Annan hails efforts at intercultural dialogue during time of increasing intolerance
At a time of sharply increasing intolerance, extremism and violence, a two-day symposium in Tunisia on intercultural efforts to move “from dialogue to alliance” is of signal importance, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.
In a message to the symposium delivered by Acting UN Deputy Resident Coordinator Jean-Michel Delmotte, Mr. Annan said: “Trends of recent years have strained relations between East and West. They have notably corroded perceptions between Islamic and Western peoples. If unaddressed, these may even threaten stability in our world. That is why meetings such as yours are so important.”
Participants, he said, could “help unlearn our collective prejudices, and promote a continuing dialogue among human societies” based on the premise that diversity is a gift, not a threat. “We must educate ourselves and our societies to go beyond stereotypes of the other and to avoid simplistic categorizations that exacerbate misunderstandings and prevent real problems from being tackled,” he said.
Together, all should resolve to build a world in which no nation and no community would be condemned collectively for the crimes of some of its members, no religion demonized for the aberrations of some of its adherents and in which there would be no “clash of civilizations,” because people would strive to discover the best in each other's traditions and cultures and learn from it.
He recalled that last September's World Summit acknowledged the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world. In order to promote international peace and security, the leaders committed themselves to advancing human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encouraging tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.
These basic principles should guide efforts to foster dialogue in a cacophonous era, the Secretary-General said.