World must fight intolerance against Muslims, Singapore tells UN Assembly

22 September 2005
Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo

The United Nations must translate its pledges to promote tolerance into concrete and specific actions that will combat anti-Muslim bias, the Foreign Minister of Singapore told the General Assembly today.

The United Nations must translate its pledges to promote tolerance into concrete and specific actions that will combat anti-Muslim bias, the Foreign Minister of Singapore told the General Assembly today.

George Yeo credited the UN for sponsoring commemorative events and meetings to address the problem, but said the results must be operationalized through the use of "everyday language."

He raised a series of sample questions that demand answers: "Are there limits to what politicians can say to win votes? Are religious leaders allowed to preach hatred in places of worship? What do we teach our children in school? What does all this mean to the immigration officer in the airport or the waiter in a restaurant?"

A greater tolerance of diversity in the world would create better conditions for peaceful cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims and influence the debate within Islam itself, he said.

imageAlso during this morning's continuation of the Assembly's annual debate, Jordan's Foreign Minister, Farouk Kasrawi, welcomed the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and certain settlements in the northern West Bank while stressing that this pullout must be part of the Road Map peace plan that calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State.

"Favourable conditions should be created for the peace process as a whole, in order to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, on the basis of full Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, and to reach an agreed solution on the issue of the Palestinian refugees, based on General Assembly resolution 194. Once this has been achieved, it should lead to the establishment of normal relations between the Arab states and Israel," he said.

imageNasser Al-Kidwa, Chairman of the Observer Delegation of Palestine, said Israel's recent withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip and the departure of the Israeli forces from the area had been an important development. He called for rapid solutions for the outstanding issues regarding the Gaza Strip, implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, a resumption of talks and implementation of the Road Map. "This is the essence of political movement and it is the path for resolving the conflict," he said, calling on the Middle East diplomatic Quartet of the United States, the UN, Russia and the European Union to "firmly push in this direction."

Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister for External Relations of Sudan, called upon the international community to cancel all the country's debts and to ease all sanctions so that the peace process could flourish amid an improvement in the humanitarian and socio-economic situation. He also pledged to achieve a comprehensive and peaceful settlement to the situation in Sudan's Darfur region and stressed the importance of promoting human rights throughout the country, particularly in Darfur.

imageCameroon's Foreign Minister, Laurent Esso, pointed to a number of positive trends in parts of Africa, such as Burundi, the Central African Republic and Sudan. At the same time, he said the international community must do more to address the situation in Darfur and to work for peace in other hotspots on the continent.

image The Foreign Minister of Belgium, Karel De Gucht, hailed the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission. "It is our common responsibility to make it a success," he said, pledging that Belgium would actively cooperate in the new body's work, including by sharing its experiences in the transition processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

imageAlcinda António De Abreu, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique, voiced hope that the new Peacebuilding Commission would serve to foster sustained international attention and support for countries in transition from post-conflict situations to recovery and to long-term development. "Indeed, the experience of Mozambique's transition from post-conflict to reconstruction for development, testifies to the valuable contribution and impact of the concerted support provided by the United Nations and the international community to peace and development efforts," she said.

image Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Croatia, welcomed the achievements of the Summit but emphasized that they must be implemented through action. "When we leave this place let us not forget the principles we have invoked and the pledges we have made. Only this can ensure that we accelerate progress toward achievement of both the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and United Nations reform."

image The Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draškovic, called for a "European level of rights protection of national communities in Kosovo, the protection of churches and monasteries" and other measures. "We are truly and fully committed to a compromise, and a compromise does not imply that one side should get everything while the other side should lose everything," he said. "We are for reconciliation and a common European future in which Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians will be best neighbours and friends to each other."

image Choe Su Hon, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea called for the United States to provide light-water reactors to Pyongyang as soon as possible. "We will watch closely how the United States will move in actuality at the phase of action for action," he said pledging to exert its best efforts to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

imageThe Foreign Minister of the Bahamas, Frederick Mitchell, called for greater attention to the Caribbean from its developed partners, with a focus on investment in education, health care, and democratic governance. "It is not charity that is required but a sound, sensible investment in our common futures," he said.

imageDenzil Douglas, the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts And Nevis, said that his country had been forced to close its sugar industry following decades of success because it was no longer able to compete "in a world market characterized by engineered low prices for sugar and the unfair trading practices of some countries." Efforts had been made to diversify the economy and spur growth, "but we need international political and economic support," he said.


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