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The 61st UN General Assembly voted lasted Friday to mark International Day of Nonviolence each year on October 2 – the birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi was the spiritual and political leader of India, leading the struggle for India’s independence from the British Empire.
Appropriately, India’s Minister of State for External Relations Anand Sharma introduced the resolution which was adopted by the 192-member body, including Singapore.
But while the PAP Government outwardly supported the resolution (what else could it do if it didn’t want to come across looking like the despot that it is) it continues to prosecute democracy activists who take part in nonviolent action to push for political freedom in Singapore.
Mahatma Gandhi, born October 2, 1869, preached and practised nonviolent civil disobedience to authoritarian governments in order to empower the ordinary citizen.
Now that the world’s body, including the Singapore, has recognised the relevance and significance of nonviolence as a means to secure freedom and justice, does the SDP’s call for nonviolent action still seem so out-of-place?
General Assembly Adopts Text On Day Of Non-Violence
United Nations General Assembly
15 June 07
…Adopting a text on the International Day of Non-Violence, contained in document A/61/L.62, the Assembly decided to observe the International Day, with effect from the sixty-second session, on 2 October each year.
Bearing in mind that non-violence, tolerance, full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, democracy, development, mutual understanding and respect of diversity, are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, it invited all Member States, United Nations organizations, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the International Day in an appropriate manner and to disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.
It further requested the Secretary-General to recommend ways and means by which the United Nations system and the Secretariat could, within existing resources, assist Member States in organizing activities to commemorate the Day.
Introducing the text, Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, said the idea of promoting the resolution originated from the Declaration adopted at the “International Conference on Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment -– Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century”, which articulated a collective yearning to address hunger and poverty.
He said the wide co-sponsorship of the draft resolution reflected the universal respect that Mahatma Gandhi commanded, noting that his mode of non-violence brought down colonialism and inspired leaders such as Badshah Khan.
The draft was simple but significant, reaffirming the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence. Promoting non-violence in such a manner would significantly contribute to the realization of the goals set out in the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace…
61st General Assembly
Plenary, 103rd Meeting
United Nations General Assembly A/61/L.62
31 May 2007
Agenda item 44
Culture of peace
The General Assembly,
Reaffirming the Charter of the United Nations, including the principles and purposes contained therein,
Recalling its resolutions 53/243 A and B of 13 September 1999, containing the Declaration on a Culture of Peace and the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, 55/282 of 7 September 2001 on the International Day of Peace and 61/45 of 4 December 2006 on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010, as well as other relevant resolutions,
Bearing in mind that non-violence, tolerance, full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, democracy, development, mutual understanding and respect of diversity, are interlinked and mutually reinforcing,
Reaffirming the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence,
1. Decides, with effect from the sixty-second session of the General Assembly and guided by the Charter of the United Nations, to observe the International Day of Non-Violence on 2 October each year, with the International Day being brought to the attention of all people for its celebration and observance on this date;
2. Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence in an appropriate manner and to disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to recommend ways and means by which the United Nations system and the Secretariat of the United Nations could, within existing resources, assist Member States, upon request, in organizing activities to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence;
4. Also requests the Secretary-General to take, within existing resources, necessary measures for the observance by the United Nations of the International Day of Non-Violence;
5. Further requests the Secretary-General to keep the General Assembly informed at its sixty-third session on the implementation within the United Nations system of present resolution as regards the observance of the International Day of Non-Violence.
General Assembly: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lesotho, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe: draft resolution International Day of Non-Violence