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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
Excellencies, distinguished speakers and participants
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my distinct privilege and great pleasure to join our partners in the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace in today’s monthly Informal Information Session. I commend Mr. Hiro Sakurai and his Bureau and the members of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN for organizing this event and for selecting for today’s discussion the topic: Report on Interreligious Dialogue at the UN: A Reflection on Next Steps.
Undoubtedly, the topic is in itself a product of deep reflection and is significantly very timely. It is of deep reflection, inspired no less by the Source of Wisdom and Enlightenment, because it transcends the orthodox notion that the UN is strictly a secular intergovernmental body. However, if we just reflect on the first seven words of the UN Charter which reads: “We the peoples of the United Nations…” we know at once that the real source of the UN authority are the peoples of the world and that governments are merely their representatives to the United Nations. The words also deliver the hope that these peoples must be united.
The topic is also timely because at no other then now has there been a need for interfaith or interreligious dialogue as a key to achieving global cooperation for peace, justice, harmony, solidarity and stability. There can be no other better forum for that than the United Nations.The unprecedented Philippine resolutions in 2004 and 2005 entitled “Promotion of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace,” recognize the important role that religious leaders and their faith communities can contribute to peace, development and the promotion of human dignity. That role was finally recognized in the 2005 World Summit Outcome as one of significant means for the promotion of peace.
Last year, the General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution, A/RES/61/221, entitled “Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace.” This resolution, jointly sponsored by the Philippines and Pakistan, embodies substantive elements that prepare a fertile ground for interfaith dialogue in the United Nations for greater causes which would spiritually strengthen the faith of all peoples in the United Nations.
Three substantive provisions of this resolution promises to and can widen the horizon of the UN’s normative role in the promotion of peace by working with and engaging the religious leaders and faith communities.
First , the resolution calls for the holding this year of the High-Level Dialogue on Interreligious and Intercultural Matters. A resolution will be tabled shortly by the Philippines and Pakistan to carry out the modalities as well as organization of this Dialogue. We will propose that it will be preceded by interactive hearings with civil society. The outcome of this Dialogue in the form of conclusions of the chairs of the roundtables will serve as a springboard for the updating of resolution 61/221, including the aspect of interfaith dialogue in the UN.
Second , the resolution calls for the declaration of one of the incoming years as Year of Dialogue among Religions and Cultures. This will be crown all our efforts to promote interfaith dialogue in the UN because the Year will involve the entire UN family, which will interact with religious leaders and faith communities. We are inclined to propose that year to be 2010 to mark the end of the UN Decade of the Culture of Peace.
Third , and finally, the resolution calls for the designation of a focal unit in the UN to handle all interfaith and intercultural matters. This will help ensure that the UN family will have a coherent and coordinated approach to interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace.
We do not expect a general agreement by Member States in the UN to have interfaith dialogue as one of its priorities. However, I believe that the God Almighty, the Immortal one, helps those who help themselves and by our resolve to continuously push for interfaith dialogue, we can fervently hope and strongly feel that God will work out a miracle in the United Nations.
Therefore, let us patiently, persistently, tirelessly - even if slowly - continue our mission as solemnly enshrined in the vision of the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace. With unequalled perseverance and fidelity to the vision, I am fully confident that we will not fail.
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