UNITED NATIONS - Reaffirming the need to build and promote a culture of peace in a world where hatred was adding new dimensions to old conflicts, the General Assembly has adopted without a vote a resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines,  that stressed tolerance and dialogue.

The 34-power text reaffirmed the solemn commitment of all States to fulfil 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.  

Also, under the terms of the text, the 193-member 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 interreligious and intercultural dialogue, tolerance,understanding and cooperation.

Further by that text, the Assembly also condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and underlined the importance of moderation as a value within societies for countering extremism in all its aspects.

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 interreligious and intercultural dialogue, while emphasizing 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.

Introducing the resolution, Pakistan UN Ambassador, Masood Khan said that the world today was afflicted with destructive conflicts fuelled by lingering suspicions and mistrust across religious and civilisation “fault lines”.

A similarly concerning trend of xenophobia and religious intolerance was taking place alongside the emergence of new extremist ideologies in different parts of the world, he said.

The impending clash of civilisations in a globalised world was avoidable, he said, stressing the importance of strengthening mechanism and actions for the promotion of dialogue and understanding among religions and civilisations.  

"Despite their differences, religions and cultures have a lot in common that can actually unite us," the Pakistani envoy said, adding, that there was need to build on the shared values.

"Cultural diversity can be converted into a positive force for promoting cooperation, socio-economic development and international harmony. For this to happen, we will have to join hands to eliminate prejudices, biases and stereotypes and to engage in a genuine and constructive dialogue at all levels across the cultural and religious divide. The dialogue should be pursued in a structured, multi-layered and all-inclusive format. It should include religious and community leaders, civil society, and academic institutions.

"The ultimate objective from dialogue should be to prevent conflict and promote peace and harmony through better understanding, moderation and a global culture of peace," Masood Khan said.