The United Nations International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.
The General Assembly resolution, A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the the International Day 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”.
Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Gandhi believed that the means and the ends are indivisible, and that it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society.
The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance or political struggle — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as “the politics of ordinary people”, this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.
The late Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance, provided the following definition in his publication, The Politics of Nonviolent Action: “Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively.”
Non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war. One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.
Nonviolence International was founded by practitioners of nonviolence to further human understanding and use of nonviolent methods to solve human problems. We encourage everyone to honour this UN Day of Nonviolence by studying the works of key nonviolent theorists.
Nonviolence International has a variety of publications which assess nonviolent movements and methods.
[section of the above material are quoted from the UN notice for the Day of Nonviolence]