International Day for Tolerance 2021: History, Significance and Theme


November 16 commemorates the International Day of Tolerance, every year. This is a UN declared day that aims at creating public awareness on the dangers of intolerance. What propelled the idea was the increasing need to ensure people are aware of the negativity that stems from intolerance. As a result, the UN General Assembly in order to promote tolerance as a staple of society amid general public and educational institutions came up with this.

In 1995, the UN had declared a Year for Tolerance. The Declaration of Principles on Tolerance was formulated the same year by UNESCO on November 16. The UN decided to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s 125th birth anniversary that year by kickstarting the commemoration of International Tolerance Day in 1995.

Madanjeet Singh who was the UN’s goodwill ambassador (later on in 2000), had sponsored the celebrations that year. Madanjeet had contributed immensely to bring about communal harmony and peace through his lifelong commitment towards practicing tolerance.

Hence, this annual observance marks the anniversary of that declaration, as well. As a part of this noble initiative UNESCO introduced an award to honour individuals who facilitated the promotion of the spirit of tolerance or non-violence through their behavior, and work in various fields (science, arts, culture). It is The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize.

International Day for Tolerance 2021: Significance

To drive home the fact that tolerance is a universal human right, the International Day of Tolerance encourages open-mindedness and listening.

Basically, the 1995 Declaration puts across the idea that “tolerance” is nothing but “acceptance, respect and appreciation” of various people. The cause is meant to champion this basic human right.

Non violence and tolerance are keys to peaceful coexistence. The endeavor is to make people acknowledge the diversity in cultures, and yet appreciate the beauty in different opinions, races, beliefs and ideas. Promoting the practice of respecting others’ right and freedom; and educating people about the damaging effects of intolerance, assume the core of this global initiative.

The day’s significance lies in the fact that tolerance is not just a moral obligation but an essential need of the day and age.

The theme for International Day of Tolerance is based upon the basic premise that ‘Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human’.

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