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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

03 October 2022


Excellency Mr. Chuti Krairiksh, Minister of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand,

Ms. Alpana Dubey, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India and Deputy Permanent Representative to ESCAP,

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to the commemoration of the International Day of Non-Violence.

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

“The International Day of Non-Violence celebrates not only Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, but the values he embodied that echo across the decades: peace, mutual respect, and the essential dignity shared by every person.

Sadly, our world is not living up to those values.

We see this through growing conflicts and climate chaos. Poverty, hunger and deepening inequalities. Prejudice, racism and rising hate speech. And a morally bankrupt global financial system that entrenches poverty and stymies recovery for developing countries.

We can defeat these challenges by embracing Gandhi’s values and working across cultures and borders to build a better, more peaceful future for all.

By investing in people’s health, education, decent jobs and social protection to prevent people from falling and catch them when they do.

By ensuring access to financing and debt relief for all countries.

By supporting developing countries as they build resilient infrastructure and protect populations from the impacts of climate change, while also accelerating the transition from planet-killing fossil fuels to renewable energy.

By securing and upholding the rights and dignity of all people — especially the most vulnerable, and girls and women who are too often denied their basic rights.

By taking concrete action for inclusion, recognizing multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies as a richness, not a threat.

Gandhi’s life and example reveal a timeless pathway to a more peaceful and tolerant world.

Let us walk this path together, in solidarity, as one human family.” End quote. 

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

Fifteen years ago, the United Nations General Assembly expressed its desire to “secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.”

Those were the words the Assembly used in 2007 in adopting the resolution that established 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Fifteen years later, our world faces a host of challenges, including the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting climate change and suffering from an increasing number of deadly crises and natural disasters.

Our strength in dealing with these crises lies in unity, not division. We need to work more together to reach peace, tolerance and understanding.

Tolerance is defined as the “willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them.” In order to deal with today’s challenges, we must come together and embrace that diversity of thought. The best ideas and solutions come from a variety of sources.

In that same vein, understanding goes hand-in-hand with tolerance. The more we understand each other, the more we can overcome our differences.

The words of the General Assembly should resonate with us just as much today as they did 15 years ago.

We will forever have Gandhi as an example of how we should respond to whatever difficulties may come our way, inspiring us to be the best we can be, living our lives with inclusivity, compassion and respect for our neighbours.

These principles also guide the United Nations, so in that spirit, let us never tire of the efforts we must make to live up to the ideal the General Assembly wanted for us in the resolution, as inspired by the great Mahatma.

Thank you very much.

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