United Nations

A/53/233


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

8 October 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                      A/53/233
       
                                                      Original: English
       
       
General Assembly
Fifty-third session


 Request for the inclusion of an item in the agenda of the fifty-third session


                        Dialogue among civilizations


    Letter dated 5 October 1998 from the Permanent Representative of the
       Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations addressed to the
                      President of the General Assembly


            I have the honour to request the inclusion of an item entitled
"Dialogue among civilizations" in the agenda of the fifty-third session of the
General Assembly, in accordance with rule 15 of its rules of procedure.

            Pursuant to rule 20 of the rules of procedure of the General
Assembly, this request is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum describing
the importance of this item and the need for the United Nations to address
this issue attentively through its General Assembly (see annex I), and a draft
resolution (see annex II). In view of the special significance of the proposed
item, which is of relevance to many different aspects of the work of the
Assembly, I would also request that this item be considered directly in
plenary meetings of the Assembly, without referral to a main committee.


                             (Signed)  Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian
                                                  Ambassador
                                    Permanent Representative


                                 Annex I

                      Dialogue among civilizations


     Explanatory memorandum for additional item on the agenda of the
                           fifty-third session


            The twentieth century has witnessed some of the deadliest and most
devastating conflicts. Following two atrocious world wars, the international
community set out to arrest this destructive trend, save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war, and encourage and engage in a new course,
replacing clash and bloodshed with tolerance and cooperation.

            The last decades of this millennium have been symbolized by a
universal desire to promote peace, the rule of law, tolerance and
understanding, and ensure social, economic and political progress for all,
regardless of historical and cultural backgrounds. The advent of technology
has also become a catalyst in enhancing interaction among societies and
individuals. Distance is becoming ever less, a measure of physical separation
rather than of viewpoints and opinions.

            Such progress has not come easy since old habits fade only after
resistance and friction. But they do move away. Tendencies that seek new
rivalries, invoke new confrontations, initiate a renewed race for power and
dominance, sow discord and dissent, and invite isolation and exclusion are
doomed to disappear in despair.

            To ensure that man will never again resort to hostility and
conflict as a means to achieve his objectives and will rely increasingly on
its ability to persuade and convince, the international community should
underline the imperative of dialogue as the accepted mode of interaction and
settlement of differences. Dialogue is the essential element and the key to
understanding, which opens the gates to progress and prosperity.

            The United Nations has also been built around this idea, and has
systematically and progressively worked towards institutionalizing dialogue
and to extend its realm to include all spheres of life as they affect the
development of a better future. Maintenance of international peace and
security, developing friendly relations among nations and achieving
international cooperation in solving international problems, as the Charter of
the United Nations projects, are all centred on dialogue and understanding.

            At the turn of the millennium, it is thus imperative that the
international community shows its determination to promote, encourage and
facilitate dialogue and understanding between various cultures and
civilizations, thereby promoting peace, tolerance and cooperation.
Civilizations have enriched each other through constant interaction, while
preserving their respective identities. Diverse civilizational achievements of
mankind crystallize cultural pluralism and creative human diversity. Positive
and mutually beneficial interaction among civilizations has continued
throughout human history despite impediments arising from disputes and wars.

            The Eighth Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
in its Tehran Declaration, emphasized the imperative of positive interaction,
dialogue and understanding among cultures and religions, and rejected the
theories of clash and conflict, which breed mistrust and diminish the grounds
for peaceful interaction among nations. In the Twelfth Non-Aligned Summit,
held at Durban, South Africa, the heads of State or Government expressed their
concern at attempts to suggest divisions between cultures and civilizations,
reiterated that despite conflict and war throughout human history, positive
interaction and fusion between cultures and civilizations has continued for
the benefit of the entire humanity, and expressed their resolve to facilitate
and promote enhanced dialogue between cultures and civilizations at the turn
of the millennium.

            The United Nations, as the centre for harmonizing the actions of
nations in the attainment of common ends, should have the central role in the
promotion of dialogue among civilizations and cultures. It is on this basis
that President Khatami suggested that this item be placed on the agenda of the
fifty-third session of the General Assembly, and a resolution be adopted in
the course of the current session to designate the year 2001 the United
Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations, so that humanity begins the new
millennium with a determination to build a better tomorrow based on dialogue
and mutual respect. The designation of such a Year would provide Governments
and relevant international and non-governmental organizations with an
opportunity to plan and implement appropriate cultural, educational and social
programmes to promote the concept of dialogue among civilizations, including
through organizing conferences and seminars and dissemination of information
and scholarly material on the subject.

                                 Annex II

                             Draft resolution


            United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations


            The General Assembly,

            Reaffirming the purposes and principles of the Charter of the
United Nations, which, inter alia, call for collective effort to strengthen
friendly relations among nations, remove threats to the peace and promote
international cooperation to resolve international issues of economic, social,
cultural and humanitarian character,

            Recognizing the diverse civilizational achievements of mankind,
crystallizing cultural pluralism and creative human diversity,

            Aware that positive and mutually beneficial interaction among
civilizations has continued throughout human history despite impediments
arising from disputes and wars,

            Emphasizing the imperative of tolerance in international relations
and the significant role of dialogue as a means to reach understanding, remove
threats to peace and strengthen interaction and exchange among civilizations,

            Reaffirming that civilizational achievements constitute the common
heritage of mankind, providing a source of inspiration and progress for
humanity at large,

            Welcoming the collective endeavour of the international community
to enhance understanding through constructive dialogue among civilizations at
the threshold of the third millennium,

            1. Expresses its firm determination to facilitate and promote
dialogue between nations;

            2. Decides to designate the year 2001 as the United Nations Year
of Dialogue among Civilizations;

            3. Invites Governments and relevant international and
non-governmental organizations to plan and implement appropriate cultural,
educational and social programmes to promote the concept of dialogue among
civilizations, including through organizing conferences and seminars and
dissemination of information and scholarly material on the subject, and to
inform the Secretary-General of their activities;

            4. Requests the Secretary-General to present a provisional report
on activities in this regard to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth
session, and a final report to the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth
session.

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