Speeches : Remarks by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand at the Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence, Friday, 4 October 2019 news3

Speeches : Remarks by Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand at the Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence, Friday, 4 October 2019

Remarks
by
His Excellency Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand
at the Observance of the International Day of Non-Violence
United Nations Conference Center, UNESCAP
Friday, 4 October 2019
 
* * * * *
 
 
Madam Executive Secretary,
Ambassador Durai,
Dr. Marhesh Sharma,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I am truly delighted to represent Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai this morning and to join you all in commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence.  I wish to thank the Embassy of India and the United Nations Social and Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific for co-hosting this very meaningful event.
 
Indeed, as many speakers have noted, this year’s commemoration takes on added significance as it coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of one of the great men of modern times, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, whose thoughts and values truly transcend time. His advocacy of the principles of non-violence and Satyagraha remain today a great inspiration to us all. 
 
For my part, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s words that I find most powerful and a relevant reminder to each and every one of us is his quote: “Non-violence is a weapon of the strong.” 
 
This simple message may have summed up a quality that is at once universal and an integral component of all of our major religions.  This ranges from the “love for all man” in Christianity, the Hebrew Bible’s commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, Ahimsa in Hinduism, the Holy Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad, where peace has been in the center of moral and ethical virtues, as well as the teachings of the Lord Buddha and the Five Precepts in Buddhism. 
 
All of our faiths--all of our cultures--find common roots in the universal principle of non-violence.  By ‘universal’, I mean a principle that everyone can relate to and that, at the same time, can affect everyone and impact other circles of life beyond religion.
 
Since the days of the Mahatma, we have been living in a world of increasing volatility and tension that we find today. As long as power rivalry exists, violence is still taken as a given tool, not only in the international, but also the domestic arena.
 
What is more poignant is that the guise of violence has evolved and expanded. When we talk about violence today, it is not always violence in a traditional physical sense.  Rather, it can refer to a much broader set of issues -- such as violations of human rights, hate crimes, domestic violence, violence against women and children -- all of which inflicts emotional pains. 
 
As such, violence continues to affect our societies. And it affects those in vulnerable situations disproportionately. They include ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, older persons, women, children, and LGBTI groups. In 2018, it was estimated by the WHO that 1 in 6 older persons experienced some form of abuse. Up to 1 billion children in the past year are estimated to be subjected to physical, sexual, or emotional violence. Worryingly, 35% of women globally are estimated to have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lives, according to UN Women. Violence and harassment in the workplace are also reportedly increasing.
 
This violence has continued in cyberspace.  Given the rise in popularity of social media, technology has allowed for the spreading of messages of hatred, violence, and bigotry. Social harassment has also become a new area of concern. Exploitation of and violence against the vulnerable has been assisted, in part, by such technology.
 
Mahatma Gandhi was widely quoted as having described poverty as “the worst form of violence”. Today, this notion is still relevant. The United Nations Development Programme classifies 1.3 billion people across the globe as multi-dimensionally poor. While we may have made progress in addressing extreme poverty, inequalities between and within states have grown significantly. The digital divide still separates people between “haves” and “have-nots”. In this regard, poverty remains a persistent challenge across the world.
 
Distinguished Guests,
 
What are we then to do, in our role as leaders, policy-makers, and bridge-builders, in the face of such violence?  Mahatma Gandhi was attributed to have stated to the effect that one should ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’  I therefore put forward to you that we must start building that change—now; today—perhaps starting from these four little steps:
 
First, let us begin by forging societies built upon the principles of tolerance. We need to work on moulding the right mindset of the next generations. We must begin by teaching them the values of non-violence, peace, and the promotion and protection of human rights, starting in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. Above all, we must teach youth the values of interfaith dialogue, compromise, inclusiveness, and mutual respect. These are issues that must be taught to every child and every human being.
 
Second, let us begin by raising awareness of--and seriously addressing--the new challenges of the digital age. We have to promote and educate everyone, including the most vulnerable, in the safe use of technology in order to prevent the spread of hatred, racism, bigotry, and exploitation online. After all, prevention is more sustainable and cost-effective than remedy. Disruptive technologies do not need to be destructive.  They can be harnessed for good, such as in the form of an accelerator for sustainable development, rather than violence.
 
Third, let us begin by promoting sustainability and inclusiveness for all. What I mentioned earlier about having ‘the right mindset’, also includes a “sustainability mindset”. A sustainable society, built upon the overarching and interlinked 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, can help to link society and build inclusiveness for all.  In particular, accelerated efforts on SDG 16 will help to ensure stability, strong institutions, and the reduction of violence in all its forms based upon the rule of law. The aim is to build societies that have structures that include the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and humanitarian principles.
 
Lastly, let us begin by building the infrastructures of society to ensure tolerance and inclusiveness, starting from the local level. For our part, Thailand has introduced a series of legislations and measures on ensuring gender equality, empowering persons with disabilities, protecting older persons, and combating human trafficking. All of these have served to reduce the violence inflicted on those in vulnerable situations.  Efforts to increase access to justice through community justice partnerships between the government and local communities, as well as steps to reduce crime within the country, have also supplemented this. In addition, Government initiatives to empower local communities, develop local products, and improve access to services and inclusion have targeted the violence that is poverty.
 
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Thailand takes to heart the words of His Majesty the Late King Rama IX, who taught us that “peace is something that everyone wishes for. […] Everyone seeks happiness, and happiness stems from harmony and where everything is conducted under justice.” His Majesty also taught us that justice is not law but law must serve the people. We have followed this vision for non-violence, interfaith coexistence, peace, and the rule of law.
 
Let me therefore say, in closing, that the principles of non-violence and international cooperation remain a beacon for us in this frequently dim world of uncertainties. Thailand is a strong supporter of multilateralism, where everyone works hand-in-hand to build the world that we want to see. We envision a society--nurtured by understanding and built upon mutual respect--that leaves no one behind. We hope to work together with all countries and the United Nations in making this vision a reality.
 
I thank you for your kind attention.