FILE: Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, shaking hands at the signing of the document on "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" in 2019. FILE: Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, shaking hands at the signing of the document on "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" in 2019.  (ANSA)

UN Secretary General: Human fraternity key to beating ‘groundswell’ of hatred

The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb is a model for compassion and human solidarity, UN Secretary-General António Guterres says, while warning against a rise in hatred globally.

By Zeus Legaspi

A groundswell of xenophobia, racism and intolerance, hatred, and religious persecution is leading to the escalation of conflict and atrocious crimes around the world, said the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, while addressing the Security Council on Wednesday, June 14.

The UN chief pointed to hatred as the common denominator in the “onset and escalation of the conflict” and “fuels humanity’s worst impulses”. He then highlighted the role of social media in spreading hate speech and misinformation, which he said has “equipped hatemongers with a global bullhorn for bile.”

Guterres expressed concern that hate-fueled ideas are moving to the mainstream and are triggering real-life violence. Hate speech, he said, has been used to “vilify minorities”, citing cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Myanmar, and Iraq.

The UN chief then called for concrete measures to create a more inclusive and safe digital space, as well as increased investment in education, peacebuilding, and global solidarity. He emphasized that the values of compassion, respect, and human fraternity, are the “best antidote to the poison of discord and division”.

Human Fraternity to build a better world

Guterres also highlighted the importance of faith leaders in fighting hatred among their followers. Other speakers also emphasized that human fraternity can “help build a better world and advance peace”.

The UN chief acknowledged the declaration of “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together“ – co-authored by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb – as a model for compassion and human solidarity, as it urges religious and political leaders alike to “bring an end to wars, conflicts, and environmental destruction.”

The Pope’s message

The Holy See’s representative to the Security Council, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, also lamented the rise in hatred globally. He noted that the world is experiencing a “famine of fraternity” which results in armed conflict and war.

To make peace a reality, the world “must move away from the logic of the legitimacy of war,” Archbishop Gallagher said, who spoke on behalf of the Pope. He also said that there is still time to “write a new chapter of peace in history”, and in such a way that “war would belong to the past, not the future.”

The meeting, held in New York, also saw discussions on a draft resolution submitted by the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom that addresses hate speech, racism, and extremism in conflict situations. The resolution aims to combat the threats posed by these divisive ideologies.

Despite the challenges posed by armed conflicts, extremism, and hate speech, the speakers remained hopeful and underlined the potential for dialogue, prevention measures, and inter-religious and intercultural dialogue to promote peace and understanding among communities.

Pope Francis on human fraternity

Pope Francis has already emphasized the importance of human fraternity in the past. In 2019, he co-authored the document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” that “invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together” for “mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

In 2020, the Pope released his encyclical Fratelli tutti, (“Siblings all”), to spread the message of fraternal love and social friendship to build a better, more just, and peaceful world.

Recently, on June 10, some 30 Nobel Peace Prize winners gathered in the Vatican to draft and present the landmark Declaration on Human Fraternity, which called on people of goodwill to “embrace our appeal to fraternity” that recognizes equal dignity for all. 

Listen to our report

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

15 June 2023, 16:15