Islamic Republic of Iran

Statement by
H.E. Dr. M. Javad Zarif,
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran
before the UN General Assembly
under Agenda item 42
Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations
New York - 20 October 2005

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Mr. President,

Allow me to commence by expressing our satisfaction that the General Assembly is addressing, in a joint debate, two very important items concerning the Culture of Peace and the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations. I wish to thank the Secretary General for his reports and for his unwavering commitment to the advancement of these lofty initiatives.

At no time, the international community was in a more dire and urgent need of a concerted effort to promote a culture of peace and dialogue among civilizations than today. Their significance was rightly recognized in the outcome document of the recently concluded Summit which reaffirmed the Declaration and Program of Action' on the Culture of Peace and the, Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations and its Program of Action, as well as other initiatives on dialogue among cultures and civilizations.

Mr. President,

The challenges that we all face are indeed multifaceted and the old approaches based on power and exclusion have proven insufficient and in most cases inappropriate. Such approaches have even lead to the exacerbation of tension by widening the divide, marginalizing and alienating significant portions of the global population and providing fertile grounds for the spread of hatred, bigotry and violence. The perceived need for real or even manufactured enemies as a managerial tool has in fact transformed the nightmare of a clash of civilizations from a theoretical construct into a real possibility.

The desire of the international community to break away from the paradigm of exclusion was demonstrated by the unanimous designation of 2001 as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. A new paradigm should replace that outdated mode of analysis and behavior, because today there is greater appreciation of our common vulnerability to threats ranging from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to poverty and environmental degradation. Indeed, in the era of globalization, these menaces recognize no boundaries of geography, power or affluence. And it is thus hoped that collective management of our common vulnerabilities is emerging as a better tool for global governance than perceived or imaginary enemies.

A new paradigm rests on the proposition that the sources of knowledge and wisdom are inherently diversified; that each civilization has much to offer; and that inclusion will bring with it mutual enrichment and benefit. The Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, adopted four years ago by this august Assembly, aptly defines the foundations of this emerging paradigm as "inclusion, and a collective desire to learn, uncover and examine assumptions, unfold shared meaning and core values, and integrate multiple perspectives through dialogue." This is further elaborated by the Secretary- General's Group of Eminent Persons on Dialogue among Civilizations, who noted in their publication, Crossing the Divide:

Dialogue brings with it equal footing ... as it is a process by which we accept, as much as we want to be accepted. We include, as much as we want to be included. We listen, as much as we want to be listened to ... In these terms, dialogue can perhaps eventually usher in a new paradigm of global relations because it challenges the old paradigm, dialogue can be a framework where the weakest is accorded the privilege to be listened to, and where the strongest finds it necessary to explain its case to others.

This paradigm shift would in fact be a requirement for attaining the lofty objectives of "larger freedom, development, security and human rights for all" and needs to become the prevailing discourse of the new century, if we want to leave our future generations with a more secure and prosperous world than the one we have inherited. Strengthening the culture of dialogue among civilizations will prove to be a most important element in combating the calamities of the day in particular terrorism. For, terrorism seeks to make the diversity between nations the source of conflict, while Dialogue among Civilizations can help make that same diversity the foundation for cooperation and betterment.

The Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations and its Program of Action marked a milestone in our collective effort to embark on this self-evident and yet innovative approach. Since its adoption, it has progressively mobilized greater interest by Member States, academic institutions, non- governmental organizations and international and regional institutions. Many countries, international and regional organizations, civil society and non-governmental organizations and the United Nations system and in particular UNESCO have already submitted the report of their impressive activities in this regard to the Secretary General. As the Secretary General has indicated in his report contained in document A/60/259, these submissions suggest that the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations has provided the framework for various innovative approaches to promote greater understanding and constructive interaction among peoples of diverse cultural backgrounds. In this context, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has substantially contributed to implementing the Global Agenda by including it in its medium-term strategy for 2002-2007 with a view to achieving its strategic objective of "safeguarding cultural diversity and encouraging dialogue among cultures and civilizations".

Mr. President,

This august Assembly laid a solid foundation for institutionalizing, promoting and facilitating dialogue among civilizations by the resolution A/53/22, adopted during its 53rd session. Since then, this idea has been increasingly embraced by many across the globe. Designation of the year 2001 as the United Nations year on Dialogue among Civilizations and the adoption of the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations and its Program of Action were indeed major initiatives in enhancing dialogue and understanding at the beginning of the millennium. These endeavors demonstrated the collective resolve of the international community to begin the new millennium with a fresh approach to global interactions and a determination to build a better tomorrow for future generations.

Time has come again for this Assembly, as the sole universal body encompassing the representatives of nearly every nation on earth, to further strengthen this emerging and promising paradigm by taking another step through the adoption of the draft resolution before us. It is therefore a great honor and privilege for me to introduce the draft resolution contained in document (A/60/L.6), entitled "Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations". I do so on behalf of the co-sponsors of this draft resolution, which, in addition to the 67 delegations mentioned in the draft resolution now include: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The draft resolution takes stock of the achievements already made and seeks to further advance the concept and its global implementation. It reiterates that Dialogue among civilizations is a process between and within civilizations, founded on inclusion, and a collective desire to learn, uncover and examine assumptions, unfold shared meaning and core values and integrate multiple perspectives through dialogue. It also emphasizes that the hearts and minds of the next generations are the real object of dialogue among civilizations.

The draft welcomes numerous initiatives and efforts to further promote dialogues among civilizations adopted by States, the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations and civil society and non-governmental organizations. It also recognizes the contribution of different initiatives on dialogue among cultures and civilizations, including interfaith cooperation and the initiative of Alliance of Civilizations.

The draft invites States, international and regional organizations and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, to develop appropriate ways and means at the local, national, regional and international levels to further promote dialogue and mutual understanding among civilizations, and to report their activities to the Secretary-General. Finally, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to explore enhancing implementation mechanisms of the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations and to report to the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.

May I take this opportunity to inform distinguished colleagues that following consultations, preambular paragraphs 11 and 13 of the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilization have now been added to the draft resolution as pp5 bis and op 4 bis respectively. These paragraphs have been circulated to all delegations for ease of reference.

Mr. President,

The Islamic Republic of Iran and other sponsors are confident that the draft resolution contained in A/60/L.6 as orally revised will be endorsed unanimously by the General Assembly. This will be a clear affirmation by the international community of the shared commitment to advance the principles and objectives of dialogue among civilizations as well as our resolve to ensure that the world we will pass to our children will be one of dialogue and not of clash, and one of articulation and not of violence.

Before concluding, I would like to thank all those who co-sponsored the draft resolution and, by providing us with their valuable comments and viewpoints, contributed to the strength of its message.

Thank You, Mr. President