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Dialogue among civilizations essential for UN goal of preventing conflict: Annan

Dialogue among civilizations essential for UN goal of preventing conflict: Annan

Dialogue among civilizations is essential in order for the United Nations to achieve one of its main goals - preventing conflict through the creation of understanding and mutual respect, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report.

"Dialogue does not mean appeasement of the arrogance of violence or the arrogance of might," Mr. Annan says in his report to the UN General Assembly on the UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations and the work of his Personal Representative for the Dialogue, Giandomenico Picco. Instead, it can help lessen the fear of diversity and serve as a tool in the ongoing struggle against terrorism.

"It may be a soft tool of diplomacy but, in the long term, it can prevail," writes the Secretary-General.

The idea of a dialogue has generated wide interest among academic societies, non-governmental organizations and international institutions, Mr. Annan says, and several countries, along with the UN system, have throughout the year held various activities to promote and celebrate the International Year.

"The conferences and activities have also shown that the United Nations remains the natural home of dialogue among civilizations; the forum where such dialogue can flourish and bear fruit in every field of human endeavour," Mr. Annan says. "Without this dialogue taking place every day among all nations - within and between civilizations, cultures and groups - no peace can be lasting and no prosperity can be secure."

At a UN press conference in New York, Mr. Picco and some members of the Secretary-General's Group of Eminent Persons for the Dialogue among Civilizations launched a new book, "Crossing the Divide."

The book explains the context and the goal of the Dialogue, and sets out a new paradigm of global relations and advocates a key role for the UN. "The United Nations itself was founded in the belief that dialogue can triumph over discord, that diversity is a gift to be celebrated and that the world's peoples are united by their common humanity far more than they are divided by their separate identities," Mr. Annan writes in his foreword to the book.