A high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly has rejected the use of religion to justify the killing of innocent people and terrorist acts and voiced concern that serious instances of intolerance, discrimination and harassment persist between people of different faiths and cultures.
In a consensus declaration read out by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, at the conclusion of the two-day “Culture of Peace” gathering here on Thursday, participants called for mutual understanding through dialogue, and respect for human rights among proponents of various faiths, cultures and civilisations. The special session was convened at the initiative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
“Concerned about serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, hatred expressions, and harassment of minority religious communities of all faiths, participating states underlined the importance of promoting dialogue, understanding and tolerance among human beings, as well as respect for all their diverse religions, cultures and beliefs,” the declaration said.
“Participating states affirmed their rejection of the use of religion to justify the killing of innocent people and actions of terrorism, violence and coercion, which directly contradict the commitment of all religions to peace, justice and equality,” it added. Mr Ban said the challenge now was to move beyond “powerful, positive words” to “dialogue that delivers”. Heads of state, ambassadors and senior officials from some 70 countries addressed the meeting, including Saudi King Abdullah, US President George Bush, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Jordan’s King Abdullah.