David Fernández Puyana
Ambassador and Permanent Observer of UPEACE

Working together for Peace & Dialogue

Courtesy photo of the author

On 9 May 2022, the City Council of Malaga organized an expert meeting with high dignitaries focused on Plan of Action on intercultural and interfaith engagement as a catalyst to prevent conflicts and promote peace, on 9 May 2022. This was held in preparation of the “High Level Conference on Human Rights, Civil Society and the Fight Against Terrorism” organized by Spain and the United Nations in Malaga, Spain.

Coordinated by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the University for Peace in cooperation with the Muslim World League (MWL), the World Jewish Congress (WJC), and the Foundation Caritas in Veritates, the event included the attendance of high representatives of the Governments of Spain, Argentina, Holy See and the United Arab Emirates.

Francisco de la Torre Prados, Mayor of the City Council of Malaga welcomed the organizers for having chosen the city of Malaga. Afterwards, Francisco Rojas Aravena, Rector of UPEACE, stressed that UPEACE educates new leaders for peace and trains new generations for conflict resolution under the postgraduate programme on Religion, Culture and Peace Studies, sponsored by Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa Scholarship Programme. Interreligious dialogue is a fundamental way to advance along a key path towards promoting peace. Interreligious dialogue makes it possible to find ways to build tolerance in the interaction between people.

During the high-level panel discussion on intercultural dialogue chaired by Federico Villegas, 16th President of the UN Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN Office in Geneva, it was stressed that human rights violations are both a consequence of conflicts and a factor that generates the conditions for future conflicts. The United Nations Human Rights Council has valuable tools to help societies traumatized by violence, and in some cases, by atrocities.

The panel comprised of distinguished dignitaries of the different faiths and religions, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva, affirmed that “Pope Francis, through his symbolic apostolic journeys and actions has contributed to make visible the inextricable link between interfaith dialogue and the promotion of peace, recalling that we are members of the same human family and inviting us to go back to our common roots and to foster a culture of openness towards others.

During his intervention, Dr. Serhan, Special Adviser of the Secretary General of the MWL, added that “the objectives of the Makkah Document is to convey the message of Islam calling for peace in the whole world, to promote dialogue between followers of religions and cultures, to confront hate speech & to renounce violence and terrorism”. Lubna Qassim, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN Office in Geneva, in her presentation shared it has been an honour to participate at the Malaga Conference on a very important dialogue as the global turmoil heightens & showcased “tolerance & co-existence” as a pillar of UAE’s foreign policy. UAE continues to work to promote peace and to fight against counter-terrorism & extremism which is a threat to modernity & stability within our region”. Leon Saltiel, Representative at UN Geneva and UNESCO of the World Jewish Congress, indicated that the WJC, as the representative of the Jewish people, supports this conference and all other initiatives that aim to promote interfaith dialogue, and help build a world based on peace, tolerance and human rights.

Media, civil and religious society and the business community and educational institutions play an important role in their efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding, in promoting tolerance and coexistence, and in fostering an environment which is not conducive to incitement of violence and hate speech. In these efforts, the enhancement of multilateralism is key to finding global solutions and to combating hate speech, disinformation, xenophobia and racism.

About the Author
Dr. David Fernández Puyana was born in Spain and is a practitioner and international lawyer specialized in international human rights law, international relations, peace studies, United Nations and civil society movements. He earned a Phd with European Mention and he has also a Degree on Law & Philosophy, as well as, some Masters on Human Rights (Essex, Alcala de Henares and Barcelona Universities). He served as adviser at the UNESCO Liaison Office and the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN in Geneva. As a legal assistant of the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on the right to peace, he was one of the architects of the Declaration on the Right to Peace adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2016. He advises Paz sin Fronteras and is Professor of Public International Law at Abat Oliba University CEU. Since June 2018, he serves as Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the University for Peace established by the UN General Assembly to the UN and UNESCO. He is also nominated Gender Champion.