Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed for a rejection of extremism, underscoring that the international grouping of over 100 countries known as the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM, has an invaluable role to play in promoting greater understanding.
“We need to counter those who polarize and distort, or who humiliate and manipulate for electoral aims,” Mr. Ban said in a video message to the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue for Peace and Development in Manila, Philippines.
“We have had enough of mutual suspicion and fear,” he added.
To that end, NAM, with its “wonderfully diverse” membership of 118 nations, the Secretary-General said, can help to foster greater understanding, “which can be a foundation for a better future and a world of peaceful coexistence.”
He also appealed in his message for the organization’s support for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, launched in 2005 to help overcome prejudices between nations, cultures and religions.
“Peace, development and human rights all depend on mutual understanding and respect,” he emphasized.
Also attending the gathering, General Assembly President Ali Treki told participants that dialogue must be carried out at the national, regional and international levels to ensure that people can practise their religions and beliefs, free from discrimination.
“We must not tolerate attacks on religions and beliefs or on their symbols, and must ensure that freedom of expression is not invoked in order to show contempt for religions,” he said.
The international community, Dr. Treki said, cannot be “hampered by an artificial clash that pits the followers of different religions against one another on the basis of their convictions.”
Developing nations are up against many challenges, including the global and economic crisis, climate change and natural disasters, and development is closely tied with tolerance and the wiping out of radicalism and extremism, he pointed out.
The Assembly President also informed the meeting that he will hold a high-level debate in New York in May on dialogue among civilizations to examine how such talks can resolve long-standing conflicts.
He arrived in Manila for a five-day visit from Seoul, where he held talks with top officials in the Republic of Korea (ROK), including President Lee Myung-bak, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-O.