Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the 8th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
(20 November 2018)

Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al- Nasser, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My delegation commends the efforts of the High Representative for the Alliance as well as the UNAOC Secretariat for convening the 8th Global Forum.

This year’s Forum comes at a particularly challenging time for the international community.

Today we find ourselves in a world where our collective commitment to the ideals of peaceful coexistence is under stress. Multilateralism is under assault while purveyors of unilateralism seek to spawn and ride a wave of inward looking nationalism. Illiberalism is asserting itself ever more vigorously in some democracies. Hate narratives are spreading in several parts of the world; xenophobia is on the rise and diversity is being seen, not as a source of enrichment but as a threat. The politics of fear seems to be replacing the politics of hope.

In the face of these troubling trends, the role of bridge builders and peacemakers becomes even more pivotal.

This year’s theme, “Commit 2 Dialogue: Partnerships for Prevention and Sustaining Peace” is therefore very relevant to our work here at the UN and beyond.

The complex but essential task of peacebuilding and sustaining peace can only be accomplished when we collectively build on a common vision of a peaceful world, and adopt an inclusive approach to promote better understanding.

Universal values of peace, tolerance, egalitarianism and respect for our common humanity, are shared by all religions and cultures. Our common heritage and values should enable us to draw strength from our diversity rather than allow it to be used as justification to accentuate differences. For this it is necessary to engage in genuine and constructive dialogue across cultures and religions.

It also means respect for each other’s religious beliefs, symbols and revered personalities. In this regard it is important to counter Islamophobia and the incitement to violence and hatred that is being witnessed in some parts of the western world by the negative depiction of Muslims.

As a platform that brings together moderating voices, the Alliance of Civilizations has the great potential to engage faith leaders to join our collective endeavor to promote tolerance and understanding.

Together we need to encourage states to take steps to create an environment of religious tolerance, inclusiveness and respect.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has always actively engaged in efforts to promote civilizational dialogue in order to build a more peaceful world.

Only this morning Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a Conference in Islamabad aimed at promoting religious harmony and tolerance.

He said Pakistan would promote an international campaign against defamation of religions.

We believe that all cultures and civilizations contribute to the common heritage of mankind, and sincere and open dialogue helps to promote international cooperation and with that, global peace and security.

One example of our efforts is the annual resolution in the United Nations General Assembly on “Promotion of Inter-religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace”, which we table in partnership with the Philippines. Commanding the GA’s unanimous support, it is an example of what we can accomplish when we work together.

Mr. President,

As custodians of the sacred trust to promote peace in the world, it is imperative that we continue to focus on the timeless values of brotherhood, harmony and friendship advocated by all cultures and civilizations and use diversity to our advantage.

Pakistan, for its part, will continue to support initiatives that promote and strengthen inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding so that we can build a more peaceful and just world.

I thank you, Mr. President.