THE World Council of Churches (WCC) joined civil society groups around the world to observe the International Day of Human Fraternity on 4 February, emphasising the significance and value of unity among the one human family.

“Interreligious and Intercultural dialogue is key to breaking down barriers between diverse communities”, said WCC interim General Secretary, the Rev Prof Dr Ioan Sauca. “Let us use this opportunity to break more walls, reach out to one another, and unite in our shared humanity.”

Sauca spoke during a panel discussion in the first edition of the International Human Fraternity Summit, hosted by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, under the theme ‘Human Fraternity for Working Together to Achieve a Better Future’.

The summit gathered global leaders to discuss policies to combat extremism, initiatives taken to promote human fraternity, and aims to achieve world peace.

Sauca reflected on the topic “How Human Values Help Eliminate Racism Among Societies”,  speaking about how increasing morals and integrity can help pave the way toward eliminating racism and discrimination.

“Worldwide the issue of racism is a reality”, he said. “We have identified in depth the significance of the problem and have decided to face and solve it..the identification of the issue is the first step on the right path.”

Sauca urged all people to come together for the future of humanity. “It is impossible to be a faithful member of a religious community not respecting common human values” he said. “Racism, xenophobia, discrimination are incompatible with our faith identity.”

He added that the realisation we are truly one family, brothers and sisters belonging to one humanity, is the greatest discovery of the suffering of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We have to insist on unity from a theological and spiritual perspective.”

Sauca also recorded a greeting to the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity on establishing the International Day of Human Fraternity.

“The UN General Assembly’s adoption of 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity upholds the importance of unity among all human beings with their diversity and differences”, he said. “It also highlights the universality of the human rights that are unanimously embraced by our religious institutions and human rights institutions.”

The initiative to designate an International Day of Human Fraternity was led by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, of which the WCC is a member, together with Al Azhar, the Vatican, and other worldwide religious and cultural figures and institutions.

Sauca also offered greetings during a virtual event hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations in Geneva. He joined other religious and civil rights leaders in calling for interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and affirming that tolerance, pluralistic tradition, mutual respect, and the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity.

The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity also hosted a ceremony for the Zayed Award, given as part of the first International Day of Human Fraternity, and second anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, in recognition of the ongoing efforts of leaders and religious figures in cooperation to promote peace, harmony and intercultural dialogue in the world.

The winners of the 2021 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity were Latifah Ibn Ziaten, founder of the Imad Association for Youth and Peace, and António Guterres, ninth Secretary General of the United Nations.

Ziaten, after losing her son to an act of terrorism, transformed her sorrow into reaching out to young people. She travels throughout France to tell her story and meet with young people. Her hope is to contribute to preserving “social harmony” between the older and young generations, and among both persons native to France, and migrants.

Guterres, originally from Portugal, has raised his voice on several occasions during the last year, appealing for a global ceasefire in all corners of the world to focus together on the true fight – defeating COVID-19.

* Source: World Council of Churches