The General Assembly today adopted four resolutions which promote a culture of peace, tolerance, diplomacy and multilateralism, before filling vacancies in the Committee for Programme and Coordination, as well as in the Committee on Conferences.
Adopted without a vote, the resolution, “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/73/L.43) had the General Assembly request the President of that organ to give special attention to the appropriate observance of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. Falling on 13 September 2019, the request including holding a High-level forum on that date.
Bangladesh’s delegate, introducing the text, outlined a number of additions to this year’s version. Those included the recognition that efforts towards peacebuilding and sustaining peace need to take into account the promotion of a culture of peace and vice‑versa.
The Assembly adopted the resolution, “International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace” (document A/73/L.48) by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 0 abstentions. By that text, the General Assembly invites all Member States, observers and organizations of the United Nations to observe the International Day in an appropriate manner and to disseminate the advantages of multilateralism and diplomacy for peace, including through educational and public awareness-raising activities.
Speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, the representative of Venezuela introduced the resolution, reporting that the text was the outcome of informal, inclusive and transparent consultations with Member States. More so, as a reaffirmation of Charter principles and reflecting the Non‑Aligned Movement’s anti‑war position, it was decided to introduce the draft under the “Culture of Peace” umbrella.
Also adopted without a vote was the resolution, “Enlightenment and religious tolerance” (document A/73/L.52). By terms of that text, the General Assembly calls on Member States to maintain a common stance in supporting the application of the principles of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and urges Member States to step up their efforts to protect and promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, to this end.
“Strengthening mutual respect for cultural diversity and advancing tolerance is of vital importance,” said the representative of Uzbekistan, who introduced the text. The main goal of the draft is to advance universal access to education and eradicate illiteracy and ignorance, he emphasized, adding that the text encourages Member States to expand activities in those fields.
Finally, the Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution, “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/73/L.55). By its terms, the General Assembly condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and encourages Member States to consider initiatives that identify areas for practical action for the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.
“It is important to have such resolutions to remind us of the endeavours that bring the people of the world together,” commented Pakistan’s delegate, who introduced the resolution. The international community needs to defend multilateralism against populist nationalism, he stressed, adding that that diversity remains the world’s biggest asset.
Many delegates welcomed the resolutions, calling them in line with the key principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Libya’s delegate suggested that those texts could serve as guidelines for Governments and non‑governmental organizations. In a similar vein, the United Arab Emirates delegate said the United Nations was created to bolster the culture of peace and provide a platform for countries to learn from each other.
El Salvador’s representative pointed out that the resolution emphasizes the concept of development, which is an important one for his country. Indeed, the resolution has become a reference for the application of actions and decisions for countries that have lived through the conflict‑to‑peace process.
However, some concerns were raised about several of the resolutions, with the representative of the United States stressing that the proliferation of international days dilutes efforts to highlight legitimate concerns.
Echoing that stance, the European Union delegate said his bloc was not in favour of the multiplication of international days, adding that the singling out of specific groups of States in the draft does not adhere to the principle of multilateralism.
Nonetheless, the representative of Armenia, highlighting that the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace fell on a day significant to his country, underscored that collective action is needed to mitigate situations where basic human rights are challenged.
In other business today, the General Assembly, acting without a vote, elected five members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the main subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and the Assembly for planning, programming and coordination, to serve three-year terms beginning 1 January 2019. Nominated by the Council — as outlined in a related note by the Secretary‑General (document A/73/608) ‑ were Angola, Argentina, Ethiopia, France and Russian Federation.
The Assembly also appointed six members ‑ Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Senegal and Ukraine ‑ to its Committee on Conferences. The 21‑member subsidiary organ advises the Assembly on all matters pertaining to the organization of United Nations conferences. For the appointments, the Assembly had before it a note of the Secretary-General titled “Appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences” (document A/73/107).
Also speaking today were representatives of Brunei (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Kuwait, Cuba, Maldives, Sudan, Oman, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Panama, Iran, Morocco, Armenia and Nicaragua.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 13 December, to take action on a number of agenda items.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) introduced the draft resolution, “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/73/L.43), noting that since 1999 Bangladesh has been facilitating the resolution before the General Assembly. The additions to this year’s text include: acknowledgement of the General Assembly’s High‑level event on 5 September under the theme “The Culture of Peace: A Credible Pathway to Sustaining Peace”; the recognition that efforts towards peacebuilding and sustaining peace need to take into account the promotion of a culture of peace and vice‑versa; General Assembly resolution 70/254 on the Secretary‑General’s plan to prevent violent extremism; a call for Member States and other stakeholders to include youth in the peace dialogue; and a reference to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and its Group of Friends.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced the draft resolution, “International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace” (document A/73/L.48). The Non‑Aligned Movement has always insisted on the need to promote multilateralism, he said, recalling that in September ministers held a dialogue on the need to defend the Charter of the United Nations. The text before the Assembly is the outcome of informal consultations with Member States that were inclusive and transparent. As a reaffirmation of Charter principles and reflecting the Non‑Aligned Movement’s anti‑war position, it was decided to introduce the draft under the “Culture of Peace” umbrella. Once the resolution is adopted, 25 April will be the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, he said, calling on all Member States to participate in the event. He asked the Assembly, given the importance all States attach to multilateralism and peace, to adopt the resolution by consensus and send a message of unity to the world.
BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan), introducing the draft resolution, “Enlightenment and religious tolerance” (document A/73/L.52), said his country put forth the draft based on its experiences ensuring peaceful coexistence of representatives of various religions. The main goal of the draft is to advance universal access to education and eradicate illiteracy and ignorance. The text encourages Member States to expand activities in those fields. “Strengthening mutual respect for cultural diversity and advancing tolerance is of vital importance,” he asserted. Because lack of access to quality education leads to radicalization, the draft highlights United Nations activities to promote cooperation among Member States in the fields of education and science. It further highlights the Organization’s initiatives to advance greater understanding and respect among civilizations, cultures, religions and beliefs. In that regards, he urged States to unanimously adopt the draft resolution.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) introduced the draft resolution, “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/73/L.55), noting that the draft has evolved into a significant document promoting genuine dialogue across the religious and cultural divide. “It is important to have such resolutions to remind us of the endeavours that bring the people of the world together,” he said, asserting the need to defend multilateralism from populist nationalism. Xenophobia and islamophobia are on the rise, he warned, underlining the importance of encouraging healthy dialogue to find common ground and convergence of opinions. “We must build on shared values, and diversity remains our biggest asset,” he said, recognizing the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in promoting dialogue.
SITI ARNYFARIZA JAINI, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that with its more than 600 million people, Southeast Asia is composed of a multitude of religions and cultures. In 2017, in line with the shifting global focus on prevention, ASEAN adopted the Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society. This represents a paradigm shift in mindset that will enable a comprehensive response to the challenges that hamper sustainable human and social development in the region. The Declaration encapsulates principles that support peace and intercultural understanding; respect of all; good governance; resilience and care for the environment; a healthy lifestyle; and supporting the values of moderation.
Because quality education inculcates the values of tolerance from an early age, ASEAN recently held the second Youth Interfaith Camp in Indonesia, which brought together youth to represent the diversity of the region through dialogue, discussions and seminars, she continued. Noting that next year marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, the High‑level Forum on the Culture of Peace in September was timely, affording participants the opportunity to exchange views on ways to promote a culture of peace. She welcomed the role of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in promoting intercultural dialogue, understanding and respect among civilizations and affirmed continued support to UNESCO, including through the action plan for the International for the Rapprochement of Cultures.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) remarked that the concept of a culture of peace is intrinsically linked with the Charter. UNESCO has played a crucial role in the efforts to promote those principles, he said, suggesting that those stated Charter principles serve as guidelines for Governments and non‑governmental organizations. The international community must work on all three pillars of peace to combat extremism in all its forms. Those efforts require that youth be educated. Instead of aiming for the “end of wars”, stakeholders must create a culture that gives societies stability, prosperity and security. Cultures and religions must not be ignored but, instead, be respected and understood so root causes of conflicts can be addressed.
FAHAD M. E. H. A. MOHAMMAD (Kuwait) commended the central role of UNESCO in promoting a culture of peace. Such efforts include programmes to combat hatred and violence. “The world is facing increasingly complex threats that challenge the culture of peace,” he said, pointing to intolerance and exclusivity as key among those concerns. He called on States to pursue dialogue and a culture of peace in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Preventative diplomacy and mediation are concepts that require increased attention if States are to respond to emerging conflicts in a timely manner and cooperation and tolerance must reign throughout society. “Saying no to hatred and extremism is something all Member States must do,” he asserted.
Ms. AL DAAH (United Arab Emirates) said the culture of peace calls for tolerance and appreciation of differences among all cultures and religions. The United Nations was created to bolster the culture of peace and provide a platform for countries to learn from each other. Calling for increased efforts to spread peace and interreligious dialogue, she warned that extremist groups are attempting to destroy culture and heritage. Strong societies lead to strong States, which become centres of tolerance for religions and civilizations, she said, highlighting the need to establish inclusive national and regional strategies to bolster tolerance to counter extremist ideologies.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said peace efforts by the international community must be focused primarily on full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States as well as non‑interference in matters that are within domestic jurisdiction. The root causes of conflicts — including extreme poverty, hunger, inequality, lack of access to health and education — must be addressed. Tolerance and respect for culture, history and religions must also be fostered. However, there are factors that undermine the possibilities of achieving those goals, such as the promotion of covert change of regime agendas in developing countries, the violation of international law, the development of new and deadlier weapons and unilateral coercive measure, among others. Manipulations and double standards in areas such as human rights do not contribute to the ideal of a culture of peace. The Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, adopted in 2014 in Havana within the framework of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), is a demonstration of the region’s commitment to peace, she said.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said the principles that underpin the culture of peace are under threat as innocent people are attacked based on their ethnicity or religion. He noted progress made by UNESCO in integrating the 2030 Agenda into its work programme and called on the entity to ensure knowledge passed on to students is based on tolerance and respect. “The youth must be taught to recognize and appreciate the mutual dependence we have on one another,” he stressed. Climate change — which disproportionately affects small island developing States — is a looming threat to the culture of peace. Calling on Member States to combat extremism with full conviction, he underscored that promoting the culture of peace requires a policy shift that eliminates all forms of prejudice and marginalization.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan) observed that xenophobia, migration, refugee crises and populist rhetoric have a negative impact on peace and security around the world. Support must be provided to developing countries — often the most affected by armed conflict — to allow them to foster a culture of peace and work towards sustainable development. Technology and information and communications technology offer great opportunities to promote peace and must not be used to exacerbate xenophobia and push stereotypes. Recalling various regional peace efforts during the past year in Africa, including the agreement in South Sudan and peace efforts in Central African Republic and Darfur, he expressed hope that mediation efforts in Africa will help improve development prospects for the entire continent. The culture of peace can only be sustained with a respect and observance of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, he stressed, rejecting the practice of sanctioning.
KHALID SAEED MOHAMED AL SHUAIBI (Oman) said the Secretary‑General’s report on the promotion of a culture of peace stresses the need for preventative diplomacy as part of efforts to restructure understandings of the concept. Oman has a diverse culture and heritage and its citizens have always called for peace, he noted, adding that the country’s geographic location allows it to spread the culture of peace across the region. The Government, with a focus on ensuring that citizens respect one another, is implementing legislation to promote religious and cultural understanding. A national committee for culture is working on enabling intercultural dialogue and fostering mutual acceptance. On the global stage, he said Oman promotes peace, justice and non-interference in the affairs of other States.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) pointed out that the resolution emphasizes the concept of development, which is an important one for his country, especially as it relates to youth education. Further stressing the important role that women and young people play in conflict prevention and sustaining peace, he said the resolution has become a reference for the application of actions and decisions for countries that have lived through the conflict‑to‑peace process. In El Salvador, 26 years after a peace agreement, any political solution to conflict must include social programmes for development, as well. In recent years, his country has seen a reduction of homicide by 27 per cent. Establishing an inclusive society requires strong institutions, accountability and active transparency to combat corruption and bribery, he stated, recommending that a high‑level forum be scheduled to allow Member States to follow up on progress made after the resolution’s adoption.
HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN, underscored that the road to peace is the only way to a peaceful and prosperous nation. Myanmar is home to 135 officially recognized ethnic groups, each with its own distinctive culture and different faith. Stressing the importance of interfaith dialogue, he noted the establishment of the Interfaith Friendship Group at the national level and over 100 subgroups across the country. Quoting State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, he said that “for interfaith dialogue to be truly effective, it should not be limited to religious leaders. It must extend to all so that it results in the meeting of minds and hearts.” The root causes of violent extremism must be addressed to combat intolerance and religious extremism which are harmful to sustaining peace and harmony in a diverse society. On the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army terrorist attacks in October 2016 and August 2017, he highlighted the urgent need for peace and reconciliation in Rakhine State, while stressing the importance of addressing fundamental issues of fear, anger, frustration and poverty in the region. “Sustainable peace is not simply the absence of conflict”, he said. “Peace and development are two sides of the same coin.”
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the 2030 Agenda acknowledges natural and cultural diversity of the world and recognizes that all cultures and civilizations are crucial enablers of sustainable development. He said that his country fully supports the Secretary‑General’s efforts towards responding early to crisis situations, assisting Member States in their endeavours to sustain peace, and making the United Nations more coherent and efficient. He also highlighted the importance of promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue at the national and international levels. Among such initiatives is the Baku Process, which provides a large‑scale platform for the exchange of knowledge on interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Continued support by the United Nations and the international community for successful initiatives on intercultural dialogue, the culture of peace and multiculturalism are essential for building peaceful societies.
MELITÓN ALEJANDRO ARROCHA RUÍZ (Panama) said it is important that the international community renew the commitment it made in 1999 with tangible action that aims at establishing a sustainable culture of peace, based on respect, non‑violence, promotion of human rights and peaceful conflict. The concept of a culture of peace is the very essence of the United Nations; it is woven throughout the three pillars guiding the Organization. Collective efforts for peacebuilding with a view to prevention is fundamental to foster inclusiveness, he said, also stressing the importance of multilateralism. The current global reality is discouraging because of climate change, migration and other threats to human life. Addressing root causes of violence as a primary objective is of great importance. The role of youth and women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is also of great value. Towards that end, Panama will be hosting World Youth Day with Pope Francis in January 2019 to promote the inclusion of youth in all aspects of society.
FARHAD MAMDOUHI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, warned that emerging threats and challenges, especially growing unilateralism, impede efforts by States to promote peace and security. Unilaterally imposed measures, the threat or use of force and unilateral coercive sanctions all point to a deteriorating multilateral system. Withdrawal by certain States from UNESCO and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement are examples of behaviour that encourages unilateralism. Multilateralism is the only option to effectively counter emerging, borderless challenges like terrorism, he asserted, calling for efforts to promote multilateralism to emanate from the United Nations.
AAHDE LAHMIRI (Morocco) said the increase in ideological conflicts and violent extremism in the world today requires a unified response from the international community. Her country is willing to innovate to meet those challenges, she said, citing reforms made to the religious education system in Morocco and emphasizing the importance of education in fostering a culture of peace. In addition, Morocco trains Imams to ensure that they promote peace, both in Morocco and abroad. The involvement of youth is crucial in fostering respect and tolerance and fighting extremism. Emphasizing the importance of dialogue, she highlighted the important work of the Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO. In addition, Morocco plays a proactive and humanitarian role in the promotion of a culture of peace, including by hosting the recent intercultural dialogue, as well as the Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Migration in Marrakesh.
Action on Draft Resolutions
The representative of the United States, in explanation of position before the vote, said he recognized the importance of dialogue among individuals of different cultural backgrounds and welcomed initiatives that concretely address root causes of conflict by countering terrorism and highlighting the role of youth. However, regarding draft “L.48”, he voiced concern that proliferation of “international days” dilutes efforts to highlight legitimate concerns. “It is ironic that Venezuela introduced the draft as its Government violates human rights,” he said, calling for a vote on the draft and stating that he would vote against it.
The representative of Armenia, explaining his position on draft “L.55”, said his country shares the purposes of the draft. However, he rejected language included in preambular paragraph 23, as it exemplifies efforts by certain States to distort principles of peace while disseminating hate speech.
The General Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution, “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/73/L.43).
The Assembly took up the draft resolution, “International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace” (document A/73/L.48), adopting it by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 0 abstentions.
Also adopted by the Assembly without a vote was the draft resolution, “Enlightenment and religious tolerance” (document A/73/L.52).
The Assembly next adopted without a vote the draft resolution, “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/73/L.55).
The representative of Austria, speaking for the European Union after action, noted the bloc’s position on the adopted draft resolutions. Turning to draft “L.48”, he said only together can States achieve the commitment of leaving nobody behind. However, the bloc is not in favour of the multiplication of “international days”, he said, adding that the singling out of specific groups of States in the draft does not adhere to the principle of multilateralism. Still, bloc members voted in favour of the draft.
He also said the European Union was founded on the principles of non‑discrimination, tolerance and respect for human rights. As a result, it has been the main co‑sponsor of the resolution on freedom of religion or belief for the past several years. Acknowledging the value of education in promoting mutual understanding and tolerance, he welcomed language in “L.52” that encourages wider knowledge of diversity of religion. However, he said he could not support the proliferation of resolutions as a general principle and, therefore, was not able to co‑sponsor that draft. Nevertheless, as part of efforts to combat intolerance, European Union member States joined consensus on “L.52”.
The representative of the United States said, in explanation of vote, that while the United States promotes the principles enshrined in “L.55” and “L.52” including freedom of expression and religious belief, it rejects parts of the text that suggest that the principles of tolerance may be at odds with the former. Freedom of religion plays an important societal role. Rather than seeking restrictions to deal with intolerance, Member States should focus on enforcement of legal regimes that deal with violent acts and hate crimes. Regarding the invocation of moderation, those moderation‑focused programs could be subject to abuse and thus undermine freedom of belief and speech.
The representative of Armenia reiterated his support and commitment to multilateralism and underlined the crucial role it plays in the advancement of sustainable development and human rights. Collective action is needed to mitigate situations where basic human rights are challenged, he said, commenting that 24 April has important significance for the Armenian people as it marks the Armenian genocide. The memory of those events serves as a reminder that impunity promotes the recurrence of crime and is an example of the failure of the international community to act in unity.
The representative of Nicaragua asked to have on record that he intended to vote in favour for draft “L.48” but due to technical difficulties his vote was not recorded.
Right of Reply
The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said there was nothing surprising in the irrelevant comments made by the delegate of Armenia. The objectives of the culture of peace are alien to Armenia; otherwise it would not have become a monoethnic State. He said international organizations have expressed concern over the spread of intolerance in that country.
Committee for Programme and Coordination Elections
The General Assembly — acting without a vote — then elected Angola, Argentina, Ethiopia, France and the Russian Federation to fill vacancies on the Committee for Programme and Coordination. They will serve three‑year terms beginning 1 January 2019.
The Committee is the main subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly for planning, programming and coordination.
The Assembly had decided to proceed with the election on the basis of dispensing with the secret ballot as the number of candidates corresponded to the number of seats to be filled.
Committee on Conferences Appointments
Next, the General Assembly appointed Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Senegal and Ukraine to the Committee on Conferences for a period of three years, beginning on 1 January 2019.
The 21‑member subsidiary organ advises the Assembly on all matters pertaining to the organization of United Nations conferences.