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14 NOVEMBER 2008
UNANIMOUS ADOPTION OF RP-INITIATED INTERFAITH RESOLUTION
NEW YORK—The United Nations General Assembly capped its two-day meeting on interfaith cooperation for peace on Thursday (13 November) with the unanimous adoption of a Philippine-initiated resolution calling on member-states to take steps to further promote inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance and understanding.
In its report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said the resolution entitled "Promotion of Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace," tabled by the Philippines and Pakistan, was adopted by the General Assembly at the end of its plenary meeting with high level participation on Thursday evening.
The resolution was personally introduced by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the opening on Wednesday of the plenary meeting on Agenda Item 45: A Culture of Peace, which was also participated in by world leaders led by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan, United States President George Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said that in addition to the Philippines and Pakistan, 76 other member-states, including China, Japan and Russia, co-sponsored the resolution, up from the 56 Member-States that co-sponsored the resolution last year and the 24 that co-sponsored the original resolution in 2004.
"Although it is the fifth resolution tabled by the Philippines and adopted by consensus by the General Assembly since 2004, the 2008 resolution is specially significant because it formally took note for the first time of the four major interfaith initiatives of the Philippines, outside the ambit of the United Nations," Ambassador Davide said.
These are the Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace at the international level and the Asia-Europe Interfaith Dialogue Forum and the Asia-Pacific Interfaith Dialogue for Peace and Harmony at the regional level.
"The resolution planted the seed for the eventual declaration of a United Nations Decade on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace from 2011 to 2020," Ambassador Davide said. "It also encouraged Member States to consider the idea of an enhanced process of dialogue among world religions," he added.
Ambassador Leslie Gatan, Philippine Deputy Permanent Representative, said these new elements were obtained after hard-fought negotiations steered by diplomats at the Philippine Mission.
"The Philippine interfaith initiative used to be sponsored only by developing countries," Ambassador Gatan pointed out. "After five years, other countries such as China, Japan and Russia have joined the group of supporters."
The Philippines first drew the attention of the United Nations on issues concerning religious in the secular affairs of the world body when it introduced the resolution in 2004.
The resolution, which affirms that mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace, lauded the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as integral to building tolerant societies and durable peace.
It also reaffirmed the solemn commitment of the United Nations to promote universal respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The resolution also encouraged the promotion of dialogue among media from all cultures and called on Member-States to consider initiatives that identify practical actions in all levels of society for promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance and understanding.
The resolution mandates preparations for the 2010 International Year for Rapprochement of Cultures with interfaith dialogue at its core, under the leadership of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The co-sponsors of this year's resolution are Afghanistan, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait,
Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Russia, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Yemen, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
China, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Macedonia, Peru, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Paraguay,
Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tunisia. ###
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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