NEW YORK – 22 May 2020 – Today, H.E. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, and H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, co-hosted a virtual Ramadan gathering of the Group of Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC Group) and senior UN officials to discuss and reflect on global solidarity, peaceful co-existence and shared responsibility during the current health and humanitarian crises and the positive role Muslim communities are playing in responding to this global emergency.
As the Chair of the OIC Group, the UAE co-hosted the virtual gathering with Secretary-General Guterres, which, due to the pandemic, took place in lieu of the Secretary-General’s annual tradition of visiting Muslim communities during the holy month of Ramadan.
During the event, Secretary-General Guterres emphasized the importance of our common humanity as the world collectively responds to the pandemic. He said: “We need solidarity in speaking out against the rise in ethno-nationalism, stigma and hate speech targeting vulnerable communities and exacerbating suffering. You have my total commitment to actively challenge inaccurate and harmful messages, promote non-violence and reject anti-Muslim bigotry, hate and all forms of intolerance. I salute the efforts of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity for the 14 May Global Prayer for Humanity inspired by the interfaith leadership of His Holiness Pope France, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and many others.”
“This crisis is a reminder that today, more than ever, we need global peace. In this context, I would like to commend the timely appeal of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire – a brave and a much-needed initiative,” said Ambassador Nusseibeh. “While uncertainty and economic insecurity can be a breeding ground for xenophobia, religious bigotry, and other forms of discrimination, it is important to remind ourselves that in a pandemic no one is safe until everyone is safe. In the face of such a far-reaching global health crisis religion must not be used to further polarize us, but rather help bring us together in solidarity.”
At the gathering, H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, said, “Solidarity remains our first line of defence. I urge the OIC and indeed all Member States to continue to reinforce the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. I trust that the OIC will continue to be a voice of reason and moderation for international peace and security, justice and sustainable development. As we come to the end of Ramadan, I trust that we will be guided by the values of this holy month and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.”
In addition to the Members of the OIC Group, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, UN Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Service Fatoumata Ndiaye, and UN Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia, Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari were also in attendance.
The UAE assumed the chairmanship of the 46th Session of the Council of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC in March 2019. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, faith communities in the UAE and around the world are balancing public health and safety as well as religious practice. During these new circumstances, technology has allowed for diplomacy and religious observation to continue, connecting people from all around the world despite social distancing constraints.