October 2 marks the International Day of Non-Violence and the birthday of Mahatma Ghandi. The UN General Assembly began commemorating this day in 2007 to raise awareness and educate the public on the principle of non-violence. The goal of the resolution is to ensure a “culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.”

Mahatma Ghandi is an icon for leading India to independence from the British Rule by protesting through non-violent means. Ghandi inspired a culture of civil rights practices such as peaceful marches and hunger strikes in contemporary history. Martin Luther King Jr. is a notable figure who took inspiration from Ghandi’s philosophy of non-violence during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

In PBI the philosophy of non-violence provides the foundation for our work. We are convinced that enduring peace and lasting conflict resolution can only be achieved through peaceful means.  In this respect we reject violence of any kind and from any source. We encourage dialogue and transparency to create conditions of trust required to build peace. PBI’s endeavor is to overcome injustice and violence in order to build peaceful societies where human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled, by ensuring that those who defend human rights are protected.

In practice, PBI rejects any armed accompaniment and only supports organisations and individuals who live by the same principle. In addition, PBI works through consensus, applying a horizontal structure across the whole organization.  We understand this as non-violence in practice, as we encourage participation, dialogue and transparency to prevent conflicts and encourage collaboration.  This allows us to be coherent with our internal decision-making processes and our principles and convictions.  Everyone who passes through PBI receives training in order to fully participate in the organization’s structure, so they understand the importance of non-violence in decisions in their daily lives, how to treat each other and live in community.   

PBI has provided support to human rights defenders in protecting their spaces of work through non-violent means. As Ghandi once said, “In the midst of death, life persists. In the midst of untruth, truth persists. In the midst of darkness, light persists.” Non-violence offers optimism, solidarity and fraternidad, even in times of violence.