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

Philippine Statement
by
 
H.E. NOLI DE CASTRO
Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines
 

INTER-RELIGIOUS AND INTER-CULTURAL DIALOGUE

FOR PEACE: PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
The Philippine Experience

Mr. President,

It is a great honor for me to represent my country in this historic high-level DIALOGUE ON INTERreligious and intercultural dialogue FOR PEACE.

As this is the first time that I address the General Assembly, allow me to convey my warmest congratulations for your well-deserved election, Mr. President. May I also convey my felicitations to the Secretary-General in his maiden year at the helm of the UN system. we thank him for designating a focal unit in the Secretariat dealing with interfaith and intercultural activities in the UN system.

Mr. President

The promotion of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and cooperation has become a cornerstone of Philippine policy for peace and development.

The Philippines has had its share of problems related to diverse ethnic and religious minority populations.

Religious and grassroots organizations as well as other civil society groups, particularly in Muslim Mindanao, have already been engaged even as early as the 1960s in the practice of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as an effective tool for peace.

OUR GOVERnment therefore saw it fit to enact laws and adopt measures to strengthen and enhance the engagement of civil society in promoting economic development and the peace process.

The 2004-2010 Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan is the framework for governance of the present administration, THAT values interfaith dialogue, education and advocacy, as effective tools for the conduct of healing and reconciliation programs in conflict-affected communities.

The 2006-2010 Philippine Plan of Action on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation, strengthens government and civil society partnership and capacities in promoting interfaith dialogue and solidarity particularly in the area of education and training, media advocacy, peace process, poverty reduction, human rights promotion, environmental protection, women empowerment and anti-corruption.

OUR PRESIDENT created THIS YEAR the National Committee on Interfaith Cooperation to strengthen the implementation of the government’s interfaith policy.

Basic Madrasah Education has now been institutionalized by the Department of Education in all public elementary schools in Metro Manila.

the IndigenousPeoples Rights Act, LEGISLATED IN 1997, recognized to be among the world’s strongest state-promulgated laws that recognizeS, respectS, and protectS the fundamental freedoms and ways of life of indigenous peoples.

Key social development policies are therefore in place in the Philippines to provide a conducive environment for a vibrant culture of peaceful interfaith communities.

THE PHILIPPINES FOUND Interfaith and intercultural dialogue and understanding essential in translating shared values of peace, compassion, and respect into practical action at the grass-root level, a way out of the vicious cycle of mistrust, conflict and violence among religious and ethnic groups.

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE provideD the venue for building mutual trust and respect based on an awareness and appreciation of the common values among religions, cultures and ethnicities, and an acceptance of their basic differences.

it HAS GIVEN an opportunity for establishing a common understanding of the causes of armed conflicts affecting multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.

interfaith dialogue has complemented our government’s efforts in resolving conflicts through its comprehensive peace process, in which religious leaders and workers, and various faith and interfaith-based organizations are deeply involved such as in peace negotiations, monitoring of ceasefire agreements, and advocacy for human rights and international humanitarian law.

Our Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC), recognized as the first of its kind in the world, continues to be a partner of government in pursuing the national peace agenda of the present administration. IT ORGANIZED IN August 2003, the First Encounter of Muslim Ulama and Christian Bishops of Asia in Olongapo City, attended by over 100 religious leaders, FROM 19 ASIAN countries, to discuss peace and other problems in Asia and ways to forge greater cooperation.

THE BISHOPS-ULAMA CONFERENCE IS NOW our Government’s ally in its peace initiatives, especially in southern Philippines. TOGETHER WITH OTHER Interfaith groups that have sprung up in recent years , IT formS part of the civil society network, whose strength and support significantly define the outcome of OUR peace process.

Today, in southern Philippines, civil society, religious leaders, and even the business community are converging in building a brave, vibrant, creative, and dedicated peace constituency, in particular by carving out Zones of Peace which bar armed conflict within delineated territories.

inspired by our experiences at home, the philippines tabled in 2004 the unprecedented General Assembly resolution on the promotion of interreligious cooperation for peace. its adoption by consensus inspired the convening of the Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace in June 2005 that led to the holding of the 2005 Summit chaired by our President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Also as an offshoot of that Conference, the Philippines launched in March 2006 the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace where governments, UN agencies and UN-accredited faith-based non-government organizations can consult and collaborate in support of the UN peace and development goals.

The Tripartite Forum indeed has so much to offer to the world and I invite all governments that have not yet done so to join us in the Tripartite Forum.

The Philippines has been equally active at the regional level, promoting interfaith dialogue at the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77, the Asia-Europe Meeting or ASEM, the Asian Regional Forum and the Asia Pacific Forum, all of which have espoused this concept.

Last year, the Philippines hosted the Cebu Dialogue on Regional Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Development and Human Dignity, which affirmed the importance of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in the promotion of regional peace and security and social and economic.

This year, the Philippines co-sponsored the 3 rd Asia-Pacific Interfaith Dialogue Conference held in Waitangi, New Zealand, which resolved to build bridges among faith communities and governments in order to learn about each other through public education, religious education and media as well as promote peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last June, the Philippines co-sponsored the 3 rd Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Interfaith Dialogue Conference, which took place in Nanjing, China where 160 participants from 43 European and Asian countries vowed to deepen both government and civil society participation in the promotion and observance of interfaith dialogue for peace, development and harmony.

the 14 th Summit in Havana in 2006 of the non-aligned movement endorsed the offer of the Philippines to host a NAM Special Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace in the Philippines in 2009.

The present global, regional and national peace and security situation highlights the need for deliberate, strategic and coordinated efforts in interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

In this regard, my delegation proposes the following ways forward:

  • For UN Member States to institutionalize interfaith initiatives through policy and appropriate implementing mechanisms. On this score, the Philippines puts forward, as a model, its Philippine National Committee on Interfaith Cooperation.
  • For Member States to steadfastly uphold freedom of religion and the exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship and to strengthen their respective mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • For Member States to adopt a common plan of action and to declare an International Year of Dialogue among Religions and Cultures.
  • For Member States to adopt policies and programs to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples with their own cherished faiths and cultures to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • For individual states to encourage Interfaith Centers in schools of higher learning where students can informally know more about peoples of other faiths and cultures.
  • For the UN to strengthen the newly established focal unit on interreligious, intercultural and intercivilizational matters to ensure that global, regional and national efforts in the promotion of interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation for peace are monitored, reported, sustained and supported.

Mr. President,

The Philippines has played and will continue to play an active role in the promotion of interfaith and intercultural dialogue and cooperation for peace, development and the protection of human dignity. We are committed to this urgent task to eliminate racial tensions and prejudices that exacerbate conflicts.

We believe that a country that takes the route of sincere interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a step closer to achieving genuine understanding and harmony among its people, their development and security.

In conclusion, I urge all those present today to commit ourselves to work for a UN system-wide interreligious and intercultural dialogue and cooperation as an important means to pursue, build and sustain a culture of peace, aware of the positive contributions of faith communities in the discharge of the respective mandates of the United Nations.

Thank you.




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