United Nations, July 19 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on the world to draw inspiration from former South African President Nelson Mandela to build a better future.
“Today, as in every Mandela Day, we honour Madiba’s memory by calling on people around the world to make a difference, as he did,” said Guterres, using Mandela’s clan name, Xinhua reported.
“He understood that we each have in our hands the ability to create a better world — a world where people are treated equally and fairly, regardless of race, faith or gender,” he told a UN General Assembly event on the occasion of Mandela Day.
Mandela stands today as a beacon of universal values: peace, forgiveness, humility, integrity, passion, respect and service, said Guterres. “Madiba showed us that these are not just words or vague ideals, but concrete actions that we can all take. We can all be humble and respectful, we can all forgive, we can all work to make the world more peaceful.”
Very few people in history have captured the imagination of the world as Mandela did. Even fewer have been able to provide such inspiration, said Guterres.
Creating a better world is the job of the United Nations, he said. “The United Nations was founded on a promise to end the scourge of war and build a world based on fundamental human rights where people can enjoy social progress in larger freedom. That is why our organization worked to end apartheid, and why we promote peace, human rights and development for all people everywhere.”
He highlighted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the end of all forms of poverty.
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom,” he quoted Mandela as saying.
“Today, on Nelson Mandela’s centenary, let us act on Madiba’s words… Let us work for the better world we know can exist.”
Mandela demonstrated by his life’s work that no obstacle is insurmountable, he said. “What was once thought impossible can indeed be possible if we persevere with commitment and conviction.”
Mandela Day, or Nelson Mandela International Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated on July 18, his birthday. This year marks the centenary of Mandela’s birth.
Mandela died in December 2013 at the age of 95.