Tolerance Center (Russian Federation), winner of the 2016 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize
The Federal Research and Methodological Center for Tolerance, Psychology and Education (Tolerance Center) of the Russian Federation is the laureate of the 2016 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences, and France Marquet, Principal Trustee of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, awarded the Prize during a musically filled ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 November 2016, on the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance.
The Tolerance Center received the Prize in recognition of its wide range of activities, which include research and educational programmes to promote dialogue between religions and worldviews with a particular focus on youth.
Congratulating the Tolerance Center as “an innovative educational platform designed to ensure respect for human diversity,” Nada Al-Nashif emphasized that “education is a powerful vehicle to counter fear and exclusion as it develops capacities for independent judgment, critical thinking and ethical reasoning, raising awareness of people’s shared rights and freedoms. (…) We must build societies based on respect for human rights, where fear, mistrust and marginalization give way to pluralism, participation and respect for diversity. Tolerance also teaches us the values of empathy, responsiveness and social justice – tenets that bring to bear positive social transformations.”
Receiving the award on behalf of the Tolerance Center, Alexander Boroda, Director-General, highlighted the relevance of “spreading the ideas of tolerance… about national, religious, racial, inter-class, gender and political tolerance, respect for people with disabilities, acceptance of people with different worldviews.” He underscored that today the word tolerance should not be “limited only to the meaning of willingness to put up with the existence of a cultural community near you,” but tolerance also means to move towards harmony.
The Tolerance Center has successfully implemented more than 60 unique educational programmes on tolerance in more than 60 cities throughout Russia, involving more than one million young people. It has achieved significant success, proving its effectiveness in the prevention of xenophobia and extremism.
Nadia Bernoussi, President of the International Jury, Professor at the École Nationale d’Administration of Rabat, congratulated the Tolerance Center which distinguished itself from a multitude of outstanding candidatures owing to its innovative and creative methods to foster dialogue, understanding and empathy towards “the other”. She emphasized that this distinction comes at a time when the ideals of tolerance and non-violence are being denied especially to the most vulnerable, and when regression has become a universal challenge that cuts across societies.
France Marquet recalled the illustrious life of Madanjeet Singh, benefactor of the Prize, from his imprisonment during the independence movement in India to his diplomatic posts in 17 countries, highlighting that those experiences drew him to promote the values of tolerance and non-violence that he professed.
During the ceremony, the public was treated to a series of musical interludes from Serguei Markarov, pianist and UNESCO Artist for Peace, and the International Philharmonic Choir, UNESCO Artist for Peace.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary and its tenth edition this year, the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize rewards significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence.