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Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind

international day of non violence

2.10.2015 - International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for." - Mahatma Gandhi - The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927

Gandhi helped lead India to independence, inspired the non-violent movements for civil rights and social change all over the world. All his life, Ghandi believed in non-violence, even under oppressive conditions and when faced extreme difficulties.

GandhiThe theory underpinning his actions, particularly the massive civil disobedience campaigns against British rule such as the historic Salt March of 1930, was that “just means lead to just ends.” In other words, it is irrational to resort to violence if the ultimate goal is to establish a peaceful society. Gandhi believed that Indians should refrain from violence and hatred to free themselves from the colonial yoke.

The non-violence principle, also known as non-violent resistance, disavows the use of physical violence to trigger social or political change. Often described as "the politics of ordinary people", this form of social struggle has been embraced by many populations across the world within the framework of campaigns for social justice.

Even though “non-violence” has been often used as a synonym for pacifism since the mid-twentieth century, this term has also been adopted by many movements that struggle for social change but whose focus is not on the opposition to war.

One paramount tenet of non-violence theory is that leaders draw power from people’s consent. Hence, non-violence aims to undermine their power by removing consent and cooperation.


In accordance with the General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established this commemoration, the International Day of Non-Violence is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” The resolution reaffirms "the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence" and the desire "to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.”

Tabling the resolution in the General Assembly on behalf of 140 co-sponsors, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Anand Sharma, declared that the mere fact that the sponsors were so many and so diverse clearly reflected the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and the timeless pertinence of his philosophy. Quoting Gandhi’s own words, he said: "Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man".


UNRIC’s Related Links:

•   International Day of Non-Violence
•   Secretary-General’s Message

Photo Credits:

•   Cover: "Non-Violence", a sculpture by Karl Fredrik Reutersward, permanently exhibited outside UN Headquarters in New York. (Paulo Filgueiras/UN Photo)
•   Second: Thierry Ehrmann, Mahatma Ghandi, painted portrait

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