On the day of its fiftieth anniversary, 16 November 1995, UNESCO’s Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Among other things, the Declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.
Collage of photos of diverse peopleThe Declaration qualifies tolerance not only as a moral duty but also as a political and legal requirement for individuals, groups and States. It situates tolerance in relation to the international human rights instruments drawn up over the past fifty years and emphasizes that States should draft new legislation when necessary to ensure equality of treatment and of opportunity for all groups and individuals in society.
Along with outright injustice and violence, discrimination and marginalization are common forms of intolerance. Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict but is a treasure that enriches us all.