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Secretary-General's Message

Message on the First Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence
(2 October 2007)

The United Nations was created in the hope that humanity could not only end wars, it could eventually make them unnecessary. Our founders hoped that the Organization could help stop violence by spreading a culture of peace, promoting tolerance and advancing human dignity.

These same ideals sum up the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, whose birthday we celebrate today. His peaceful struggles against unjust regimes in South Africa and India captured the world’s imagination. And his incorporation of non-violence into everyday life inspired countless individuals to lead better, more meaningful lives.

“Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed” was the Mahatma’s response when charged with agitation against the State in 1922.

The Mahatma’s inspiration is needed now more than ever. All around us we see communities increasingly mired in rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions. We see extremist dogma and violent ideologies gaining ground, as moderate forces retreat.

Recently, we have witnessed lethal force being used against unarmed and non-violent marchers who exemplified the very spirit of the Mahatma’s teachings.

Today, there is a great need to address these trends, and to promote true tolerance and non-violence at every level, from the individual all the way up to the State.

The International Day of Non-violence can help advance this effort. May it help spread Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence to an ever wider audience, and hasten a time when every day is a day of non-violence.