Full Disclosure
November 17, 2006

Our international calendar

It is fundamental in the development of our awareness of the global environment and the role we must all play in sustaining it for the future generations, that we pay great attention to the international calendar of events.

In this respect, the United Nations calendar of International Days is a tool in a realization and attentive approach to this global awareness. There exist sixty of the three hundred and sixty five days of a perennial calendar, which has been established and named in an effort to guide the world’s nations.{{more}}

One can assume that the easiest part of this process was the actual naming of the days. If the world at large does not acknowledge the significance of these named days, then is it a calendar and no more. We often hear about International Days focused on many different issues, but are these now becoming empty landmark days?

As we are now in the month of November, it is noteworthy that November 6th marked International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict and November 16th marked another important day, International Day for Tolerance according to the United Nations Calendar of International Days. On November 5, 2001, the General Assembly declared 6th November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict through a resolution. In taking this action, it considered that damage to the environment in times of war and armed conflict impairs ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict, often extending beyond the present generation and emphasized the necessity of working to protect our common environment.

Currently countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Sudan and Somalia to name a few have been damaged as a direct or indirect consequence of war and armed conflict and some environmental problems that are both immediate and severe can be directly linked with the effects of recent military conflicts.

According to findings of a United Nations Environmental Program desk study, evidence of chronic environmental damage is evident in Iraq. This is evident especially with regard to water as a resource. The problem also includes and is not limited to, contamination of ground water by oil spills, severe contamination of surface water by sewage and other waste, but extends to the adverse downstream impact of large dams in the upper Tigris and Euphrates basin and deliberate drainage of Iraqi wetlands where wheat is grown. These problems have an undesirable effect on the human population and the wildlife as well. Do we as a nation and region exhibit a readiness to prevent the abuse of our environment not just in war and armed conflict but in a broader spectrum?

International Day for Tolerance must translate into a resolve to take all positive measures necessary to promote tolerance in all societies, because tolerance is not just a cherished principle, but also a necessity for peace and for the economic and social advancement of all peoples. On the other hand, intolerance threatens consolidation of peace and democracy, both nationally and internationally, and is an obstacle to development.

As a nation, our role in fostering tolerance lies within just and impartial legislation, law enforcement and the judicial and administrative process. It also requires that economic and social opportunities be made available to each person without any discrimination. Exclusion and marginalization can lead to frustration and hostility.

On a personal level, tolerance is necessary between individuals and at the family and community levels. Tolerance promotion and the shaping of attitudes of openness, mutual listening and solidarity should take place in schools, at home and in the workplace. Education is the most effective means of preventing intolerance.

So from here on we must all make a conscious effort to become familiar with the United Nations Calendar of events and utilize the global awareness to be derived in a more positive way.