New York: (Agencies): 8 October 2007 – Participation of over 80 countries and groups in the General Assembly’s high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding showed the importance Member States place on the issue, the 192-member body’s president said today at the close of the first event of its kind at the United Nations.
Srgjan Kerim urged participants to “go forth and strive to build a new culture of international relations based on human rights and security, mutual cooperation and respect for international law.”
The high-level dialogue is “an important avenue to achieve this goal,” he said in his closing remarks to the event, which drew the participation of over 80 Member States and representatives of civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith groups and the private sector.
While the UN is an excellent forum for dialogue, he emphasized that it must not stop there.
“If we want to promote this dialogue we should go back and spread the message in our communities and neighbourhoods throughout the world,” he stated, noting that the success of a global dialogue rests not only on Governments but on the active involvement of the private sector, civil society, faith groups, NGOs and the media.
Representatives of these groups, in their discussions with Member States, highlighted practical measures to advance interreligious and intercultural understanding and cooperation including adapting school curricula and teacher training to emphasize multicultural knowledge and awareness, increasing global student exchange programmes, and promoting respectful and inclusive dialogue, especially for minority communities.
A spokesman for Mr. Kerim issued a statement today affirming that the event “clearly demonstrated that the General Assembly had an important role to carry this dialogue forward” and pledging thePresident’s efforts to achieve that end.