Top UN official calls for more respect, mutual understanding between cultures, religions

February 7, 2015 1:37 pm 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 7 — A top UN official on Friday called for more efforts to foster respect and mutual understanding between cultures, religions and ethnic groups in a bid to promote sustainable peace and development in the world at large.

Sam Kutesa, president of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, made the remarks when he was addressing the opening of a special event on the occasion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week. In 2010, the General Assembly proclaimed the first week of February each year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

By the decision, "the Assembly recognized the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people," the president said.

"Given the nature of our world today, this message of peace and goodwill is as important as ever, particularly in light of the fact that we are witnessing a disturbing rise of intolerance and prejudice in many of our communities," he said.

"As intolerance, bigotry and hatred continue to fuel conflicts, violence and extremism in many corners of the world, we need to strengthen our efforts to foster respect and mutual understanding between cultures, religions and ethnic groups," Kutesa said.

"Every time we chose dialogue and reconciliation over confrontation, we take a step forward on our collective path to lasting peace," he said.

In late January, the 193-member General Assembly held a meeting to address concerns of a rise in anti-Semitic violence worldwide, during which the meeting heard unequivocal condemnation of all forms of intolerance and prejudice.

Also at the meeting, member states called for increased dialogue and understanding among different cultures and religions, he noted.

Meanwhile, the president said that he will convene a high-level thematic debate in April on promoting tolerance and reconciliation.

"The meeting will be an opportunity to explore how we can enhance dialogue and understanding and counter the threat of extremism and radicalization," he said.

The president said that interfaith cooperation can also pave the way for the efforts to promote sustainable development in the years after 2015, the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight anti-poverty targets.

"Interfaith collaboration can not only help promote common values shared by all humankind, it can also share as an important foundational element for the advancement of our post-2015 development objectives," he said.(PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/PJN

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