2 October 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11845
OBV/733

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

GANDHI’S LEGACY MORE IMPORTANT TODAY THAN EVER, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN REMARKS


TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the General Assembly meeting on the International Day of Non-Violence in New York today, 2 October:


I thank the President of the General Assembly and the Permanent Representatives of India and South Africa for bringing us together for this observance.


Just last week, we held a major High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals.  A major focus of the event was the elimination of poverty across the world.


Of the Mahatma’s identification with the wretched of the earth, the late Jawaharlal Nehru had this to say:


“In his single-track and yet many-sided nature, the dominating impression that one gathered was his identification with the masses, a community of spirit with them, an amazing sense of unity with the dispossessed and poverty-stricken not only of India but of the world.  Even religion, as everything else, took second place to his passion to raise these submerged people.”


His ambition, he said, was “to wipe every tear from every eye”.


This year, the International Day of Non-Violence takes on special significance because this is also the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


There is a profound philosophical connection between the fundamental principles of human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and those practised by Mahatma Gandhi.


The answer for Mahatma Gandhi was always found in action.  He is a personal hero of mine.  As he said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tonnes of preaching.”


The rest of us can seek to emulate his spirit only by practising the tenets of non-violence, justice and peace.


Today, the legacy and the principles of the Mahatma are carried forward in our celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  They are carried forward through the activities of the United Nations and our invaluable partners in civil society:  religious leaders, teachers, artists and so many others.


Our task is to ensure that the rights in the Declaration are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.


It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.


The rights of too many people around the world are still violated.  That is why the Mahatma’s legacy is more important than ever.


On this International Day of Non-Violence, and this sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, may Mahatma Gandhi inspire us in our mission.


Thank you very much.


* *** *



For information media • not an official record