Ban Ki-moon visits Kazakhstan, speaks tolerance12 june 2015, 15:09
Ban Ki-moon has opened the new headquarters of the UN in Kazakhstan&rsquos capital Astana and attended the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Tengrinews reports.
The new UN office in Astana will house eight UN agencies: UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, ILO, UNODC, OHCHR, UNRCCA, UNDSS, as well as the IOM - as a partner organization.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerlan Idrissov. After the UN Secretary General cut the ribbon and welcomed his colleagues, employees of the UN Office in Kazakhstan, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The award ceremony was held by the University&rsquos rector Galimkair Mutanov. He also gave Ban Ki-moon a traditional Kazakh costume, which the Secretary tried on immediately.
&ldquoIt is a great honor and privilege for me to participate in these two important events today - first of all, I was very much privileged to open this new, very excellent United Nations House. This should be our common working place, and I would like to sincerely thank the Government and people of Kazakhstan for their strong support for the United Nations,&rdquo he said according to the UN.
Kazakhstan became a member of the United Nations in March 1992. The UN Office in Almaty opened a year later.
&ldquoKazakhstan is known for its championing role as a leading country in this region and also a global leader. The country has been promoting, as one of the leaders, nuclear non-proliferation, as well as peace-building in a variety of conflicts, including in Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan and many other places,&rdquo the UN head said.
In the first half of the day on June 11, Ban Ki-moon took part in the V Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Then he had a meeting with the President of Kazakhstan. The sides discussed the work of the Congress and explored ways to further strengthen the cooperation.
Ban Ki-moon thanked President Nazarbayev for his initiative &ldquoto promote a much needed dialogue between religious and political leaders from around the world to enhance understanding, and build a culture of cooperation and mutual respect.&rdquo
He said that religious leaders have to speak out when so-called adherents of their religions commit crimes allegedly in the name of their religion.
&ldquoToday, we see violent extremism expressed most vividly in the atrocities committed by Da&rsquoesh, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda and other sectarian and terrorist groups. Women and young girls often bear the brunt of violent ideologies. They are subject to systemic abuse, killing, rape and kidnapping. We must ask and explore: how can we provide a stronger, more equal platform to women, as a means of advancing respect for women, changing mindsets and shifting global consciousness?&rdquo UN Secretary General stressed.
Photo courtesy of Akorda.
He also noted that best predictors of violence were economic decline, limited opportunities to receive educational, rampaging unemployment and exclusion from participation in social, cultural and political life.
Ban Ki-moon said that Kazakhstan had to continue making progress in human rights, including in  &ldquothe development of a comprehensive National Human Rights Action Plan.&rdquo This process can be facilitated by close cooperation with civil society, he said.
He also explained what tolerance meant to him personally - reaching out to those who are different. &ldquoIt means recognizing that we can teach by learning from one another. We can gain by sharing with one another. By seeking to know more about others, we grow more ourselves. By welcoming communities and ideas into our own, through exchange and enrichment, societies become greater than the sum of their parts,&rdquo he said adding that this was the guiding principle of the Silk Road long ago.
By Dinara Urazova