The UN International Day of Fraternity and the Tai Ji Men Case
By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers
An article already published in Human Rights Without Frontiers on February 11th, 2022.
HRWF (11.02.2022) –“Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, or in English, “liberty, equality, fraternity” is the national motto of the French Republic. Although it finds its origin in the 1789 French Revolution, it was not institutionalized until the end of the 19th century in France.
It is only in 2021 that for the first time the UN commemorated the cherished value of fraternity with a special focus on religious and inter-religious tolerance.
On December 21, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed in Resolution 75/200 February 4th as “International Day of Human Fraternity.”
This resolution, which was co-sponsored by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reaffirmed in its first paragraph the importance granted to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In its second paragraph, it recalled Resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981 proclaiming the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.”
The celebration of the International Day of Fraternity is therefore clearly rooted in the freedom of religion or belief, but why the date of 4th February.
The choice of this date was justified by the historical meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib three years ago on February 4th, 2019. During this meeting, the two religious leaders signed a document titled, “Human fraternity for world peace and living together.” That day now kicks off World Interfaith Harmony Week, which has been celebrated during the first week in February since 2010.
Observing an International Day of Human Fraternity is needed now more than ever before, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today. There is deep concern regarding acts that advocate religious hatred and, thereby, undermine the spirit of tolerance and respect for diversity. Humankind is plagued non only by the COVID 19 but also by the contagious virus of hate, discrimination and racism.
The antidote or best antibodies to hate is human fraternity, which embodies compassion, mutual respect, unity, solidarity and renewed multilateral cooperation.
In these difficult times we need to recognize the valuable contribution of people of all faiths or beliefs to humanity. Dialogue among all religious groups can greatly improve awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.
The teachings of Dr Hong and Tai Ji Men underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions or beliefs and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression. Education of the youth in the framework of Tai Ji Men contributes in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.
They encourage activities aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to enhance peace and social stability, respect for diversity and mutual respect.
Love and peace are at the core of Tai Ji Men’s values. Such a culture encourages attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on Resolution 53/243 titled “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” adopted by the UN General Assembly on 6 October 1999. This Resolution, which is the compass of Tai Ji Men, makes a number of recommendations which should find a large echo in the ears of the Taiwanese authorities and the Taiwanese population due to the geo-political situation of their country and due to the unsolved denial of justice imposed on Tai Men for 25 years. These recommendations provide, among other things:
- Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State;
- Full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts;
- Adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations;
- Respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities
- Respect for life, ending of violence, promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation;
- Respect for and promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information.
In their relations with Dr Hong and his wife, with Tai Ji Men and with the dizi, the Taiwanese authorities should be able to recognize the added value of their contribution to the well-being of the Taiwanese society and where there is still an urgent deficit to be made up when confronting their practices with the UN recommendations.
Photo credits: CESNUR & HRWF