July 30th is International Friendship Day. It’s a day that speaks to the importance of fostering strong friendships and building bridges between peoples and cultures. Although the United Nations only declared July 30th as the official International Friendship Day eleven years ago, the history of celebrating connections between individuals and communities from around the globe stretches further back. The progression of International Friendship Day, from an informal acknowledgement of friendship to a global celebration, imparts a valuable lesson, encouraging all people to promote peace, understanding and inclusion between communities.
This year’s theme, Deepening International Friendships, draws attention to the importance of celebrating the diversity of Australia’s cultural fabric. It urges Australians, and the world, to appreciate the different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds of those around them—whether neighbours, friends or colleagues. It’s through friendship that a more peaceful, united and cohesive world can emerge.
For people of migrant and refugee backgrounds, rebuilding a sense of belonging and feeling social connectedness is important for wellbeing. Deepening international friendships, and experiencing that feeling of connection and community, helps rebuild this sense of belonging.
The International Day of Friendship is guided by the values laid out by UNESCO’s Culture of Peace mandate, which works towards a culture of peace and non-violence. Understandings of peace, in this sense, go beyond an absence of conflict or war. Peace means fostering friendships across borders, encouraging unity, equity and respecting human rights. The actions to promote this culture of peace are ones all people—regardless of sex, race, gender or ethnicity—can follow:
- foster a culture of peace through education
- promote sustainable economic and social development
- promote respect for all human rights
- ensure equality between people
- foster democratic participation
- advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity
- support participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge
- promote international peace and security
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