By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA -- Suriname’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations, and chairman of the Third Committee of the UN, Henry MacDonald, this week participated in an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-sponsored interfaith symposium, titled “the Role of Interfaith Dialogue in Peace Building and the Empowerment of Women”, which was opened by the secretary general of the OIC, Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
Ishanoglu will soon visit Suriname, a member state of the OIC in South America and the Caribbean, with a diverse population of Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners and indigenous people who have brought with them Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Animism. As well, these groups to this day continue to speak their mother tongue.
MacDonald emphasized his country’s commitment to support and promote the dialogue among civilizations.
“A culture of peace and understanding is significant in enhancing the dialogue to promote mutual understanding, respect and tolerance among religions, cultures and peoples all over the world,” said the Suriname ambassador.
MacDonald said that the Surinamese society is “strikingly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-linguistic and multi religious” that coexists peacefully. At the same time, he said, at the international level it remains a challenge for the peaceful coexistence of different religions, values and cultures.
“Suriname therefore continues to support and promote the dialogue among civilizations, because a culture of peace and understanding is significant in enhancing the dialogue to promote mutual understanding, respect and tolerance among religions, cultures and peoples all over the world,” MacDonald said.
In his brief address to the forum, MacDonald called for education and empowerment of women and questioned what comes after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.
He said, “I strongly believe that for the post MDG process we should create a development vision to better empower women by drastically increasing the ability of women all over the world to bring about change; freedom from violence and make sure that women can exist in environments with less security threats, while having access to decent education, employment and services.”