Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on people all over the world to have the courage to turn their backs on violence and stand up for peace and justice, marking the International Day of Non-Violence.
“I call on global citizens everywhere to be inspired by the courage of people like Mahatma Gandhi. Turn your back to division and hatred; stand up for what is right and just. Work with your fellow women and men for a world of lasting justice, peace and prosperity for all,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day.
The International Day of Non-Violence marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India's independence movement, whose non-violence philosophy and tactics have been adopted by leaders around the world. It was established by the General Assembly as an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness,” and has been observed annually since 2007.
Mr. Ban noted that non-violence is “neither inert nor passive,” and stressed that it requires resolve to stand against injustice, discrimination and brutality and to demand respect for diversity and fundamental human rights.
“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.”
Mr. Ban added that ending violence starts with individual actions in homes, schools and workplaces, and that once someone takes action, peaceful dialogue can be contagious.
He also pointed out that an essential component to end violence is to combat poverty, making it vital to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015.
“Poverty is a fertile ground for violence and crime; it is inherently violent to the needs and aspirations of the world's most vulnerable people. That is why we place such emphasis in fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and setting a new development agenda with poverty at its core and sustainable development as its guide,” Mr. Ban said.
“As we set sights on a sustainable future we must be guided by the imperative to 'do no harm' to people or the planet.”