Secretary-General on World Interfaith Harmony Week

New York, 1-7 February 2011

The first World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to focus global attention on the efforts of religious leaders, interfaith movements and individuals around the world to promote mutual respect and understanding between followers of different faiths and beliefs.  These partners play an indispensable role in supporting United Nations efforts for peace.

In proclaiming this observance, the United Nations General Assembly encourages all States to use the first week of February to spread “the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship… based on love of God and love of one's neighbour or on love of the good and love of one's neighbour, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions”.

Respect for diversity and peaceful dialogue are essential if the human family is to cooperate globally to face shared threats and seize common opportunities.  That is why efforts by States, civil society and other actors to build trust among communities and individuals lie at the heart of so many United Nations initiatives, from the Alliance of Civilizations to our wide-ranging work to protect human rights, promote social cohesion and build a culture of peace.

The Week will be marked by a broad spectrum of activities around the world.  In New York, the observance will include interfaith breakfasts, film screenings and talks featuring the active participation of civil society, UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations. 

I look forward to continuing to work with people of all faiths to rise above the tensions and misconceptions that so often divide us, and find the path of harmony and dignity for all.

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