By Arul Louis
United Nations, Oct 3 (IANS) Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, UN Secretary-General Anotonio Guterres has call for an end to “loathsome” hate speech online and off-line.
“Violence takes many forms: from the destructive impact of the climate emergency to the devastation caused by armed conflict; from the indignities of poverty to the injustice of human rights violations to the brutalising effects of hate speech,” he said on Friday at the virtual meeting organised by India’s Permanent Mission to celebrate Gandhi Jayanti, which is observed at the UN as the International Day of Non-Violence.
“Online and off-line, we hear loathsome rhetoric directed at minorities and anyone considered the ‘other’. To address this growing challenge, the United Nations has launched two urgent initiatives: a plan of action against hate speech and another on the protection and safety of religious sites.”
India’s Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti said: “Non-violence for Mahatma Gandhi meant many things. We need to practice Non-violence as a potent weapon for Truth, and to cleanse our own outer and inner-selves.”
Representatives of over 20 countries participated in the event broadcast online by the UN.
The relevance of Gandhi to dealing with the Covid-10 pandemic was on the minds of speakers at the event.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenza quoted Gandhi’s words, “you must be the change you want to see in the world” in calling for change of attitudes to meet the pandemic.
“We hope that this unprecedented threat will unite all nations and enhance international solidarity.
“Our joint efforts will not only help us to recover from the pandemic but to build a better world,” he added.
US Permanent Representative Kelly Craft said: “Happy Birthday, Gandhi. We can really use your presence today. Thankfully your inspiration and guidance still resonate around the world.
“Mahatma’s principles and appeal to morality serve us here at the United Nations, from defending human rights to peacekeeping, to stepping up to meet the dire needs of refugees, and even confronting the threats to international peace and security.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)