I. Objective of the Initiative
The Alliance of Civilizations (AoC) was launched in 2005 by the then Prime Minister H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey, and by H.E. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former Prime Minister of Spain and became a UN initiative upon endorsement by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Various extremist elements exploit the mutual suspicion, fear and polarization between the Muslim countries and Western societies. The Alliance aims to overcome this tendency by enhancing mutual respect between cultures bearing in mind that only a comprehensive coalition can prevent the deterioration of this situation, which threatens the international stability. The Initiative is based on the idea that all societies are interdependent on the matters of development, security, environment and welfare, and aims at establishing a common political will in order to overcome prejudice, misperception and polarization.
The Initiative’s visibility has steadily increased and it has become a prominent project within the context of dialogue among cultures and religions today.
II. Group of Friends
The Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilization established under the umbrella of the UN, today consists of 145 members, including Member States and international organizations.
III. Secretariat and High Representative
In order to ensure coordination and carry out the administrative work of the Alliance, a Secretariat was established in New York within the United Nations. The Secretariat promotes the Alliance in international platforms and carries out concrete projects in the fields of media, youth, migration and education.
Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, was designated by the UN Secretary-General as the first High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations on 26 April 2007. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar has assumed this post since January 2013.
IV. UN General Assembly Resolution
The first resolution on the AoC co-sponsored by 96 countries was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 November 2009. The adoption of this first resolution indicated the international community’s appreciation of the work of the AoC and its support for its projects. The second resolution was adopted on 6 July 2015, which was co-sponsored by 101 UN members under the agenda item “Culture of Peace”. This resolution strengthened the standing of the Alliance of Civilization within the UN system.
V. Annual Forums of the Alliance of Civilizations
Madrid Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations
The First Annual Forum of AoC was held in Madrid on 15-16 January 2008. Madrid Forum was the first meeting introducing the AoC to the international arena.
The Second Forum of AoC was held in Istanbul on 6-7 April 2009. AOC’s prominence in the efforts for promoting intercultural dialogue was confirmed during the Istanbul Forum. The Forum confirmed that the institutionalization process of AoC was completed and that it was time to take steps for implementation. Istanbul Forum was also beneficial in terms of reinforcing the leading role of Turkey in the efforts for intercultural dialogue.
The Third Forum of the Alliance was held in Rio de Janerio on 28-29 May 2010. The Forum gave an impetus to the Alliance, particularly in the Americas. It also reinforced standing of the Alliance globally.
The Fourth Forum of AoC was held in Doha on 11-13 December 2011. The Forum created a synergy between the objectives of the Alliance and Millennium Development Goals.
Istanbul Partners Forum
High Representative Sampaio introduced a financial support mechanism for the Alliance in order to maintain its financial sustainability. The first commitment meeting within the scope of this mechanism was held in Istanbul on 31 May-1 June 2012.
The Istanbul Partners Forum was attended by Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, then President of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as representatives of 70 countries and 20 international organizations from among the members of the Group of Friends of AoC.
The amount of financial commitments made by the participants of the Forum reinforced the reputation and importance of the Alliance in the international arena, confirming Turkey’s leading role in the field of dialogue, harmony and cooperation between nations, cultures and civilizations.
The Fifth Forum of AoC was held under the title of "Responsible Leadership in Diversity and Dialogue" in Vienna on 27-28 February 2013. In order to strengthen the culture of living together, pluralism and dialogue, different roles and responsibilities of politicians, as well as civil society, religious communities, media, academic circles and youth were highlighted at the Forum. The Vienna Forum was the first forum attended by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al- Nasser who is the successor of Jorge Sampaio.
The Sixth Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations was hosted by Indonesia in Bali on
29-30 August 2014. At the Forum convened under the theme of “Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values”, a Declaration titled “Unity in Diversity” was adopted.
The Seventh Global Forum of the Alliance was held in Baku on 25-27 April 2016. Baku Forum provided a significant opportunity to highlight the role of South Caucasus and Central Asia in enhancing the continuing relevance of the Alliance.
VI. National Plans
In the implementation phase, members of the Group of Friends are expected to submit National Plans comprising concrete projects to realize the objectives of AoC and strengthen intercultural dialogue. Turkey has submitted its Second National Plan to the AoC Secretariat in 2013.