Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu
Nigeria Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Nigeria Mission to the UN
New York, NY
26th May, 2010
Nigeria joins other delegations in thanking Prime Minister Hariri for taking the time to come to New York to preside over today’s Security Council meeting. We also welcome the presence of Mr. Alistair Burt, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, and thank him for his very insightful contribution. We welcome the Secretary-General and appreciate his thoughtful remarks. Both the theme and the presence of Prime Minister Hariri attest to Lebanon’s commitment to the ideals and objectives of the United Nations.
After all the statements that have been made around this table this morning, we are left in no doubt that dialogue and understanding are important instruments for international peace and security, particularly in a pluralistic society like ours. The United Nations is a fitting mosaic of our diversity, yet its Members are united in the common purpose of practicing tolerance and living together in peace with one another.
Therein lies the significance of the theme chosen by Lebanon for this debate. One cannot place a limit on the power and value of dialogue in promoting mutual cooperation, understanding, tolerance, respect for the views and interests of others, and, ultimately, unity in diversity. The idea of a culture of peace, dialogue of civilizations, interfaith dialogue and other similar concepts are not new to the United Nations. Indeed, they are the bedrock of international cooperation. It would seem, however, that there is a gap that Lebanon’s initiative today will, we hope, help to fill. What is required is the political will and determination to promote these concepts as genuine tools for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. There is no doubt that the search for international peace and security would benefit from new approaches and new perspectives.
Living as we do in a world that is integrated and interdependent, we should cultivate and embrace a culture of dialogue and understanding, rather than guns and soldiers, to settle our differences. Nigeria knows at first-hand the great challenges and benefits of pluralistic society. The bringing together of peoples of diverse languages, traditions, cultures and religions has culminated in an expansive country that has witnessed enormously trying times and moments, but whose innate capacity to remain united has become almost unbreakable.
Nigeria is determined to preserve its unity and diversity, not only for itself but also to help its neighbors. We draw from our diversity the strength to promote peace and contribute to efforts to maintain peace and security elsewhere. Indeed, our national ideals are encapsulated in our motto of “Unity and faith, peace and progress”. Inter-community and interfaith dialogues are some of the key instruments promoted and encouraged by my Government, with the full participation of civil society, united in the objective of promoting harmony and peaceful coexistence.
While considerable progress is being made within countries to promote dialogue and understanding for peace and stability, we believe that a great deal needs to be done at the international level. We risk missing out on the benefits of the global village in which all are able to realize their different aspirations and potential in peace and harmony. For this reason, we must all commit to promoting dialogue as a real tool of preventive diplomacy.
Nearly four decades ago, the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia warned that a philosophy that holds one race to be superior and another inferior could lead to war. This admonishment has played out in different theatres around the world, fuelled by differences in religion, ethnicity, language and culture, with dire consequences. The time has come for us to heed the words of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Respect for diversity is necessary for durable peace and security.
Let me thank you once again, Mr. President, for choosing the theme of intercultural dialogue for peace and security as a complement to the maintenance of international peace and security.