Seoul Recommedations on Democracy and Tolerance

Adopted at the International Conference on Democracy and Tolerance, 27-29 September 1994

The participants of the International Conference on Democracy and Tolerance, organized by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO under the auspices and in co-operation with UNESCO and in collaboration with Hanyang University, Chonnam National University, and the Daewoo Foundation in Seoul from 27 to 29 September 1994, in conformity with Resolution 27 C/5.14 of the twenty seventh session of the General Conference of UNESCO, have agreed to adopt the following recommendations.


1. The conference expressed its deep appreciation to the Korean National Commission for UNESCO for its generosity in hosting this meeting. The conference, which includes participants from many different countries, offered its encouragement for all efforts of governments and NGOs to promote tolerance, human rights, democracy and peace on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere.

2. The participants of the conference noted that the UN Charter in its Preamble enjoins the peoples of the world to practice tolerance and live together as good neighbours. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations lamentably this goal has yet to be reached.

3. The post-Cold War world is fraught with instability, resurgent racism, ethnocentrism, and the danger that these pose for all peoples but it also offers new opportunities to make the practice of tolerance the basis of the conduct of national and international affairs. The opportunity must now be taken by the world community to overcome intolerance and to eliminate its sources.

4. The conference welcomed the proclamation by the United National General Assembly, at the initiative of UNESCO, of 1995 as the United Nations Year for Tolerance. Tolerance is one of the major principles necessary for the maintenance of peace, the prevention of armed conflicts and violence, and the restoration of a climate conducive to reconciliation in countries which have been torn by war or civil strife. The conference in its deliberations brought out the inherent link between tolerance, democracy, the rule of the law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, national or ethnic origin, language, gender, religion or belief.

5. While the virtue of tolerance is readily understood, it is not an easy concept to define. Tolerance must be understood as more than a passive acceptance or indifference to others but rather as a positive acceptance of human diversity. Tolerance does not require acceptance of those who act intolerably. The conference believes that tolerance is best realized in a fully democratic society. Further work needs to be undertaken to elaborate the relationship between the practice of tolerance and pluralist democracy, including pluri-ethnic democracy.


6. The conference reminds States of the commitment of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993) to ensure universal ratification of human rights instruments. The conference calls on States which have ratified international human rights instruments to withdraw all reservations to these instruments. It also reminds States that the World Conference declared that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interrelated.

7. The conference recalled that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right of everyone to a just social and international order. Governments from the richer countries must take effective action to make the world a more tolerable place for those millions of people who live in extreme poverty and degradation. The existence of widespread, extreme poverty inhibits the full and effective enjoyment of human rights and breeds intolerance and violence. Their immediate alleviation and eventual elimination must remain a high priority for the international community. This requires a new international basis for the sharing of resources.

8. States should introduce laws to prevent manifestations of ethnic, religious, national or sexist discrimination.

9. All governments should take immediate measures to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation, including penal measures, and by the establishment of national institutions to combat such phenomena. Governments should take particular measures to protect migrant workers from discrimination and intolerance.

10. The conference calls on States to ensure the full implementation of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief and to ensure a full debate in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the question of the adoption of convention on freedom of religion or belief.

11. States must develop the capacity of the United Nations and regional organizations to play an effective role in the prevention of conflicts and in the work of peace-making and peace-keeping.


12. All individuals and States should make efforts to foster tolerance towards others and to contribute to the establishment of a global culture of tolerance.

13. Human rights education should include education for tolerance. Education for human rights, tolerance, and democracy should encompass pre-primary, primary, secondary and vocational training, post-secondary colleges and universities as well as teacher training/education. Such education should extend beyond the school into adult education and the workplace.

14. Programmes on tolerance should also be included in education and training of security, army, law enforcement personnel, etc.; public officials and decision-makers; members of the medical and legal professions and media personnel.

15. Education for tolerance should also be included in the training of religious teachers.

16. National programmes to promote tolerance should involve NGOs and be based in the community. The conference was informed of the initiative on education for tolerance recently undertaken in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil . The conference recommends that this initiative, which involved co-operation between human rights organizations, schools, and community groups, be considered a model for other regions of the world.


17. The religions and beliefs of the world have a vital role in the promotion of tolerance and have a great responsibility to adhere to the ideals of tolerance and to practise tolerance within their own religious community and in their relations with other faiths. The conference encourages inter-faith dialogues at all levels as an important means for promoting attitudes of tolerance within and between societies.

18. The mass media and others involved in providing information services have an important role in democratic s ociety with regard to informing objectively citizens about all aspects of life of their own country and of the world. The importance of tolerance should be recognized and reflected in codes of conduct of all media.

V UNESCO Action for Tolerance

19. The conference recommends that UNESCO develop a long-term programme of action in the field of tolerance, democracy and peace, including drafting a declaration containing guiding principles in this field.

20. Any such programme should bear in mind the following objectives:

• to create a climate conducive to co-operation, mutual understanding and harmonious interaction between peoples and communities;

• to advance popular recognition of the interdependence of the peoples of the world; to reduce or to prevent tension and violence;

• to reduce or prevent tension and violence;

• to inspire respect for freedom of conscience and the individual's spiritual and intellectual autonomy;

• to achieve acceptance of and respect for the positive values inherent in ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity existing in the contemporary world, including the cultures of indigenous peoples.

21. The conference supports the UNESCO initiative to proclaim a Day for Tolerance to be observed each year throughout the world in educational and public institutions. It also proposes that UNESCO establish a special award for outstanding contributions to the promotion of tolerance by means of education.

22. The conference also proposes that UNESCO establish chairs and centres within the UNITWIN network, to promote tolerance, peace, democracy and human rights by means of education, research, and publications.

23. The conference urges UNESCO to make a particular effort in the Year for Tolerance to involve the media as partners in the promotion of tolerance.

24. The conference recommends that UNESCO establish contact with organizers of local and regional programmes to promote tolerance and ensure that their achievements are recognized, publicized and studied.

25. The conference considers that UNESCO should take steps to evaluate and report on the proposed action programme on tolerance on a regular basis.