The International Year of Moderation (IYM2019) seems to have come and gone without much activity or any fanfare. The reason, as I explored in a previous post on this subject, likely has to do with the fact that those in the Malaysian government who were behind the original idea were taken out of the game by unrelated issues.
However, even the United Nations agency invited by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to “facilitate the observance of” IYM2019 – the UN Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) – makes no reference to it in its official communications (a search of its website yielded nothing). It is telling that the UNAOC Action Plan 2019-2023 mentions “moderation” in the exactly the context of the UNGA resolution declaring the Year, but it also does not include any reference to the Year itself. A statement attributed in a tweet last September to the UNAOC High Commissioner, Miguel Moratinos, uses wording about moderation much like that in their Action Plan (p. 6):
“#UNAOC will work to build the capacity of young religious leaders to promote moderation and provide a counter-narrative to violent extremism” — UNAOC High Representative Mr. @MiguelMoratinos. #UNAOCaction pic.twitter.com/1y8v3clAFc
— UNAOC (@UNAOC) September 27, 2019
A do-it-yourself IYM2019?
So it was apparently left to independent organizations to mention or use the theme of IYM2019 as they saw fit. For example, the image from the Nigerian Centre for the Advocacy of Justice and Rights (CAJR) displayed at the top of this post seems to be an expression of hope from early in the Year.
Another small example is the Facebook page I noted in the previous post on this topic: “2019 as the International Year of Moderation.” It’s still active, although with posting articles not specifically about IYM2019 (which practically don’t exist).
A story about a conference in Qatar last February, “Empower 2019: Youth as Agents and Catalysts for Peace,” related the theme of that event to IYM2019.
It was also of interest to note attention to IYM2019 on the Muslim World League‘s twitter account (but not on the MWL website), in connection with some activities of its Secretary-General, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa. One example:
Throughout the @UN’s International Year of #Moderation, HE Dr. #MohammadAlissa has traveled from country to country, promoting #MWL initiatives aimed at stemming radicalism & extremism in favor of tolerance. pic.twitter.com/kfEd9NOJ96
— Muslim World League (@MWLOrg_en) July 28, 2019
I’m not aware of any other examples, but don’t expect that there are too many.
UAE’s Year of Tolerance
It turns out that the United Arab Emirates declared its own “Year of Tolerance” (YOT) for 2019, with the purpose “To highlight the impact of tolerance, and to expand the scope and opportunities for communication and dialogue.”
It bears mentioning here since (1) YOT and IYM2019 share a concern with countering extremism, and (2) YOT was given specific attention by the High Representative of UNAOC, the same agency that was invited to coordinate IYM2019. (It would be very interesting to know more about the thinking of both UAE and UNAOC about these two concurrent observances and their relationship.)
And in their broader senses, tolerance and moderation are sister virtues.
Moderation as a virtue
In my previous post I suggested that “moderation” is a subject broader and deeper than just anti-extremism. And therefore, that an observance dedicated to moderation might also address several other contemporary concerns.
So it was of interest to come across a column that took a similar tack, in a February 2019 issue of the Indian newspaper, The Hindu. Under the title “The Year of Moderation,” its author, Sachin V.K. Jadhav, mentioned several benefits he saw in moderation. One example was the role of moderation in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12, “responsible consumption and production.”
Could we use a Year of Moderation in this broader sense – or even a Decade – as we grapple with many problems of our own creation? Beyond that, could International Years be conceived of systematically to draw attention to virtues we need to cultivate in order to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us?