International Day of Human Fraternity - a day to show we can all live peacefully together

The UN-recognised day was held for the first time last year and is being marked again on February 4

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The idea for a dedicated day to encourage the world to live together in peace was born in Abu Dhabi four years ago.

It followed a meeting and declaration between Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, Grand Iman of Al Azhar, during the head of the Catholic Church's first historic visit to the UAE on February 4, 2019.

What is International Day of Human Fraternity?

The International Day of Human Fraternity marks the day they signed a statement, known as the Document on Human Fraternity. The UN-recognised day was held for the first time last year and is being marked again on February 4.

Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed set out their joint statement, sometimes called the Abu Dhabi agreement, as a way forward for different religions to live peacefully together.

Denouncing terrorism, they called on world leaders to “to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace”.

To do this, it was necessary “to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere”.

Four years later, the second International Day of Human Fraternity takes place to a backdrop of a standoff between Russia and the West in Ukraine, the humanitarian disaster facing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The United Nations, which chose February 4 in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December 2020, noted in particular the pandemic “requires a global response based on unity, solidarity and renewed multilateral co-operation".

How is it celebrated?

This year’s International Day of Human Fraternity will celebrate the winners of the Zayed Prize for Human Fraternity, now in its third year.

The prize honours individuals and groups who advance peaceful coexistence, with $1 million to help continue their work.

Last year, winners included Latifa Ibn Ziaten, an Algerian-French activist, whose son was killed in a terror attack, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Latifa Ibn Ziaten shows a photo of her son killed by Mohamed Merah to then French president Francois Hollande

Mr Guterres was recognised for some of the initiatives he spearheaded during his tenure, including countering hate speech and violence, and modernising UN peacekeeping practice. Ms Ibn Ziaten was chosen for establishing the Imad Association for Youth and Peace, which works to prevent the radicalisation of young people, migrants, prisoners and communities in France, a month after her son was killed by Toulouse terrorist Mohamed Merah in March 2012.

International Day of Human Fraternity will be celebrated at Expo 2020 Dubai for four days from February 4, where more than 40 government agencies and ministries will take part.

What is the UAE doing to advance human fraternity and religious tolerance?

In Abu Dhabi, work is already well advanced on the Abrahamic Family House, under construction on Saadiyat Island.

Comprising a mosque, church and synagogue with an education centre, the multi-faith complex is designed to promote peaceful understanding and harmonious coexistence through greater understanding of the rituals of each of the three Abrahamic religions, whose faithful are often referred to in Arabic as “Ahl Al Kitaab” or “People of the Book”.

The Abrahamic Family House is scheduled to open later this year.

Updated: February 04, 2022, 4:31 AM