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    For information only - not an official document.
    UNIS/NOTE No.109
    15 December 2000
     
    Press Conference by Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for 
    UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001)

          VIENNA, 15 December (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations aims for “a dialogue between those who perceive diversity as an element of growth and betterment and those who perceive diversity as a threat”, stressed Giandomenico Picco, the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for the Year (2001), as he addressed correspondents at a press conference in Vienna today.Hosted by the Government of Austria, Vienna is the venue of the first meeting (13-15 December) of the Group of Eminent Persons of the United Nations Dialogue among Civilizations, established by the Secretary-General in September this year. As Mr. Picco stressed, the Group, through a series of meetings will prepare a report, focusing on the core elements of the dialogue, that is expected to give conceptual support to the debates to be held in the General Assembly on 3 and 4 December 2001 on the topic.

         The dialogue among civilizations is a vast concept but  as Mr.Picco stressed,  the way the Group approaches the issue is not to interpret it as a dialogue among the major world religions, or among Islam and the West or even among the historic civilizations. “We would like to go in the direction of celebrating diversity, of benefiting from diversity”. If diversity is perceived as a threat it leads to problems, however if it is perceived as an element of betterment and growth then it leads to dialogue and enrichment. This dialogue is an instrument for a new paradigm of international relations. Sketching out such a paradigm is the final objective of the Group. In answer to a question from a correspondent, Mr. Picco added that the new paradigm would mean a system of international relations where the concept of “enemy” is reassessed and the concept of individual responsibility is brought to the forefront.

         As regards support for the Year, Mr. Picco drew attention to the fact that the recent General Assembly resolution on the Year was not only adopted unanimously but was in fact co-sponsored by 67 countries from a wide spectrum of Member States, including the major powers, especially all the five Permanent Members of the Security Council. He also pointed out that the dialogue is not intended as a centralized operation by the United Nations. The very idea is for many actors of international relations, not just governments, but NGOs, academia and even the private sector to be a part of the process and develop their own dialogues.

    Background information on the Year of Dialogue is available on: www.un.org/Dialogue.

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