New York, 26 May 2010
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ivan Barbalic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations
at the UN Security Council Debate
on Maintenance of international peace and security
At the outset, Mr. President, I would like to commend Your Excellency for convening this briefing in order to discuss the very important topic of intercultural dialogue for peace and security.
In an increasingly globalized world, different nations and civilizations live together and interact with each other. Therefore, intercultural dialogue is a permanent process with worldwide participation at all levels and should be placed at the top of the political agenda. At the same time, cultural diversity has become one of the major political challenges to modern democracies, citizenship, pluralism, social cohesion and, above all, peace and stability among nations. Hence, Bosnia and Herzegovina is of the view that intercultural dialogue is one of the key issues of our time.
History has shaped Europe as a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multireligious continent. At the same time, new realities such as migration and globalization are expected to enrich its physiognomy, making it more open, deeply democratic and more multicultural. This pertains also to my country. The Balkans, as an area characterized by countries that share many historic events, with a richness of cultural and religious diversity, are facing challenges and difficulties that require a comprehensive response.
Alienation, misconceptions, exclusion, marginalization and lack of knowledge about the culture, traditions, beliefs and history of others represent a serious threat and challenge to peaceful and good relations among peoples and nations. Stereotypes regarding religions and civilizations may have serious political implications and create an atmosphere of tension which can erupt into acts of violence, as we have witnessed in many situations.
We are of the belief that intercultural and interreligious dialogue can play an increasingly important role in post-conflict societies, advancing regional cooperation and solving some difficulties. It can also be a useful tool of preventive diplomacy aiming to defuse tensions, support mediation and promote and encourage understanding.
Yet multiculturalism should not be defined simply as a multitude of cultures with equal status, but as a system based on common values and the development of peace. Interculturality refers to a constant interaction between cultures in the spirit of building bridges among peoples. In that regard, reinforcing intercultural dialogue, underlining shared values and promoting the settlement of disputes by peaceful means should be given the utmost priority.
Furthermore, the promotion of dialogue among various cultures, on the basis of tolerance and respect for diversity, can result in the reduction of tensions and contribute to international peace and security.
Bosnia and Herzegovina considers that international initiatives in the field of international and intercultural dialogue, encompassing those carried out by the United Nations, including the Alliance of Civilizations, have beneficial effects and should be widely promoted. In December 2009, Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted a conference under the banner of the Alliance of Civilizations. On that occasion, a Declaration was adopted endorsing the principles, objectives and recommendations of the Regional Strategy on Intercultural Dialogue, which aims to contribute to the further building of bridges and strengthening of trust through enhanced intercultural dialogue and cooperation in the region. The Declaration considers education, youth and media as key instruments to build pluralistic, inclusive and cohesive societies, and the Regional Strategy for South-Eastern Europe was the first ever adopted in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.
Intercultural dialogue as a tool of peacebuilding is an indispensable instrument for fostering tolerance and consolidating the values of justice, equality and respect. It should be an integral part of nationally owned peacebuilding strategies aiming at promoting the culture of peace and turning pluralism into a source of strength, with equality in diversity.
In a globalized world, where migration is an inevitable phenomenon, the need for interaction among individuals and groups and for understanding of different cultures, traditions and beliefs will be even greater. In that context, efforts should be made to reduce the room for ignorance and stereotyping of those who are different. We believe that tolerance is essential for ensuring social cohesion. At the same time, social cohesion is an important element for peace and security, not only within a country but also between countries.
In that respect, we are of the view that the Security Council, with its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, can and should do more in terms of preventive diplomacy and promotion of intercultural dialogue as a mechanism for maintaining peace and security. Efforts should be made through a dialogue-based approach to problems, including activities such as fact-finding missions, early warning about potential conflicts and, in particular, mediation and confidence-building measures.
We welcome the appointment of special representatives and the use of good offices as alternatives that can yield useful recommendations for the peaceful settlement of disputes prior to preventive deployment or enforcement measures.
Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina is convinced that today’s briefing will strengthen our commitment to dialogue as a tool that can contribute to achieving peace and security in the world.