International Tolerance Day 2012: Laying the Foundation for Lasting Peace

U.S. Department of State - DipNote Blog

Difference must not be a source of division, but of strength. That’s the core message of this year’s International Day for Tolerance. Tolerance is a way to disarm fear and to lay the foundations for lasting peace, and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is promoting tolerance through innovative education programs about the Holocaust and genocides throughout history. The United States is a strong supporter of this effort.

On the occasion of International Day for Tolerance, I would like to share with you a recent UNESCO report entitled, “Why Teach About Genocide? The Example of the Holocaust.” This report stems from UNESCO’s first regional consultations to promote education about the Holocaust and other genocides. Senior representatives of Ministries of Education from 14 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa participated in the two-day meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. Experts in Holocaust and genocide studies held focused discussions on how the history of the Holocaust, and more generally the history of genocide, could be included in the curricula of participating countries. The participants concluded that education about the Holocaust and genocide is relevant to African countries, and its study is a fundamental element in the prevention of mass atrocities.

Holocaust education was officially integrated into UNESCO’s education mission in 2007. The program’s premise is to promote education about the Holocaust and other genocides, in order to advance education for peace and contribute to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. Holocaust education also is a source of critical reflection on the preservation and promotion of human rights.

Education is a powerful tool in promoting tolerance and mutual understanding. Initiatives like this are helping the global community move forward in its efforts to combat intolerance by using powerful examples from the past. On this International Day for Tolerance, we are reminded that we live in a world that is more connected than ever; embracing diversity must remain a pillar of our thinking and action.

Cross posted from DipNote Blog, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State.

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