New York

30 September 2007

Remarks at the Festival of Sukkot

Ban Ki-moon

Khug Sameyach! [Happy festival!]

I am honoured to join you for this Celebration of Understanding and harmony between the Peoples and Faiths of the World. Thank you for letting me experience the tabernacle with you.

For me, there could be no better way of celebrating the opening of the United Nations General Assembly -- an occasion on which we come together, not only as nations, but as human beings united in our yearning for peace.

This year, Sukkot falls at a particularly auspicious time, as we also approach the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. This reminds us that men and women of faith around the world can be brought together, rather than separated, by their convictions and their belief in something greater than themselves.

Four days ago at the United Nations, we held a ministerial meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations, our initiative to help build bridges and promote dialogue between cultures and religions. I was delighted to see how membership of the Alliance had nearly doubled since the inaugural meeting a year ago.

This represents a growing resolve among nations to work together to heal divides in our world.

I draw strength from that resolve, at a time when so many of the challenges we face are aggravated by distrust and hostility.

And I draw strength from gatherings such as yours. Looking around this tabernacle today, and at your faces illuminated by the celebration of the Israelites’ exodus and bountiful harvest, I feel that we are all united: we are united in our choice of dialogue before confrontation; united in our pursuit of engagement before alienation; united in our embrace of harmony and understanding.

In that spirit, I wish all of you a most joyous Sukkot, and I thank you again for letting me share it with you.