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International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: Importance, Background, Symbols and Theme

On the International Day of Non-Violence, created by the United Nations in 2007, we look back on the influence of an Indian activist born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but known the world over as Mahatma Gandhi.

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International Day of Non-Violence 2019: Date, significnace of the day to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's birthday

International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: October 2 marks the birthday of a man who helped bring forward the notion of “non-violence,” and the tremendous impact this form of social response has had all over the world in the last century. On the International Day of Non-Violence, created by the United Nations in 2007, we look back on the influence of an Indian activist born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but known the world over as Mahatma Gandhi.

The International Day of Non-Violence honors how Gandhi’s work and legacy has impacted global,  non-violent protest.

The UN has good reason to use Gandhi’s birthday to celebrate International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi’s commitment to India’s independence and his methods have been the cornerstone of civil and human rights initiatives all over the world. Put simply, Gandhi saw it as completely irrational to use violence to achieve peace, but rather, “just means lead to just ends.” This is a lesson we can all take to heart.


Read up on Gandhi

Gandhi was one of the world’s greatest and most influential leaders in the last century and there’s plenty we can learn from him. Here are two of his most beloved quotes. “There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

Find or organize an event

The UN hosts official events around the world to commemorate the resolution of 2007, but there are also innumerable events on Gandhi’s birthday dedicated to celebrating the life of the leader. Or, if there is a particular issue close to your heart, use this day as an opportunity to take non-violent action to make your voice heard.

Go for a random act of kindness

The concept of Random Acts of Kindness has taken off with the rise of social media, as the beneficiaries of RAKs often post their gratitude for the stranger online. Today, make Gandhi proud by going out of your way for a stranger, simply to brighten their day. Pay the toll for the person in the car behind you, leave a positive note with a friend, clean the snow off a stranger’s windshield — the possibilities are endless. So today, in the words of Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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It raises awareness

The term, “non-violence,” has been used so often in the last century that its meaning has taken on new forms. Often believed to be a synonym for pacifism — which it can be — it’s also been adopted by groups around the world to be a force for social change, rather than strictly opposition to war. Through education and awareness, the UN hopes to share the many forms of non-violence that we have today.

Non-violence is a proven method for social change

“Non-violence” is a broad umbrella term under which there are several categories. Non-violent actions include protests, marches and vigils, which were successfully employed in the 1960s to bring about social changes in America. Non-cooperation and non-violent intervention, such as blockades and sit-ins, were also successfully used in America to demonstrate further inequalities. All of these efforts led to the peaceful spread of ideas.

There are plenty of conflicts to solve

Globalization has given us a more productive global economy but it’s also led to more complex issues that need solving. To help keep these problems from escalating to violence, spreading the ideas — and success stories — of nonviolence will be crucial.

International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: What Do People Do?

Many people, governments, and non-government organizations around the world observe the International Day of Non-Violence through various events and activities such as:

  • News articles and broadcast announcements promoting the day.
  • Public lectures, seminars, discussions, and press conferences about non-violence.
  • Photo exhibitions highlighting issues, such as the dangers of the illicit trade of small arms.
  • Street awareness campaigns.
  • Light ceremonies promoting non-violence and peace.
  • Multi-faith prayer meetings.
  • The International Day of Non-Violence has strong connections with the works, beliefs, and methods of peace leader Mahatma Gandhi, who is known as India’s “Father of the Nation”.

Public Life

The International Day of Non-Violence is a global observance but it is not a public holiday.

International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: Background

The principle of non-violence, also known as non-violent resistance, rejects the use of physical violence to achieve social or political change. Many groups throughout the world use this method in social justice campaigns. There are three main categories of non-violence action:

  • Protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils.
  • Non-cooperation.
  • Non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

The UN recognizes a philosophical connection between the human rights principles in its universal declaration and those that Mahatma Gandhi used. Gandhi was born in India on October 2, 1869. He is remembered today for his contributions towards India’s freedom and for sharing with the world a doctrine for dealing with injustice and disharmony. He taught people the philosophy of Ahimsa, which encourages the use of non-violence as a tool for the peaceful resolution of differences. India gained its freedom on August 15, 1947, through Gandhi’s efforts. He was assassinated on January 30, 1948.

The UN General Assembly came up with a resolution in 2007 to establish the International Day of Non-Violence. The day aimed to spread the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness, around the world. The resolution reflected universal respect for Gandhi and his philosophy. October 2, which is Gandhi’s birthday, was allocated as the day’s date. The first International Day of Non-Violence was on October 2, 2007.

International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

International Day Of Non-Violence 2021: Theme 

Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world. Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.


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