The United Nations has approved the initiative of proclamation of 4th February as “International Day for Human Fraternity,” beginning in 2021. The 4th of February 2021 will be the first international observance.
The initiative was introduced by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The resolution acknowledges specifically the meeting between His Holiness Pope Francis and the His Eminence Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4th February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in the signing of the “Document on Human fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
Human fraternity for peace and cooperation
There is deep concern regarding acts that advocate religious hatred and, thereby, undermine the spirit of tolerance and respect for diversity, especially at a time when the world confronts the unprecedented crisis caused by the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which requires a global response based on unity, solidarity and renewed multilateral cooperation.
And in these times we need — perhaps more than ever before — to recognise the valuable contribution of people of all religions, or beliefs, to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among all religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.
We also need to underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions, or beliefs, and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression. Education, in particular at school, should contribute in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.
Furthermore, we must acknowledge that tolerance, pluralistic tradition, mutual respect and the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity. Thus, it is imperative that we encourage activities aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to enhance peace and social stability, respect for diversity and mutual respect and to create, at the global level, and also at the regional, national and local levels, an environment conducive to peace and mutual understanding.
Within that frame, the United Nations Assembly took note of all international, regional, national and local initiatives, as appropriate, as well as efforts by religious leaders, to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and in this regard took note also of the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in the signing of the document entitled “Human fraternity for world peace and living together”.
Following the devastation of the Second World War, the United Nations was established to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. One of its purposes is to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems, including by promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
In 1999, The United Nations Assembly adopted, by resolution 53/243, the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which serves as the universal mandate for the international community, particularly the United Nations system, to promote a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits all of humanity, including future generations.
The declaration came about as a result of the long-held and cherished concept — contained within the Constitution of UNESCO — that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” The Declaration embraces the principle that peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process, in which dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.
On 20 October 2010, the United Nations Assembly pointed out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and established World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. It further recognised the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.
At the core of all the faith systems and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony and peace in an environmentally sustainable world. Our world continues to be beset by conflict and intolerance with rising number of refugees and the internally displaced in a hostile and unwelcoming world around them. We are also, unfortunately, witnessing messages of hate spreading discord among people. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater. It is imperative that we double our efforts to spread the message of being a good neighbour based on our common humanity, a message shared by all faith traditions.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity, with resolution 75/200.
What is the Culture of Peace?
A culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on:
- Respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation;
- Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law;
- Full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts;
- Efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations;
- Respect for and promotion of the right to development; Respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities for women and men;
- Respect for and promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information;
- Adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations; and fostered by an enabling national and international environment conducive to peace.