H.E. Ambassador Abdulaziz Nasser Al-Shamsi
Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations
before the 60th Session of the United Nations' General Assembly
on agenda Item entitled:
Culture of Peace
Dialogue among Civilizations
New York, 20 October 2005
At the outset and on behalf of the delegation of the United Arab Emirates, I would like to thank H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General for the valuable information contained in his report which will certainly reinforce our debate on this item. I also would like to express our appreciation to the UNESCO for its great efforts aiming at safeguarding our cultural diversity and encouraging dialogue among civilizations.
In spite of the recommendations agreed by the heads of state and government in the Millennium Summit held 5 years ago concerning the promotion of a culture of peace and dialogue among civilizations in order to eliminate the differences and conflicts among the peoples and nations of the world, the ethnic and religious intolerance and violence continue to be one of the major challenges that led to creating tensions, armed conflicts and violations of human rights in many countries of the world. This situation has given the initiatives for dialogue among civilizations significant consideration in addition to the political and diplomatic efforts aiming at achieving further understanding and convergence among the peoples, and spreading the best human practices, foremost, the principles of understanding, tolerance, solidarity and co-operation away from all forms of extremism and hatred.
If we look at the rapid historical events especially those of the last two decades we will find that despite the end of the cold war and less manifestations of conflict between East and West, new conflicts have emerged in the world due to the ethnic, religious and cultural diversities, as well as the competition between the North and the South, the rich and the poor. This situation, which posed a great threat to the international security and stability puts the responsibility to bridge the increasing gap among civilizations on the shoulders of all states, religious leaders and other ideal personalities in the social, scientific, cultural and sports areas.
We also affirm that violence and terrorist acts, ethnic cleansing practices and other grave violations of human rights experienced in many areas of the world during the last few years, have proved that their perpetrators do not belong to one particular nationality, religion or race, but have different origins and different political, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, we are deeply concerned about the continued prejudiced campaigns of discrimination, hatred and distortion that many Western media agencies are engaged in against certain ethnic and religious groups. We consider these campaigns as the main source for building up hatred and discrimination among peoples and civilizations. Accordingly, we call upon states and their media, as a first step, to ensure objectivity and transparency regarding the issues and crises pertaining to developing states, and to adopt measures necessary for confronting all the hostile, provocative and discriminatory practices committed against their peoples especially in the Islamic and Arab states,
The positive economic and development benefits of globalization achieved during the last two decades and enjoyed by many countries have contributed to bringing developing countries under the influence of the Western media and advanced technology, leaving most of the younger generations in these countries away from being associated with the cultural diversity of their societies. Therefore, and as we believe in the importance of continued interaction between civilizations, we demand the developed States to cease its control over modern technology, discontinue their unilateral policies, understand the concerns and issues of other peoples, and refrain from interference in their internal affairs and denying their national rights. We also demand that all initiatives calling for promoting dialogue among civilizations should include serious and effective measures with a view to resolving foreign occupation problems and reducing the gap between advanced and developing countries especially in the areas of poverty and development, and to establish a safe and clean environment. Measures should also include plans to achieve development through unconditioned liberalization of trade and providing the developing countries with access to the latest technologies in order to decrease the gap between these countries and the advanced countries. This should be achieved within a framework based on the principles of justice, transparency, equality among peoples and respect for the human being including his dignity, beliefs and his inalienable rights, and away from any double standards which are practised till date with regard to issues and interests of other states.
The United Arab Emirates, guided by the traditions and the customs of its Arabic society, which is derived from the principles of Islamic heritage that believes in diversity, has followed general policies based on two parallel principles. The first includes the transmittance of educational, cultural and social programs aiming at reinforcing its humanitarian and moral values among all social groups in order to ensure their participation in the national development programs, and the enjoyment of prosperity in the country. The second aims at developing these values and employing them in accordance with the requirements of modem times, without changing their essence. It also aims at strengthening, among its citizens, the concepts of mutual respect for other cultures, civilizations and beliefs. These principles were rendered through the speech given by H.H Sheik Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan two days ago during his meeting with Moslem religious leaders to celebrate the month of Ramadan, where he stressed the importance of showing Islam's tolerance and its noble values that are based on compassion, brotherhood, tolerance and respect for other religion, and which call for virtuous deeds and love for the good of others.
The UAE has also stated laws and decisions to ensure freedom of religious, cultural and social activities for minorities living in the country. In addition, it has encouraged organizing cultural, events that include the participation of thinkers, musical and folkloric groups from allover the world, in order to enrich the Emirates society's knowledge about other cultures, at the same time, maintaining its unique cultural environment.
At the external level, the UAE has entered a number of bilateral and regional agreements and memorandums of understanding on cooperation in the fields of education, culture and media. It has also participated in international conferences and fora on intellect, art and philosophy, which contributed to enhance its interaction and cooperation with other civilizations.
In conclusion Mr. President, we hope that our deliberations will form a positive step towards confirming the dialogue among civilizations as a method and a new means for international relations, to build bridges for understanding and cooperation and openness among countries, and to inspire their joint efforts towards the reinforcement of peace and security and the spirit of peaceful existence among their peoples and the future generations.