Press Releases

    SG/SM/9538
    13 October 2004

    Give Life to Values of Tolerance, Justice, Peace, Secretary-General Says in Message to United Nations Orthodox Community

    NEW YORK, 12 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the fourth annual prayer service for the United Nations Orthodox community in New York, today, 12 October 2004, as delivered by Giandomenico Picco, Adviser to the Secretary-General:

    At a time when some would seek to divide the human family by exploiting differences among peoples, we need more than ever the contribution of men and women of faith who defend and promote the practice of dialogue.  That is why I am pleased to extend my best wishes to this prayer service for the United Nations Orthodox community.  It is reassuring to know that you have gathered to celebrate your commitment to overcoming violence in our world, and to reaffirm your rejection of intolerance and hatred.

    All the great religions recognize the sanctity of human life and call for tolerance, justice and peace.  We must give life to these values upon which, in our globalizing world, we are destined to build our coexistence.  We must look beyond what is familiar to us and exchange experiences and knowledge with others.  Mutual understanding is our only defence against hatred and distrust, and the sole foundation of enduring peace that will allow every member of the human family to live in dignity and in safety.  We must recognize that each of us has the right to the respect of others, that all of us have the right to be proud of our faith and our heritage, and that it is possible to cherish what we are without hating what we are not.

    The United Nations will face many challenges in the coming year.  We continue to grapple with turmoil in Iraq. The people of Darfur continue to require urgent assistance and protection.  Unconscionable acts of terrorism continue to claim the lives of innocent children, women and men.  The AIDS crisis continues to kill thousands every day. Millions continue to be afflicted by armed conflict, human rights violations, disease and dire poverty.

    I cannot enumerate here more than a fraction of the issues facing us.  But I can say that there has never been a more pressing need for us to strengthen the system of collective security, to forge a true global partnership for development, and to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world.

    Dear friends, that is the serious work that lies before the international community.  So as you pray for the United Nations, I hope you will pray that whatever the challenges and crises that confront us, we may make this indispensable instrument as effective as it can be.  Pray that world leaders find the wisdom and the will to use this tool to its full capacity, in the interests of the people it exists to serve.  Pray for peace in the family of nations.

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