UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged everyone to heed to late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace and get down to the business of building a better and more peaceful future for all.
Guterres said this in his message on the International Day of Non-Violence on Saturday that the day provided an opportunity to usher in a “new era of peace, trust and tolerance.
The UN chief pointed out that the day coincided with the birthday of Gandhi – leader of India’s independence movement and a founder of the principles of non-violence.
“For Gandhi, non-violence, peaceful protest, dignity and equality were more than words. They represented a guiding light for humanity, a map to a better future,” he said.
The UN chief also pointed to the movement as “a template” to confront today’s troubled times.
“Conflicts and climate change; Poverty and inequalities; Mistrust and divisions; All under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to devastate people and economies alike,” he said.
Guterres underscored that the solution to these challenges “is in our hands: solidarity”.
“The principle of non-violence, also known as non-violent resistance, rejects the use of physical force to achieve social or political change and has been adopted globally in campaigns for social justice.
“We need to recognise, as Gandhi did, that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. That peace provides the only pathway to a better future for all,” he said.
Addressing global challenges means “coming together as one human family, and embracing peace like never before,” Guterres said.
He called on combatants around the world to lay down their arms and “focus on defeating humanity’s common enemy – COVID-19 – not one another”.
He underscored the urgent need to deliver lifesaving vaccines and treatment, “and support countries in the long road to recovery ahead”; intensify efforts to reduce inequalities and end poverty; and create “a bold global plan of action” to heal the planet.
Most of all, he said we needed to renew trust in one another.
“We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it”.
“Hatred, division, conflict and mistrust have had their day”, he said. “It is time to usher in a new era of peace, trust and tolerance”.
The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on Oct. 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.
According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”.
The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”