United Nations News Service – 2007-10-03 22:58:13
Gandhi’s Message of Nonviolence
Needed Now More than Ever
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon / United Nations
UNITED NATIONS (2 October 2007) — The message of Mahatma Gandhi, whose peaceful struggle helped birth an independent India and inspired countless people around the world, is needed now more than ever amid rising global tensions, intolerance and conflict, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Addressing the General Assembly’s first-ever observance of the International Day of Non-violence, Mr. Ban said that communities around the globe were “increasingly mired in rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions. We see extremist dogma and violent ideologies gaining ground, as moderate forces retreat.
“And we have witnessed lethal force being used against unarmed and non-violent marchers who exemplified the very spirit of the Mahatma’s teachings,” he added, referring to the recent wave of peaceful protests witnessed in Myanmar.
Calling the man who inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world a “personal hero,” Mr. Ban said that “by incorporating non-violence into everyday life, the Mahatma inspired countless individuals to lead better, more meaningful lives.”
He added, “The Mahatma’s inspiration is needed now more than ever.”
The Secretary-General said he hoped the Day, which will be observed annually on 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday, will help to advance true tolerance and non-violence at every level, from individuals all the way up to Governments.
“May this Day help spread Mahatma Gandhi’s message to an ever wider audience, and hasten a time when every day is a day without violence,” he said.
Also addressing the observance, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim highlighted the need to spread the message that “non-violence, tolerance, respect for human rights, democracy, development, and diversity, are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.”
It was Gandhi’s belief, Mr. Kerim said, that intolerance was the worst form of violence, and that without genuine tolerance, no dialogue can have a lasting impact.
“This message underlines the importance of having various initiatives within this Organization to promote dialogue among cultures, religions and faiths as well as to strengthen mutual understanding,” he added.
The Assembly is set to convene a high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural cooperation later this week.
Also marking the occasion, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today participated in a roundtable discussion, at which she said today’s violent and unsettled times “cry for Mahatma Gandhi’s healing touch.”
Gandhi’s philosophy guides much of the UN’s work for peace, she noted. “That is because all of us at the Organization realize that the UN’s efforts to end war must reach well beyond the mere absence of conflict. Peacekeepers and preventive diplomacy remain essential tools in our efforts to silence guns and implement ceasefires. But, by themselves, they are not enough to counter humanity’s worst instincts.
“Instead, the search for a durable and enduring peace demands action at a deeper, more profound level… In short, it requires a culture of Gandhian peace and non-violence,” she stated.
UN declares 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday, as International Day of Non-Violence
United Nations News Service
15 June 2007 – The United Nations General Assembly today decided to observe the International Day of Non-Violence each year on 2 October – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Introducing the resolution adopted by the 192-member body, Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of State for External Relations, said the idea originated at an international conference on “Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment – Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century” convened in New Delhi in January this year.
The late leader’s “novel mode of mass mobilization and non-violent action” brought down colonialism, strengthened the roots of popular sovereignty, of civil, political and economic rights, and greatly influenced many a freedom struggle and inspired leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Sharma stated.
The Assembly, “desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence,” invited States, UN bodies, regional and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to commemorate the Day, including through education and public awareness.
In a further effort to promote a culture of peace and cultural diversity, the Assembly also decided to recognize the year from 12 September 2007 to 11 September 2008 as “the year commemorating the Ethiopian Millennium.”
Highlighting the significance of the event, Ethiopian Ambassador Negash Kebret Botora, said it is “not only for celebrating the unique and distinct nature of our system of calendar” but also “helps promote and further strengthen cultural understanding among the people of the world.”
The Assembly began its work today by extending its condolences to the family of former UN Secretary-General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, who died yesterday, as well as to the Government and people of Austria.
Leading the Assembly’s remembrance of Mr. Waldheim, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to him and all his predecessors, who have served in what has been called “the most impossible job on earth.”
The Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi
Decretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General, in remarks to non-violence day observance, calls mahatma gandhi his personal hero as he recalls early diplomatic career in india. Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the informal General Assembly plenary meeting on the first observance of the International Day of Non-Violence in New York, today, 2 October:
I am honoured to address the General Assembly on the first commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence.
The United Nations was created in the hope that humanity could not only end wars, it could eventually make them unnecessary. The founders hoped that our Organization could help stop violence by spreading a culture of peace, promoting tolerance and advancing human dignity.
These same ideals sum up the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, whose birthday we celebrate today. His peaceful struggles against unjust regimes in South Africa and India captured the world’s imagination.
When charged with agitation against the State in 1922, Gandhi responded: “Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.”
In this way, by incorporating non-violence into everyday life, the Mahatma inspired countless individuals to lead better, more meaningful lives.
Mahatma Gandhi is also a personal hero of mine. Since I began my diplomatic career in India early in the 1970s, I have carried with me his definition of the seven sins: “Wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; science without humanity; knowledge without character; politics without principle; commerce without morality; and worship without sacrifice.”
The Mahatma’s inspiration is needed now more than ever. All around us we see communities increasingly mired in rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions.
We see extremist dogma and violent ideologies gaining ground, as moderate forces retreat.
And we have witnessed lethal force being used against unarmed and non-violent marchers who exemplified the very spirit of the Mahatma’s teachings.
May this International Day of Non-Violence give us strength to advance true tolerance and non-violence at every level, from the individual all the way up to the State.
Surely there could be no better time to celebrate it than in these early weeks of the United Nations General Assembly — an occasion when we come together as nations and as human beings united in our yearning for peace.
May this Day help spread Mahatma Gandhi’s message to an ever wider audience, and hasten a time when every day is a day without violence.