UN declares 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday, as International Day of Non-Violence

15 June 2007 – The United Nations General Assembly today decided to observe the International Day of Non-Violence each year on 2 October – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Introducing the resolution adopted by the 192-member body, Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of State for External Relations, said the idea originated at an international conference on “Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment – Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century” convened in New Delhi in January this year.

The late leader’s “novel mode of mass mobilization and non-violent action” brought down colonialism, strengthened the roots of popular sovereignty, of civil, political and economic rights, and greatly influenced many a freedom struggle and inspired leaders like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Sharma stated.

The Assembly, “desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence,” invited States, UN bodies, regional and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to commemorate the Day, including through education and public awareness.

In a further effort to promote a culture of peace and cultural diversity, the Assembly also decided to recognize the year from 12 September 2007 to 11 September 2008 as “the year commemorating the Ethiopian Millennium.”

Highlighting the significance of the event, Ethiopian Ambassador Negash Kebret Botora, said it is “not only for celebrating the unique and distinct nature of our system of calendar” but also “helps promote and further strengthen cultural understanding among the people of the world.”

The Assembly began its work today by extending its condolences to the family of former UN Secretary-General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, who died yesterday, as well as to the Government and people of Austria.

Leading the Assembly’s remembrance of Mr. Waldheim, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to him and all his predecessors, who have served in what has been called “the most impossible job on earth.”

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