Press Releases

SG/SM/8022
OBV/247
14 November 2001

SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE FOR INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF TOLERANCE, SAYS RESPONSE
TO 11 SEPTEMBER
ATTACKS HAS UNITED GLOBAL FAMILY AS NEVER BEFORE

NEW YORK, 12 November (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of the message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the International Day of Tolerance (being observed on 16 November):

Since the horrific attacks of 11 September, the world has found itself united as never before. Millions of people across many societies and cultures have reaffirmed their understanding that we all belong to the same human family. They have expressed, in their grief and solidarity, the shared values that make up our common humanity.

One of those values is tolerance. This keystone of human rights, pluralism and democracy stands for openness, dialogue, understanding and respect for others. It is a value that makes peace possible. And without peace, there can be neither progress nor development.

Tolerance also means that all people should benefit from economic and social opportunities without discrimination. Exclusion and marginalization can lead to hostility and fanaticism, and are likely to generate further intolerance in turn. The promotion of tolerance is thus an important part of the fight we are conducting against terrorism. It lies at the heart of our objective to create a global community built on the shared values of solidarity, social justice and respect for human rights.

In our globalizing world, tolerance is more essential than ever. Dialogue must prevail over violence, understanding over indifference, knowledge of others over ignorance and prejudice. Those must be the goals of the United Nations as we work to bridge the divide among peoples and cultures. We have already taken important steps in that direction. In proclaiming 2001 the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, the General Assembly helped to heighten public awareness of the need to search for understanding and harmony among peoples.

More than ever, the work for tolerance requires a renewed engagement from every one of us. On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to tolerance, dialogue and solidarity, among ourselves, in our families and our communities, as well as in our relations with other nations and peoples of the world. In the face of rising intolerance, the risks posed by indifference are far too great.

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