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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

04 October 2021

ES-speech

Excellency Ms. Suchitra Durai, Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Thailand and Permanent Representative to ESCAP 

Excellency Mr.  Ittiphol Kunplome, Minister of Culture, Kingdom of Thailand 

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, 

Good morning and welcome to our annual observance of the International Day of Non-Violence

I have the honour and privilege to read out the message from the Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, on the occasion of the International Day of Non-violence, before proceeding to my own remarks. I quote: 

“It is no coincidence that we mark the International Day of Non-Violence on the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.   

For Gandhi, non-violence, peaceful protest, dignity and equality were more than words.  They represented a guiding light for humanity, a map to a better future.  

They also provide a template to address today’s troubled times. Conflicts and climate change. Poverty and inequalities. Mistrust and divisions. All under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to devastate people and economies alike.  

The solution to these challenges is in our hands: solidarity. We need to recognize, as Gandhi did, that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. That peace provides the only pathway to a better future for all.  

Addressing the challenges of our world means coming together as one human family, and embracing peace like never before.  

We call on combatants around the world to lay down their arms and focus on defeating humanity’s common enemy - COVID-19 - not one another. We urgently need to deliver lifesaving vaccines and treatment, and support countries in the long road to recovery ahead.  

We need to intensify our work to reduce inequalities and end poverty.  

We need a bold global plan of action to heal our planet.   

Most of all, we need to renew trust in one another. Hatred, division, conflict and mistrust have had their day. It is time to usher in a new era of peace, trust and tolerance.   

On this International Day of Non-Violence, let us heed Gandhi’s message of peace, and get down to the business of building a better and more peaceful future for all.” End quote. 

Excellencies, distinguished guests, 

On this day, we recognize the enduring vision and wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi - pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. 

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind,” he once said. 

This clear message is directly relevant to Asia and the Pacific, for non-violence must continue to underpin and shape our efforts to foster regional cooperation and build back better from disasters and crises. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the climate change crisis, has placed enormous pressures on the economies and societies in our region; indeed, rising levels of extreme poverty, inequality, vulnerabilities and environmental degradation all threaten to undo and even reverse progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

Yet in the non-violent resistance philosophy of Gandhi, our common challenges can be addressed by drawing on his principles and lessons, such as his commitment to: 

  • promote dignity, inclusion and mutual understanding 

  • equality and empowerment 

  • social justice and protection 

  • sustainable development 

These principles remain universally relevant for everyone everywhere; they also underpin the principles of the UN Charter and our pledge to leave no one behind. 

Gandhi showed the world that peace, respect and equality are the most powerful forces for change. Let us be inspired to take action and bridge the “have and have-not” divide as we strive to build a better future for all. 

In a world driven by conflicts and violence, Gandhi’s message of non-violence holds the key to an inclusive, resilient and sustainable future. 

Thank you very much. 

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