International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
Over the past decade, the world has witnessed a terrifying increase in religious violence,
tensions, hostilities, in addition to mass killings. The growing intolerance and violent
aggression globally prompted the United Nations general Assembly to designate a day,
in accordance with its resolution A/RES/73/296, condemning terrorism and acts of violence
targeting individuals based on religion or beliefs.
The 22nd of August is an annual reminder of the necessity in the unequivocal condemnation
of all acts and practices of terrorism and violence, in all its forms and manifestations.
Religions are meant to spread peace, love and harmony, however it has been used as a means to justify violent action and aggressive practices, subsequently becoming the root cause of conflict.
The commemoration of this day, “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”, provides the international community with the opportunity to combating violence motivated by religious intolerance by encouraging human rights education, mobilize political resource and will and enhancing national capacities to protect individuals from hate crimes.
Despite the united efforts and solidarity in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the turbulence and uncertainty has allowed the encouragement of racist stereotypes, stigma and conspiracies. That in turn has lead to the public surge advocating for hostility and discrimination.
As stated by UN Secretary General António Guterres : “As we commemorate the victims, we must do more to address the root causes of intolerance and discrimination by promoting inclusion and respect for diversity. We must also ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable."
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights takes this day as an opportunity to remember those who have lost their lives due to their religion or belief and publicly condemns religious extremism in all its forms. Moreover, the Institute appeals to the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, where religious hostilities are prominent, to reject all religious extremism and discrimination on the basis of religion. According to a Pew Research Center Study, the median level of religious hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa is four times that of the global median in 2014.
Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights urges all states to implement conventions and protocols on human rights and the United Nations global strategy to combat terrorism, ensuring religious tolerance and a harmonious existence.