Director of UN Alliance of Civilizations speaks to GFDD about the Importance of Social Cohesion for Economic Prosperity

November 21, 2014

For the November edition of its online broadcast program “Global Roundtable,” Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) invited Matthew Hodes, Director of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Mr. Hodes previously served with the United Nations in the 1990s at headquarters and in the field. He has extensive experience in peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict nation building in the public and non-for-profit
sectors. From the early 1990’s until 2001, he served the United Nations in multiple capacities, including providing policy and legal advice for the United Nations Protection Force leadership during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In 1995 he opened the first office in Sarajevo for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and returned to Sarajevo to focus on rebuilding the Bosnian judicial system for the Office of the High
Representative of Bosnia from 1999–2001.

In 2001 Mr. Hodes went to work for The Carter Center. From 2003-2007 he was Director of the Conflict Resolution Program, where he advised former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter on matters relating to armed conflicts and political disputes,
while leading the Center’s mediation and negotiation assistance activities around the world. In 2010, Mr. Hodes went on to serve as Director of Programs for Club de Madrid, where he focused on transformational leadership in transitional societies and equitable development policies. He has also worked as a private consultant, advising public sector and not-for-profit agencies. Finally, in February 2013, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, a special project of the
Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, announced the appointment of Matthew Hodes as incoming Director.

During this edition of the GFDD Global Roundtables, Mr. Hodes provided insight on the programs of UNAOC, before delving into the importance of partnerships and cooperation within a multilateral system.

He spoke of the importance of civil society in efforts to resolve and reconcile post conflict and that UNAOC assists civil society as a soft power tool for
diplomacy. He explained that it provided a social and cultural approach to these issues. Mr. Hodes pointed to the civil unrest in reaction to migration issues in Paris. He said that UNAOC looked to address these problems. Providing examples of social cohesion, he pointed to cities as being laboratories for finding such solutions. He explained that societies need to learn to be welcoming of immigrants and provide training sessions that will seek to integrate them better in society, to avoid
creating ghettos. He stressed that understanding this need could allow countries to prosper economically.

Highlighting the role of civil society groups in finding such solutions, Mr. Hodes explained that UNAOC often supports policy projects put forward by these groups by acting as a bridge between different organizations in a target country.  Turning to the draft Sustainable Development Goals and the Post 2015 Development Agenda, Mr. Hodes pointed to the role of UNAOC in this process. He explained that the
Secretary-General has asked UNAOC to provide input on issues of culture and development. Working in collaboration with UNDP he stated that he hoped the UNAOC’s input would help UN Member States decide whether the resolutions put forward tie in with their cultural environment.

To conclude, Mr. Hodes provided further insight on the role that civil society can play in helping UNAOC provide a platform for intercultural dialogue, understanding and

About the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA)
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) was established in 2005, at the political initiative of Mr. Kofi Anan, former UN Secretary General and co-sponsored by the Governments of Spain and Turkey. A High-Level Group of experts was formed by Mr. Annan to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures today, and to recommend a
practical programme of action to address this issue. In its 2006 report, the High-Level Group identified four priority areas for action namely, (Education, Youth, Migration, Media). UNAOC project activities are fashioned around these four areas, which can play a critical role in helping to reduce cross-cultural tensions and to build bridges between communities. The High-level group described UNAOC as an entity that would assist in diminishing hostility and promoting harmony among the

About GFDD Global Roundtables
In close association with the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the UN, GFDD organizes regular meetings with UN Ambassadors and other prominent figures in the international community in an effort to spread the news, knowledge and understanding of other countries, global issues and work of different UN bodies to its audience in the Dominican Republic, the US and around
the world.

The regular series,”GFDD Global Roundtables” is also a part of GFDD’s program to support the work of the United Nations and, as a non-governmental institution affiliated to it, contribute to the visibility and understanding of its work.

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