5th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Vienna

Deadline: November 1, 2012

On February 27-28, 2013, the 5th UNAOC Forum will take place in Vienna, at the invitation of the Government of Austria. The Forum will explore on how responsible leadership can make a difference.

- Are you between 18 and 35 years old?

- Are you a member or a representative of a youth-lead organization?

- Do you want to contribute to a global conversation on intercultural understanding

and exchange innovative experiences?

- Do you want to meet other youth leaders from all over the world and develop joint actions?

- Would you like to take part in discussions that will help shape the United Nations’ agenda with regards to relations among different cultures?


1. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations



The Alliance of Civilizations is a United Nations initiative of the Secretary-General. It was launched in 2005 by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, with the co-sponsorship of the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey.



The primary mission of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is to forge collective political will and to mobilize concerted action aimed at improving cross-cultural understanding and cooperation among countries, peoples and communities. The UNAOC develops its actions at both governmental and civil society levels. It also works to counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism. While acting at the global level, the UNAOC’s focus is on improving relations within and between Western and Muslim societies and addressing persistent tensions and divides.




The UNAOC is all at once a matchmaker, convener, and a catalyst. At the heart of the UNAOC’s operational work lies the notion of partnership. These partnerships with wide-ranging actors multiply and amplify the impact, relevance and anchorage of the UNAOC’s work. Such partners include governments and international organizations; local authorities, cities; NGOs; foundations and philanthropists; media; corporations; religious leaders; academics and educators; citizens and, of course, young adults.


The UNAOC Annual Forum, held since in Madrid (2008), Istanbul (2009), Rio de Janeiro (2010) and Doha (2011), has become the premier forum in the world for governmental and non-state actors to converge and engage in a global conversation on intercultural understanding, exchange innovative experiences and develop joint actions. It is a unique platform for world leaders and heads of state to advocate publicly the importance of the intercultural dialogue agenda. For details about the past Forums, please visit www.unaoc.org.


2. The 5th UNAOC Forum and its Youth Event


 On February 27-28, 2013, the 5th UNAOC Forum will take place in Vienna, at the invitation of the Government of Austria. The Forum will explore on how responsible leadership can make a difference in the following three major issues:


1) Addressing the universal right to religious freedom and promoting a new religious pluralism through education


2) Media pluralism and diversity of media content and their contribution to fostering public debate, democracy and awareness of diverse opinions;


3) Shaping a new narrative for migration, integration and mobility in the global economy.




Up to 150 youth (between 18 and 35 years old) from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds with outstanding track records in intercultural dialogue and youth work will be selected as participants of the Youth Event and the 5th UNAOC Forum in Vienna. Youth will be invited to discuss, reflect and prepare Youth Recommendations to world leaders as to how responsible leadership can make a difference in fostering religious freedom, media pluralism and shape new narratives for migration and integration, and what youth are already doing and willing to take on to reach these objectives


The Youth Event will be output-oriented and will focus on collective reflection (i.e. youth recommendations) rather than on presentations of individual projects implemented by youth organizations at the event. In addition, it will help youth establish contacts, actively exchange and explore how they can collaborate together, before and after the Forum. Youth will be invited to multiply the results of the Youth Event and the Forum after they return home.


Aiming to launch well in advance the discussions among the youth, during the period of December 2012 – February 2013, the organizers will invite all selected youth to participate in online consultations on the Forum’s themes and start brainstorming on the elements of the Youth Recommendations to be prepared on February 26. Also, online interactions will help youth introduce themselves virtually, learn more about their backgrounds and interests, organizational activities and initiatives. This on-line conversation could continue after the Forum, therefore allowing all available time at the Youth Event to be dedicated to the Youth Recommendations.




Note: the draft program of the Youth Event and the 5th UNAOC Forum will be available on-line in November. It will be shared with all selected participants.






3. Timeline and logistics




  • - November 1, 2012: Application deadline for the Youth Event
  • - By end of November, 2012: Selected participants are informed and given logistical details
  • - By end of November, 2012: Selected participants need to register online (more information on this registration process will be provided only to selected participants). Only participants who register online by November 23 will be considered!
  • - Early December, 2012: Issuance of letters of invitation and travel itineraries. Depending on country of origin, participants will need to apply for a visa immediately!
  • - December 2012 – February 2013: Online consultations with selected youth
  • - February 25, 2013: Arrival of participants in Vienna
  • - February 26, 2013: Youth Event
  • - February 27, 2013: First Day of the 5th UNAOC Forum
  • - February 28, 2013: Second / Final Day of the 5th UNAOC Forum
  • - February 28 – March 1, 2013: Departure of participants




The working language of the Youth Event is English. Interpretation in other languages will not be provided.


As an official policy, the organizers of the 5th UNAOC Forum do not require payment of any participation fee. All selected youth participants will be provided with round-trip international ticket to Vienna (most direct route, economy class) and accommodation once in Vienna. Meals and coffee breaks will be provided during the official programme of the Youth Event and the 5th UNAOC Forum. Arrival and departure dates for youth participants are fixed: they cannot and will not be modified.




Youth participants will be responsible for their transportation to and from the airport in their country of residence as well as in Austria. Also, youth participants will be responsible for transportation within Vienna between their hotel and the Youth Event and Forum venue. Information on the Vienna transportation system will be provided to participants. Youth participants are responsible for obtaining any necessary exit, transit and Schengen visa and cover all related costs (fees, pictures, mailing, local transportation needed to obtain any of these visas, etc). Youth are also responsible to obtain (and cover the costs of) all necessary vaccinations and medical insurance for their stay in Austria. Lastly, you are responsible to cover their incidental expenses such as phone calls, meals outside of the Forum venue, souvenirs, taxis, etc.




4. Selection of participants




The following criteria will be applied during the selection process:



Eligibility criteria:



1)      Organization: applicants are members of non-government and non-for-profit youth organizations (organizations lead by youth for the benefit of youth). Applications from local, national, regional or international youth organizations will be reviewed; priority will be given to applicants from local and national youth organizations; in rare cases we’ll accept individual applications, if participants prove an outstanding commitment/expertise in the field of intercultural dialogue;


2)      Mandate of the youth organization is related to the UNAOC’s objectives;


3)      Age: at a point of the 5th UNAOC Forum, the applicant is 18 years old (born before February 26 1994), however, not older than 35 years old;


4)      Passport and Visa: the applicant holds a passport valid until at least September 2013 (for a visa to be issued, a passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after the expected date of entry into the Schengen zone). The applicant possesses sufficient funds to cover the cost of any necessary exit visa, transit visa and a Schengen visa to Austria, including pictures, mailing, courier, local transportation needed to obtain these visas. The applicants also have sufficient funds to cover the costs of medical insurance and any vaccinations required to enter Austria (if applicable);


5)      Local transportation: the applicant possesses sufficient funds to cover inner-city travel in Vienna as well as travel to and from the airport in their country of residence as well as in Austria;


6)      The application is duly completed in English, submitted by the deadline (November 1, 2012, at 11:59pm, NY time) and contains all supporting documentation, requested as part of the call (see application form). The application is submitted in Word (please do not PDF the application form), with the file saved using this format “FAMILY NAME_Surname_Country.doc”. The application is submitted by email to viennayouth@unaoc.org with the email subject line in this format “FAMILY NAME_Surname_Country”. Incomplete or late applications will not be reviewed and considered.


7)      A good command of English is required to take part in the 5th UNAOC Forum. The applicant understands English very well; possesses intermediate to fluent levels of English.




 Selection criteria (total 100 points):




1)      Quality of essays demonstrates that the applicant is highly motivated to attend and will substantively contribute to the Youth Event sessions, as well as to the 5th UNAOC Forum (25 points);


2)      Interest in themes: the applicant has shown past experience related to the UNAOC issues/focusing on cross-cultural dialogue or has demonstrated a great interest to get involved in this set of issues (25 points);


3)      Outreach: The applicant and his/her organization have the capacity to disseminate the results of the 5th UNAOC Forum back to the youth community (e.g. access to a large network of youth or youth organizations at a local level) (20 points);


4)      Future impact and follow up: the applicant expressed his/her strong commitment to propose ideas/plans/activities as a result of the 5th UNAOC Forum, in his/her local community or globally/regionally. (The UNAOC does not commit to fund nor endorse of project developed by youth during or after the Youth Event) (30 points).




In order to be reviewed, an application package must include the following documents and must be submitted following the below instructions:


  • Your application form, completed and certified (please keep the Word format, do not PDF the file), and respecting the word limit for each of the essay questions. The application file needs to be saved with this format “FAMILY NAME_Surname_Country.doc”.
  • A scan of the identification page of your passport (the PDF format is preferred); and
  • Your resume/CV in English (maximum 3 pages);
  • The application package is submitted by email to viennayouth@unaoc.org with the email subject line in this format “FAMILY NAME_Surname_Country”;




The application deadline is November 1, 2012, 11:59 PM New York time. Results of the selection process will be shared with applicants by the end of November 2012.






5. Invitation letter and Schengen visa:




In early December 2012, the organizers will issue an official letter of invitation as well as ticket itineraries (not actual tickets). Using the letter and the itinerary, participants have to contact the nearest Consulate/Embassy of Austria (or the nearest Schengen Embassy, issuing Austrian Visa) and apply for a Schengen visa by December 15, 2012, allowing sufficient time to process application. Upon receipt of Schengen visa and informing the organizers, participants will receive a round-trip ticket to Vienna. In addition, the participants will be responsible to apply for any required exit and transit visa needed to reach Austria.




Please note that the letter of invitation to the Youth Event and the 5th UNAOC Forum and presentation of all required documents do not automatically guarantee the issue of a Schengen visa (or any exit or transit visa), because local authorities have the right to refuse to issue a visa even though all documentation has been submitted.

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