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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Baku, Azerbaijan, 27 April 2010 - Secretary-General's message to World Summit of Religious Leaders

I am pleased to greet the many distinguished participants attending this World Summit of Religious Leaders. I thank the Inter-Religious Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States for organizing this important and timely meeting.

We live in a changing and interconnected world. Global challenges have local impacts, and local events can have global impacts. Globalization continues to transform our societies, bringing gains for many but leaving too many others untouched and discontent.

These 21st-century facts compel us to strengthen cooperation – to expand the space for dialogue. This is not a feel-good exercise. When we build a culture of understanding and uphold human dignity, we build a better world.

As religious leaders, you have an essential role to play in ensuring that the values of equality, tolerance and mutual respect, which lie at the core of all the world's great religions, are defended, promoted and used to truly enrich our societies. You can encourage dialogue that respects the importance of tradition but also embraces change. You can foster contacts and create conditions that will lead to sustainable peace, social justice and cultural cohesion.

These are goals which the entire United Nations system shares and which, since 2005, the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative has played a leading role in advancing at the international level. I look forward to your contributions to this shared global endeavour, and I offer my best wishes for a successful summit.

Statements on 27 April 2010