It is a pleasure to convey warm greetings to all those attending what I am sure will be a wonderful “Music for Peace” event.
Music is a hugely powerful, unifying force. Through their lyrics, many of our greatest songwriters actively promote, peace, justice and human rights.
I am delighted that the United Nations Academic Impact initiative has teamed up with the Apollo Theatre and the World Music Institute to host this gathering devoted to the International Day of Non-Violence.
This annual observance marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of history’s greatest-ever proponents of non-violence. He fervently believed that peaceful protest can accomplish so much more than military aggression.
The principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, the year of Gandhi’s death, owe much to his imprint and example.
It is 100 years since Mahatma left South Africa to return to India to practice what he preached. So it is entirely fitting that the UN Academic Impact has chosen to celebrate this International Day with young musicians from the country in which he spent his formative years.
Today, at a time of increased sectarian violence and wanton destruction of cultural sites and heritage, particularly in Iraq and Syria, we should recall Gandhi’s warning that: “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”
On the International Day of Non-Violence, let us recognize that it is up to each and every one of us to foster a culture of peace, built on dialogue, understanding, mutual respect and the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes.
Thank you for participating in this event and for supporting the work of the United Nations.