Explanation of Position after adoption of resolution by Mr. Janne Jokinen, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the EU, UNGA 61st Session, 83rd Meeting of the Plenary; Agenda Item 44: Culture of Peace – Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace, New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Tolerance is one of the core values of the European Union, reflected in the motto “United in diversity”, in our laws and policies. It is our firm belief that tolerance and protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms are key to relieve sensitivities and bring durable solutions to the tensions that, at times, surge in this regard. The European Union sees dialogue as an essential tool for laying firm foundations for mutual understanding and tolerance across religious and cultural lines.
The European Union highly appreciates the intensive consultations that have taken place between us and the main sponsors of this resolution this year. The active exchange of views helped to bring about some, although not all the desired, improvements in the wording of the resolution, thus strengthening its consensual basis. Due to our genuine commitment to the underlying tenet of this resolution, the European Union has joined the consensus in the adoption of this resolution. We would, however, like to take this opportunity to underline the main principles that guide our understanding of this resolution.
It is the EU’s firm belief that the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms are central to our efforts to strengthen interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and that genuine mutual understanding can only be built on full respect for individual dignity and integrity.
The EU wishes to once again emphasize the paramount importance of the freedom of expression in the conduct of such dialogue. We are deeply convinced that a fruitful and genuine dialogue cannot be guided by government authorities; it needs to be rooted in free and spontaneous participation in public debate reflecting a variety of opinions. In this regard, we are pleased to note that op 12 of this resolution is fully in line with Art. 19 of the ICCPR.
The European Union attaches great importance to the various United Nations initiatives for enhancing dialogue and mutual understanding. Moreover, we would like to pay special tribute to the work conducted in the framework of the initiative for an Alliance of Civilisations. Just a couple of days ago we heard the Secretary General give his broad support to the implementation of the recommendations laid down in the report of the High Level Group. It is our understanding that, in order to most effectively move forward the agenda of dialogue and tolerance, these initiatives should be carried out in a coordinated, coherent, and complementary manner and with appropriate follow-up.
In line with this approach, we therefore welcome the aim of coordinated and coherent follow-up within the UN system, as outlined in the op16 of the resolution. However, when it comes to the concrete organisation of the work of the UN Secretariat, the European Union fully trusts the Secretary General to propose the most appropriate ways and means to this end, within the existing institutional framework.
In the same spirit, we welcome the decision reflected in the op14 of the resolution to closely coordinate the planned high-level dialogue with other comparable initiatives, so as to ensure the due visibility and centrality of the debate. Also, the need for an international year for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue needs to be carefully assessed against the background of other ongoing initiatives, such as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World and Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, and with due regard to the guidelines for establishing international years.
It is with this understanding that the European Union has joined consensus on this resolution.
Thank you, Madam President.
* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.