Annan calls on educators and media to prevent spread of hatred and intolerance
In a message marking the International Day for Tolerance, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed the key roles that education and a responsible media can play in preventing the spread of hatred.
“Recent years have witnessed a sharp rise in intolerance, extremism and violence across the world,” he declared. “This disturbing trend is fuelled, in part, by a growing tendency to articulate differences in terms of identity rather than in terms of opinions or interests.
“As a result, individuals and entire communities are being targeted for brutality and violence, simply because of their ethnic, religious, national or other identity,” he added, noting that such threats range from large-scale genocide to the indignities of day-to-day bigotry.
But while combating intolerance is in part a matter of legal protection, that is only a starting point. “Any strategy to building understanding must depend heavily on education – about different religions, traditions and cultures – so that myths and distortions can be seen for what they are.
“We must also create opportunities for young people, offering them a credible alternative to the siren song of hate and extremism. And we must work to prevent the media from being used to spread hatred, or inflict humiliation, while safeguarding freedom of expression,” he added.