Ahmedabad, India

10 January 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram

Ladies and gentlemen,


I am deeply moved and inspired to visit this Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.

Like so many people around the world, I have long admired Mahatma Gandhi.

Since I first visited Raj Ghat in 1972, I have been personally guided by his teachings, especially his description of Seven Social Sins:

“Politics without principles.

Wealth without work.

Pleasure without conscience.

Knowledge without character.

Commerce without morality.

Science without humanity; and

Worship without sacrifice.”

This vision transcends all borders. Gandhi’s compassion embraces all people. I myself have been putting in my best efforts and asking all leaders, far and wide, to live by his teachings.

Gandhi’s emphasis on the poor people on today in the work of the United Nations to end poverty and build a peaceful world of dignity for all.

We will succeed only if the memory of Gandhi’s unyielding fight against injustice burns bright in our hearts.

A cowardly assassin may have murdered this great man – but he could not kill the enduring power of Gandhi’s ideas.

Ahmedabad is the proud birthplace of the Salt March.  Mahatma Gandhi said here, almost 85 years ago, that the Salt March would aim “to replace hatred by love, replace strife by concord”.  He added, “if we attain our end through non-violent means, India will have delivered a message for the world.”

The Salt March succeeded. The message resonated around the world:

Peace is the path as well as the destination.

The United Nations marks Gandhi’s birthday as the International Day of Non-Violence – and we defend his ideals every day of the year.

I will never forget seeing Gandhi’s books at an exhibition of the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His copies of Gandhi’s works were well-worn from careful study.

Nelson Mandela also deeply admired Gandhi.

Mandela said Gandhi symbolized hope that when all South Africans are treated as equals, the country would be at peace.

The same holds true for our world.

Mahatma Gandhi preached and followed the message of peace, non-violence and communal harmony. It is a common value that the United Nations promotes and asks leaders near and far to put into practice – from here in Gujarat to the world.

Growing radicalization, fundamentalism and extremism demand a re-emphasis of Gandhi’s ideals – both spiritual and political. Divisive politics and sectarian incitement have no place in our modern world.

As Gandhi reminded us, “There will be no lasting peace on earth unless we learn not merely to tolerate but even to respect the other faiths as our own.” 

Indeed, there is great strength in diversity – and countries that celebrate diversity and embrace every single individual are the ones to shape a secure and stable world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The day that Gandhi was murdered, the members of the UN Security Council all stood in silent mourning.

India’s representative rightly said that Gandhi embodied and lived the principles of the United Nations Charter well before our Organization was founded.

In 2008, I visited Raj Ghat, where Gandhi’s remains were cremated in my capacity as Secretary-General. Before that, while serving in the Republic of Korea embassy in New Delhi I visited so many times.

Today, here at this sacred site, I renew my pledge to keep his values alive.

And I look to India – a large, diverse and vibrant democracy – to be a champion of the rights, dignity and equality of all people.

Thank you.