The participants agreed to meet again in September in order to agree on concrete actions for their greater role in the broad agenda of the Alliance of Civilizations.

The meeting was part of Sampaio’s official visit to Montenegro in the period 11-13 July, during which he closed the UNDP’s Young Diplomats School “Gavro Vukovic”.