Thursday, October 4, 2007

Understanding through Dialogue

On October 4, 2007, the UN General Assembly convened its first-ever high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding. Srgjan Kerim, president of the General Assembly, told participants, “We are reaffirming the values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But more importantly, we are taking concrete steps to advance these values around the world.”

He stressed the importance of opening dialogue and using all forms of media to encourage awareness. He noted that governments can help by adopting educational curricula that promotes peace and tolerance, while maintaining that the private sector, civil society, faith groups, and NGOs are also crucial.

Ban Ki-moon also spoke at the event, saying, “It is time to explain that different religions, belief systems and cultural backgrounds are essential to the richness of the human experience.” He emphasized that our differences should be seen as enriching, and not threatening.

Toward that end of the event, Mr. Kerim welcomed an informal talk aimed at fostering an exchange of views among Member States and civil society and the private sector. Leading academics, religious leaders, and civil society representatives will take part in this discussion.

As Jews mark the celebration of the Torah and Muslims approach the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the timing couldn’t be better.