Romania says UN best placed to overcome cultural and religious divides

Romania says UN best placed to overcome cultural and religious divides

No other organization is better placed than the United Nations to overcome differences between peoples, cultures and religions, Romania’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly tonight, calling for greater dialogue to overcome what divides humankind.

No other organization is better placed than the United Nations to overcome differences between peoples, cultures and religions, Romania’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly tonight, calling for greater dialogue to overcome what divides humankind.

Adrian Mihai Cioroianu said the Alliance of Civilizations – launched by the UN in 2005 at the initiative of Spain and Turkey to reduce tensions between religions and cultures – “had the great potential to construct a real dialogue between the West and Islam.”

The Alliance brings together leaders, institutions and civil society to try to reduce fear and suspicion and overcome prejudices and polarizations that have emerged between Islam and the West, especially in recent years.

In April, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Jorge Sampaio, a former president of Portugal, as the first UN High Representative for the Alliance.

Mr. Cioroianu told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that “Romania attaches particular importance to dialogue between cultures and religions. We believe this is essential to meeting today’s global challenges.”

Echoing that call, San Marino’s Foreign Minister and Head of Government Fiorenzo Stolfi described intercultural and interreligious dialogue as a “fundamental instrument to prevent tensions and conflicts arising from intolerance and to promote peace based on the principles of respect for fundamental human rights, justice and international cooperation.”

Mr. Stolfi said San Marino had used its recent six-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to organize a series of high-level debates and meetings on promoting tolerance.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos said the “Group of Friends” network – a growing community of over 70 States and international organizations that support the objectives of the Alliance of Civilizations – has already helped set up a trust fund for voluntary contributions, while Dr. Sampaio has also presented a programme of work to further the Alliance’s goals.

Turning to the wider issue of international relations, Mr. Moratinos added that there was a small but distinct trend towards greater cooperation within regional groups and other organizations and an enhanced appreciation of the value of political consensus.

“There exists a global political consciousness regarding the challenges that affect demography, sustainable human and economic development, as well as its link with climate change,” Mr. Moratinos said.