Tolerance recognises the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others, irrespective of their differences. Only tolerance can ensure the survival of diversity and mixed communities across the globe. On the day of UNESCO’s fiftieth anniversary in 1995, its Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. This Declaration affirms that tolerance means respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.
The Declaration stresses that tolerance is not only a moral duty, but is also a political and legal obligation for individuals, groups and States. It situates tolerance in relation to the international human rights instruments drawn up over the past years and emphasises that States should enact new legislation to ensure equality of treatment and of opportunity for all groups and individuals in the society. In 1996, the UN General Assembly invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November.
Discrimination and marginalisation are the most common forms of intolerance besides outright injustice and violence. One of the tools to combat intolerance is education. Education should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities, is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all.
Fighting intolerance requires proper legislative measures - governments are responsible for enforcing human rights laws. Proper actions must be undertaken to ensure the banning and ensuring punishment of hate crimes and discrimination against minorities. Furthermore, greater efforts must be made to teach children about tolerance, human rights and different ways of life, both at home and in school. Besides, policies must be developed to generate and promote press freedom and press pluralism, to allow the public to differentiate between facts and opinions.
Another key consideration is individual awareness on the issue of intolerance. People should be made aware of the link between their behaviour and the vicious cycle of mistrust and violence in the society. Other tools of nonviolent action include discrediting hateful propaganda, co-organising groups to confront problems and establishing grassroot networks to demonstrate solidarity with victims of intolerance.
Compiled by Law Desk (Source: UN.ORG).