Magazine article UN Chronicle

Bailing out Humankind from Its Social Insensitivity: The Need for a Culture of Peace

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Bailing out Humankind from Its Social Insensitivity: The Need for a Culture of Peace

Article excerpt

A host of world leaders met at UN Headquarters in New York on 12 and 13 November 2008 for an inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue on a "Culture of Peace", ac the initiative of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. Among the Heads of State and Government, including senior officials, from some 60 countries who spoke were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, King Abdullah, President Shimon Peres of Israel, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Holy See, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian National Authority, President George W. Bush of the United States and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan.

Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly, at the opening of the meeting, said that the difficult times faced by the world today were a result of "insane and suicidal selfishness". The dialogue was not meant to discuss nuances of religion and theology. he said, but instead "to join forces, as people or faith and/or of deep ethical convictions, to tap into our vast reserves of moral strength and awaken from our indifference to the fate of others".

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the paradoxes of globalization were not only bringing the world together, but also deeply dividing it by creating polarized societies, harnessing Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and negative cultural stereotypes and biases. The greatest challenge today was to ensure that the world's rich cultural diversity created a more secure and safer environment for the future of humanity. There was a need for a "dialogue that delivers", he said, adding that this implied involving as many institutions, civil society members, government officials, academics, thinkers and very importantly youth.

In his speech, King Abdullah said that terrorism and criminality had always been enemies of every religion and civilization. "The alienation and sense of being lost among the youth is mainly because of the dissolution of family bonds chat God Almighty intended to be firm and strong." He hoped that the dialogue would help reinstate and reaffirm these important values and principles.

President Shimon Peres began his speech with questions that would have the same resonance across borders and cultures: "In our region, children bear the names of prophets who are sacred to us all. Why should Moses, Moshe and Musa, Avraham, Abrahim and Ibrahim grow up as adversaries, in animosity? As our prophet asked: Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal deceitfully every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" Speaking directly to King Abdullah, President Peres said: "Your Majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, I was listening to your message. I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people. It's right. It s needed." Referring to the Arab-Israeli conflict, President Peres said that Israel's goals were to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and enter into a peace agreement and provide security for all States in the region. He added that the dialogue would help in bringing greater understanding and a new vision for a better world.

President Hamid Karzai told participants that "all religions of the world reflect and nurture humankind's inner desire for peace and self-realization". He remarked that conflicts and confrontations in human history stemmed not from religion hut from pursuit of the narrow political objectives of religious adherents or narrow political ideology. …

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