UNITED NATIONS - Confronting an increasingly polarised world where conflict and the emergence of new extremist ideologies abound, the General Assembly Friday adopted, without a vote, a resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines, on promoting inter-religious dialogue to build a culture for world peace.

Under the resolution, the 193-member assembly reaffirmed the solemn commitment of all States to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

First introduced in 2005 as a response to the fatal theory of the 'Clash of Civilisation' that followed the 9/11 attacks, the resolution condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination; and underlines the importance of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, and peace and development in the world.

Presenting the text to the 193-member assembly, Pakistan UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said the common vision of a peaceful and harmonious world was far from being realised. The world was witnessing a growing trend towards xenophobia, religious intolerance and the emergence of new extremist ideologies, she said. Such complex phenomena required concerted global action and a comprehensive long-term strategy that addressed the root causes of violent extremism and terrorism, and must include meaningful and greater dialogue among the world’s different religions and civilisations. Co-sponsoring the 37-power resolution were countries representing all major regions and civilisations of the world, including China, Russia, Japan, as well as those from major regional organisations.

In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi stressed that cultural diversity could be used as a positive force to promote harmony and cooperation in multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies. "To make this happen we have to join forces and summon our collective energy to eliminate prejudice, shun stereotypes and engage in genuine and constructive dialogue across cultures and religions."

Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue should be pursued in a structured, multi-layered and inclusive manner, but not limited to religious and community leaders, scholars and civil society organisations, the Pakistani envoy said. The ultimate objective of such dialogue should be to promote peace and prevent conflict by removing mutual suspicions and mistrust and promote understanding across civilisations in order to build a global culture of peace.

Under the terms of the text, the assembly encouraged member States to consider, as and where appropriate, initiatives that identify areas for practical action in all sectors and levels of society for the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation. States were invited to promote reconciliation to help ensure durable peace and sustained development, including through reconciliatory measures and acts of service.

The resolution welcomed the efforts by the media to promote inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, while emphasising that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, and reaffirming that the exercise of this right carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but that these should be only such as are provided by law.

This year's text includes several updates on follow-up activities undertaken by UNESCO and member states in the implementation of the resolution and the International Decade for Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022).

Several member states spoke after the adoption of the resolution. Representatives of Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Tanzania and Paraguay lauded Pakistan's initiative and expressed full support for the resolution.