H.E. Ambassador Evan P. GarciaExcellencies, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my great honor and pleasure to join you today as we mark the International Day of Peace with our conference today which examines the state of Multiculturalism, and its contributions to Peace.  For its part, the Philippine Mission, as a core member of the Geneva Interfaith and Intercultural Alliance, is pleased to partner again with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia and to work closely with the GIIA's Founding Chairman, Ambassador Makarim Wibisono, a distinguished elder statesman of the UN and ASEAN Communities, who now holds the important position of Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation.  We also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the International Organization on Migration (IOM), and our friends from Civil Society - the Fribourg Peace Forum, UPF and the WFWPI.

Today's discussion is particularly timely in light of the many challenges confronting a nation such as the Philippines which is a country of origin for millions of migrants located all over the world, the paradigm of Multiculturalism being of great importance as it is a perspective which frames the conditions be which migrants are received in host countries - a perspective which is under question.   The Philippine Foreign Service is charged with protecting the rights and welfare of our people overseas, this debate is crucial for us.  The Philippines itself is also a receiving and transit country and crossroads for diverse peoples.  The role of the IOM as a partner for migration and diaspora is critical and indispensible and therefore also closely follows the Multiculturalism debate.

We are pleased that our conference also features a youth model simulation of a hypothetical "UN Inter-Religious Council."  The Philippines places great importance on the advancement of inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation, and would like to expand its discussion here in Geneva.  The model Council is a dynamic innovation which will help to generate fresh ideas and harness the enthusiasm and energy of the youth sector.  I take great pride that a young Filipina, Ms. Lica De Guzman, a student in Geneva, is a delegate.

We look forward to lively and stimulating discussions in the course of the day, and to the outcomes and recommendations of the conference.

Thank you.

H.E. Ambassador Evan P. Garcia

Permanent Representative of Philippines to the UN

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