UN World Day of Tolerance

United Nations LogoThe United Nations World Day of Tolerance is celebrated worldwide each year on 16 November. The United Nations Declaration on Principles of Tolerance seeks to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person… and for these ends to practise tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.”

United Nations World Day of Tolerance is observed every year on November 16th.

The International Day for Tolerance is an opportunity for each of us to renew our commitment to practising tolerance and promoting harmony. Globalising quickly, the world is also increasingly fragile. This is why every day, in every society, we need to build new bridges of tolerance, trust and understanding.

Fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples

The United Nations is committed to strengthening tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples. This imperative lies at the core of the United Nations Charter, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and 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.

In 1996, the UN General Assembly (by resolution 51/95) invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. This action followed up on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance .

Tolerance Builds Society

The individual and society are intertwined inextricably. Society shapes each individual providing the arena for our development, and sets the ideals that we should strive for. From a citizenship viewpoint, our task is to recognise our indebtedness to society and our duty towards it, to foster the social virtues of honesty, fair play, tolerance and cordiality. A chance conglomeration of humans does not become a society. Each one of us has a responsibility to contribute to the welfare of all.

Dimensions of Tolerance

In the iterations of the day, tolerance was found to have individual, social and national dimensions. A person is never an actor alone but is always influence by their social codes, prevailing attitudes and history.

The inner dimension of tolerance recognises the humanity of the other and has the capacity to step out of the box and feel the experience of the other. This feeling leads to understanding (we stand under an event, real or imagined and allow it to shed its light upon us), and expanding our boundaries to include the other. One does not abuse nor disrespect the other for the other is one’s own self. This is compassion.

“When you are confronted with problems and difficulties you should not get upset, and become victims of depression which is a sign of weakness. In such a situation, you should bring tolerance and an attitude of forgiveness into play and should not get agitated giving rise to anger, hatred and revengeful attitude. You are embodiments of strength and not weakness. Therefore, in times of despair, fill yourself with the feeling of forbearance and be ready to forgive and forget. This quality of forgiveness is the greatest power of a human being.” (Sathya Sai Baba)

Istanbul Declaration on Tolerance
European Council of Religious Leaders

The European Council of Religious Leaders have delivered a declaration on Tolerance which gives a wide array of values and behaviours which show tolerance in action.

Tolerance is a sub value of Non-violence. Non-violence comprises behaviours and values such as consideration, co-operation, global stewardship, active citizenship, justice, respect and tolerance.

The European Council of Religious Leaders declared that tolerance requires mutuality and is a precondition for a culture of peace. The European Council of Religious Leaders expanded, like so:

  • Tolerance is an active recognition of diversity and means respecting the otherness of the other with whom we differ religiously, culturally, or otherwise, with compassion and benevolence.
  • Tolerance does not mean unconditional approval of the ideas of others nor of the way they live their lives. Tolerance means respecting the other’s human rights, but not necessarily sharing his or her viewpoints.
  • Tolerance implies mutuality and not compromising one’s beliefs. Many religions make truth claims that can be mutually exclusive, as do other convictions and ideologies. This is no threat to tolerance as long as others are allowed to give voice to their own convictions.
  • Tolerance implies that all may speak openly and freely, also when their views are controversial. Tolerance does not prevent us from speaking clearly against injustice, oppression, violence and everything which threatens life.
  • Tolerance meets its most difficult challenge when faced with the intolerant. A cohesive and peaceful society must protect itself and its institutions against intolerance.

The European Conference of Religious Leaders then went on to give a series of commitments to translate the attitude to tolerance into action.

You may Download the Istanbul Declaration on Tolerance

Read the European Conference of Religious Leaders Declaration on Tolerance online: Istanbul Declaration on Tolerance


United Nations Day of Tolerance



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