Alicante, 31 May 2016. The First International Conference on Preventive Diplomacy in the Mediterranean, under the theme “Conflict Prevention and the UN Agenda”, was organised at the initiative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, José Manuel García-Margallo, in Casa Mediterráneo, Alicante (Spain), on 30-31 May, 2016.
The objective of the Conference was to strengthen preventive diplomacy in North Africa and the Middle East and to explore current challenges across the Mediterranean region, sharing good practices in conflict prevention, to promote closer relations in the respect of human rights and cultural diversity of the region. High-level participants included the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, the Minister Delegate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Morocco, Mbarka Bouaida, the Assistant Foreign Minister of Egypt for Multilateral Affairs and International Security, Hisham Badr, and the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Pedro Serrano de Haro. Several key institutions were represented at the highest level, such as the European Institute of Peace, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, UN Women or the United Nations Development Program.
The Secretary General presented the activities of the UfM Secretariat and the 41 labelled projects to-date, highlighting the growing number of beneficiaries and the positive impact that these can have in the region. “Effective conflict prevention calls for a more ambitious, concerted effort to collectively address the three interrelated priorities of our region, human development, integration and stability. As it has been the case in Europe, the Americas or Asia, only deeper economic integration can provide the basis for sustained human development and stability. Prosperity and stability in the Mediterranean are, in turn, paramount to world’s security and order. It is therefore essential to address the root causes of the sources of tensions and insecurity and to continue working on a sustainable and integrated agenda. Investing in regional integration means investing in peace and stability”, he said.
Participants discussed different ways to reinforce preventive diplomacy in the region through ongoing efforts within the framework of the UfM, focusing on three main priorities: Euro-Mediterranean economic integration; strengthening the human capital of the region as the backbone of sustainable development and inclusive growth; and enhancing regional political dialogue to further contribute to regional stability.
Participants expressed interest in the impact of UfM activities and projects in terms of conflict prevention, mainly those devoted to reinforcing human capital, especially women and youth, such as the 10 projects being implemented under the Med4Jobs Initiative on youth employability, education and mobility, targeting an estimate 100,000 – mostly young – people. They also valued the UfM, an international organisation driven by the political support of its 43 Member States, as “the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the region”, and thus with a unique role in the promotion of dialogue and confidence-building measures in the Mediterranean.
Casa Mediterráneo is a public diplomacy institution devoted to fostering and deepening relations between the Kingdom of Spain and its neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean.