“On this International Day of Tolerance, I call on all people and governments to actively combat fear, hatred and extremism with dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. Let us advance against the forces of division and unite for our shared future.” This message was declared by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and released by the UN media office in Cairo.
UNESCO had created 70 years ago, on 16 November 1945, the International Day of Tolerance, on the basis that wars could be avoided if people learned to get to know each other better and understood that, in the fertile diversity of their cultures, that which unites them is stronger than that which divides them. These principles were reaffirmed 20 years ago in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, adopted by UNESCO in 1995. In a globalised world, home to people from many cultures and backgrounds and flooded with pictures of and information about other peoples, tolerance is the cornerstone of sustainable citizenship.
Diversity is a reality, calling us to adapt our policies and act appropriately, for which tolerance is key. Today’s world presents us with considerable opportunities to better understand each other, share our stories, create a public space on a global scale, enrich our outlook on life and combine our perspectives. It is an invitation for us to strengthen moral and intellectual solidarity between peoples through educational cooperation, dialogue among cultures, knowledge-sharing and free distribution of information. Tolerance is a means of constructing peace; it accelerates innovation and creation, opening our minds to other ways to view the world. This founding mission of UNESCO is not decreed through laws and declarations: it relies on the will and daily efforts of the citizens of the world who are developing this culture of tolerance, and today is the time to support them.
17 November 2015