Affectionately known as Madiba, Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed He said the meeting of the General Assembly celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day – Officially commemorated on Sunday – he “embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family.”
‘Blurring the truth’
Hate speech and denial of fact are becoming “mainstream in both liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes,” Mohammed said, “blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions.”
He noted an alarming trend that “people with little or no knowledge of historical facts are infected by the virus of disinformation and distortion and adopt a violent ideologys “.
Y COVID-19 has stepped up this, rolling back years of progress in the global fight against poverty and injustice, leaving the marginalized and marginalized as those who suffer the most and are often blamed for problems they did not cause, he said.
Afro-descendants, indigenous people, ethnic or religious minorities, and those who have fled their homes as refugees, are the most affected by racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, according to the UN official.
“These are the evils Nelson Mandela faced in creating his lasting legacy,” he said.
Decade of peace
In September 2018, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the UN Headquarters brought together representatives of the government and civil society who pledged to redouble efforts for a prosperous, inclusive and just world and declared from 2019 to 2028 the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace.
“It is our individual responsibility to follow Madiba’s example of humility, forgiveness and compassion, as we advocate for democracy and peace around the world,” said the UN deputy chief.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the vital importance of human solidarity and unity, values championed and exemplified by Madiba in his lifelong fight for justice.”
And with a role for all, he urged the meeting to be inspired by Madiba’s message that “each of us can make a difference in promoting peace, human rights, harmony with nature and dignity for all”.
A personal note
The Deputy Secretary-General shared that from his youth, when trying to find his way, Mr. Mandela had been a personal inspiration.
“As we reflect on Madiba’s life and work, let’s stand up and be counted. Let’s borrow a page from his stubborn optimism in the human endeavor ”, he concluded. “Let us all honor his call to action and be energized by his legacy.”
President of the General Assembly Volkan bozkir said that in life and legacy, Nelson Mandela advocated “the inherent dignity and equality of people”; both within and between nations, regardless of race, nationality or belief – universal values, established in the UN Charter and human rights treaties.
Since the Assembly is tasked with upholding and protecting these values, he said it is right to “come together here today to celebrate, promote these ideals and honor Nelson Mandela.”
Mr. Bozkir said that Mandela’s name was “synonymous with the fight for justice and equality”, which should be remembered when considering the plight of 82.4 million forcibly displaced people around the world, women and men. girls subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, and intolerance. and racial discrimination that threatens to erode the progress he fought so hard for.
“As an international community, we must take collective action. Because we will not achieve the objectives of 2030 Agendaas long as racism and discrimination persist ”, said the President of the Assembly.
‘Act in the spirit of Madiba’
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great suffering to people and nations, putting health systems under immense pressure, creating an unprecedented socio-economic crisis and hijacking our development trajectory, said Mr. Bozkir.
In recovery, human rights must be defended for all, everywhere and multilateral efforts must be galvanized for fair and equitable access to vaccines for all, he added.
“In short, we must act in the spirit of Madiba, if we want to rebuild better,” concluded the President of the Assembly.
Improve the lives of others
Naledi Pandor, South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, told the meeting that “systemic racism has had a pernicious effect” on communities around the world.
Reminding the Assembly that Mr. Mandela used the ubunti of the Swahili world to explain that “being free is not simply getting rid of chains” but living in a way that improves the lives of others, he offered the additional phrase, Mimi ni kwa sababu wewe ni, which translates as “I am because you are.”
“We are all connected and only one can grow and progress through the growth and progression of the others,” he said.