Mr. President of ECOSOC,
Mr. Secretary-General of the Conference,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to address you this morning on the
issue of interfaith cooperation for peace. I must commend and congratulate
the tripartite convening group, composed of governments, United Nations
system organizations and civil society, for organizing this conference.
I would like also to congratulate the Philippines in particular for
mobilizing the tripartite efforts in the run-up to this conference.
The United Nations and the religions of the world share a common
concern for human dignity, justice and peace. The objectives and principles
enshrined in the Charter of the UN, the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, and the Millennium Declaration represent a common set of global
values shared by all cultures and civilizations.
The United Nations General Assembly recognizes the importance of engaging
religious communities. It adopted by consensus, at its 59th session,
resolutions on the promotion of interreligious dialogue; the promotion
of religious and cultural understanding, harmony and cooperation;
and the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance.
Intercultural understanding and interreligious dialogue are integral
parts of the effort to translate shared values into actions and constitute
important dimensions of the Dialogue among Civilizations and of the
Culture of Peace. I am encouraged by the evolution of interfaith dialogue
into the arena of interfaith cooperation that our conference today
Interreligious dialogue promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship
among people in all the diversity of their religions, beliefs, cultures
and languages. Such a dialogue is particularly needed in areas burdened
by inter- or intra-religious conflicts resulting from mistrust, misunderstanding
or ignorance of spiritual traditions and their specific cultures and
If religions have contributed to the peace of the world, we have
also to recognize that they have been used to create division and
fuel hostilities. Fanaticism and adherence to exclusive ideologies,
both religious and secular, have challenged religious communities,
governments and international relations for centuries.
It is important that in building our civilizations, we enhance interfaith
cooperation among governments, civil society and the United Nations
system, in the context of the agenda of the Culture of Peace and Dialogue
among Civilizations to achieve sustainable peace in the twenty-first
The quest for peace and justice, and the need to overcome violence,
binds religions, governments and the UN together. Their partnership
is appropriate as stakeholders in the achievement of a regime of rights
and freedoms, a culture of peace, a civilization of tolerance, a policy
of inclusion and empowerment, and of sustainable economy.
The commitment of the world's religious leaders to global peace will
be reinforced by today's conference. The outcome of the conference
should highlight key areas in which religions can play a role in helping
reduce conflict and in addressing the critical needs of humankind
as we explore strategies to enhance interfaith cooperation for sustainable
By strengthening intercultural and interreligious dialogue and cooperation,
we will further advance on the path to enlarging freedom and sustaining
peace. A true Culture of Peace can be founded upon the heritage of
religious and spiritual traditions.
The conference recommendations on strategies to enhance interfaith
cooperation towards peace could enrich the outcome of the High Level
Plenary Meeting in September and serve as an important material on
the subject of promotion of Interreligious dialogue.
I thank you.