The International Day for Tolerance has been observed on November 16 since it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996. It is an annual reminder for us to strengthen tolerance in our society “by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples” (UN). The United Nations also states that in 2020, it “is more important than ever in this era of rising and violent extremism and widening conflicts that are characterized by a fundamental disregard for human life” (UN).
One of the best ways to strengthen tolerance in society is to counter intolerance, for which the United Nations provides the following recommendations:
- Laws: Governments are responsible for enforcing human rights laws, for banning and punishing hate crimes and discrimination and for ensuring equal access to dispute settlement.
- Education: Laws are necessary but not sufficient for countering intolerance, greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating more and better.
- Access to information: The most efficient way to limit the influence of hatemongers is to promote press freedom and press pluralism, in order to allow the public to differentiate between facts and opinions.
- Individual awareness: Intolerance breeds intolerance. In order to fight intolerance individuals should become aware of the link between their behaviour and the vicious cycle of mistrust and violence in society.
- Local solutions: When confronted with an escalation of intolerance around us, we must not wait for governments and institutions to act alone. We are all part of the solution. (UN)
For more information about the International Day for Tolerance and the winner of this year’s UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, please visit the United Nations website.