Note to Correspondents

Note No. 5693
8 November 2001


NEW YORK, 7 November (UN Headquarters) -- In the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks, a two-day session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to a Dialogue among Civilizations has assumed an even greater significance. A number of heads of State and government are expected to participate in the session, which takes place on 8 and 9 November. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will speak in the morning of the second day of the session, which will be opened at 10:00 a.m. on 8 November, by the President of the General Assembly, Han Seung-soo.

Among other speakers will be the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, who will speak in the morning of 9 November. From noon to 1:00 p.m., the General Assembly will hear statements by seven members of a group of eminent persons appointed by the Secretary-General on the occasion of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, as well as Ambassador Ahmad Jalali, President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference. The seven eminent persons are:

-- Dr. A. Kamal Aboulmagd, Egypt, Professor of Public Law, Cairo University, and Judge of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal;

-- Dr. Ruth Cardoso, Brazil, President, Comunidade Solidaria, and member of the Board of the United Nations Foundation;

-- Dr. Nadine Gordimer, South Africa, Author and Nobel laureate for literature;

-- Professor Sergey Kapitza, Russia, Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Professor of Physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology;

-- Professor Dr. Hans Küng, Switzerland, Professor of Ecumenical Theology, University of Tübingen, President of the Foundation for a Global Ethic (Welethos);

-- Professor Tu Weiming, China, Director of the Yenching Institute and Professor of Chinese History and Philosophy and of Confucian Studies, Harvard University;

-- Dr. Javad Zarif, Iran, Professor of International Law, Tehran University, and Deputy Foreign Minister.

"The Dialogue, we believe, is philosophically at the opposite end of the spectrum from terrorism", said Giandomenico Picco, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, at a press briefing last week. "Terrorists believe that diversity is equal to enmity, and those who take the position that dialogue should be pursued believe in the opposite."

The two-day session of the General Assembly, which is expected to adopt a resolution on follow-up measures, is the culmination of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, 2001, which the General Assembly proclaimed on 4 November 1998. The goal of the Year is to nurture a dialogue among all nations that is both preventive of conflicts and inclusive in nature. It seeks to emphasize what humanity has in common and to promote the acceptance and celebration of diversity.

Information materials, a press kit in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and the list of speakers, can be accessed on the United Nations Web site for the Year ( A live webcast of the proceedings will be available at

Broadcasters requiring accreditation to cover the proceedings should contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (tel: (212) 963-7164 ). Television coverage can be requested from UN TV (tel: (212) 963-7650 ). For copies of the book "Crossing the Divide", by the group of eminent persons appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Giandomenico Picco, the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, call (212) 963-3507.

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact Ms. Laufey Love, Public Affairs Division, Department of Public Information, tel: (212) 963-3507; e-mail:

* *** *