International Day of Human Fraternity is observed on 4th February globally. International Day of Human Fraternity aims to underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions, or beliefs, and the promotion of tolerance. It also aims to educate people that tolerance, pluralistic tradition, mutual respect, and the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity.
Fraternity means the sense or spirit of brotherhood that promotes unity and integrity in the nation and binds its people. It stands for standing up for fellow citizens and to resolve dispute and conflicts in well behaved and orderly manner that would not harm the integrity of the nation. The word fraternity is defined as a group of people that share common interests. Fraternity also means the state of mutual support within a group.
The United Nations hopes people around the world would begin to embrace these ideas. Instead of focusing on our differences, we should focus on what we as human beings have in common. On December2020, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to declare 4 February as International Day of Human Fraternity. The resolution was the outcome of Christian-Muslim cooperation to promote peace and intercultural dialogue in the world. The choice of this particular date is a strong reminder of the historic signing of the Document on human brotherhood for world peace and living together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyib. The signatories of the document, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, considered one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam, spent more than a year drafting its 12 points, before signing it in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi on 4th February 2019, under the auspices of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The International Day of Human Fraternity was celebrated for the first time on 4 February 2021 in a virtual event that was highly attended by member states, religious leaders, faith actors and civil society representatives. In his message on the occasion, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said “As we commemorate the International Day of Human Fraternity, let us commit to do more to promote cultural and religious tolerance, understanding and dialogue”
The expanded scope of addressees by the declaration on Human Fraternity reflects a basic tenant of international human rights law and policy, i.e. the effective participation and the role of the civil society in promoting and defending human rights. The declaration of Human Fraternity has honestly acknowledged the responsibility of religious leaders, in various historical stages, for the emergence of such a phenomenon. Hence, the declaration has called for countering the manipulation of religions a shared responsibility by the believers of all religions.
During a time when intolerance seems to be at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to raise awareness about embracing different cultures and beliefs. For this to occur, societal acceptance and respect for cultural diversity must be practiced on a global scale. Education, especially in school, is an important tool to make this happen. It’s also important to acknowledge that tolerance and mutual respect promote human fraternity. Oftentimes, before this occurs on a global level, these ideas must first be implemented at the local, regional, and national levels.
Celebrating human fraternity and the values it embodies such as mutual respect, diversity of cultures and religions, advancing intercultural and interreligious dialogue reminds us of the common values that we share as one humanity. This spirit is particularly needed at a time when many communities are divided across religious, ethnic and cultural lines. Growing religious hatred, stigma and manifestations of various forms of discrimination against vulnerable communities including minorities are an affront to human rights and UN values.
Observing an international day of Human Fraternity is needed now more than ever before, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today. We are not only facing the ramifications of a pandemic, but also the contagious virus of hate, discrimination and racism.
(The Author is In charge Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children, Solina, Srinagar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)