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Universal religious values animate UN's work, Annan says

Observing that universal religious values animate the work of the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that men and women of faith are crucial to the world body.

By UN News Service

“As teachers and guides, you can be agents of change and inspire people to new levels of public service,” Mr. Annan said on Monday in remarks at the Holy Family Church in New York. “You can help bridge the chasms of ignorance, fear and misunderstanding that plague our world. You can set an example of interfaith dialogue, cooperation and respect,” he said.

While spiritual and religious practices differ widely, “at heart we are dealing in universal values: to be merciful, to be tolerant, to love thy neighbour,” he pointed out.

“No tradition can claim a monopoly on such teachings; they are ingrained in the human spirit and enshrined in international human rights law. They animate the United Nations Charter and lie at the root of our search for global harmony and peace.”

Mr. Annan, whose second and final five-year term as Secretary-General ends this year, hailed the annual event. “As someone who believes in the power of prayer, I am grateful for all your prayers these past 10 years,” he said.

Meanwhile in Astana, Kazakhstan, a senior UN official echoed these views in remarks to the Second Congress of World and Traditional Religions. "Together, you can help chart a path of moderation for the devout, showing them that they can remain true to their convictions and beliefs while engaging fully in the changing world around them," Sergei Ordzhonikidze, head of the UN Office at Geneva, told participants in a message delivered on Mr. Annan’s behalf.

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