UN marks International Day of Tolerance

In societies characterized by diversity one of the most important challenges has been how to get rid of intolerance, the Secretary-General says in remarks released in advance of the International Day, which is observed each year on 16 November.Tolerance “is an active and positive attitude, inspired by a recognition of and respect for the rights and freedoms of others,” Mr. Annan says. “It means that concern for others must prevail over callousness and contempt and that an effort to know the ‘other’ takes the place of ignorance, blind prejudice and discrimination.”No modern society could be built or could flourish by cultivating intolerance, he adds.In his remarks, the Director-General of the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, suggests some questions people might ask themselves on “this international day of collective reflection.””How can we accept, without being overcome by a profound sense of scepticism, that all values and truths are relative and that the appeal of universality is only an illusion?” he says. “Must we, then, in the name of the tolerance advocated by democratic societies, give up our search for the truth and agree to tolerate everything, even the intolerable?”Through dialogue the world needed to create a shared perception of things and events in order to resolve its tensions in the new century, Mr. Matsuura says.”It is on the basis of such a ‘reasonable consensus,’ favouring open societies and their basic values of democracy and respect for human rights, that we can no doubt find a way out of a highly destructive relativism,” he says.”May this international day inspire each of us to open the channels of this dialogue, in which nothing less than the future of our humanity is at stake,” he adds.

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