NEW YORK: The UN’s 193-member General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by Pakistan and Philippines on promoting inter-religious dialogue to build a culture for world peace.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, co-introducing the resolution, said that intercultural dialogue should aim to overcome “ mutual fears and mistrust” that are based on lack of proper understanding of each other’s perspective.
The resolution titled, “Promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” was cosponsored by 37 states representing all major regions and civilizations of the world, including China, Russia, Japan, as well as several member states from Africa, OIC, EU and the ASEAN region.
A joint Pakistan-Philippines, the resolution was first introduced in 2005 as a response to the flawed thesis of the “Clash of Civilizations”. The resolution condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination; and underlines the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that the world was afflicted with the grave challenges of armed conflicts, terrorism, xenophobia and religious intolerance. All this urged the need to engage in a constructive dialogue among followers of all religions and civilizations of the world.
She called for concerted global action and a comprehensive long-term strategy that not only responds to symptoms but also addresses the root causes and underlying drivers of violent extremism and terrorism. “The strategy must include meaningful and greater dialogue among the world’s different religions and civilizations”, she said.
Ambassador Lodhi regretted that the common vision and aspiration of a peaceful and harmonious world was far from being realized. “Armed conflicts continue to rage in several parts of the world. Some of these have unleashed human dislocation – refugees and forced migrants – on a scale not witnessed for over half a century”, she said.
Ambassador Lodhi told the GA that the world’s great religions rest on common values that should unite and not divide us. She underscored the need to identify and build on these commonalities. “Cultural diversity can be used as a positive force to promote harmony and cooperation in multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies”, she said and called for joining forces and summoning collective energy to eliminate prejudice, shun stereotypes and engage in genuine dialogue across cultures and religions.
Such dialogue, the Pakistani envoy said, should be pursued in a structured, multi-layered and inclusive manner, including but not limited to religious and community leaders, scholars and civil society organizations.
Several member states took part in the general debate on the agenda item. The representatives of Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Tanzania and Paraguay appreciated Pakistan’s initiative and expressed full support for the resolution.