Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the High Level Forum on Culture of Peace (7 September 2017)

Mr. President,

We thank you for convening this High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace for the sixth consecutive year.

Mr. President,

A Culture of Peace, you would agree, is not just about achieving “passive peace” – the mere absence of war. It is an all-embracing notion that entails transforming those social structures that threaten human dignity. It is an overarching and enduring process for justice and equality, religious tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, development and human rights.

The General Assembly Declaration and Plan of Action on the Culture of Peace of 1999 bound us all in a global commitment to build a new century of peace and coexistence. Sadly though, the challenges confronting us in this endeavor continue to both be imposing and complex.

Today there is more knowledge, information and technology in the world we live in than ever before. Yet today’s world is beset with armed conflicts, violence, wars and man made disasters. And the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War is another reminder of how and where we have failed and why we have to try much harder.

Mr. President,

Peace and sustainable development complement and reinforce each other. But peace cannot be achieved when we continue to have widespread economic and social deprivation, human rights abuses and situations of political and economic injustice.

There are long standing cases where historic injustices wait to be corrected and where people are still denied their fundamental right to self-determination. The most glaring – and tragic – examples are Palestine and Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, both of which remain an unfinished agenda of the United Nations.

The situation in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is a travesty of international law, justice and humanity. The plight and profound suffering of the Kashmiri people should shake the world conscience and urge the international community into action.

The focus of the United Nations today is on prevention and sustaining peace. Conflict resolution however, holds the key to addressing both the existing and emerging international challenges.

If we continue to shy away from protracted and complex disputes because they appear intractable, sustainable peace will remain a distant dream.

Mr. President,

The twentieth century saw two catastrophic global wars within a generation. Even after they receded into history, conflict and suffering did not end.

But we wanted the new century to be different. And so we declared the year 2000 as the International Year for the Culture of Peace and the first decade of the new century as the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence.

But then we failed to live up to our own promises.

To address these failures and inadequacies, we need to adopt an approach that identifies and builds on our commonalities. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue will help create multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies.

We must join forces for genuine and constructive dialogue across ethnicities, cultures, races, religions and nationalities.

Rather than erect walls to keep people out, we should build walls against racism, bigotry, Xenophobia and Islamophobia. This is an imperative for an interdependent world.

Mr. President,

Pakistan, along with the Philippines, have, for over a decade, taken the lead in presenting a resolution on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”. This resolution enjoys the unanimous support of all UN member states, and is a reflection of our commitment to achieving lasting peace.

This, we believe, is our contribution to fulfilling the promise of working towards achieving a real Culture of Peace.

As we embark on another Session of the General Assembly, our commitment to work for this objective remains an abiding and unwavering one.

I thank you, Mr. President.