2 October 2007 – Addressing the General Assembly’s first-ever observance of the International Day of Non-violence, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 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 Mahatma Gandhi, 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.
The Assembly is set to convene a high-level dialogue on inter-religious and intercultural cooperation later this week.