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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines


Opening Ceremony of the
High Level Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace
21 September 2006, UN Conference Room 3, New York

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I declare open the High Level Conference on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace. Before we proceed, may I invite everyone to rise for a minute of silent prayer.

Your Excellency, President Abdoulaye Wade
The President of the General Assembly
The President of ECOSOC
The Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission
The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the Troika of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace, chaired by the Philippines, with UNESCO and the President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN as members, I welcome you all to our Conference, especially those who came a long way to be with us today.

We meet at a time of discord and dissonance in international society. Faith is increasingly becoming a cause for disagreement instead of a bridge to understanding.

Ours is a chance to bring concord and clarity, through dialogue and cooperation. Ours is a chance to resonate peace.

Your presence here today is a testament to the growing interest of the international community and all stakeholders on the need for interfaith dialogue and cooperation to cultivate a culture of peace.

This gathering of high-level representatives from governments, the UN system and civil society is unprecedented, not only because of its tripartite format, but also as a novel opportunity for government ministers, UN agency heads and religious leaders to engage in an interactive dialogue.

The theme of our Conference – Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace: Contributing to Peacebuilding and Development – highlights the intricate and indivisible relationship between security and development and between security and threats arising from poverty and assaults to human dignity. In the interactive dialogue, governments, the UN system and civil society will exchange views on this vital and very current subject.

The Tripartite Forum, the organizer of this Conference, was launched on 24 March 2006 with the support of 50 governments, UN agencies and the Committee of Religious NGOs whose 110 members are accredited with the UN. It operates outside the mantle of the UN but supports all the UN initiatives for the promotion of peace in all its aspects.

Its mission is the promotion of peaceful-coexistence through dialogue, tolerance, respect and understanding of peoples of different faiths, cultures and civilizations. It is a loose, informal and flexible grouping that decides by consensus. Participation in its projects such as this Conference is optional. It does not require financial contribution for participation.

Our work finds inspiration in the lives of exemplary individuals whose commitment and dedication to interfaith dialogue are changing the face of our times.

It is in this spirit that we are honored by the presence of His Excellency, President ABDOULAYE WADE of Senegal.

For his work in the cause of peace, President Wade received last year the UNESCO Peace Award.

The Celebrate Africa Foundation selected Senegal last month as the BEST COUNTRY IN AFRICA FOR THE YEAR 2006. One of the reasons for this is Senegal’s exemplary religious tolerance. Though 95% Muslim, the first President of Senegal was a Christian, and many Christians hold important positions in government, including their Ambassador here in New York.

We are also greatly assisted in our work by the support of key leaders.

It is in this context that we will be hearing messages from the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General. The remarks to be given by the President of ECOSOC and the Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission will also help steer our interactive dialogue.

We will also hear the views of the United Nations and civil society, two of the three pillars of our tripartite partnership.

Thank you.

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