World Against Violence and Extremism

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted through consensus a resolution based on proposals offered by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who called for a World Against Violence and Extremism. During his first address to [the 68th annual session of the UN] General Assembly, Rouhani warned the world against various risks arising from the spread of war and extremism. He added that new horizons should be opened to humanity in order to help peace overcome war, justice prevail over injustice, freedom overcome dictatorship and progress get ahead of backwardness. In order to help the world achieve these remarkable goals, he proposed that the General Assembly should take practical measures against violence and extremism. As a result, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 18, 2013, which was considered a suitable response to the warning and call of the Iranian president. After the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the basis of Iran's proposal for the promotion of dialog among civilizations – as a result of which the year 2001 was named the year of dialog among civilizations – this was the second time that the world body has adopted a resolution proposed by an Iranian president. This time around, however, the theme is to promote a global fight against violence and extremism.

A careful review of the world history will reveal that war and violence have been regular associates of human societies and there have been many occasions when conflicts and bloodshed have pushed human life to the brink of annihilation and doom. Divine prophets as well as great philosophers and thinkers have endeavored a lot throughout the human history to eradicate aggression and tyranny. Despite those efforts, human thirst for power and shortsighted benefits has regularly caused human societies to fall prey to the nightmare of destructive wars.

Peace is the opposite of war. It has its roots in respect for human rights and attention to their dignity and freedom. Therefore, for the peace to establish, tolerance and patience in addition to interaction, friendship and mutual respect are considered as requisites. To let other people’s voices be heard, and engaging in constructive and equal dialog are among prerequisites for the establishment of global peace. Differences and variations are necessities of human life. However, the important point is respectful interaction and promotion of dialog among human beings through which the existing differences will give birth to blessings, instead of being sources of conflict and differences. The aforesaid General Assembly resolution has paid special attention to four main topics:

1. To renounce and condemn all measures which originate from the culture of tyranny, dictatorship and extremism. Such measures, inter alia, include:

a. The use or threat of force against territorial integrity and political independence of nations;
b. Condemnation of any form of assault against cultural and religious places and the massacre of civilians, including women and children;
c. Condemnation of any effort made to foster ethnic, racial and religious hatred, which will lead to discrimination, hostility and violence;
d. Condemnation of all types of terrorist activities and violent behavior in any form and under any excuse.

2. Strengthening and support for measures taken to control violence and protect dignity and freedom of mankind. As a result, the General Assembly resolution, which is based on Iran's proposals:

a. Reaffirms the need for taking steps to pave the way for the promotion of dialog among civilizations, religions and groups while showing respect for freedom of speech;
b. Stresses the importance of tolerance in cultural and social life of humans and the necessity of understanding each other and promoting bilateral respect;
c. Stresses the importance of fighting all forms of discrimination against women and providing support for women’s rights in all areas, and preventing discrimination and injustice against them;
d. Highlights the necessity of promoting a culture of reform and moderation in the areas of social and political relations; and
e. Underlines the necessity of protecting basic human rights at all levels and forms, especially the human right to live in peace and dignity.

3. The resolution has also considered mechanisms for the achievement of the aforesaid goals, which include:

a. Taking a comprehensive and nonselective approach to all human societies and adopting non-discriminatory measures toward different cultures, religions and communities;
b. Promoting dialog among people on the basic factors that promote extremism as well as on the cultural and economic causes of violence;
c. Promoting public awareness and dissemination of general information on the importance of tolerance and human rights in the political and social life of humans; and
d. Eradication of poverty, reduction of inequalities, and paying more attention to economic and social developments.

4. In addition to highlighting the role of states and international organizations in fighting extremism and violence, the resolution has also put special emphasis on the unique role of the civil society and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, it stresses role of the mass media in depicting the true picture of cultures, nations and religions as being of special importance. The Secretary-General of the United Nations [Ban Ki-moon] has been required to present a report on the implementation of this resolution to the next annual meeting of the General Assembly and also to help countries achieve the goals specified in the resolution.

The adoption of this resolution is important in that despite efforts made by warmongering extremists, it will help the name of Iran to shine again as a country whose main goal is to promote friendship and fight violence and extremism across the world. Promotion of peace and achievement of sustainable development as well as bolstering Iran's international standing and protecting the rights of its people call for the creation of a suitable international atmosphere. To do this, Iran should introduce itself as a practical supporter of tolerance and dialog and a pioneer in fighting extremism and violence. The conflagration caused by ethnic violence is raging through the Middle East region. Therefore, Iran shoulders a heavy responsibility in this regard as it should play a constructive and effective part in putting out this devastating blaze.

*Gholamali Khoshroo is the Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam and Former Deputy Foreign Minister for legal and International Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran (2002-2005). Khoshroo is assistant of President Khatami on “Alliance of civilizations” and Dialogue among Civilizations”. He has served as the Dean of the School for International Relations (1983-89); Ambassador to the United Nations (19890-95); Deputy Foreign Minister for Research and Education,  Member of OIC Commission of Eminent Persons on “Enlightened Moderation”. In recent years, he has extensively worked on the development of contemporary political Islam and its implication for western societies. As a sociologist he studied at Tehran University and New School for Social Research, New York, He has published several articles and books on political and cultural affairs.

Key Words: World, Violence and Extremism, United Nations General Assembly, Hassan Rouhani, Tyranny, Dictatorship, Freedom of Mankind, Middle East Region, Khoshroo

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