125 nations adopt Manila Declaration for peace and dev’t

By DateLine Philippines

Senior officials of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) adopted on Tuesday the draft Manila Declaration, a document to be signed by 125 nations advocating peaceful resolutions and respect for the sovereign rights of countries to peaceful development.

The Arab Republic of Egypt, in supporting the Manila Declaration, called for the strengthening of “constructive dialogue” to eliminate the perils of continued stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction and to curb religious extremism.

Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations in New York, said NAM principles of pushing for mutual understanding and dialogue are crucial to overcome ‘historical rivalries, tensions and mistrust’ that have been causing conflict in the Middle East region.

“In this regard, it is essential to curb the tides of religious extremism, intolerance and violence that threaten to erode our development gains and destabilize national peace and social harmony,” said Abdelaziz.

The Manila Declaration supported the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to halve global poverty incidence by 2015.

Foreign affairs undersecretary for policy Erlinda Basilio said the Manila Declaration also recognized the sovereign right of NAM member countries to “attain national development through peaceful solutions.”

She cleared, however, that the declaration does not support the political assertion of Iran and North Korea, both NAM member countries, to develop nuclear programs to further their national development.

Basilio said NAM senior officials have adopted the draft Manila Declaration and submit the document to foreign ministers on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, religious leaders held a civil society parallel meeting of NAM and called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look for deeper solutions to the Mindanao peace problem.

Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao City said peace is not just about ‘ceasefire or a peace agreement on paper.’

“Here in our country, especially in Mindanao, peace is still elusive because our peace advocates, peace makers, peace builders have not understood or if they understand, have not lived and practiced shalom and salam (culture of peace),” said Archbishop Capalla in his keynote address at the NAM parallel meeting.

Also discussed during the parallel meet were the rights of migrant workers and the responsibility of governments to protect its citizens from racial and religious discrimination.

The Philippines is the third largest sending state of migrant workers, next to China and India.

Female migrant workers from the Philippines that comprise half of the eight million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) usually suffer from various forms of abuses, unfair labor practices and discrimination, delegates to the parallel NAM meeting said.

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