General Assembly President stresses value of interfaith dialogue in securing peace

13 June 2007 –

Accepting an award for her work for peace and development, the President of the United Nations General Assembly has emphasized the importance of interfaith dialogue in realizing these goals.

“Promoting a true dialogue among civilizations and religions is perhaps the most important political instrument that we can use to reach out across borders and build bridges of peace and hope,” said Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa on Tuesday evening upon receipt of the Path to Peace Foundation award.

“Together – no matter what our religious affiliations are,” she said, “we can work towards our common goals with love, compassion, humility and vision – and bring about real change.”

The President pointed out that religious values are critical to defusing violence, which in turn will help towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global antipoverty targets.

“Religious values can play an important role by advocating a culture of peace to counter intolerance,” she said. “They are also pivotal in promoting equal rights and prosperity for all.”

Stating that climate change is “a moral issue about the preservation of the planet for future generations,” she said religious values can also make an important contribution to debate on the issue.

Sheikha Haya called on religious leaders to “motivate their followers to engage ‘others’ more reasonably and with greater mutual respect, while remaining true to their own beliefs.”

Founded in 1991, the Foundation, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN, serves as a vehicle to foster within the international community the social teaching of the Catholic Church on important questions of ethics, development, human rights and peace, according to Ashraf Kamal, a spokesperson for the Assembly President.

Past recipients of the award include former President of Poland Lech Walesa, and former UN Secretaries-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan.

In a separate development, Mr. Kamal announced today that the Assembly’s planned debate on climate change, originally scheduled for 26 to 27 July, will be held instead from 31 July to 1 August.

He also called attention to a meeting on financing development to achieve the MDGs which the Assembly will hold from 17 to 18 June in Doha, Qatar. The meeting will cover domestic resource mobilization by the world’s least developed countries, multilateral and bilateral aid, as well as “new and emerging donors,” Mr. Kamal said.

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