The values of tolerance and understanding are facing profound tests around the world, the United Nations chief said Wednesday.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in message commemorating the U.N.'s International Day of Tolerance that from sectarian armed conflicts to politicians who sow division to gain votes, the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are under threat.
"Day by day, bigotry shows its face through racism, anti-Muslim hatred, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination," Ban said.
"The United Nations promotes tolerance as a matter of its fundamental identity. When tolerance is upheld, we encourage the world to emulate those fine examples. When tolerance is threatened, we must speak out," Ban added.
International Day for Tolerance is celebrated annually on Nov. 16, marking the 1995 adoption of the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance by UNESCO Member States.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement warned against the rise of racist attitudes and isolationist rhetoric that claims the world would be better off if people lived in "pure cultures."
"We must remember the historical facts, recall how peoples and identities have mingled, engendering richer, more complex cultures with multiple identities. Using the living testimony of world heritage sites, we can show that no culture has ever grown in isolation, and that diversity is a strength, not a weakness," Bokova said.