On Wednesday, the UN General Assembly adopted a Pakistan-Philippines sponsored resolution on promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue that emphasised the need for respecting sacred religious symbols. This development comes in spite of strong resistance from the European Union, western nations and India.

The resolution got 90 votes in favor, none against it with 52 abstentions.

In 2020, the sponsors amended the resolution to add new things such as the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic, xenophobia, religious extremism and hate speech.

The Pakistan Mission has worked tirelessly in galvanizing OIC and other countries to support the inclusion of new elements in the resolution. India was the only developing country which joined the western block and abstained on the resolution.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram while introducing the draft, referred to Prime Minister calls to the United Nations to promote respect for different religions and counter the recent wave of Islamophobia.

Ambassador Akram also highlighted the negative stereoptyping of Islam and Muslims around the world.

The European Union and western countries were rigid on the inclusion of any language throughout the negotiations but after some lobbying, the resolution was acknowledged.

The resolution further appreciates the recent “Call for Mutual Respect” issued by the High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations which stresses that insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to polarization and fragmentation of society. 

While reaffirming that violence can and should never be a justifiable or acceptable response to acts of intolerance, the resolution underscores “that such violence should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.

On the other hand, India tried its best to gather support for deletion of the reference to the opening of Kartarpur Corridor by Pakistan but was unsuccessful in doing that.

The Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2018, where a massive gathering of Sikh pilgrims visited on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The adoption of the resolution is a testament to Imran Khan’s continuous efforts in countering Islamophobia and creating an inter-religious harmony.

Under other terms of the resolution, the Assembly reaffirmed the solemn commitment of all States to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The resolution condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence or discrimination and underlines the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a valuable tool for promoting social cohesion, peace and development in the world.

The members of the states were also encouraged to identify and take initiatives in all sectors and levels of society to promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation.

In addition to this, states were also invited to promote reconciliation to help ensure durable peace and sustained development, including through reconciliatory measures and acts of service. 


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