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GA/9818
13 November 2000

DEBATING DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS, ASSEMBLY HEARS CALLS TO ELIMINATE WIDESPREAD CULTURAL, NATIONAL MISCONCEPTIONS, STEREOTYPING

13 November 2000


Press Release
GA/9818


DEBATING DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS, ASSEMBLY HEARS CALLS TO ELIMINATE WIDESPREAD CULTURAL, NATIONAL MISCONCEPTIONS, STEREOTYPING

20001113

Dialogue among civilizations was not an end in itself but a new approach, a qualitatively different mode of communication and discussion, Iran’s representative told the General Assembly this morning as he introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. [The Assembly, by its resolution 53/22 of 4 November 1998, had decided to proclaim the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.]

He said the world leaders at the Millennium Summit had underscored freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility as fundamental values essential to international relations in the twenty-first century. One could only rise to that challenge if the approach to problem resolution was revisited. That was why the call for a dialogue among civilizations had been welcomed across the world by both the public and private sectors.

Quoting President Khatami of Iran, he said, “a belief in dialogue paves the way for vivacious hope: the hope of living in a world permeated by virtue, humanity and love, and not merely by the reign of economic indices and destructive weapons. Should the spirit of dialogue prevail, humanity, culture and civilization will prevail.”

The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was important to define the dialogue as a dialogue between cultures in the broadest sense of the term. Culture was one of the most telling traits, made up of factors such as geography, language, beliefs, arts, and science. It was essential that a dialogue between cultures covered all those components that made up culture’s wealth. Diversity was the basis on which international relations were founded. History had shown that differences could lead to suspicion, which in turn could lead to hostility.

The building of a dialogue implied two tasks, the representative of France continued: preserving the diversity of cultures, and ensuring that steps were taken to bridge the gap of understanding between cultures. The experience of dialogue presupposed that all parties accepted each other; in fact, no dialogue was possible if one party did not recognize the other as an equal. Dialogue between civilizations required one condition: the preservation of diversity, which represented the human face of globalization.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9818 59th Meeting (AM) 13 November 2000

Echoing the words of other representatives of Arab States, the United Arab Emirates’ representative said that all dialogue between civilizations must face up to the manifestly wrong information propagated by some against Islam and the Arab tradition. Dealing with the subject should include a study of history and the cultural and scientific components of all civilizations. The Arab world was born of ancient civilizations, and was the cradle of the religion out of which Islam was born. The traditions and customs of the Arab peoples were based on the Holy Koran, which called for tolerance and equality.

The representative of Azerbaijan said many young people around the world were becoming followers of a general culture, a new system of values and behaviour patterns. He was concerned that manufacturers of products of this “pop culture” were imposing their own views of culture. In consequence, a narrow image of Arab as terrorists was being promulgated. Terrorism, however, knew no boundaries. Moreover, negative religious hatred could become a source of domination. The Muslim civilization had made a huge contribution to humankind and had introduced many new ideas. Islam was a religion uniting hundreds of millions of people and calling for respect for other religions, such as Christianity and Judaism.

The representatives of Belarus, India, Egypt, Ukraine (speaking on behalf of the GUAM group –- Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova), Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Malaysia, Philippines, Yemen, Indonesia and Iraq also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue consideration of the subject.

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9818 59th Meeting (AM) 13 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The fifty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly met this morning to take up consideration of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on that item (document A/55/492 and Correction 1). The Assembly, by its resolution 53/22 of 4 November 1998, decided to proclaim the year 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

According to the report, over the last 12 months, governmental and academic institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have conducted seminars, debates and research work on the issue, bringing together a variety of civil society groups. A meeting at Head-of-State level took place at Headquarters on 5 September.

The report states that diversity is the concept underlying a focused reflection about dialogue among civilizations. Learning how to address diversity has become a more compelling necessity as the world has grown smaller and its interaction more intense and unavoidable. It is the perception of diversity as a threat that is at the very origin of war.

A number of eminent persons has cooperated with the Secretary-General's Personal Representative for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, Giandomenico Picco, and their work will be contained in a book to be presented by the Secretary-General by late summer 2001. The faces, names and stories of 12 individuals from a spectrum of societies, who have reached across the "divide" to the "other", will be shown in short television spots, offered to all television stations in the world for broadcasting as many times as possible during the year 2001.

If it is possible to define a new paradigm of international relations engendered by the dialogue, then it should be possible to transform the theory into practice, the report states. In the spirit of the dialogue, it has already been possible to achieve small steps in communications between some Member States that had, thus far, been at odds with each other. Thus, it should also be possible to put forth a proposal that focuses on a specific area of the world and suggests a specific diplomatic initiative by the Secretary-General. This would be a fitting conclusion to the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

The report further states that a United Nations Trust Fund for the dialogue among civilizations was established in 1999 and that no funds from the regular budget have been allocated to activities related to the dialogue.

Also before the Assembly was also a draft resolution (document A/55/L.30), sponsored by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Singapore, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the United States on The United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would call upon governments to encourage all members of society to take part in promoting dialogue among civilizations and provide them with an opportunity to make contributions to the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations.

The Assembly would decide to devote two days of plenary meetings at its fifty-sixth session, on 3 and 14 December 2001, to consideration of the item, including consideration of any follow-up measures and commemoration of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. He would encourage Member States and observers to be represented at the highest possible political level.

Further to the draft, the Assembly would invite governments, the United Nations system and other relevant international and non-governmental organizations to continue and further intensify planning and organizing appropriate cultural, educational and social programmes to promote the concept of dialogue among civilizations, inter alia, through organizing conferences and seminars and disseminating information and scholarly material on the subject, and to inform the Secretary-General of their activities.

The Assembly would also invite all governments, funding institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector to consider contributing to the Trust Fund established by the Secretary-General to promote dialogue among civilizations.

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would encourage all governments to expand their educational curricula relative to the teaching of respect for various cultures and civilizations and encourage all Member States, regional and international organizations, civil society and NGOs to continue to develop appropriate initiatives at all levels to promote dialogue in all fields with a view to fostering mutual recognition and understanding among and within civilizations.

Introduction of Drafts

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran), introducing the draft resolution, said that starting in less than two months in January 2001, a modest worldwide campaign would begin to launch the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations in order to bring the issue to the public. Among other activities, a book by a number of eminent persons had been prepared to reflect concepts such as: ethnic cleansing; diversity and the common denominator of values in the context of the United Nations; diversity as the human face of globalization in today’s world; and dialogue as a seed for a new paradigm of international relations. He underscored the importance of that effort in terms of helping to develop a vision for the future and for the common destiny of humankind.

Dialogue was as expansive as we dared to imagine. It was not an end in itself, but a new approach, a qualitatively different mode of communication and discussion. “We should prepare ourselves to celebrate a new beginning, and not an end”, he said. The world leaders at the Millennium Summit had underscored freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility as fundamental values to be essential to international relations in the twenty-first century. One could only rise to the challenge if the approach to problem resolution was revisited. That was why the call for a dialogue among civilizations had been welcomed across the world by both the public and private sectors.

President Khatami of Iran, who had proposed the need for dialogue among civilizations, was the first to concede that “dialogue is not easy. It is even more difficult to prepare and open up vistas upon one’s inner existence to others”. But “a belief in dialogue paves the way for vivacious hope: the hope of living in a world permeated by virtue, humanity and love, and not merely by the reign of economic indices and destructive weapons. Should the spirit of dialogue prevail, humanity, culture and civilization will prevail.” The Secretary-General had said that without dialogue taking place every day among all nations, within and between civilizations, cultures and groups, no peace could be lasting and no prosperity could be secure.

He trusted that the draft would be adopted without a vote, and hoped it would constitute a basis for a concerted effort to promote dialogue and expand the common denominator of values and principles of the family of humankind.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the idea of dialogue between civilizations could be interpreted in several ways. It was important to define dialogue as a dialogue between cultures in the broadest sense of the term. Culture was one of the most telling traits, made up of factors such as geography, language, beliefs, arts, and science. It was essential that a dialogue between cultures covered all those components that made up the wealth of culture. To exclude any of them would be restrictive. Diversity was the basis on which international relations were founded.

History had showed that differences could lead to suspicion, which in turn could lead to hostility. The building of a dialogue implied two tasks: preserving the diversity of cultures, and ensuring that steps were taken to bridge the gap of understanding between cultures. It was particularly important that there was a common reference point. The experience of dialogue presupposed that all parties accepted each other; in fact, no dialogue was possible if one party did not recognize the other as an equal. The United Nations was a milestone in international relations, within which States were able to debate on an equal footing. Strengthening the role and actions of the United Nations was fundamental to the promoting of dialogue between cultures. He was gratified that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had a particular role to play in the implementation of dialogue among nations. Dialogue between civilizations was not limited to relations between States, but was also important between individuals. Individuals played an important role in dialogue among civilizations, and it was important that civil society organizations and international organizations should represent them. He called upon Member States to facilitate that development in any way possible.

Dialogue between civilizations required one condition -- the preservation of diversity and plurality of cultures in all their dimensions. Diversity went hand in hand with universality. The European Union realized that globalization, despite all its potential ran the risk of making cultural codes uniform –- thus leading to the marginalization and the disappearance of minority cultures. Diversity represented the human face of globalization, he said, and must be preserved.

ULADZIMIR VANTSEVICH (Belarus) said that on the threshold of the twenty- first century, the international community was reaching an understanding of the importance of dialogue. A big step in that direction was the holding of the Millennium Summit and the adoption of the Millennium Declaration. The Summit had achieved the distinction of becoming the highest manifestation of the idea of a dialogue between civilizations. The concept of the diversity of the modern world was firmly interwoven with the concept of globalization. The international community needed to continue to reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of that state of affairs. Diversity needed to be a unifying factor rather than one that divided the international community. The image of the United Nations in the world community would much depend on the solutions if found. The potential of the United Nations should be mobilized to create concrete measures illustrating the advantages of dialogue over enmity, xenophobia and conflict.

KAMALESH SHARMA (India) felt that diversity was the foundation of the United Nations. Celebration of the vast, rich mosaic of human civilizations was the essence of the "nations united". He called for "a globalization of the spirit and human fellowship, resting on the bedrock of variety", which must accompany the homogenizing globalization of economic and technological life. Although India supported the broad contours of the Secretary-General's report on dialogue among civilizations, it cautioned against any is interpretation of the dialogue among civilizations as signifying a dialogue among religions, since Indic civilization had been characterized by inclusiveness -- not exclusiveness -- of spiritual experience. Conceiving of the world as one family, or "vasudhaiva kutumbakam", had been a guiding inspiration because, as the experience of other countries indicated, the idea of civilization transcended religious affinities.

He also visualized the dialogue among civilizations metaphorically, he said -- as a confluence of great streams, some ancient and therefore running deep, others young and ebullient with the vitality of invention; the international community should drink from all those life-giving waters and draw from them sustenance and strength. Historically, the United Nations had served as a host to all nations, promoting reconciliation and a culture of dialogue among them. The search for common moral and ethical values had led to the codification of a range of international instruments concerning tolerance, human rights, cultural cooperation and cooperation in science and technology. Furthermore, values of democracy, human rights, pluralism and respect for the rule of law -- all civilizational influences -- had acquired almost universal validity. Dialogue among and within nations and civilizations must promote understanding, pluralism and diversity as essential components of progress and human advancement.

Breakthroughs in information technology were creating new direct cultural interface across the peoples of the world, and offered a unique possibility of intensifying productive exchanges in diverse fields. Science and technology also provided valuable tools for historic preservation, documentation and wide dissemination of the cultural heritage of all civilizations, he said. India agreed with the Secretary-General that the promotion of identity and cultural diversity could, in itself, become the very substance of dialogue among civilizations.

AHMED ABOULGHEIT (Egypt) said one could not deal with a matter of international, regional or local importance unless the cultural perception of civilizations was clearly understood. Dialogue among civilizations was an open dialogue based not on an attempt to polarize, but to convince people to live together peacefully. It did not neglect cultural differences, but at the same time it understood the common destiny shared by all. The dialogue was not limited to philosophers, but was directed towards the future and sought to understand in greater depth the roots of humanity.

There was a need to agree on a number of basic concepts that defined dialogue, he said. The framework of civilization exceeded that of culture, which was based mainly on such things as religion and language. Civilization was like a river compared to the stream of culture; it was much broader because of the history behind it. There was a need to remove from the dialogue the burdens of the past and the historical heritage, including bitterness and hatred, and move forward with open heart. There was therefore a need to stop pointing fingers at one another.

Globalization imposed upon civilizations and communities a number of areas of friction. That friction mandated a cautious approach to the search for a legal basis guaranteeing peaceful coexistence and leaving aside any notion of domination. Everyone must agree on the right of self-determination for all peoples -- and must therefore agree that the occupation by one State of another people was an aggression which should not be tolerated. The imposition of an embargo by one State on another was an unacceptable crime. If everybody were treated equitably, then one would be a lot closer to achieving the noble objective of a constructive dialogue among civilizations. That in turn would enable the United Nations to achieve the objectives of fighting poverty and guaranteeing security and global criteria for human rights.

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) speaking on behalf of the GUUAM group of States (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Republic of Moldova), said that today’s discussion underlined the significance of the United Nations in the new century. It was the spirit of dialogue that would clear the way for harmony, free of violence, hatred, war and poverty. There were new problems in the world and yesterday’s bipolar world had passed. The global community was living in a new universe, which had two tendencies -- global integration, and preservation of the diversity and integrity of each nation. Diversity had been frequently used to justify for conflicts, and many conflicts were triggered only by the notion that diversity constituted a threat. However, diversity was the value upon which the United Nations was based. The higher the global community valued diversity and integrity, the stronger the world would be. Respect for each other should become the fundamental basis of international relations.

The need for a dialogue had become even more vital in the climate of globalization. The newest techniques in technology, achievements in communication, and the Internet had made such a dialogue vital. Each of the countries on whose behalf he was speaking had an ancient history and civilization, containing diverse populations, which was a strength and catalyst for development. Civilizations were interconnected, and the GUAM States throughout the centuries had served as a bridge between East and West. That legacy was invaluable, and the GUAM States were making collective efforts to restore the Great Silk Road. There was also a need to establish a dialogue between various religions, which all the GUAM countries encouraged.

LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that Brazilians were proud of being part of a society enriched by cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. The history of Brazil had been an example of a constant “dialogue among civilizations” and was the cradle of the second largest population of African origin after Nigeria. The racial and cultural blend that resulted from colonialism and from successive waves of immigration was a truly outstanding phenomenon that had brought together millions of citizens of Arabic, European, African and Asian descent. Seen from a historical perspective, that dialogue among cultures and races had not prevented the consolidation of an autonomous identity. In Brazil, this could be said of religions and beliefs, of political opinions and of cultural traits. That complex evolution had also translated itself in the formation of a clear nationality and a common identity to all Brazilians.

Peace could not be obtained without dialogue. Equality and respect for the dignity of the human person were concepts that derived from the recognition of the “other”, a necessary condition for dialogue, he said. Furthermore, all parties to a dialogue must stand on an equal footing. The United Nations materialized the common ideals and endeavours of the international community. At a time marked by an unprecedented increase in trade and communications, by a technological revolution and by the acceleration of information, it was only natural that the United Nations should commit itself. That required an effort which identified and discussed the common moral, ethic and philosophical bedrock upon which humankind, in its diversity, had endeavoured to search for peace, security, justice and prosperity for all.

It was important to recognize that an environment of dialogue existed because the international community had concluded that all human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and must be valued and respected as the highest principles governing all actors of the international community. A genuine dialogue among peoples of diverse cultures, religions and visions of the world would only take place once those fundamental values were upheld.

FAWZI BIN ABDUL MAJEED SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) said the world had seen the end of cold war and bipolarization. The new world order was characterized by the predominance of one world power and globalization of the world market. There was astonishing progress in science, great increase in wealth and startling progress in communication, but at the same time the gap between North and South, and rich and poor was widening. A minority monopolized the wealth of the world. Those contradictions threatened international peace and security.

He said civilization was a continuous flow of cultures down through the ages. Dialogue between civilizations was therefore a dialogue among many cultures. Civilization was the result of political policies and social conducts, and could not come about without a culture and moral values behind it. Globalization was a philosophy which sought to turn the world and its multiplicity of culture into a single ideology, in order to disseminate the idea of creating one civilization dominated by communication techniques. But that concept could not be accepted by the peoples. All countries had the legitimate right to maintain their culture and way of looking at life. The moral value of each civilization determined the way of life of individuals.

His country was convinced of the need to set up a constructive dialogue leading to the prosperity of humanity, he said. He rejected any suggestion that conflict between civilizations was a necessity. Conflicts always had political and economic domination as their objective. His country spurned all attempts by one civilization to dominate another, as that constituted a serious violation of the principle of justice and laid the basis for oppression. Cultural diversity was always the effective way to prosper. Dialogue among civilizations was the only way to bring about a new world order, based on common moral values and guaranteeing a better future for humanity.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that although the concept of dialogue among civilizations had seen the light of day several eons ago, the new momentum it had acquired was both timely and welcome. These were troubled and uncertain times, when humanity was questioning its future, and dialogue was more important than ever in steering nations away from the misguided ways of the past. The last century had been marked more by confrontation than dialogue. There had been times when the world had come close to annihilation by nuclear weapons. The cold war had been only one of many situations visiting death and desolation on the world. Religious, ethnic and racial confrontation would continue until human beings found sufficient solidarity to accept each other's differences and divergences.

Algeria had always been at the crossroads of major civilizations and shared links both with Africa and the Mediterranean countries. It had interacted generously with the major populations in the region, and the collective memory of the Algerian people was replete with evidence of that interaction. Algeria was proud of its Berber history and its fight for independence, and proudly took its place in the Arab Muslim world. Algeria had made significant contributions to the expansion of that civilization. Having experienced unrest and confrontation, Algeria wanted to make a good example of peaceful and harmonious coexistence, with aspirations for a better future.

The country had been actively involved in the UNESCO round-table meeting on dialogue among civilizations. However, he warned that some social and religious values were important, and he feared the erosion of those values by the universalization of a unidirectional model stemming from prosperous and powerful nations. In an era of communication technology and irresistible globalization, dialogue between all civilization was unavoidable and essential. Only when it was achieved could there be a real culture of peace and understanding between nations.

MOHAMAD YUSOF AHMAD (Malaysia) said that, despite intolerance and aggression, there had been constructive interaction among civilizations, bringing about development and progress for humanity. While nation-States belonged to particular cultural or civilizational domains, cultures and civilizations were not confined to individual States. Malaysia believed that the achievements of civilizations constituted a common heritage of humanity, providing the basis for progress and well-being. Moreover, the very existence of the United Nations was premised on and generated by dialogue and cooperation among the various peoples and nations of the world. Strengthening of mutual relations would help in promoting peace and expanding social, cultural and economic cooperation in international relations. Respect for cultural diversity and civilizational specificities had become recognized sources for advancing creative human inspiration. Dialogue was an imperative necessity for coexistence and international cooperation, and an essential tool for rejecting domination, aggression and other manifestations of human conflict.

His Government had taken note of a film, shown on the premises of the United Nations, that conveyed the impression that Islam condoned "honour killing". Such negative stereotyping of Islam reflected not only a lack of knowledge and understanding of that world religion, but also a lack of sensitivity toward the billion Muslims around the world. Such stereotyping, especially in the West, did not contribute to creating greater understanding between peoples and cultures, and impeded the process of dialogue among civilizations. Malaysia, he went on, was a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, but in spite of that diversity people enjoyed peace and harmony due to inter-communal dialogue and understanding.

The resolution now before the Assembly called for a universal vision of an equitable international order, founded on inclusion, participation, mutual understanding, and tolerance among peoples and nations through practice, education and cooperative engagement. That global agenda was not restrictive and could be achieved through the political, cultural, educational, social, economic, information and even technological domains. Malaysia was gratified that the international community had indicated its willingness to embrace diversity as a fresh and rational approach towards attaining a better tomorrow for all of humanity.

FELIPE MABILANGAN (Philippines) said history had shown that dominance, rather than dialogue, had characterized relations between civilizations. If that was indeed a dictate of history it was one the international community should resist. Dialogue was the main tool of the United Nations. The United Nations had been accused of using too much of it, but much progress had been achieved over the years through dialogue and diplomacy. There had also been many missed opportunities. There were many problems facing the international community. They included poverty, disease, environmental degradation, hatred and violence. The international community should ensure that globalization benefited all, making available safe drinking water, basic healthcare, education, food and shelter.

There were times, he said, when the members of the international community spoke past each other and not to each other. Furthermore, when engaging in dialogue, countries often brought with them their prejudices and biases, erecting barriers to what others were saying. Those were not elements that would lead to mutual understanding or to peace. A golden opportunity lay before the international community, an opportunity which would lead the way to greater understanding. Before the international community engaged in such a dialogue, countries should speak to each other unburdened by misconceptions. Differences in greatness of civilizations need not be emphasized. The international community should stress what was common to all.

MOHAMMED RASHID AL-ABSI (United Arab Emirates) said that, at the dawn of the third millennium, humanity was again seeing an outbreak of hostility, hegemonistic trends, violations of human rights and discrimination. The situation was characterized by an increase in racism, nationalism and a lack of understanding between civilizations and peoples. The wish of heads of States at the Millennium Summit was to reinforce international peace, understanding, tolerance and pluralism. However, in order to achieve those goals, there was a need for regional and international mechanisms to reinforce solidarity and complimentarity between societies.

The United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations offered a unique opportunity to realize those goals. Dialogue between civilizations must be multidimensional, a dialogue between religions, as well as between North and South. It must bring about the sharing of positive effects between all civilizations. All dialogue between civilizations must face up, for example, to the manifest disinformation propagated by some against Islam and the Arab tradition. Dealing with the subject should include a study of history and the cultural and scientific components of all civilizations. The Arab world was borne of ancient civilizations, and was the cradle of the religion out of which Islam was born. The traditions and customs of the Arab peoples were based on the Holy Koran, which called for tolerance and equality.

He supported the proclamation of 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations, and hoped it would help make dialogue a new instrument in international relations, contributing to bringing together the peoples and cultures of the world.

MAHDI NASSER (Yemen) paid tribute to the Secretary-General’s report on dialogue among civilizations. The general debate on dialogue between civilizations was indicative of the resolve of the international community to enter the third millennium on the basis of mutual understanding. When the General Assembly had decided that the year 2001 would be the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, it had reconfirmed the principles and the role of the Charter in fostering respect and human rights for all. The Assembly had recognized the accomplishments of the human race, and reaffirmed that those accomplishments embodied the common heritage of humanity.

The concerted efforts of all governments, international organizations and civil society were the only alternative to another era of confrontation and conflict. Understanding and cooperation were required, as had been seen in the adoption of the resolution on the culture of peace. That was evidence of the international community’s commitment to create a future where the culture of peace and the values of freedom, justice and democracy, development and non- interference were recognized, along with the prohibition of territorial occupation and the uniqueness of each society.

MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that, today more than ever before in history, humanity’s diverse cultures were coming together. Faster forms of communication via the Internet and increased population mobility among all countries were bringing increased contact between all corners of the world. Technology, advances in communication, and the rapid entry of globalization as the new paradigm of international relations, all offered significant benefit and advantages that the international community either adapted to or ignored at great peril. Globalization was often discussed within the context of the global economy and business relationships. But globalization also brought greater interrelationships between peoples and increased interaction among cultures. The global community should take this new force of globalization and give it a human face through dialogue among civilizations.

The international Year held considerable implications for the dialogue between North and South, he said. Indonesia believed that both developed and developing countries could only benefit from an increased knowledge and awareness of other cultures and traditions. It was those very elements that shaped the goals the international community sought in development, and provided a context for individual visions of the future. Certainly, globalization risked creating an imbalance within certain societies and regions, since new ideas and methods could now be transmitted at such a rapid pace that they did not leave the breathing space required for acceptance. Therefore, in the absence of a dialogue among civilizations, one could foresee increased misunderstanding on many different levels.

Following more than 30 years of a rigid political system, Indonesia was now witnessing the growth and expression of democracy. That expression had, however, shed light on the contradiction that existed between modernization and traditionalism and those who clung to a singular view of the world. Internally, Indonesians must have such a dialogue and must begin to understand how to reconcile traditionalism and modernity. His country believed that such an internal dialogue would bolster efforts to create a successful dialogue among civilizations. It also believed that the dialogue among civilizations was important in providing the context for deliberations at the national level.

MOHAMMED AL-HUMAIMIDI (Iraq) said that the dawn of the third millennium had witnessed the increased significance of dialogue as an indispensable way to achieve peace, security, and development all over the world. Civilizations had risen throughout history through an indivisible chain of evolution, with each link raising humanity to a higher level of progress. Iraq was proud to be a cradle of ancient civilizations. The creativity flow in Iraq had reached its zenith when Baghdad was the capital of the Arab States, linking all

civilizations to the modern age. The Arab Islamic civilization embodied the concept of dialogue among civilizations and tolerance. The Arab nation was continuing its historical mission by contributing to the march of human civilizations.

There had been many conflicts in the last century, many due to the prevalence of evil, racism and the imposition of inhuman sanctions. The international community was duty-bound to curb that tendency, he said. The fundamental principles of respect for cultural diversity and equality among human beings could not be underestimated. Acknowledging diversity was essential, as was the renouncing of differentiation and any claims of supremacy by one culture over another. He said that hegemony must be rejected as well as interference in the domestic affairs of the State. An international order where one single State was in charge, serving its interests with total disregard for other nations, was totally unacceptable. All nations should partake in international decision-making which would lead to widespread benefits.

It was incumbent upon governments to encourage dialogue through educational, cultural and social programmes among different sectors of society. The United Nations as a representative body could play a pioneering role, through the General Assembly or its agencies, and must continue to develop universal principles and values in order to achieve a real dialogue which would lead to peace in the world.

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For information media. Not an official record.