Former UN Secretary-General highlights critical challenge of managing
pluralism in a globalised world
OTTAWA, May 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will
today warn that the crisis in Syria risks becoming more entrenched, and
may potentially explode beyond the country's borders, as a result of
its increasingly sectarian nature.
Delivering the annual lecture at the Global Centre for Pluralism in
Ottawa, Mr Annan will say that a combination of regional interests,
proxy wars, and the paralysis of international decision-making in Syria
has created "a truly poisonous mix" that is potentially devastating for
the country and the wider region. He will call upon the international
community to unite to halt the violence and suffering in Syria, and to
find a solution through mediation and dialogue.
Mr Annan will say: "Syria, unlike Libya, has not imploded. If anything,
it is likely to explode, and explode beyond its own borders…It is
imperative that the international community unites behind a plan to
create new political arrangements that will be fairer, more tolerant
and more accountable. Only with such unity can we hope to bring a halt
to two years of violence and suffering."
Mr Annan will emphasise how the rapid and united intervention of the
international community in Kenya was instrumental in the country to
pull itself back from "the brink of the abyss" after the eruption of
sectarian violence in the wake of the 2007 presidential election. This
intervention helped to establish the foundations for wide-ranging
reforms, including a new constitution and bill of rights, and the
healing of deep societal divisions.
In his lecture, Mr Annan highlights the critical role that all countries
must play in managing pluralism and diversity to deliver peace,
security and prosperity in the 21st century. He outlines how diversity is a key source of strength for
societies in a globalised world, helping them to become healthier, more
stable and more prosperous.
To manage pluralism successfully, Mr Annan outlines the need for
Ensure that equal weight is given to the three pillars of peace and
security; development; and the rule of law and respect for human rights
Create the right institutions and policies to manage diversity and
prevent communities from becoming marginalised and oppressed
Educate citizens to foster mutual respect and tolerance
Promote dialogue to combat fear, intolerance and extremism
Mr Annan will say: "My long experience has taught me that, whatever our
background, what unites us is far greater than what divides us….We have
to learn from each other, making our different traditions and cultures
a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness."
Mr Annan warns that a failure to manage pluralism and diversity can
create a real risk of increasing social tension and division. This can
lead to violence and conflict and, in the most extreme cases, even
genocide or ethnic cleansing.
Mr Annan welcomes the role the Global Centre for Pluralism is playing in
developing policy advice for countries facing the challenge of
governing pluralistic societies. He also praises His Highness the Aga
Khan and the Government of Canada for their vision and generosity in
creating the institution.
The lecture will be live-streamed at 6.30pm EST. Please see the website
of the Global Centre for Pluralism www.pluralism.ca for further details
For a full copy of Mr Annan's lecture at the Global Centre for
Pluralism, please visit www.kofiannanfoundation.org
Notes to Editors
Kofi Annan served two terms, from 1997 to 2006, as UN Secretary-General.
In 2001, Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for
Peace. Since leaving the United Nations, Kofi Annan has established a
Foundation which aims to promote better global governance and
strengthen the capacities of people and countries to achieve a fairer
and more secure world. To advance this mission, the Foundation has
developed programmes and partnerships in three main focus areas: (i)
Peace and Security; (ii) Sustainable Development; and (iii) Human
Rights and the Rule of Law.
For more information, please go to www.kofiannanfoundation.org
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SOURCE: Kofi Annan Foundation
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