UN chief invokes Gandhi for peaceful resolution of disputes

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon

UNITED NATIONS: Invoking the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi on ‘International Day of Non-Violence’, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked nations to resort to peaceful dialogue for settling disputes and to end violence, including that meted out towards women.

Commemorating the day, celebrated at the UN on Gandhi’s birth anniversary yesterday, Ban said Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence still resonates and he showed the power of peacefully opposing oppression, injustice and hatred.

The example of Gandhi, “a global giant for justice, respect for diversity and fundamental human rights” has inspired many other history-makers such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Ban said.

The UN Chief said the message of each of these individuals was to champion human dignity and reject intolerance.

“Non-violence does not mean non-action. It takes courage to stand up to those who use violence to enforce their will or beliefs,” Ban said at the ceremony hosted by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

“It requires resolve to face down injustice, discrimination and brutality. It takes strength to move from conflict to peaceful negotiation.”

Noting that some of history’s greatest leaders “rejected the battleground for the negotiating table,” Ban said durable peace cannot be won through force of arms. “That is why I have insisted throughout the war in Syria that all concerned must work for a political solution.”

“Violence can be contagious, but so can peaceful dialogue. The United Nations stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes and the end to all forms of violence, whether state-sponsored or embedded in culture and practice.

This includes the systemic violence and intimidation that women and girls endure in all regions,” Ban said.

In a special performance, Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan enthralled the audience with a half-hour long recital of tunes such as ‘Vaishnav Jan to’ and ‘Raghupati Raghav Rajaram’, some of Gandhi’s favorite songs. Underlining the United Nations’ focus on ending poverty in a generation, Ban quoted Gandhi and said “poverty is inherently violent to the needs and aspirations of the worlds most vulnerable people.”

He urged nations to “draw strength from the courage of individuals like Mahatma Gandhi.”

“Non-violence needs leaders across nations and in communities and homes. And it needs to be backed by an army of brave people prepared to demand peace, freedom and fairness.

“On this International Day of Non-Violence… 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.”

On the occasion, President of the 68th UN General Assembly Ambassador John Ashe was presented with a life size portrait of Gandhi by renowned artist RD Pareek, who had flown in from Mumbai to present his painting.

Ashe said the portrait, which would hang in his office, would be a source of inspiration to him daily.

In addition, a special edition book on the life of the Gandhi was presented to the UN Secretary General for his personal collection by Permanent Representative of India to UN, Ambassador Asoke Mukerji.

Addressing the gathering, Mukerji underscored the increasing relevance of Gandhian ideals and said “the path of non-violence and dialogue is the surest path to sustainable peace, sustainable development and indeed, sustainable reforms.

It is through such an approach that we would be best equipped to deal with the challenges of change, whether political, social, economic or environmental, and find solutions on the basis of the strength of dialogue.”

In his Presidential address, Ashe said that as the General Assembly embarks upon setting the post 2015 development agenda, it was important that “laying the groundwork for this new agenda, is laying the groundwork for a non-violent world one that values peace and well-being for all”.

In a resolution adopted in June 2007 at the UN General Assembly, it was declared that October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, would be commemorated as ‘International Day of Non Violence’. -PTI

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