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International Day of Non-Violence International Day of Non-Violence
by The Ovi Team
2012-10-02 10:48:29
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The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, 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".

nonvio01_400Introducing the resolution in the General Assembly on behalf of 140 co-sponsors, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Anand Sharma, said that the wide and diverse sponsorship of the resolution was a reflection of the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and of the enduring relevance of his philosophy. Quoting the late leader’s own words, he said: "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man".

Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The theory behind his actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British law as with the historic Salt March of 1930, was that "just means lead to just ends"; that is, it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.

The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as "the politics of ordinary people", this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.

While non-violence is frequently used as a synonym for pacifism, since the mid-twentieth century the term non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war.
One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.

There are three main categories of non-violence action:
-protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
-non-cooperation; and
-non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

Secretary-General's Message for 2012

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of paying my respects at the Raj Ghat memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. Gandhi’s vision and example showed how one person can change the world. In tribute to his enduring legacy, we mark this International Day of Non-Violence each year on the anniversary of his birth.

In these times of global turmoil and transition, it is fitting that we take a moment to reflect on Gandhi’s message of understanding and peace.

As we look around the world, tolerance is being tested. Fighting is taking a heavy toll from Afghanistan to Syria to the Sahel. The economic crisis is fuelling xenophobia and other forms of dangerous – and deadly – discrimination. Terrorism, human trafficking, rights abuses and violence against women threaten millions of people.

We must work even harder for understanding among and within religions and communities and between and within countries.

I have made prevention a key priority in the five-year action agenda of the United Nations. But prevention means more than separating warring parties and cooling tensions. Fundamentally tackling the roots of conflict and intolerance will take a culture of non-violence and peace.

Governments must lead. But ultimately, the foundation for non-violence will be built by people: teachers and faith leaders, parents and community voices, business people and grass-roots groups. Perhaps it may be easier to pick up a weapon than to lay down a grudge. It may be simpler to find fault than to find forgiveness. But I have been deeply moved by communities and people in every corner of the world who have been inspired by Gandhi’s example and made a real difference.

Let us take strength from all of these efforts and work together to build a world of nonviolence and lasting peace.

Ban Ki-moon



      
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