At Inauguration Ceremony for Mahatma Gandhi Bust, Secretary-General Says Peace Leader’s Vision Was Foundational for United Nations, Prefigured Sustainable Development Concept

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the inauguration ceremony for the Mahatma Gandhi Bust, in New York today:

It’s a great pleasure to join you today to mark the installation of this bust of Mahatma Gandhi.  I thank the Government and Permanent Mission of India for donating this tribute to one of the giants of the modern age.

My visit to India earlier this year reminded me that there are few people in history who are so aligned with the goals and values of the United Nations as Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi-ji’s anti-imperialist vision was foundational for the United Nations.  As the Charter states, our Organization is built on the principle of “equal rights and self-determination of peoples”.  Indeed, the drafters of the Charter took great inspiration from Gandhi’s message of peace, non-violence, and tolerance.

Gandhi’s success in mobilizing millions for anti-colonial resistance, while adhering to the principles of non-violence, inspired people across the world.  But, Gandhi is not only a historical figure. His visionary ideas and values, including his concern for justice and social transformation, continue to resonate today.

Many of his ideas prefigured the concept of sustainable development — including his view that “poverty is the worst form of violence”.  His belief that societies should be judged on their record of uplifting the most vulnerable holds important lessons for today’s leaders.

He renamed those considered “untouchable” as Harijan or “Children of God”, and considered the campaign against caste discrimination to be as important as the struggle against colonialism.

Gandhi was one of the first to recognize the dangers of the plunder and destruction of our environment, observing that the earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers, but on loan from our children.  He was a famous supporter of sustainable local products like khadi – India’s homespun cotton.

He championed women in politics and rejected discriminatory practices of all kinds.  Gandhi was an uncompromising advocate for peaceful coexistence, non-discrimination and pluralism.  Recognizing that diversity is one of India’s greatest assets, he strove for harmonious relations between religions, cultures and communities.

The focus of his life was pressing for social and political reform through non-violent resistance, while creating a culture of peace.  His legacy is everywhere, including in the daily work of the United Nations around the world for equality, solidarity and empowerment.

Once again, I thank the Government of India for its generous donation of this bust.  I hope its installation here at the Headquarters of the United Nations will remind us of the values Gandhi upheld, and to which we remain committed.

For information media. Not an official record.