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Secretary-General's Message

Message on the Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence
(2 October 2008)

This year, the International Day of Non-Violence takes on special significance.
The Day, which marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, falls during 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. As he said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons 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.

Out 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.

Ban Ki-moon