13 November 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"Global Diversity is to be Embraced, Not Feared"

Message on the International Day for Tolerance, 16 November 2009

Globalization continues to bring people closer together. Internet chatrooms and social networking sites enable us to connect with people we will never meet. Global branding and the growth of international social and cultural movements expose us on a daily basis to the tastes, opinions and habits of our fellow men and women. We have more ways than ever to communicate with each other and to benefit from cross-cultural exchanges.

Yet globalization also carries the risk of creating a more uniform world, eroding the diversity that is one of humankind's greatest strengths. And as we grow closer, there is also a danger that the human propensity to build walls will assert itself, separating people into "us" and "them" and, all too often, victimizing some of the most vulnerable sections of society: national, ethnic, religious and other minorities.

Tolerance does not mean indifference or a grudging acceptance of others. It is a way of life based on mutual understanding and respect for others, and on the belief that global diversity is to be embraced, not feared.

The United Nations promotes tolerance on many fronts. It is part of our work for peace, conflict prevention, democratization and human rights. Through the Alliance of Civilizations and UNESCO's many educational and inter-cultural initiatives, we promote dialogue and combat intolerance and extremism.. And we continue to press ahead with the articulation of laws and standards, such as the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 and the creation that same year of the UN Forum on Minority Issues.

On this International Day for Tolerance, let us to pledge to mobilize against intolerance. For our most vulnerable communities, and for all humanity, let us work together to promote tolerance.

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