In war on terrorism Egypt’s leader tells UN Assembly UNESCO has cultural role to play

20 September 2016

Calling terrorism “the cancer of our age […] that breeds the call for extremism and violence in the minds of people,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi today urged the United Nations to use cultural ‘weapons’ to eliminate destructive ideologies via access to knowledge, transfer of technology and confronting extremist ideologies.

“I would like to point out that the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stated that "war begins in the minds of men" and thus that it is "in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed,” he told the General Assembly on the opening day of its annual General Debate.

“Accordingly, it is our duty to instil in those very same minds the principles of tolerance and coexistence,” he added.

“This must be undertaken in partnership with UNSESCO, an organization the role of which has grown vastly in importance in today's world. Egypt recognizes the ever increasing importance of this role, and the importance of taking utmost advantage of the organization with a view to achieving a better, safer, and more understanding world in which there is room for all.”

Turning to the conflicts afflicting his region, Mr. Sisi called for an immediate and comprehensive halt to all hostile acts across Syria, paving the way for a political solution that ends the bloodshed and preserves the territorial integrity and security of Syria, realizes the aspirations of the Syrians, and ends the chaos that has only served to facilitate the spread of terrorism.

“The bloodletting in Syria and the absence of any prospects on the horizon are no longer acceptable,” he said.

He called for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands through negotiations to reach a final settlement and sustainable and just peace on the basis of the two-state solution.

“Egypt affirms that the hand of peace remains extended in the form of the Arab Peace Initiative, and stresses the necessity of working to take constructive steps to end Israeli settlement-building and initiate negotiations for the ultimate resolution, while simultaneously halting all acts that bring harm to the Arab heritage in Jerusalem,” he added.

On Libya Mr. Sisi said Egypt is playing an active role in bringing the parties together and supporting its legitimate institutions, represented by the Presidential Council, National Unity Government, the House of Representatives, and the National Army.

In Yemen, Egypt supports Yemeni territorial integrity and security, and the return of the legitimate government, backing UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s plan to resolve the crisis.

Turning to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Mr. Sisi called for aid for poorer nations.

“Developing countries are not afforded a sufficient opportunity to achieve sustainable development; they require a conducive international environment which provides them with a larger share of international trade, finance mechanisms, and transfer of technology, as well as influx of investments and debt settlement,” he said.


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