Across the globe, nations and communities face profound and enduring economic, social and environmental challenges. Poverty, hunger and disease remain at unacceptable levels. Every region is experiencing the rising impact of climate change. Natural disasters are a constant reminder of human vulnerability. Conflicts and inter-community tensions persist across the globe. Millions face the daily threat of violence and displacement.
There are no individual solutions to these multifaceted and inter-related challenges. We can only advance as a community of nations and cultures, drawing on human solidarity and recognizing that we share a common destiny. This is why tolerance is so important.
Tolerance is not passive. It demands an active choice to reach out on the basis of mutual understanding and respect, especially where disagreement exists. Tolerance means recognizing that our diversity is a strength – a wellspring of creativity and renewal for all societies.
Tolerance can, and must, be learned. We need to teach girls and boys not just how to live together but how to act together as global citizens. We need to nurture tolerance by promoting cultural understanding and respect – from parliaments to the playground. We need to tackle growing inequality and reject social exclusion based on gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, and ethnic or religious background.
Tolerance is the strongest foundation for peace and reconciliation. At this time of rapid and often bewildering change, it has never been so important. On this International Day, I call on national and community leaders – and all those who wield influence through traditional and social media and among their peers – to embrace tolerance as the bond that will unite us on our common journey to a peaceful, sustainable future.
International Day of Tolerance 2013 - Statement by the President of the 68th session of the General AssemblyAs we commemorate this International Day for Tolerance let us reflect on the goals and commitments on global tolerance adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
The mission of the United Nations is to serve humanity and to advance the quality of life and well-being of people across the globe. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of principles nearly twenty years ago that was designed to promote cultural diversity. It also declared this day in November as a time for renewing our commitment to tolerance.
As President of the 68th General Assembly, I call on all member States to support initiatives that foster respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, races and religions. We must actively seek ways to reduce violence, especially against women and children, and to cultivate respect for diversity as a central part of the post-2015 development agenda.
Intolerance, inequity and poverty are often intertwined and I am inspired by the courage and hope of those who live in these dire conditions. I call on the international community of nations to remain actively engaged in the global struggle against intolerance and to foster understanding, acceptance and mutual respect between people the world over.
John W. Ashe
This takes commitment and time. We must begin with quality education, to combat ignorance, prejudice and hatred, which are at the root of discrimination and racism. We need education to disarm the fears that many feel of the unknown and of other people, their cultures, life choices and beliefs. Education is the best way to foster a culture of peace and build inclusive societies.
Intolerance is a global challenge that takes many local shapes. To be effective, global action must be combined with national, local and, not least, individual measures.
At the global level, UNESCO is leading the United Nations International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, launched this year, to promote the benefits of exchange and dialogue across cultures and to build new networks to fight against racism and discrimination.
We act also on the ground, where needs are most acute. This was the objective of a recent UNESCO project to promote a culture peace among young women and men living in Tripoli, Lebanon. Through exchanges through theatre and the arts, UNESCO worked with young people throughout the city, to deepen mutual understanding, to learn to live and work together, to resolve differences through dialogue.
To create positive change, we must constantly ask ourselves the following questions. How are the rights of persons belonging to social, national, ethnic, religious, linguistic or other minorities guaranteed in our community, State and region? Are we doing enough to promote the equal rights and dignity of indigenous people, migrant workers, asylum-seekers and refugees, or people with disabilities? Answering these questions must lead us to action.
This International Day is a chance to deepen our commitment to dialogue and solidarity, in our families and communities, in relations with other peoples.
Tolerance can never be taken for granted. It is a way of living that we must constantly reinvent for new times, to recognize the differences of others as the same as our own and the riches of other cultures as the wealth of all to share.
In a world of uncertainty, in societies undergoing deep transformation, this has never been so important for lasting peace and sustainable development.