The 4th UNAOC Forum is held from 11-13 Dec 2011 in Doha, Qatar. MWTF was invited to attend through one of United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) initiatives Integration: Building Inclusive Socities (IBIS). It’s the first time civil society, particularly grassroots movements and individuals are invited to attend.
With the Forum’s main theme of “Intercultural Dialogue to Boost Development”, and a thematic area for migration on how to fight intolerance, discrimination, xenophobia and build inclusive societies through integration, dialogue and action it is a great opportunity to be here.
The official opening session of the Forum was by HH the Emir of Qatar, Ban Ki Moon and leaders of many countries (Turkey, Austria, Germany, Spain etc). Ministers from over 100 countries were attending. All the speeches touched upon embracing diversity, increasing the understanding of the other and global solidarity.
MWTF took over a spot on the library for distributing materials and put up our posters and stories from our initiatives and news coverage. During the coffee breaks many people came and a representative from IOM commented that the posters were ‘very powerful’.
The breakout session of the day for migration was on “The impact of migration in development: a two way street” led by the General Secretary of IOM, representative from EU, Minister of Uruguay (why I’m not sure) and Executive Director of Australian Multicultural Foundation. One speech touched upon the importance of volunteerism for integration.
Following that note during the Q&A, we had the opportunity to present MWTF and the issues that migrant workers are facing in Lebanon to the whole panel and participants. The question was also raised on how we can link our volunteering efforts with other actors (both local but also international) in order to create more impact and change at a policy level.
So the first day was quite successful. We networked and got to know many new actors in the field, from Qatar to Europe to Equador as well as caught the attention of large INGOs like the UN, IOM and International Red Cross. Hopefully in the next days we will further build alliances, gain support and see what kind of direct actions will be taken on an international level advancing dialogues and migrant rights.