On July 14th 2005, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the “Alliance of Civilizations” as an initiative aimed at promoting the commitment of the international community to bridge the gap between Islamic and Western societies. The project aims at involving society, both institutionally and civically, in the effort to build bridges to overcome prejudice, misperceptions and polarization that could threaten world peace.
The Alliance aims to avoid the problems arising from hostile positions that encourage violence and to try to boost cooperation to overcome these divisions. The events of recent years have high lightened the lack of mutual understanding between the Islamic and Western world and this climate has been exploited by extremists throughout the world. The “Alliance of Civilizations” appears as a coalition against such forces to reach a common ground between diverse ethnic and religious groups based on the tolerance, understanding and respect of the fundamental set of values and beliefs of each group in a world of increasing interdependence in all areas, from health to security.
The initiative was originally proposed by the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in September 21st 2004 at the 59th UN General Assembly. It was co-sponsored by the Turkish Prime Minister which has pledged initial contributions to establish a fund to finance the work of the Alliance. “Alliance of Civilizations” is therefore the name of the program adopted by United Nations on April 26th 2007 under the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the appointment of Jorge Sampaio as High Representative of the United Nations in the Alliance. The program of the Alliance, before being undertaken by the UN, was co-sponsored by Turkey, a country with which Spain is celebrating the joint issue of these two stamps.