New York, 26 June 2007 - Secretary-General's remarks at the Rumi CommemorationI am delighted to join all of you today for this very special commemoration. Let me welcome the distinguished scholars and artists who have travelled long distances for this event. Let me also thank their Excellencies, the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey for hosting this gathering at the United Nations.
I must admit that I have been a bit unsure of where to begin. Many of you are dedicated disciples of Maulana Rumi. Others have just participated in a panel discussion on the significance of his poetry led by leading academics. For such scholars to be followed by a mere student of Rumi is a tall task, even for a Secretary-General!
Of course, just by looking around this hall, I can claim confidently that, eight centuries after his birth, Maulana Rumi lives on. This event is a wonderful opportunity to reaffirm our devotion to his humanist philosophy, and to highlight the principles of tolerance, understanding and compassion which suffuse his compositions.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hope to carry out my duties cheerfully and with humility just as our moderator suggested. I know this is a tall task but I would like to accomplish it with the same tolerance, understanding and compassion that the Maulana teaches.
Rumi's poetry is timeless. But its celebration at the United Nations is extremely timely. Events of recent years have created a growing gulf between communities and nations. They have lead to a worrying rise in intolerance and cross-cultural tensions. Reversing these trends has become vital to long-term peace and stability in our world.
These goals demand that every one of us look beyond our narrow short-term self-interests. As the Maulana teaches, we must be mindful of the people around us, and love them as human beings and God's creatures. In doing so, we should all recognize our essential interdependence, and place the well-being of our communities and of all humanity on par with our own interests.
This commemoration draws attention to this urgent need in a most engaging fashion. Indeed, by bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to celebrate Rumi's universal philosophy, today's gathering contributes to the UN's own efforts to promote a culture of peace through the Alliance of Civilizations. The successor to our earlier Dialogue among Civilizations process, this initiative responds to the clear need for action by the international community to bridge divides and promote understanding. The Alliance has identified several priority areas for action, and is developing a strategy to promote better understanding between the world of politics and religion. Commemorations like this one can help inspire and motivate its important work, and ensure the project's ultimate success.
More immediately, I think we can all be assured of a successful celebration. So let me just wish everyone a pleasant evening, and cede the stage to our gifted guests.
Thank you very much.
Statements on 26 June 2007
- New York, 26 June 2007 - Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on India and Pakistan
- Tokyo, Japan, 26 June 2007 - Secretary-General's message to the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East - delivered by Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Public Information (scroll down for the French version)
- New York, 26 June 2007 - Secretary-General's message on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
- New York, 26 June 2007 - Secretary-General's message on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture