Respect and tolerance are liberating acts, whereby the differences of others are recognized as the same as our own and whereby the riches of another culture are taken as the wealth of all.” – Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, 21 March 2014

 

The International Day for Tolerance was established in 1996 by General Assembly Resolution 51/95. Each year, all Member States of the United Nations are invited to celebrate the UN’s commitment to “strengthening tolerance and fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples” on November 16th. In 1995, the United Nations, in conjunction with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), celebrated a Year for Tolerance which inspired this new annual tribute to the power of understanding and mutual respect.

On International Day of Tolerance every two years, UNESCO awards the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence to honor individuals, organizations, and states which have made significant contributions to tolerance through science, art, and culture. 2016’s recipient is the Federal Research and Methodological Center for Tolerance Psychology and Education (Tolerance Center) of Russia. The Tolerance Center conducts research and educational programs particularly aimed at international youth, and promotes interreligious dialogue.

Unfortunately, recent years have seen ever-increasing reports of intolerance and violent extremism around the world. For instance, the United States currently faces racial divisiveness reminiscent of the 1960s and stubbornly persistent Islamophobia. After such a heated Presidential campaign, motivating discussions about American xenophobia, many are concerned that these divisions will only be deepened as the country moves forward. For this very reason, today is the perfect moment to address the importance of tolerance. As UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova wrote in 2015, “tolerance is not passive or silent acceptance of differences; it is inseparable from respect for fundamental human rights. It is constant commitment to facilitating exchanges and dialogue, despite difficulties and a lack of understanding which can lead to inward-looking attitudes. It is a call to question prejudice and commonly-held beliefs.”

Diversity is our reality but it is not something to run from. Rather, we should all embrace the beauty that comes from cross-cultural interactions. Our world is richer when we live together and embrace our neighbors with love and respect. Thus, at Grieboski Global Strategies, where we passionately uphold the values of respect and understanding for all peoples, we are delighted to celebrate such an important day by celebrating the diversity that surroun