UNGA 60th session Plenary

Agenda item: 42

"Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations"


20 October 2005

Mr. President,

The words of Samuel Huntington that "the clash of civilizations will dominate global politics" and that "the fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" were an ominous forecast for the future of the world. Indeed, 60 years after the end of the World War II anti-semitism remains a problem and racism and xenophobia are issues that we still grapple with. We even witnessed emergence of new concepts such as Islamofobia.

Perhaps, Mr. Huntington was right?

An answer must be a resounding no. This Organization was established "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and we, Member States, have a duty to ensure that this solemn undertaking is upheld. The United Nations has been instrumental in preventing an outbreak of global war during the 60 years of its existence and is fully equipped to continue doing so in the future.

The dialogue among civilizations, initiated by President Khatami, is a key initiative to help us evade the dark omen of an all-out clash among civilizations. Since its introduction, this concept has engendered progressively greater interest from Member States, including my own country. This noble initiative gained further strength and weight with the adoption of resolution 56/6 on the Global Dialogue among Civilizations and a comprehensive Programme of Action in 2001, which has been vividly demonstrated by a host of multi-faceted activities undertaken by Member States and other stakeholders. Furthermore, it was reaffirmed by our leaders in the Outcome Document of the September Summit.

Mr. President,

We live in a world that is both unique and diverse. We also live in a world that is increasingly interdependent and rapidly changing. Different peoples, religions, cultures and civilizations are engaged today in an unprecedented level of interaction and interchange of values, with ideas and events originating in one corner of the world yet instantly affecting its other part. This openness and perceived defenselessness in the face of change create a natural reaction of rejection, distrust or even fear in people, and lead to attempts to define and protect their identity through exclusion and separation. Yet, the course of human history teaches us that interaction and preservation of one's identity are not mutually exclusive, but rather complimentary processes that allow us to learn the best and leave the obsolete. Human civilization reached its current heights only through a long process of interaction and cooperation between nations and peoples with diverse cultures and traditions. "

Diversity is thus the prerequisite for the continued progressive development of the human race and it is only through understanding, recognizing, respecting and encouraging it that a genuine dialogue among civilizations can best be attained. Diversity is not a threat, it is, indeed, our strength, and the breakthrough in information technology gives us a unique opportunity to promote it on a global scale.

The resolution under this agenda item that we are about to adopt today emphasizes that the real object of the dialogue among civilizations are the hearts and minds of the next generation. Indeed, unlearning intolerance cannot be achieved overnight, it would require years of careful and persistent efforts by all stakeholders including governments, international organizations, civil society, media and academia.

Mr. President,

Civilizations do not have clear-cut boundaries and frontiers, they smoothly flow one into another. They are entities that comprise elements of history, geography, ethnicity, religion, custom and politics, and thus are greatly diversified within themselves. An example of that is the great nomadic civilization of the Eurasian steppe of which my country is a part. This civilization not only has Buddhist countries like Mongolia, but also predominantly Muslim and Christian societies. A distinct form of world civilization it has largely existed in peaceful symbiosis with sedentary societies across Asia and Europe and played an important role in the development of extensive trade networks and the creation of large administrative, cultural, religious and commercial centers.

The role of the nomadic peoples in the interaction between different civilizations cannot be overemphasized, for thousands of years they have served as a bridge between world civilizations. Throughout the world history nomadic civilization absorbed the influence of other civilizations in the West and the East and in turn had a profound impact on them. However, the role and contribution of nomadic civilization still remain largely under- appreciated and unrecognized.

The rapid advance of globalization, along with many opportunities, poses challenges to the preservation and development of centuries-old traditions and culture of nomadic peoples. Pastoral nomadism permits societies to exploit the variable and patchy resources of the steppe; its mobility allows seasonal exploitation of resources that are not sufficient to sustain a human and herbivore population throughout a year. Thus, ability of nomads to adapt to the nature and live in full harmony with it, different techniques and ways of protecting and using land in a sustained manner that they developed, have a heightened validity against the backdrop of environmental threats, including deforestation, desertification and soil erosion that affect livelihoods of people and developmental prospects in many countries, including nomadic societies.

Guided by a goal to achieve an objective understanding of all civilizations and by a conviction that civilizational achievements constitute a collective heritage of mankind, Mongolia is making every effort to deepen further the studies on various aspects of the nomadic civilization, its influence and interaction with others. My Government commends UNESCO for its valuable contribution to the implementation of the Global Agenda and particularly its contribution to the study of nomadic civilization through the work of the International Institute for the Study of Nomadic Civilizations in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The Institute organized international conferences on "Nomadism in Mongolia and its relationship with sedentary civilizations: its relevance and prospects" in 2002, and "Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations: Present and Perspective of Nomadism in a Globalizing Era" in 2004.

Mr. President,

Mongolia is to celebrate the 800th anniversary of its statehood next year - an example of a persistent and unique nomadic state. We believe that this anniversary provides a welcome opportunity to trigger renewed interest in nomadic civilization in the world and to facilitate the efforts of Member States to preserve and develop nomadic culture and traditions in a modern society. We also plan to organize a host of activities both within the country and internationally to celebrate the rich heritage, traditions and culture of nomadic civilization, and by doing so make a tangible contribution to promoting and facilitating the dialogue among civilizations.

With this in view Mongolia intends to introduce a draft resolution entitled "800 years of Mongolian Statehood" under agenda item 42 on "Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations", which will help promote understanding and recognition of nomadic civilization by the international community. Mongolia strongly believes that this draft resolution will command the broadest possible support on the part of the UN membership.

Thank you.