International Day for Tolerance 2021 and its Significance

OV Digital Desk

The International Day for Tolerance is an annual day observed every year on 16 November. It is observed to celebrate the rich diversity of our world’s cultures and promote tolerance and respect for others. It aims to foster and nurture mutual understanding among cultures and societies

Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” It is the basic theme of International Tolerance Day 2021.

1 March: Zero discrimination Day

History of International Day for Tolerance

It was started by the UN General Assembly, with the goal of getting educational institutions and the general public to see tolerance as the main ingredient and idea of society.  In 1994, UNESCO observed the 125th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth paving the way for the proclamation of 16 November as the International Day for Tolerance by the UN. In 1996, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 51/95 proclaiming 16 November as International Day for Tolerance.

Additionally, UNESCO created an award to recognize those with great achievements in promoting the spirit of tolerance or non-violence in fields such as science, culture, and the arts. The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize and the UNESCO International Day for Tolerance both recognize that tolerance is a universal human right.  The reward is given to significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural, and communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence.

How Can Intolerance be tamed?

There are numerous ways to tame intolerance in society. Here are a few approaches recommended by the UN.

  • Laws: Governments are responsible for enforcing human rights laws, banning and punishing hate crimes and discrimination, and 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 behavior 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.