International Day of Conscience (IDC) is celebrated annually on the 5th of April by the United Nations (UN). This day encourages people to self-reflect, go with their conscience, and do the right things. IDC was observed for the first time in 2020.
The UN proclaims 5th April as International Day of Conscience, intending to ensure conditions of peace, stability, well-being and relations based on mutual respect for fundamental freedom and human rights.
The mission of the UN is to protect the upcoming generations from the menace of war and requires a paradigm shift towards peace, which is comprised of principles, attitudes and actions. It represents and encourages social discussion and communication founded on liberty, fairness and democracy, human rights, acceptance and unity. It repudiates violence and strives to minimise disruptions by addressing their underlying causes to resolve issues through consultation and collaboration. It assures the full employment of all privileges and implies full participation in their societal structure development phase.
This day illustrates the importance of conscience and its role in preventing people from verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically injuring others. IDC emphasises that everybody has self-respect and the freedom to reside with security, stability and peace. On this day, misanthropic acts are identified by experts, and they are denounced so that the public would despise and shun such acts.
The History of International Day of Conscience
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN acknowledges the sanctity of every person and every group dwelling on the face of Earth.
Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa urged the global leaders in the UN in 2018 to accept the ideals outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and declare IDC to remember the values of this document every year. He provided a draft wherein he asserted that lack of conscience leads to brutal behaviours at the hands of men. Hence, it is critical to keep pressing the collective conscience of human beings on 5th April, so it would prevent people from committing mean acts. The UN General Assembly accepted the proposal in July 2019 and assigned IDC on 5th April.
The Importance of Conscience
Conscience refers to a person’s psyche that is essentially a virtual entity, yet it plays a significant part in their behaviour. A human being cannot disregard the mystic element of his nature that generally becomes the primary drive behind every person’s activity. Psychologists also agree that feelings, emotions and thoughts profoundly impact human beings. These ideas are regulated by conscience, and history demonstrates that the nations who considered conscience were equitable, and those who did not acknowledge it became cruel. Ethics, virtue, and morality are directed by conscience, and they forbid people and nations from harming each other. People become selfish, mean, thoughtless, and evil when their conscience becomes inert. Ultimately, jungle law starts reigning in society, resulting from the condemnation of civilisation.
Establishing a Culture of Peace
Creating a culture of peace involves a broad educational, social, civic and cultural effort, in which every individual has something to gain and something to contribute. It reaches all generations and communities; it is an expansive worldwide approach with a specific objective to establish a culture of peace in people’s minds and hearts.
Peace is not merely the absence of disputes and differences. It is a constructive, progressive, collaborative effort related integrally to freedom, fairness and prosperity for everyone by which disagreements are acknowledged, communication is fostered, and non-violent methods constantly change disputes into new channels of collaboration.
Depending on this broadest and most optimistic interpretation of peace, a society of peace is a system of principles, behaviours, customs and traditions for fellow humans and their privileges, the exclusion of violent action in all its aspects, the acknowledgement of equal rights of both the genders, the revelation of the rights of everyone to freedom of speech and expression, viewpoint and knowledge, connection to democratic principles, freedom, justice, growth for all, tolerance, unity, liberal values and accepting differences and comprehension between countries, ethnic, religious, social, and other organisations and between people.
Culture of Peace and the UN
UNESCO and the UNAOC play a vital role in encouraging intercultural discourse. They handle tasks related to the culture of peace and pacification and make an effort to promote a culture of peace via a range of practical projects in the region of the young generation. It includes education, migration and media, cooperation with authorities, global organisations, establishments and civil society organisations, and the mainstream press and private industry.
Public Activities on IDC
5th April is not a national holiday; however, IDC is observed by various governments throughout the Kingdom of Bahrain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Jamaica and New Zealand and several non-governmental entities like UNAOC and UNHRC. Public Conferences are held in colleges, institutions, and schools in which the aim of the day is addressed. Digital media distributes programmes in favour of this day, and experts publish essays in periodicals. Social media networking waves are also created using the following hashtags: #ConscienceDay, #UNInternationalDay, #DayOfConscience and #InternationalDayOfConscience.
Payal Mathur, YUVA Intern and PhD Research Scholar, Amity University, Rajasthan, India