On the inaugural International Day of Human Fraternity (4 February), Pope Francis joined Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and other faith and civic leaders in a virtual event focussed on promoting peace.

In his remarks, the Holy Father stressed the importance of committing to fraternity, saying ‘it is the new frontier of humanity ... There is no time for indifference.’ We are either brothers and sisters ‘or everything falls apart.’

The occasion marks one year since Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb signed the Document on Human Fraternity during their historic meeting in Abu Dhabi on 4 February 2019. The Document also inspired the creation of the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity which is dedicated to realising the intentions of the document. It also inspired Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

Fraternity means an outstretched hand,’ said Pope Francis. ‘Fraternity means respect. Fraternity means listening with an open heart.’

The event also included the presentation of the 2021 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, which seeks to recognise individuals who are committed to fostering conditions for peaceful co-existence.

This year’s recipients are UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Moroccan-French activist and founder of the Imad Association for Youth and Peace, Latifah Ibn Ziaten. António Guterres is the ninth Secretary-general of the United Nations and was recognised for his work towards adopting a “global ceasefire” during this time of pandemic so that world leaders may focus on defeating Covid-19.

Latifah Ibn Ziaten is the Founder of the Imad Association for Youth and Peace. Latifah’s son was murdered in 2012 and despite her anguish, Latifah sought out her son’s murderer in an effort to understand his actions. What Latifah discovered was an abandoned young person who had not succeeded in integrating to society at large. She now travels throughout France to tell her story and meet other young people in a bid to preserve “social harmony” between the older and young generations, and among migrants and those native to France.

640px Latifa Ibn Ziaten
Latifah Ibn Ziaten