The General Assembly today adopted without a recorded vote two texts, including one that strongly condemns continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, based on or in the name of religion or belief.
By the terms of that resolution, titled “Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief”, the Assembly condemned in the strongest terms the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack aimed at Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March 2019, and expressed its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and the people of that country. In further terms, the Assembly urged States to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief and to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect.
Introducing that resolution, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, told the Assembly that the international community must stand up against the spiral of hate. Sending condolences to the families of the Muslims who were killed in Christchurch in a clearly planned terrorist attack, he said that Islamophobia and racism go hand in hand. Rejecting the actions of reckless politicians who often use distorted historical narratives and toxic conspiracy theories to equate Islam with terrorism, he quoted the poet Rumi who said, “listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, speak the language of love.”
Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of New Zealand welcomed the focus of the text on strengthened international efforts on a global dialogue to foster a culture of tolerance, diversity and peace. New Zealand is humbled by the outpouring of support from the international community and “particularly grateful to the global Muslim community who stood with us during these dark days”. While the country is not immune from the virus of hate, it is and will remain a safe and open society, he pledged. New and stronger gun control laws have been announced in his country, he pointed out, and a Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating what could have prevented the attack.
Canada’s delegate recalled the attack in a Quebec City mosque two years ago and said that when violence like this occurs, whether in mosques, churches, synagogues or on the streets, it must be called what it is: neo‑Nazism, white supremacism, Islamophobia, anti‑Semitism.
The Assembly then adopted that resolution without a vote.
Speaking in explanation of position after adoption, the representative of Australia condemned all forms of extremism, including far right violent extremism. As a successful immigrant nation, the country joined the call for freedom of worship and diversity of religions and beliefs. The representative of the United States offered “thoughts and prayers” to the victims of the Christchurch attack and said that keeping people safe from terrorism called for a whole‑of‑society approach. Norway’s delegate stressed that it is crucial to maintain the momentum on prevention.
The representative of Israel said the negotiation process on this resolution could have been more inclusive and transparent and condemned any acts of violence against any person based on belief or religion. The European Union’s delegate said that “attacks on places of worship are attacks on all of us who value diversity”, adding that sensitive issues require careful consideration and the deliberations on the draft were “somewhat compressed”.
The representative of Kuwait condemned national policies that promote xenophobia, while Qatar’s delegate called on all States to guarantee the safety of worshippers and their places of worship. The representative of Saudi Arabia noted that terrorist elements are spreading their message through electronic and social media, while Retno L. P. Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, stressed the importance of political leadership in building tolerance, and Jordan’s representative said the attack in New Zealand should strengthen the international community’s resolve to fight terrorism. Pakistan’s delegate, noting that nine victims of the Christchurch attack hailed from her country, said that profiling and stigmatizing people from one country leads to drastic consequences.
The representative of Malaysia said lack of knowledge about other communities is contributing to the growing xenophobia, while Iran’s delegate said that measures such as a Muslim travel ban and the use of the term “Islamic terrorism” are ways of encouraging Islamophobia. The representative of Japan sent condolences to the victims and condemned all forms of terrorism, while the representative of Kazakhstan called for dialogue between civilizations. Nigeria’s delegate called the resolution a significant demonstration of the international community’s commitment to tolerance.
The Assembly then turned to the draft on “International Delegate’s Day”. Introducing that text, Andrei Dapkiunas, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that United Nations delegates are not merely ceremonial. Calling for more recognition for the efforts of all diplomatic workers, he said the text is not just a pretext for an additional holiday. “People make history, people make the United Nations,” he stressed.
By the terms of that text, adopted without a vote, the Assembly decided to designate 25 April as International Delegate’s Day, to be observed every year, beginning in 2020. By further terms, the Assembly invited all Member States, the organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as non‑governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the Day, in an appropriate manner to highlight the role of the delegates of the States Members of the United Nations in fulfilling the main goals of the United Nations.
Speaking in explanation of position after adoption, the representative of the European Union said that despite joining the spirit of consensus around the text, the bloc is concerned that this resolution does not provide any specific added value while running the risk of diminishing the public image of the United Nations.