Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, on the International Day for Tolerance, 1026th Meeting Of The Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 20.11.2014
Thank you Madame Chairperson.

In addition to the statement delivered by my esteemed colleague from Canada, to which we fully aligned ourselves, I now wish to make a few additional points.

In their 1995 Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, in which they proclaimed the 16th of November the annual International Day for Tolerance, the Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization underlined that “tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” They stressed that tolerance is “harmony in difference”, “fostered by knowledge, openness, communication and freedom of thought, conscience and belief.” They pointed out that “without tolerance there can be no peace, and without peace there can be no development or democracy”.

Indeed, the importance of promoting tolerance and combating discrimination as key elements in our Organization’s comprehensive concept of security cannot be overstated. As I have repeatedly emphasized before this Council, tolerance and non-discrimination and fundamental freedoms are two sides of the same coin. Fighting intolerance and discrimination also serves to advance basic human rights, fundamental freedoms, democratization and the rule of law.

Madame Chairperson,

It is a highly regrettable fact that intolerance and discrimination are currently rampant in many participating States. NGOs and other representatives of civil society voice their deep concerns on this issue at various regular human dimension meetings, first and foremost at the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings. In this context, the continuing rise of intolerance and discrimination based on religion is a particularly grave development which requires our urgent and increased attention. Those considered to be different or “other” on the basis of their religious beliefs are frequently subjected to acts of discrimination and xenophobia which often entail violence. Muslim migrants are among the most victimized groups.

As was the case during last year's HDIM as well, numerous statements made by some NGOs in many sessions of this year’s Meeting have clearly shown that we need not look far afield to gauge the intensity of anti-Muslim sentiment. Needless to say, such appalling statements actually highlight the rise of Islamophobia and the need to effectively combat it along with other forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. For our part, we take this opportunity to urge our fellow participating States to act on our existing commitments in this area and be more sensitive to intolerance and discrimination.

Madame Chairperson,

In conclusion, we wish to underline that tolerance cannot be furthered through passive indifference. It requires an active vigilance on our part to live up to our various commitments in the crucial area of tolerance and non-discrimination. Our ultimate goal should be an OSCE region free of discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, hate and bias-motivated violence, providing the environment necessary for human rights and fundamental freedoms to flourish and for our vision of comprehensive security to finally become a reality.

Thank you.