The International Day for Tolerance is a United Nations annual holiday commemorated on November 16. It promotes tolerance among people of all backgrounds and beliefs, and encourages people to educate themselves on other cultures and perspectives in an attempt to eradicate intolerance around the world.
In 1995 the United Nations celebrated what was the United Nations Year for Tolerance, and on November 16 of that year, UNESCO commemorated its fiftieth anniversary by adopting a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.
The goal of this document was to provide educational institutions, governments, and the general public with a guide that defines and raises awareness about the importance of tolerance. From 1996, to mark the anniversary of the Declaration, the United Nations have invited its member states to celebrate International Day for Tolerance every year on November 16.
In an effort to encourage tolerance further, every two years UNESCO awards the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize to those who promote tolerance and non-violence in the arts, culture, and sciences.
Tolerance does not mean that everyone must share the same beliefs and values, but rather being tolerant means to accept that there are people who do not agree with or believe in the same things as us and have different customs. By promoting tolerance, the UN is ensuring that diverse communities can co-exist in peace. Being tolerant is about being respectful and accepting of other people's differences.
How to observe International Day for Tolerance
For the International Day for Tolerance, several organizations host events and talks attended by activists and educators with the intent of educating people about tolerance and the need to be accepting of other cultures. If there is an event like this near you, try to attend it and learn more about diversity.
Tolerance and respect start with us, so take a moment on this day to reflect on times when you were intolerant and think about how you could have been better. Educate yourself by reading books, watching documentaries and interviews, and listening to podcasts about the issues of intolerance and how to be more mindful of other religions, cultures, and races.