Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/SG/2711
        3 November 2000
     Secretary-General Calls for Commitment to “An Active Tolerance that Allows
    Human Beings to Accept, Respect, and Live with One Another in Peace”
     
     

     NEW YORK, 2 November (UN Headquqarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message for the International Day of Tolerance, which is observed on 16 November:

     For all the talk of progress in international understanding at the turn of the millennium, intolerance of the worst and most barbaric sort is still very much with us.  It continues to fuel hatred and even bloodshed between communities.

     The face of intolerance -- be it fear, ignorance, anger or misguided assertions of superiority -- is all-too-familiar to us.  But we are often much hazier about the meaning of "tolerance".  Indeed, some regard the word itself with suspicion, saying it conveys a message of condescension, reluctant indulgence or outright indifference to the beliefs, traditions and feelings of others.

     The United Nations invests the term with a more positive meaning.  Under the Organization's aegis, treaties and legal instruments have been adopted to combat discrimination on every front, to protect human dignity and to promote every person's right to believe, behave, speak or appear in the manner he or she chooses.  Next year in South Africa, the United Nations will hold a world conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  Our partner the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meanwhile, continues to carry out a range of programmes focused on knowledge, education and cross-cultural exchange.

     Active tolerance, the kind which dispels resentments and forges lasting harmony, requires a leap of the heart and mind.  It demands efforts to truly understand the wellsprings of our differences.  Such efforts can allay suspicions between people, and can heal ancient wounds.  On the International Day of Tolerance, let us commit ourselves to an active tolerance that allows human beings to accept, respect, and live with one another in peace.

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