The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted by consensus a Philippine-sponsored resolution on interfaith dialogue here, moving further forward the global efforts to achieve peace and development through a comprehensive strategy.

In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York said the resolution entitled “Promotion on Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue” was adopted by consensus by the 65th session of the UNGA under the agenda item, Culture of Peace.

The adoption was seen as a major step towards a “balanced global approach at addressing peace and development concerns” and as a recognition of the Philippines’ continuing key role as a “thought and action leader on interreligious and intercultural dialogue,” said Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Libran N. Cabactulan in a statement following the adoption of the resolution.

“This brings to the fore the importance of a holistic approach to help solve the challenges to global peace and development we now face,” Cabactulan pointed out.

“Strife and unrest resulting from religious and cultural misunderstanding impact seriously and negatively on the safety, security and quality of lives of many peoples around the world, particularly in multi-cultural societies. What we are striving to do is to draw peoples closer in greater understanding and respect in order to move them forward together towards peace and development,” said Cabactulan.

“The so-called “hard approach” isn’t sufficient to bring peace for so long as there is suspicion, bigotry and extremism. These evils have to be addressed, and these are addressed through the important human dimensions of religion and culture,” explained Cabactulan.

The Philippine-sponsored resolution includes the following key provisions:

• Emphasis on the importance of culture for development in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as stated in the outcome document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th session of the General Assembly;

• Affirmation of the importance of sustaining the process of engaging all stakeholders, in particular, women and the youth, in the interreligious and intercultural dialogue within the appropriate initiatives at the various levels;

• Welcoming the efforts made by the media to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue and encouraging the further promotion of dialogue among the media.

This, while emphasizing at the same time the right to freedom of expression and reaffirming that that the exercise of this right carries with it special duties and responsibilities;

• Acknowledgement of the holding of the Special Non Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development (SNAMMM), the biggest intergovernmental gathering to celebrate 2010 as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures held in Manila in 2010 and the “noting inter alia of the Manila Declaration which highlights the importance of enhancing efforts to promote respect for the diversity of religions, beliefs, cultures and societies”; and

• A call for member states to consider, as appropriate and where applicable, interreligious and intercultural dialogue an important tool in efforts aimed at achieving peace and the full realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Throughout the three-month long negotiations for the text of the resolution, the Philippines and other co-sponsors pointed out concrete interreligious and intercultural dialogue projects at the international, regional and national levels that have resulted in increased awareness and respect for the diversity of the human family and have helped foster an environment of peace.

Cabactulan stressed, among the examples raised were the strong civil society movements in Mindanao that supported interfaith dialogue and resulted in better relations among the tri-peoples (Christian, Muslim and Lumads) in the island.

“Interfaith dialogue is an important component of the Philippines’ peace and development program and similar experiences and outcomes in other parts of the world attest to the need for greater dialogue and understanding and their positive impact on societies and peace and security,” he said.

Cabactulan also pointed out that the main co-sponsors of the resolution, Philippines and Pakistan, are showing to the world how despite diversity of cultures and religions, countries can and work together towards a common goal.

Pakistan is an Islamic Republic while the Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation.

Along with the Philippines and Pakistan as main co-sponsors, the resolution is co-sponsored by 54 other states.

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