On International Day, UN officials urge tolerance to promote peaceful, sustainable future

Children from Cape Town, South Africa in the 1980s, when inter-racial marriage was illegal in the country

16 November 2013 – United Nations officials marked the International Day for Tolerance today by urging a renewed commitment to a principle that is more important than ever for ensuring a peaceful, sustainable future for all.

“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,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 16 November.

“Tolerance is not passive,” he added. “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.”

Mr. Ban said that 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,” he stated. “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.”

The President of the General Assembly, John Ashe, called 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,” he said.

“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.”


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