The world needs more love, and that is exactly what International Day of Human Fraternity — held annually on February 4 — aims to generate. Love for people everywhere, across every religion, caste, and race. This day is about building a fraternity where each person embraces another, complete with beliefs and religious bents. International Day of Human Fraternity is held in, and kicks off, World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is held on the first week of February every year.
History of International Day of Human Fraternity
History is rife with tales of fraught relations between people of different, well, everything (race, religion, gender, and so on). History is also full of tales of leaders who tried to restore peace and preach tolerance. One such tale led to the formation of this day.
Seeing how discord is becoming more prevalent globally, Pope Francis joined hands with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Cairo), Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, to create a very special document. After six months of drafting it, on 4 February 2019, they announced the existence of this document together during Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates. Called the ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,’ this document inspired the foundation of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which aspires to turn the ideas in this document into reality. This committee is mostly made up of international religious leaders, scholars, and cultural leaders. In December 2019, members of this Higher Committee met with the U.N. General Secretary, António Guterres, with a proposal by the Pope and the Grand Imam, that February 4 henceforth be the World Day of Human Fraternity. The U.N. General Assembly soon proclaimed February 4 as the World Day of Human Fraternity, introducing it via their General Assembly president, Volkan Bozkir.
The Higher Committee also created a ‘Zayed Award for Human Fraternity,’ establishing an independent jury to receive nominees and choose awardees from those who have dedicated their lives to human fraternity, mutual understanding, and peace. The awards are given on the International Day of Human Fraternity.
International Day of Human Fraternity timeline
The U.N. passes a resolution — the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace — that mandates every country to promote peace and non-violence, to protect and safeguard humanity from intolerance.
To advance the ideas put forth in the document titled ‘Human fraternity for world peace and living together,’ a Higher Committee for Human Fraternity is formed on August 20 with major religious leaders, cultural leaders, and others as members.
Hosted in Abu Dhabi in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, this event on February 4 is streamed live in multiple languages; the Pope attends it too, but virtually.
On February 4, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Moroccan-French activist Latifa ibn Ziaten become joint winners of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity — they are awarded during a separate live virtual event from the International Day of Human Fraternity event.
International Day of Human Fraternity FAQs
When is International Peace Day?
September 21 every year is marked around the world as International Day of Peace.
Why is International Day of Human Fraternity celebrated?
This day aims to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of tolerance and acceptance of different cultures and religions, or beliefs.
What is the meaning of fraternity in civics?
In civics, fraternity refers to the sense of unity and brotherhood that bonds countrymen with a common cause. In common terms, fraternity is simply mutual support and friendship within any group of people.
How to Observe International Day of Human Fraternity
Change begins with you. Embrace (and learn) about new cultures and customs around you, and accept them wholeheartedly. Respect others' traditions and religions to create a stronger environment of understanding and peace in your community.
Use digital streaming to help you
Watch a movie (or two) on tolerance and acceptance. The U.N. sponsors many events on this day too, and many are live-streamed on global T.V. websites. Check it out, and participate in some if you can.
Raise awareness about human fraternity
Talk to people about the importance of accepting diversity. Educate others about this day and encourage their participation in any awareness activity/event around you.
5 Heartwarming Stories About Communal Harmony
Interfaith rebuilding of religious structures
The local Muslim population of Malbardh — a small Albanian village — raised funds and rebuilt their village's only Catholic church, which had been torn down by a past dictator.
It's everyone's Christmas in the U.K.
Across the U.K., in 2016, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and more came together to feed, house, and clothe the homeless, in time for Christmas.
Shared protests mark religious harmony
Egypt's Muslims and Christians joined forces twice — once in 1919 and then in 2011 — for different political causes; their symbol remained the same: a crescent embracing the cross.
A mosque celebrating a Hindu martyr
A mosque in Kerala, India, celebrates an 18th-century Hindu martyr, who they believe lost his life fighting alongside his Muslim brethren for a long-ago cause.
Multiculturalism in the ancient ages
The city of Alexandria, founded in 331 B.C., had Jews living in peace beside equal-sized populations of Greeks and Egyptians, in what is termed the 'imperial' (related to an empire) version of multiculturalism.
Why International Day of Human Fraternity is Important
We fight hate with love
Human fraternity — which is a combination of support, solidarity, unity, and love — is the best antidote to the intolerance the world faces. Unity in diversity is the watchword.
We focus on our similarities
We emphasize the things we have in common. We also embrace our differences, creating a world of diverse, multicultural beings.
It is needed now more than ever
The world is slightly more divided now than it was before. Observing a day for human fraternity is extremely important during this time.
International Day of Human Fraternity dates