UN meet blames ‘more advanced societies’ for social ills

November 13th, 2008 - 1:27 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Nov 12 (DPA) The UN General Assembly Wednesday opened a two-day conference on religion and peace, with its president launching yet another attack against rich countries for morally bankrupting the rest of the world.Kings, presidents and delegations from 70 countries attended the debate on how to use the values of religions and cultures to bridge misunderstandings, mostly between east and west, in order to help solve political and armed conflicts.

Assembly president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, a former Maryknoll Catholic priest and foreign minister during the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s, minced no words in blaming rich countries for the current economic and social problems.

“It is a time of numerous bankruptcies, but the worst is the moral bankruptcy of humankind’s self-proclaimed more advanced societies, which has spread throughout the world,” he said.

“It is not only Wall Street that needs to be bailed out,” he said. “We need to bail out all of humankind from its social insensitivity.”

Since assuming the leadership of the 192-nation assembly earlier this year, d’Escoto Brockmann has been railing at rich governments and defending the rights of the poor. He admitted he does not shy from using his priestly background to set the tone of UN debate and call for the democratization of the UN.

The UN has criticised rich governments for failing to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national products for development in poor countries. Except for the Nordic and Scandinavian countries, no other governments have reached that target. Currently, rich countries annually give $50 billion for development, but the UN has asked that this be tripled.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon used more subtle words to describe the current problems, saying that fault lines have emerged in the globalisation phenomenon.

“Communal strife is intensifying,” Ban said. “Extremist ideologies are on the rise and societies are more polarized.”

“Sometimes it seems as if none of history’s awful lessons have been learned,” he said.

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and Jordan’s King Abdullah, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also attended the debate.

The title of the two-day session is “Promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation of peace”.

In addition, the presidents of the US, the Philippines, Israel, Finland, Pakistan and Lebanon, and the prime ministers of Britain, Qatar, Morocco, UAE, Djibouti and Egypt were to attend. Delegations from other governments will be headed by foreign ministers or ambassadors.

US President George W Bush will attend meetings Thursday.

The Vatican sent Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Inter-religious Dialogue Council to the debate.

The UN has invited all 192 UN member countries to attend the debate on religion and peace, issues that do not attract great attendance. The list of attendees lacked important representatives of Buddhism and Hinduism.

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