Legacy of Non-Violence, Secretary-General Calls for Worldwide Efforts towards ‘Lasting Justice, Peace and Prosperity for All’
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on the International Day of Non-Violence on 2 October, 2015
Today we celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi — a global giant for justice, respect for diversity and fundamental human rights. His legacy of non-violence still resonates. Gandhi showed the power of peacefully opposing oppression, injustice and hatred. His example has inspired many other history-makers, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Václav Havel, Rigoberta Menchú and Nelson Mandela. Their message to each of us is to champion human dignity and reject intolerance. We must work for a world where people of all cultures and beliefs live together in mutual respect and full equality.
Non-violence does not mean non-action. It takes courage to stand up to those who use violence to enforce their will or beliefs. It requires resolve to face down injustice, discrimination and brutality. It also requires courage to move from conflict and embrace peaceful negotiation. Non-violence needs leaders – across nations and in communities and homes – backed by an army of brave people prepared to demand peace, freedom and fairness. Whatever one’s sympathies or convictions, violence is a poor means to an unsatisfactory end. As Gandhi said, and I quote: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
The United Nations stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes and the end to all forms of violence, whether state-sponsored or imbedded in culture and practice, such as the violence and intimidation women and girls endure in all regions. Ending such violence can start with each of us – in homes, schools and workplaces. Violence can be contagious, but so can peaceful dialogue.
The United Nations is also focused on ending poverty in a generation. As Gandhi reminded us, poverty is inherently violent to the needs and aspirations of the world’s most vulnerable people. That is why we place such emphasis on fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It is why we are working to set a new development agenda with poverty at its core and sustainable development as its guide. With growing populations and increasing pressures on resources, we need also to be aware of the violence we inflict on the natural world.
As we set sights on a sustainable future we must be guided by the imperative to “do no harm” to people or the planet. On this International Day of Non-Violence, let us draw strength from the courage of individuals like Mahatma Gandhi. Let us send a message far and wide: Turn your back on division and hatred. Stand up for what is right. Work together for a world of lasting justice, peace and prosperity for all.