24 May 1995
Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku has warned against the dangers of increasing intolerance in the world which he said arose from divisive pluralism. In his address to the convocation of the Canadian University of New Brunswick which today honoured him with the degree of Doctor of Laws, he cited tensions and conflicts in the world's trouble spots, such as the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Chechnya, and said that the barriers of confrontation which had been buttressed by the Cold War had now given way to a new threat to peace in the form of conflicts fuelled by ethnic, religious, nationalist and communalist intolerance. Recognising the positive value of pluralism, he said that it could also become "divisive, destructive and deadly."
Chief Anyaoku noted that change has replaced ideology as the dogma of our time and that the realities of today included great trans-border movements of people and growing multi-ethnic societies. "To overcome the destructive impulses of an inward-looking world, however, we must try to understand our neighbours as members of our common humanity," he said.
The Secretary-General added that the Commonwealth was uniquely well placed to address the problem of divisive pluralism. As an association of 51 far-flung sovereign states, committed to the pursuit of unity in diversity, and having a common experience in pooling and sharing resources, the Commonwealth is a "worthy example for the rest of the world".
Note to Editors:
This is Chief Anyaoku's thirteenth honorary degree and his first from Canada. He had previously received honours from universities in Nigeria and Britain. The full text of the speech is attached.
95/20 24 May 1995