About the alliance

The Alliance of Civilization (AoC) was established in 2005, at the initiative of the Governments of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the United Nations.

A High-level Group of experts was formed by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures today, and to recommend a practical programme of action to address this issue. The Report of the High-level Group provided analysis and put forward practical recommendations that form the basis for the implementation plan of the Alliance of Civilizations.

On 26 April 2007, former President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, was appointed as the High Representative for the AoC by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead the implementation phase of the Alliance.

The AoC Secretariat, which is based in New York, works in partnership with States, international and regional organizations, civil society groups, foundations, and the private sector to mobilize concerted efforts to promote cross-cultural relations among diverse nations and communities.

Mission statement

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, and to help counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism.

The Alliance was established in 2005, at the initiative of the Governments of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the United Nations. In April 2007, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, as High Representative for the Alliance. The AoC is supported by a Group of Friends – a community of over 85 member countries and international organizations and bodies.

Working in partnership with governments, international and regional organizations, civil society groups, foundations, and the private sector, the Alliance is supporting a range of projects and initiatives aimed at building bridges among a diversity of cultures and communities.

The Alliance functions, both globally and within the UN system, in the following capacities:

- a bridge builder and convener, connecting people and organizations devoted to promoting trust and understanding between diverse communities, particularly – but not exclusively – between Muslim and Western societies;
- a catalyst and facilitator helping to give impetus to innovative projects aimed at reducing polarization between nations and cultures through joint pursuits and mutually beneficial partnerships;
- a advocate for building respect and understanding among cultures and amplifying voices of moderation and reconciliation which help calm cultural and religious tensions between nations and peoples;
- a platform to increase visibility, enhance the work and highlight the profile of initiatives devoted to building bridges between cultures; and
- a resource providing access to information and materials drawn from successful cooperative initiatives which could, in turn, be used by member states, institutions, organizations, or individuals seeking to initiate similar processes or projects.



Based on the recommendations made in the AoC High-level Group Report, the work of the Alliance of Civilizations is structured around the following three objectives:


  1. Develop a network of partnerships with States, international organizations, civil society groups, and private sector entities that share the goals of the Alliance of Civilizations, to reinforce their interaction and coordination with the UN system;
  2. Develop, support, and highlight projects that promote understanding and reconciliation among cultures globally and, in particular, between Muslim and Western societies. These projects should be related to the four main fields of action of the Alliance: youth, education, media and migration.
  3. Establish relations and facilitate dialogue among groups that can act as a force of moderation and understanding during times of heightened cross-cultural tensions.

In pursuing these objectives, the AoC will maintain and demonstrate through its choice of activities a universal perspective. At the same time, a priority emphasis on relations between Muslim and Western societies is warranted given that cross-cultural polarization and mutual fear are most acute within and between these communities and represent a threat to international stability and security.

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