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UN campaign to tap into personal connections in bid to protect religious sites

The campaign is part of the UN Plan of Action to safeguard religious sites, which was launched last September in the wake of a series of horrific attacks, including on mosques in New Zealand, a synagogue in the US city of Pittsburgh, and churches in Sri Lanka.  

 Developed by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the Plan of Action is complemented by another initiative – the Plan of Action on Hate Speech, which coordinates efforts across the UN system to address the root causes of incendiary language and respond effectively. 

 In a video message, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Moratinos, said that the communications campaign seeks to create “personal and emotional connections” with religious sites in order to celebrate their universality. It will also underscore the role of individuals in protecting all religious sites, regardless of religions or beliefs.  

“The target audience of the campaign is global youth who are active on social media and are interested in promoting dialogue, and the global faith community,” he added.  

 In addition to the development of a global communications campaign, the Plan of Action also recommended that States create multi-disciplinary national plans anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to prevent violent extremism; and that religious leaders regularly engage in interfaith dialogue. 

 Among the steps taken since the Plan of Action was launched, Mr. Moratinos highlighted efforts to undertake a mapping of religious sites around the world that will result in interactive online tool that will capture the universality of religious sites and contribute to fostering respect and understanding of their significance. 

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