Record Number of Delegations in General Assembly Back Resolution on Building Peaceful, Better World ‘Through Sport and the Olympic Ideal’

17 October 2011

Record Number of Delegations in General Assembly Back Resolution on Building Peaceful, Better World ‘Through Sport and the Olympic Ideal’

17 October 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly


34th & 35thMeetings (AM & PM)

Record Number of Delegations in General Assembly Back Resolution on Building

Peaceful, Better World ‘Through Sport and the Olympic Ideal’


Text Calls on All States to Observe Olympic Truce Throughout

London 2012 Summer Games; Assembly Also Considers Item on Culture of Peace

Ringing with expressions of support for the “timeless values” of the Olympic ideal, the General Assembly today adopted a consensus resolution –co-sponsored by a record 193 Member States – on the unique potential of sport to promote peace in an increasingly volatile world.

By that text, the Assembly urged Member States to observe an ancient Greek tradition calling for the cessation of hostilities before, during and after the Olympic Games — the Olympic Truce — in particular in the context of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, slated to take place in London, United Kingdom between 27 and 12 August 2012 and 29 August and 9 September, respectively.

“Sport is one of those forces which can still offer real hope,” said Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London Organizing Committee for the Games as he introduced the resolution.  He said that the pursuit of a better, more peaceful world had always been at the heart of the Olympic vision.  Sport helped to mend broken communities, rebuild trust, rediscover self-respect and foster the values at the core of common humanity.  And for over a century, he added, the modern Olympic Movement had given voice to that spirit, not merely reflecting change, but also driving it.

As a former Olympian and Gold Medal winner himself, Mr. Coe stressed that sport could play a central role in combating social ills, and described a host of related activities under way in preparation for London’s upcoming 2012 Games.  An innovative global sports programme known as International Inspiration had already reached out to some 12 million young people in 15 countries.  It was successfully improving sports systems in developing countries, empowering women and girls and increasing school attendance, he said, adding that the overall vision for the London 2012 Games was, in fact, to give a greater global voice to young people.

The representative of Greece — where the links between peace and sport were first explored at the ancient Olympic Games — recalled that the Assembly’s resolution spotlighted the Greek tradition of the “Olympic Truce”.  By that practice, all hostilities would cease before, during and after the Games, to allow safe passage to athletes travelling from all regions.  “The Olympic Truce remains, even just for a short period of time, the most far-reaching peace agreement in our globalized world,” he said, echoing the resolution’s assertion that States had a moral duty to guarantee the continued implementation of the armistice.

Russian Federation’s delegate said he saw the selection of Sochi as the host of the 2014 Olympic and Paralymic Winter Games as world recognition for his country’s achievement in sports.  Further, the construction under way for those events would advance the area’s economic and social development.  To that end, the Government was studying other countries’ experience in preparing for such events.  Measures were also being taken to preserve and improve the Sochi area’s unique natural environment, while a Cultural Olympiad had begun in 2010 to showcase the country’s multicultural diversity.  Indeed, the Government was committed to making certain that the people felt that the Olympics belonged to them.

For Brazilians, said that country’s delegate, an exciting sports-centred decade had just begun.  Over the next five years, Brazil would host three sporting mega events:  the Confederations Cup in 2013, the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.  Relationships built through those events would enhance relations with partners regionally and worldwide, and would also be foremost in bringing the international community around a celebration of values enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  While those processes involved extensive preparation and complex operations, she said:  “We are warming up to meet these challenges,” adding that the Games would be the single biggest sporting event ever staged in the city. 

Noting that sport was highly effective at raising awareness and inspiring committed action in support of development indicators — including health, child protection and child development — many other speakers throughout the day also stressed that the discussion was particularly critical during the final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 deadline.  Others added that there would never be peace without development, nor development without peace.

Despite the resolution’s universal support, some delegations expressed reservations that international sporting events were not benefiting all the world’s peoples equally.  The representative of Cuba said that the many benefits of sport — described so vividly throughout the day — would not be available to all if a “mercantilist concept” of sports as a “business available only to a few” was favoured.  He underscored that developing countries also deserved to host international sporting events, including the Olympic Games, and expressed enthusiasm that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would no doubt mark a success for the entire Global South.

“Sport can create hope, where previously there was only desperation,” added the representative of Honduras, who agreed that struggling and developing countries were rarely high on the international list of priorities.  Nonetheless, during the time of international sporting events, even Hondurans who lived their lives besieged by violent crime, poverty and marginalization experienced a “fleeting” moment in the spotlight.  Those brief glimpses of hope were crucial to reaching out to children who might otherwise be drawn into violence or drugs, she stressed.

Turning to a second, related item on the Assembly’s agenda, “culture of peace”, General Assembly Vice-President Jean-Francis R. Zinsou of Benin also agreed that the world’s young people would benefit from targeted interventions in favour of peace.  Moreover, to effectively meet today’s challenges, he said that they deserved a radically different education — “one that does not glorify war but educates for peace, non-violence and international cooperation”.  He also recalled a landmark 1999 resolution adopted by the Assembly that had defined a “culture of peace” as a set of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflected and inspired social interaction based on the principles of freedom, justice, human rights and tolerance.

Many delegations agreed with his assertion that the most significant way to achieve that culture was through peace education, which must be accepted in all societies as essential.  Meanwhile, others stressed that implementing the plan of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations — a group formed in 2005 to explore the roots of social and cultural polarization — was urgently needed.  In that respect, the representative of India warned that the current rise of extremism, intolerance and sectarian violence challenged the very foundations of society, while the absence of dialogue among cultures and religions allowed violence to flourish.  He underlined his hope that the Alliance’s upcoming Doha Forum would reinforce a wide commitment to act, and further explore the link between the Alliance’s mission and the Millennium Goals.

Still others, including the representative of Thailand, explored specific actions that could contribute to expanding the global dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions.  Among those, he stressed, the use of new communications technologies and social media — as well as formal and non-formal education — was paramount.

In other business today, the Assembly allocated one sub-item, “appointment of members and alternate members of the United Nations Staff Pension Committee”, to its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  Turning to the election of members of the International Law Commission — scheduled to take place on 17 November 2011 — the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to issue consolidated lists of candidates, per its previous practice.  That consolidated list would be issued under the symbol A/66/514.

Also speaking on sports for peace and development were the representatives of China, India, Singapore, Japan, United States, Israel, Monaco, Tunisia, Ukraine, Yemen, Malaysia, Cameroon, Senegal and Syria.

Representatives of the Observer of the Holy See and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also spoke.

Speaking on the culture of peace was the Member of the House of Representatives of Ethiopia.

The representatives of Kuwait, India, Sudan, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, United States, Philippines, Turkey, Pakistan and Cameroon also spoke on that topic.

Representatives of the Observer for the Holy See and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 October, for its joint debate on the report of the Economic and Social Council and matters regarding the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.


For its discussions today, the Assembly had before it a draft resolution on building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (A/66/L.3).  By its terms, the Assembly would urge Member States to observe, within the framework of the United Nations Charter, the “Olympic Truce” — an ancient Greek tradition of ceasing hostilities during the Games — which it had first revived in resolution 48/11 (1993).  By that text, adopted nearly two decades ago, the Assembly had called for the Truce in order to encourage a peaceful environment and ensure the safe passage and participation of athletes and relevant persons at the Games, thereby mobilizing the youth of the world to the cause of peace.

By the text, the Assembly would again urge Member States to observe the Truce, both individually and collectively, throughout the period beginning with the start of the XXX Olympic Games (27 to 12 August 2012) and ending with the closing of the XIV Paralympic Games (29 August to 9 September 2012).  It would call upon them to cooperate with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the Games.  It would also request the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly to promote the observance of the Olympic Truce.

The Assembly also had before it a report of the Secretary-General entitled “intercultural, interreligious and intercivilizational dialogue” (document A/66/280), submitted pursuant to its resolution 65/138 (2011).  The report covers a range of topics, including the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures, the fourth Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, communication, awareness-raising and educational activities as well as a rights-based approach to the issue.  It also provided the outcome of the consultations carried out on the possibility of proclaiming a United Nations decade on interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

In his conclusions, the Secretary-General notes the increased involvement of Member States in the area of dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations.  That involvement was exemplified by the leading role several of them had played in proposing the proclamation of international days or weeks and organizing celebration activities, such as the Global Interfaith Harmony Week.  Other far-reaching projects included the “Foundations of a long-term strategy for global sustainable development based on partnership of civilization”, presented to the United Nations by the Permanent Missions of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

He suggests that the Assembly may wish to explore the possibilities for harmonizing the reporting of all issues that dealt with intercultural, interreligious and intercivilizational dialogue, as well as a culture of peace, cultural diversity, tolerance, mutual understanding and rapprochement of cultures, so as to strengthen policy coherence.  It might also wish to request that future reports focus on the specific dimensions of such dialogue, with a change in focus every year, he proposed.

Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/66/273).  The note transmits the report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),  which presents a succinct summary of the activities carried out over the past year by UNESCO and other relevant United Nations entities to implement the Declaration and Programme of Action.

The report includes contributions received from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other actors, and includes a section on recommendations for future action.  Among those, the Secretary-General suggests that the Assembly may wish to explore the possibilities for harmonizing reporting to it on all issues related to a culture of peace, cultural diversity, tolerance, mutual understanding, rapprochement and non-violence, as well as intercultural dialogue, including interreligious dialogue.

The Assembly might further wish to call on the United Nations Development Group to include in common country programmes, exercises and documents — mainly United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks — programme components focused on the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, including, as appropriate, on conflict prevention and resolution as well as post-conflict reconciliation.  It might consider inviting the United Nations System Staff College to develop training modules and learning materials in that area, and to establish an inter-agency working group on a culture of peace and non-violence to discuss related initiatives.  That working group could also consider developing a road map in that area with goals and measurable expected results.

Introduction of Draft

SEBASTIAN COE, Chair of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said that the pursuit of a better, more peaceful world had always been at the heart of the Olympic vision.  He noted that the draft resolution before the Assembly today was co-sponsored by all 193 of its Member States — a fact that constituted a sign of hope for the “timeless values” symbolized by the Truce and by the Olympic Movement.  “Sport is one of those forces which can still offer real hope,” he said, both collective and individual.  For over a century, the modern Olympic Movement had given voice to the positive values of humanity, not merely reflecting change but also driving it.

While sport was not a “panacea for all of our social ills”, he added, it could — and did — help to mend broken communities, rebuild trust, rediscover self-respect and foster the values at the core of common humanity.  Recalling his own Olympic past, he said that he had competed in the 1980 Moscow Games, due in large part to the visionary determination of the late Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee.  Mr. Samaranch had taken the games to the then-Soviet Union as a way for sport to help foster understanding, and create and extend new networks of friendship, association and opportunity across ideological and geographic divides. 

Describing a host of activities under way in preparation for the upcoming 2012 Games, he noted that International Inspiration programme, an innovative global sports programme funded in part by the United Kingdom, which had already reached out to more than 12 million young people in 15 countries through a partnership involving the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the National Olympic Committees and British Government agencies.  That programme was improving sports systems in developing countries, increasing school attendance, and enhancing educational performance.  It had also empowered girls and young women to participate in sport, access education and become community leaders, he said.  In that vein, he said, the deepening relationship between the United Nations and the Olympic Movement was closer than ever, and gave new significance to initiatives such as the Olympic Truce.  It provided opportunities for greater collaboration among United Nations Member States, he said, adding that the vision for the London 2012 Games was to give a voice to young people.

Sport for Peace and Development

ANASTASSIS MITSIALIS ( Greece) said the Olympic Games were inextricably linked with the idea of the truce, dating to when King Ifitos of Olympia, worried about the regional war, consulted the oracle of Delphi and determined that sporting events were the means for replacing hostilities with peace.  The peace agreement signed by the Kings of the region’s city-states had made the Olympic Truce — or Ekecheiria — a reality that survived 1,200 years until the ancient Games had come to an inglorious end in the fourth century.

Two World Wars and numerous conflicts later, the first United Nations resolution on the matter had been adopted in the early 1990s, marking a new phase for the Truce.  “Let us not forget that, as things stand today, the Olympic Truce remains, even just for a short period of time, the most far-reaching peace agreement in our globalized world,” he said.  As such, there was a moral duty to guarantee its implementation.  Today’s resolution urged States to observe the Truce and underscored that importance of sport in overcoming current problems.

London would have the honour to host the Olympic Games next year, he said, recalling that the last London Games in 1948 had been held when the world was emerging from the nightmare of war.  Today, in many parts of the world, the quest for freedom, human rights and a decent life continued, and the upcoming Games would certainly remind that humanity as a whole should tackle such problems in a spirit of solidarity.

WANG MIN ( China) said that the international community should put sport on the agenda of global cooperation for development and include it in peacekeeping operations, development, education, public health, gender equality and protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities.  The Olympic spirit contributed to settling global crises through consensus, mutual understanding and respect.  Its concepts of “unity, friendship and fair competition” had become common values for all humanity.  Further, fundamental to addressing the financial crisis and other global issues, countries must abide by the principles of the United Nations Charter and uphold the Olympic spirit, respect cultural diversity, enhance mutual understanding, settle disputes through peaceful means and work together toward a world of equality and harmony.

Although three years had passed since Beijing had hosted the Olympic Games, their legacy was still in evidence, he said.  They had promoted mass fitness programs, urban planning, public health, environmental protection and numerous other undertakings in China.  The Government was committed to developing China’s sports endeavours, and to integrating sport into its national development strategy.  China would also continue to play a role in the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace to advance cooperation in sport development and so contribute to world peace and development.

SATPAL SINGH RAWAT ( India) said that sport was an important element in building character.  It helped motivate the young, teach them leadership skills, promote a sense of team spirit and ensure a healthy lifestyle.  It also fostered peace and a feeling of equality and friendship.  Sports, games and physical fitness were an integral part of Indian heritage as evidenced in the highly evolved system of yoga and in a vast range of indigenous games and martial arts practiced in India since time immemorial, and the inclusion of physical education and sports in the formal educational system in the first five-year plan following India’s independence.

Sport was also an effective tool to help achieve development objectives in the areas of health, education, child protection and child development, he said.  It generated public awareness and inspired broad, inclusive and committed action in support of the development agenda, including achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  India’s sports personalities were partnering with the United Nations to create public awareness and help in understanding issues affecting youth and society.  He noted India’s successful hosting of the 19th Commonwealth Games, which upheld and renewed the essential spirit of peace and equality among people and nations.  India was a co-sponsor of the resolution “building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal,” which would be adopted today.

MARY E. FLORES ( Honduras) said that the two items being considered today were both important and complementary.  Nelson Mandela had once reminded the international community that sport had the power to change the world, she recalled, adding, “sport can create hope, where previously there was only desperation.”  It could produce a magic that bridged political, ideological and religious differences, as well as disparities.  Hondurans themselves had been able to “reap the comforting balm of applause” in the context of international sporting events, she said — a “fleeting” moment in the spotlight for a country rarely on the list of international priorities.”  In those moments Hondurans had carried the national emblems and worn the national colours and the hearts of all citizens of Honduras — even those besieged by violent crime, poverty and marginalization — had beaten as one.

Each child touched by sport was less likely to be corrupted by crime, she continued.  For that reason, Honduras had held a “National World Cup” of sorts, which targeted children in low-income schools.  Young people took part as one family.  Sport was a way to foster the principle of solidarity and inspire youth, ideals which were also central to the aims of the United Nations.  He further recognized the Group of Friends, created in 2005, which supported peace, sport and the Olympic Truce, as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  As a country that hoped to bring about positive changes, Honduras saw sports as an important way to build an integrated Central and Latin America, and to support greater democracy and global development.  Sport must be used more effectively to that end, she stressed, adding that “sports fields should replace battlefields” around the world.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that for Brazilians, an exciting sports-centered decade had just begun.  Over the next five years, Brazil would host three sporting mega events:  the Confederations Cup in 2013, the FIFA World Cup in 2014, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.  During this decade, sports would be at the top of the national agenda.  Relationships built through those events would enhance relations with partners regionally and worldwide, and would also be foremost in bringing the international community around a celebration of values enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

The Government was well aware that those events involved extensive preparation processes and complex operations.  “We are ‘warming up’ to meet these challenges,” she said, adding that Brazil was a very ethnically diversified society unified by one language, living with almost 20 million people peacefully.  Rio de Janeiro was honoured to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The Games would be the single biggest sporting event ever staged in the city.  Its opening ceremony was estimated to be watched by over four billion people.  Rio was taking on the challenge and the Government planned to develop innovative and sustainable practices to address carbon and energy use, water services and waste management, air quality and rational transportation.

The tangible legacy was stadiums, arenas, urban mobility infrastructure and ports, telecommunications and airports facilities.  The social legacy would be the positive impact on the self-esteem of the “Cariocas,” - A Portuguese term used to refer to the native inhabitants of the city — as the gains in education and training provided by the events experience.  Pursuant to the recommendations of the resolution on “Sport as a Means to Promote Education, Health, Development and Peace,” adopted last year with her delegation’s support and co-sponsorship, Brazil had developed sports cooperation projects in partnership with several developing countries.  She particularly commended the United Kingdom for its initiative to present a text calling for the “Olympic Truce.”  A project of the same kind would be tabled in Brazil in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games of 2016.

OSCAR LEON GONZALEZ ( Cuba) said that sport was an important aspect of development, both nationally and internationally.  Cuba believed that sport strengthened solidarity and friendship among peoples, and helped to bring nations closer together.  However, those benefits would not be available to all if a “mercantilist concept” of sports as a “business available only to a few” was favoured, he stressed.  In Cuba, sport had become a right for all.  Since 1971, Cuba had held second place in the Pan-American Games and ranked among the top 10 countries in the Olympic Games.  Physical education was part and parcel of the total education of a Cuban child, starting in the very young years.  Cuba opposed the holding of sport activities that were designed only to make money, and denounced the “theft” of sporting talent, to which Cuba had been a victim.

The country had founded the Institute for Sports Medicine and an Anti-Doping Laboratory, he continued.  The latter fought against the scourge of drugs, which ran contrary to the principles of sports.  Cuba had also founded the International School for Physical Education and Sports, he continued.  The delegation wished to underscore that developing countries also deserved to host international sporting events, including the Olympic Games, which was the most important international venue for sports.  In that vein, he concluded, the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would no doubt be a success for the entire Global South.

PHILIP ONG ( Singapore) said that much had been said about how sport could play a role in the efforts of the United Nations to improve the lives of people around the world.  It built bridges between individuals and across communities, creating fertile ground for sowing the seeds of camaraderie and peace.  By promoting a philosophy of life based on the Olympic values of:  striving for excellence, demonstrating respect, and celebrating friendship, Olympism showed that sport could help build a better world.  By promoting a friendly rivalry through competitive sport rather than combat, the Olympic Games, since its inception, had been associated with promoting peace and today the Games enjoyed a very important symbolic value in that regard.

Singapore was also honoured to associate with the Olympic Movement through the hosting of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games from 14 to 26 August 2010.  The Youth Games aimed to inspire and engage a young generation that was increasingly spending less time on sports.  From the start, the vision of those Games had been to create an event filled with experiences that would inspire all 3,530 youth athletes and their families and communities to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect in their lives.  The message was clear:  “Everyone can make the world better:  no deed is too small,” he said.

The intention was to create something of value to the Olympic Movement and the youth of the world. As such, the notion of “inspiring youth” took on a double meaning of the games inspiring the youth, and the youth inspiring others through their spirit, character and physical talent.  The Culture and Education Program was a defining element of the Youth Olympic Games, which comprised over 50 interactive activities.  The Programme highlighted the value of understanding and appreciating different backgrounds and societies and of building and sustaining friendships that could flourish across borders.  The Youth Games served as a “living and colourful laboratory” for some of life’s most enduring lessons.

TETSUYA KIMURA ( Japan) said that this August, the Basic Act on Sports entered into force in his country, and that it opened with the phrase:  “Sports are a universal culture of all humankind.” The objectives of the Act were to stipulate basic ideas on sports and promote comprehensive and planned policies on sports, thus contributing to developing the physical and mental health of the people and realizing a vibrant society and harmonized development of the international society.  In that regard, he mentioned the Japanese Women’s football team, well known as “Nadeshiko Japan,” as the winner of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Germany.

He said their play on the pitch had given so much hope and encouragement to the Japanese people facing difficulties in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that had struck the country in March.  The Nadeshiko Japan also conveyed a video message expressing the heartfelt thanks from the people of Japan to the world for the support extended and solidarity shown through donations and other means.  “This is the power of sports we believe in,” he said.

The principles of the Basic Act on Sports included the promoting of an environment for persons with disabilities to participate voluntarily and actively in sports, with necessary consideration of the different types and levels of disabilities.  Another important principle of the Act was to contribute to enhancing mutual understanding among people and countries as well as international peace.  Those principles were exactly in line with those of the Olympic Truce resolution.  He said that the Basic Act stipulated that the central and local authorities should make efforts to promote advantage of persons with disabilities in sports facilities and to contribute to international understanding and peace.  Tokyo made an official bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  If the bid was won, the Japanese Government would use the events as an opportunity to further strengthen the spirit of the Olympic Truce Resolution.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that sport was a universal language, which was particularly significant when dedicated to the traditions of the Olympic truce.  The Olympic ideals could educate future generations in the culture of peace, non-violence and tolerance.  Sport could overcome national and religious animosities.  He supported the International Olympic Committee’s call for an Olympic Truce both during and after the Games, calling on all to observe that armistice.  Sport instilled values of mutual respect and the rejection of xenophobia — of particular importance today — in young people, and also could serve as a foil for terrorism.  World sport should develop according to its own rules, not based on politics nor should it become the subject of intrigue and blackmail.

He saw the selection of Sochi as host of the Olympic and Paralymic Winter Games in 2014 as world recognition for Russia’s achievement in sport, as well as its recent socio-economic and political development.  Planning and construction projects were underway for the Games that would help further economic and social development of the region.  In the process, the Russian Federation was studying the experience of other countries in preparing for such events.  Measures were also being taken to preserve and improve the Sochi area’s unique natural environment.  He also noted that a Cultural Olympiad had begun in 2010 to showcase arts and multicultural diversity in the Russian Federation.  The country was also committed to making certain that the people felt that the Olympics belonged to them.

KENDRICK MEEK ( United States) said that, during international sporting events, the issue of “who won and lost” was hardly as important as the good will of participation.  In that vein, the United States encouraged all Member States to support the ancient tradition of Olympic Truce, which enabled the safe passage of athletes and their participation in the Games.  The resolution currently before the Assembly was the most co-sponsored General Assembly resolution in history, he said.  Through sport, people, both rich and poor, at peace or at war, learned tolerance and built an appreciation for diversity.  It generated a deep sense of national pride, while simultaneously fostering international solidarity.

The United States’ concept of sports diplomacy, therefore, built on the vision of “smart power” and diplomacy.  Through that concept, it continued to reach out to youth around the world in an effort to bridge differences and build on a common humanity.  Further, the United States would work with civil society and the private sector to enable dialogue and build peace.  United States development assistance would also include sport-based programmes, in an effort to help youth around the world build skills and confidence.  In that context, sport-based programmes were also helping to build communities in several least-developed countries.

HADA MEZAD ( Israel) said that sport transcended differences, and that it required basic cooperation and tolerance.  “Sport is a world where you compete without hating,” she stressed, adding that it brought people together in places of tension around the world.  In that vein, Israel was committed to using sports to bring together its diverse society, in particular Israeli and Arab youth.  It held annual sporting events that had joined some 20,000 young people from across Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, and which had expanded to other countries, including on the African continent.  Those events had become a powerful tool for development, in particular for the promotion of gender equality in minority communities.  That was evident, for example, in the Bedouin villages of Southern Israel.

Israel had actively participated in the negotiation dialogues leading up to the current draft text, she continued, adding that her delegation had also introduced language to the draft highlighting the leadership role of athletes.  It was unfortunately necessary to recall, on the present occasion, the “inhuman” murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

ISABELLE PICCO ( Monaco) said that the values of the Olympic ideal were identical to those that should inspire actions for development and peace and towards a more just world for present and future generations.  The record number of co-sponsors of today’s resolution testified to the resolve of States to defend the Olympic Truce of 27 July through 9 September 2012.  “Let us respect our commitments, then, and offer up 45 days of silent arms and a cessation of violence for the benefit of the millions of civilians affected by conflict and for the entire world,” she said.  Pursuit of the Olympic ideal and increasing common actions for sport in the service of peace and development consolidated the principles and values of the United Nations Charter.

In a world of catastrophes and crises affecting peace and development, international sporting events brought people together and taught tolerance.  Last May, Monaco had joined the international accord to establish the Peace University of Costa Rica, an organization for peace through sport, in collaboration with the International University of Monaco and the University for Peace.  That innovative partnership proposed a Joint Masters in “Sustainable Peace Through Sport” programme, providing solid academic training in peacekeeping and including a field apprenticeship in conflict areas, regions of extreme poverty and lack of social cohesion.

M. OTHMAN JERANDI ( Tunisia) said sport was a useful tool to be integrated into in all major areas of the United Nations, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Sport also was effective in fostering integration, and promoting solidarity, and cultural and human diversity.  Congratulating South Africa for its hosting of the 2010 World Cup, and Canada for the success of the XXI Winter Games in Vancouver, he said those events underscored the ability of sport to catalyze friendship and the “sporting spirit” among athletes and fans alike, whatever their beliefs.  He encouraged States to take all measures necessary to tackle doping, which undermined the credibility of sports.

He went on to welcome the growing number of countries that had signed the International Convention against Doping in Sport, adopted at the 2005 UNESCO General Conference, saying that ethics must be communicated through civil society organizations, so that sporting events were not used to express racist or xenophobic slogans.  He also commended the United Kingdom for its draft resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal,” expressing hope it would be supported by all Assembly members.

YEVHENII TSYMBALIUK ( Ukraine) said that his delegation had traditionally recognized the value of sport in building a peaceful and better world, promoting tolerance, equality and understanding among people and nations. Sport was a unique “shared public good” which could bring people together irrespective of race, religion, political opinion and gender. Ukraine also believed in the potential of sport to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and to make a real difference in the lives of people – including those from the most vulnerable groups. Today more than ever, he continued, sport and physical activity were taking on growing significance in the context of health security. The Assembly’s attention to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases highlighted that those illnesses posed a major challenge to development.

Sport and physical activity could play an important role in preventing those most prominent of diseases.  For its part, Ukraine, he said, was committed to promoting sport as a means to advance peace and development around the world.  It was considering the possibility of submitting a bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Together with Poland, it would host the fourteenth Eastern European Football Championship, and it considered the EURO 2012 as an opportunity to enhance the potential of Ukrainian youth in meeting social challenges, raising their awareness, confidence and sense of responsibility.  Ukraine also attached particular importance to the use of sport as a means to rehabilitate persons with disabilities and to enhance their social inclusion.

AHMED HASSAN ( Yemen) said that football had been flourishing in Yemen since the 1950s and 1960s.  His country was a leader in the field of sports in the Arabian Peninsula.  Despite its scarce resources, Yemen encouraged sport in all its forms and noted that it enhanced the culture of peace throughout the world.  The support of the current resolution by so many countries was further evidence of the common belief of countries in sport as a tool for helping youth develop their potential.  In that vein, sport should never be monopolized or politicized by one country, he said.

DATUK WIRA HAJI IDRIS BIN HAJI HARON ( Malaysia) said that “we were all from different nationalities languages, background and cultures.”  Everyone had distinct modalities and approaches in making their world and our communities safe, content and dynamic, ensuring education and employment, health and social services, and most importantly, creating peaceful communities where we may live without conflict and without fear.  “Despite our diversity, we come together, recognizing that there is one language that we all speak.  There is one tool that is simple to use, yet powerful,” he said.  Sport had a unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. By its very nature, sport was about participation.  It was about social inclusion and stood for human values, such as acceptance of binding rules, discipline, team work and fairness.

But, sport could be more than that, he continued, as it played a significant function as a promoter of social integration and economic development in different geographical, cultural and political contexts.  Sport was an influential instrument to strengthen social ties and networks and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, non-violence, solidarity, tolerance and justice.  Malaysia considered itself a young nation, and it was fair to attribute sport as the agent of change, which was a catalyst of successful nation building.  He noted a National Sport Policy to bring about implementation of various projects which inculcated patriotism in its citizens.

With regard to public awareness on the issue of a culture of inclusiveness, he said Paralympics were not about disability, they were about opportunity and fierce competition.  It was about solidifying friendship, sincerity and camaraderie and about being humane.  Malaysia was a strong believer that achieving success at the international level would be inspirational and extended to the international community the message of solidarity.  The next nine months would be a challenging and exciting period for Malaysia as the country’s elite athletes would work towards qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games.  While sport alone could not prevent conflict or build peace, it could assist in peacebuilding interventions.  In short, Malaysia believed the concept of sport for development and peace had faith in its attributes in transcending socio-cultural and political boundaries.

TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon) said that, only a few months before the Olympic and Paralympic Games would be held in London — and during the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, which was focused on the mediation of conflict — the wide support for the resolution currently before the Assembly represented the support of the international community for the concept of sport for peace and development.  Cameroon knew how much it owed to sport, he said, and it continued to be proud of its strong sporting traditions, including the “unbeatable Lions of Cameroon”.  The fact that sport was a “vector of peace” had been evident since the time of the Ancient Greeks, in particular though their concept of the Olympic Truce.

Further, he said that a more modern example of sport as a driver for peace was the 2008 football match between Turkey and Armenia, which had taken place on the first visit between the leaders of those two countries.  Yet another example had been the World Cup victory of South Africa in 1995, just one year after the fall of the apartheid system in that country.  In Cameroon, sport was the bedrock of peace and development.  Its conviction in support for sport for peace and development had been evidenced many times, including through the recent “Days for Africa”.  The ideal of peace could, indeed, be achieved through sport.  Cameroon therefore joined its voice with those of all the other Member States in supporting the current resolution, in the spirit of the ancient Olympics and the principles of the United Nations Charter.

ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said sport was a universal language, a common denominator, one that could break down walls and barriers.  It was a planetary industry in which the practices could have worldwide effects.  He noted the activities of the Youth of the World visit to London, and said that trip would promote a sporting culture, and be “a global athletic rendezvous,” which was a true communion of the international community.

He welcomed the initiative promoting the ideals of peace for all people and called upon Member States to observe the Olympic Truce, and added that the international community would forge peace, encouraging people to work for truth.  He wanted hearts to fill with joy in a world that was characterized by violence, and said:  “May our hearts be filled with the arrival of peace.”  He noted an initiative launched by United Kingdom Sports Minister Hugh Robertson to use the power of sport to enhance the situation of children, especially in the developing world.

MONIA ALSALEH ( Syria) said that sport had a significant role to play in the promotion of health, development and peace.  It served to build solidarity among peoples, she stressed, recalling that Syria had hosted the Special Olympics of the Middle East and North Africa, held between 24 September and 3 October 2010, with the participation of nearly 2,000 athletes under 15 different sport disciplines.  Syria nonetheless believed that the resolution currently before the Assembly should not be used as pretext for building peace in selective circumstances.  It should have included language ensuring respect for justice, the rejection of foreign occupation and respect between States.

FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Observer of the Holy See, called to mind the important role of sport in promoting a comprehensive development of the human person and construction of a truly human society based on respect for the dignity of each and every person.  Next year, the international community would come together to celebrate the Games of the XX Olympiad and the XIV Paralympic Games in London.  The Olympic Charter reminded everyone that the ultimate purpose of the Games was to place sport at the service of harmonious human development.  As the world prepared for those important events, all were reminded of the role of sport in the life of the human family.

Sport had a notable educational potential, especially in the realm of youth, and because of this it was of great importance not only as recreation, but also in the formation of the human person, he said.  Sport was among the means that belonged to the common patrimony of humanity that was appropriate for moral perfection and human formation.  If that was true for sports activity in general, it was all the more so for that which was carried out in schools and sports associations.  Sports, pursued with passion and vigilant ethical sense, became training in healthy competitiveness and physical improvement, a school of formation in human and spiritual values, a privileged means of personal growth and of contact.

To achieve such lofty objectives, sport must discover its deepest ethos and comply with the basic principle of the primacy of the human person, he said.  In that regard, a healthy approach to sport must be adopted so that it was not an end in itself, giving rise to the danger of becoming a “vain and harmful idol”.  Through sports activities, communities could contribute to the formation of youth, offering an appropriate ambit for its human and spiritual growth.  Hence, it was necessary that communities continue to support sports for young people so that they would fully appreciate the capacity to stimulate competitiveness, courage and tenacity in the pursuit of objectives, avoiding all tendencies that perverted its nature.

MARIO PESCANTE, Permanent Observer of the International Olympic Committee, expressed his gratitude that the Assembly had approved the Olympic Truce resolution entitled “building a better world through sport,” before every edition of the Games since 1994.  The bond between the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations had grown since the Committee had received Observer status two years ago.  He urged Member States to again support the Olympic Truce.  He also expressed gratitude to the Friends of Sport, which had played a major role in backing the Truce and the effort to integrate sport into the Organization’s work.

The resolution was not merely rhetorical but sent a powerful message that sport was an alternative to conflict.  In 776 BC, at the first Olympic Games, a truce suspended even the Battle of Themrmopylae.  That had inspired Baron de Coubertin to establish the modern Games.  In our time, he said, it was war that had stopped the Games rather than the other way around.  Participation was key to a world that did not divide people on ethnic, linguistic or religious grounds.  Among many examples of diplomacy for peace from the field of sport, he noted that, at the Beijing Games, two mothers from nations at war, Georgia and Russia, had embraced on the podium.  Youth across the world were asking for freedom, presence and peace through participation.

Action on Draft Resolution

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution entitled building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal (document A/66/L.3) without a vote.

Culture of Peace

Opening the debate on “a culture of peace”, General Assembly Vice-President JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU, (Benin), speaking on behalf General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, recalled that resolution 53/243 (1999) containing the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace had reaffirmed the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”.  That historic norm-setting document stated that a culture of peace consisted of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflected and inspired social interaction based on the principles of freedom, justice human rights and tolerance.  Such a culture rejected violence and worked to prevent conflict by tackling its root causes and engaging in dialogue.

Specifically, the Declaration called for full respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, he said, promotion of all human rights and commitment to the peaceful settlement of conflict. The Programme of Action offered guidelines for carrying out those goals.  While the special role of civil society and the media would strengthen the global movement for the culture of peace, the most significant way to achieve that culture was through peace education, which must be accepted in all societies as essential.

Last year, the Assembly’s resolution 65/11 reiterated that the goal of implementing the Programme of Action was to strengthen the global movement towards a culture of peace.  To effectively meet today’s challenges, young people deserved a radically different education:  “one that does not glorify war but educates for peace, non-violence and international cooperation”, he said. Young people needed skills and knowledge to nurture peace for themselves and their world.  It was crucial to remember that sustainable peace was inseparable from women’s equality.  “When women are marginalized, there is little chance for an open, participatory, peaceful society,” he said, calling the culture of peace “the essence of a new humanity”.

ABDELWAHAB AL-RASHED ( Kuwait) said that his delegation believed that people should come together to “join hands under the dome of the culture of humanity”.  Kuwait placed great emphasis on promoting the culture of peace and dialogue among cultures, civilizations and faiths.  A true dialogue among civilizations did not mean that the world’s people would need to “dissolve themselves” in one religion or one culture, he stressed, but instead needed to respect the diversity of the peoples of the world.  Kuwait therefore called on the United Nations to strengthen is own dialogue in support of a culture of peace, and placed a high emphasis on the efforts of the Organization to promote the “lofty principles” enshrined in its Charter.

For its part, Kuwait had taken several steps to foster dialogue among civilizations, he continued.  It had set up a national plan that lived up to the initiative of the Alliance of Civilizations, aimed at fostering the culture of tolerance, peace and moderation, as well as countering violence.  It was also finalizing its next national action plan, for the period 2011-2013, and was working to promote moderate opinions in various contexts.  Peace was deeply seated in the history of the State of Kuwait, he stressed, and it had given rise to a culture of tolerance — including in the country’s modern constitution.  Kuwait also wished to highlight the fact that supporting and enriching the culture of peace was in line with the United Nations Charter; all Member States were therefore called upon to respect those principles.

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR ( India ) said that the current rise of extremism, intolerance and sectarian violence posed a challenge to the foundations of society.  While economic and technological development was accelerating, ethical, moral, and social development was not.  Instead, there was a rise in terrorism.  The absence of dialogue among cultures and religions allowed violence to flourish.  The Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) was working to address those concerns in a holistic manner, focusing on youth, media and numerous cross-cutting issues, he said.  Welcoming the Doha Pre-Forum for exchange with civil society groups, he hoped that the Doha Forum of the Alliance would reinforce commitment to act and supported the initiative to further explore the link between the AOC’s mission and the Millennium Goals.

Noting that India was the world’s largest democracy and a nation of unparalleled religious, linguistic, culinary, racial and cultural diversity, he said that the assimilation and accommodation of diversity had contributed to the richness of India’s composite culture.  The Indian Vedas were a repository for holistic development of the human being in full harmony with its surroundings.  Successful pluralism, including gender equity, must be grounded in mutual understanding and respect for diverse cultures and religions.  In closing, he said:  “Global efforts towards peace and reconciliation can only succeed with a collective approach that is built on commitment, trust, dialogue and collaboration.  We must do this, at all levels, within nations, within regions and within the broader international community.”

AHMED GAMAL (Sudan) highlighted his delegation’s commitment to various resolutions of the General Assembly, including 52/50 (1997) which had celebrated the year 2000 as the International Year of the Culture of Peace, and 53/25 (1998), which had named 2001-2010 as the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.  Sudan had also supported a related initiative of the Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement, among others.

The concept of a culture of peace was enshrined in Sudan’s national constitution, he continued.  It had undertaken many measures to foster a peaceful co-existence in Sudan.  In that connection, the Government was working with UNICEF on a number of programmes and organized a meeting on the culture of peace on a yearly basis.  Sudan had also given more room to the programmes fostering a culture of peace in its radio, television and other media, he said.  Today, as the world was facing growing international challenges — especially regarding the economy and climate change — all States were called upon to foster a culture of peace and to pursue development goals.  Sudan would continue to make efforts to live up to those “lofty ideals”, he said, concluding that all States should “avoid alienating countries” in the service of “narrow interests”.  Instead, people must reach out to one another.

JAKKRI SRIVALI ( Thailand) took note of the commendable efforts of Member States and the United Nations system in promoting dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions towards a culture of peace.  As an original member of the Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends, Thailand looked forward to participating in the next annual forum to be held in Doha in December of this year and welcomed the emphasis placed on creating synergies between the objectives of the Alliance and the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals at the upcoming meeting.

He went on to encourage the use of new communications technologies and social media, as well as formal and non-formal education, to promote dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions.  Also, he concurred with the report of the Secretary-General which stressed the basic prerequisites for effective dialogue that included equality, justice, poverty reduction and respect for human rights.  Thailand was of the view that peace could not be taken for granted even in the best of times.  Rather it required continuous efforts to maintain and strengthen.  In order to make peace sustainable, a culture of peace must be cultivated at all levels, especially among youths.  All groups and sectors of society could and should play a part in promoting dialogue among cultures, civilizations, and religions, including women, media, civil society and the private sector.

YURSA KHAN ( Indonesia) keenly supported cultural diversity initiatives, saying that dialogue and mutual cooperation among faiths and cultures were inherent to his country’s history.  “We profoundly believe in the wisdom of dialogue,” he said, calling it a “cure” for ignorance, prejudice and hatred.  To that end, Indonesia had developed a strategy to “empower the moderates”. Nationally, the Government and civil society organizations were working together in the Forum for Harmony among Religious Groups, which organized dialogues among religious leaders and promoted religious harmony through social education campaigns.

Internationally, Indonesia held bilateral interfaith dialogues with 16 other countries and the Holy See, he said, as well as regional and Asia-Europe interfaith dialogues, launched in 2004 and 2005 respectively.  Noting that media had the power to educate and enlighten, he said that in a democracy, freedom of the press ensured a dynamic, free market of ideas in which prejudice and bigotry could not rule.  With that in mind, Indonesia and Norway had facilitated the Global Inter-Media Dialogue from 2006 to 2008, which produced a network of journalists around the world committed to fostering democratic life.  But dialogue would amount to nothing if it did not lead to cooperation at the grass-roots level.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLAP ( Brazil) said that, as a multiethnic, multi-religious nation, Brazil was strongly committed to the principles that inspired and guided the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative.  Brazil had hosted the initiative’s third Forum in May 2010, she said, which was attended by 109 official delegations and more than 7,000 diverse participants.  Further, as the adopted homeland of many immigrants from the Arab world — which had been witnessing the recent demonstrations known as the “Arab Spring” — Brazil whole-heartedly supported the search for an ideal that belonged to no culture, because it was universal:  the ideal of freedom.

The upcoming Alliance on Civilizations Forum to be held in Doha, Qatar, represented a major challenge to the political construction of the Alliance, she said, adding that the Forum’s Ministerial Meeting was also much anticipated.  At those events, Brazil wished to join the efforts of all Member States in their common task of achieving relevant results.

ADUGNA JABESSA, (Ethiopia), recalling that the Millennium Declaration indicated that tolerance was fundamental to international relations in the twenty-first century and that it should include the active promotion of a culture of peace and dialogue among civilizations, said that such dialogue was needed to address the challenges of religious intolerance and extremism currently facing the world.  Using diversity to promote understanding and tolerance would make it a source of opportunities and strength in the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual world.  He expected the upcoming Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in Doha this December to make positive contributions to the dialogue.

Extremists must not be allowed to use xenophobia to promote hatred and harmful attitudes, he said.  Governments, civic groups and organizations should prevent the dissemination of their ideas, through joint actions.  He suggested that the Alliance adopt a proactive policy to cause attitudinal changes through workshops, seminars and other forums for dialogue.  Ethiopia, with its ancient civilizations, was a diverse society in which peoples of different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds lived peacefully and in unity, a reflection of a unique society of diverse faiths and cultures.  Ethiopia, a secular State, had adopted a constitution guaranteeing religious freedom and allowed no behaviour harmful to religious liberty.  Departing from past thinking and practice in the country, Ethiopia had now created an environment promoting dialogue among diverse groups toward tolerance and addressing cultural misunderstanding.

KENDRICK MEEK (United States), recalling his country’s support for Jordan’s Interfaith Harmony resolution last year, said the United States had also joined consensus in the Human Rights Council on the resolution entitled “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief”. That had marked an important turning point in efforts to combating such behaviour.

The United States believed peace could be achieved only when people came together to shun violence and hatred borne of intolerance, and fostered an inclusive social environment.  He confirmed that freedom and the expression of open dialogue among people of different cultures were critical to combating intolerance, expressing hope that stakeholders around the world would help strengthen the foundation for tolerance, and work to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines) said all people desired a world of peace and cooperation, and out of the horrors of two world wars, nations had resolved to work closely together, to rid the world of the threats of violence and destruction and to further strengthen the foundations of a just and equitable international order.  Despite efforts to that end, dark elements still threatened to pull apart nations and individuals, feeding on rancour and resentment, inflicting pain and suffering and forcing violence and fear upon our world.  “We must continue to be vigilant amongst those that seek to rend us apart.  Ten years since 9/11, even as our memories continue to be haunted by the horrors of this act that made victims out of us all, we realize that those dark elements continue to linger,” he said.

Hatred continued to fester, and its insidious form continued to mutate, he continued.  It was regrettable that our people had to endure violence in its many malevolent forms.  People were broken further apart by those who sought to sow confusion, doubt and suspicion.  For the Philippines — and for the world — faith, culture and religion gave hope to millions.  In that regard, the Philippines welcomed the relevant report of the Secretary-General, which discussed efforts to promote the peace agenda in the hearts and minds of people.

The holding of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures served to underscore the need to sustain our efforts in fostering dialogue, and also made possible partnerships in about 1,000 projects that succeeded in achieving the key objectives of the year.  Such success highlighted the importance of partnerships.  He noted the activities undertaken by the United Nations system to promote intercultural dialogue, and he underscored the important role that the Department of Public Information could play in efficiently sending a message of peace and dialogue, by reaching a broader sector across many platforms and at many points through the use of information communications technology and social media.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey), as co-sponsor of the Alliance of Civilizations, was pleased to observe an increasing number of education and awareness-raising activities to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue, believing cultural diversity to be an integral part of humanity’s common heritage and an asset for the advancement of humankind.  “We should […] accept differences, fight against ignorance and prejudice, identify commonalities, respect others and encourage dialogue at every level,” he said.  To that end, Turkey had engaged in the activities of the Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures aimed at improving global understanding through tools such as social media, education, research and new technologies.  He recognized the important role of UNESCO regarding the Year’s activities.

The Alliance, which Turkey had launched together with Spain, had become a global peace initiative aimed at breaking down walls of misperception, he said.  Wide recognition and support of the Alliance made him hopeful, as only the commitment of Member States to the ideals of cultural diversity could carry forward the Alliance’s agenda.  The Fourth Forum of the Alliance in Doha, in December, would be an opportunity to reinforce commitments for action and to develop new strategies for an inclusive and open intercultural dialogue.  He welcomed the suggestion to create synergies between Alliance objectives and advancing the Millennium Development Goals.

MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT ( Pakistan) said new obstacles to peace had emerged in the shape of terrorism, among others, while economic suffering caused by the global financial crisis had shrunk the space for accommodation and understanding among peoples.  Against that backdrop, the United Nations Charter outlined the principles of tolerance and living together in peace as good neighbours.  All religions and cultures shared a set of universal values, including peace and equality, and as such, must not become a source of division.

Unfortunately, some people thrived in chaos, he said, pitting people against each other.  Hate speech was rampant and Pakistan rejected such divisive practices.  His country had joined all forums aimed at uniting peoples and promoting rights for everyone in a non-discriminatory manner.  “The world must stand together against those using an extremist political agenda,” he said, adding that religion must be a bridge bringing nations together, not a wall keeping people apart.

For its part, Pakistan was an original co-sponsor of the assembly resolution, along with the Philippines, and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s report that highlighted the crosscutting nature of efforts to create a culture of peace among a range of stakeholders.  Pakistan also had created interfaith committees at national and district levels that worked to promote harmony, while the Benazir Bhutto Foundation promoted an inclusive society.  The challenge was to replace fear with acceptance, and hatred with respect.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE ( Cameroon) said that his country had been called “ Africa in miniature” due to its diversity.  The Government was committed to peace within and without its borders.  Cameroon’s motto was “peace, work and motherland.”  A commitment to peace had sustained the people from the State’s foundation and had left an indelible mark on the building of the country.  Political pluralism, with many parties covering all political views, was the rule, with the ruling party always working for peace, as had been demonstrated by the Presidential election of 9 October.  The equality of all national languages was guaranteed.  The State invested in all regions according to the potential of each.  Freedom of religion was guaranteed, with monotheistic religions such as Islam and Christianity and African religions co-existing peacefully.

Foreign policy had been guided by two principles, he said.  The first was a good neighbourly policy and peaceful co-existence, the second, the peaceful settlement of disputes.  Cameroon had excellent relations with all its neighbours.  In case of dispute, as had happened between his county and Nigeria regarding the Bakassi Peninsula, such problems were resolved through the International Court of Justice.  That Court had come to a decision in October of 2002, and the issue had also been resolved with the assistance of mediation by the Secretary General.  The country was striving for peace within a linguistically and culturally diverse context, its values shared with those of the United Nations.

FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Observer of the Holy See, drew attention to the critical role the United Nations played in the promotion and strengthening of a culture of peace throughout the world.  As the Declaration on a Culture of Peace affirmed, such a culture must be based on respect for life, the ending of violence and the promotion of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation; the fuller development of a culture of peace was integrally linked to advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all civilizations, people and cultures.  That was important now as it was then, for Governments had a responsibility to respect and protect all persons, foster peace, promote education, dialogue and cooperation for the building of a society marked by harmonious coexistence.

Unfortunately, today, there were numerous situations in which the right of religious liberty was injured or denied, especially for believers of different religions.  He said there was an increase of religiously motivated intolerance, and one saw that Christians, in various parts of the world, were increasingly subjected to discrimination and violence, including in Egypt.  Lack of respect for religious freedom was a threat to security and peace, and impeded the realization of authentic integral human development.  The particular influence of a specific religion in a nation should never imply citizens belonging to other confessions were discriminated against.  In that connection, a common commitment to recognize the religious liberty of every person was favoured by sincere interreligious dialogue.  Effective measures had to be adopted for the protection of all religious minorities.

He went on to note that it was unfortunate that there were also countries in the world, especially some so-called developed countries, in which, though great importance was given to pluralism and tolerance, paradoxically, religion tended to be considered as a factor foreign or destabilizing to modern society.  Yet, it was an undeniable fact that the great religions of the world had made significant contribution to the development of civilization, for the sincere search for God had led to a greater respect for the dignity of the human person.  The principles upon which this Organization was founded were a constant reminder for all States to commit themselves to bringing an end to all conflicts and building peaceful coexistence among all peoples.

CHRISTOPHE LOBRY-BOULANGER, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that addressing discrimination and exclusion required a change of mindsets and one way to start was by reinforcing the role of education in the promotion of a culture of peace in schools, families and social activities.  “Schools should be seen first and foremost as places for imparting the most vital skills,” she said, which included tolerance and mutual respect.  A values- and skills-based education could address the underlying causes of violence, especially when coupled with efforts to foster social inclusion and respect for diversity.  Communities that invested in programmes that prevented stigma and gender inequality were less prone to violence, and targeting youth most at risk was important.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.