Before I begin, let me say that our thoughts are with Her Excellency Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India, who was to have been with us today but has had to return home owing to a family emergency.
I thank the Permanent Mission of India for organizing this event, which marks the International Day of Non-violence – and the birthdate of the great Mohandas Gandhi.
Earlier this year, while attending an international conference in India, I had the opportunity to visit the Sabarmati Ashram that he established.
It was a privilege to tour the ashram. I was especially impressed by a quote from Gandhi framed on the wall. It said: “If blood is to be shed, let it be our own.” Gandhi was calling on people to refuse to kill – instead, to be willing to die to save others.
I continue to admire his courage and conviction.
Gandhi proved that non-violence -- the principle and the practice -- can change history.
He was strongly committed to social justice.
His mass campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience helped pave the way for the independence of India, and have inspired countless movements for change across the world.
He showed the power of peacefully opposing oppression, hatred and injustice. He demonstrated the value of the rule of law in breaking vicious cycles of vengeance.
The United Nations stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes and for mutual respect across culture and creed.
The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can also point the way towards reducing violence, promoting harmony between people and planet, and making the world safer for all.
Today, at a time of escalating conflicts, rising extremism, massive displacement and rapidly growing humanitarian need, Mahatma Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence remains an example for us all.
On this International Day, let us recall the achievements of Mahatma Gandhi. And let us renew our commitment to non-violence and lives of dignity for all.