Best Tribute to Nelson Mandela Is Standing United Against Hate, Working for Peace, Human Rights, Deputy Secretary-General Says, Marking International Day

Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the General Assembly observance of Nelson Mandela International Day, in New York today:

I am pleased to be with you today and to represent the Secretary-General and deliver remarks on his behalf as we celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.

Today, the world honours a giant of our time; a leader of unparalleled courage and towering achievement; and a man of quiet dignity and deep humanity.  Nelson Mandela was a healer of communities and a mentor to generations.  He remains a moral compass and reference to us all.

Madiba walked the path to freedom and dignity with steely determination — and with compassion and love.  He showed that each and every one of us has the ability — and responsibility — to build a better future for all.

Our world today is marred by war; overwhelmed by emergencies; blighted by racism, discrimination, poverty, and inequalities; and threatened by climate disaster.  Let us find hope in Nelson Mandela’s example and inspiration in his vision.  Today and every day, let us honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy by taking action.

By speaking out against hate and standing up for human rights.  By embracing our common humanity — rich in diversity, equal in dignity, united in solidarity.  And by together making our world more just, compassionate, prosperous, and sustainable for all.

This was the message of the Secretary-General.

It is a particular pleasure that — after virtual commemorations over the past two years — we can be together again in person to pay tribute in this beautiful General Assembly Hall; the very place where Madiba spoke to us after he was freed from imprisonment.

If I may add a personal note, Madiba has been an inspiration for me ever since I was a young person trying to find my path.  I have taken to heart his profound lesson that we all have the ability — and responsibility — to take action:  that there is no “us” and “them”.  We are in this together, carrying a shared responsibility to preserve our common home and stand in solidarity with one another.

All over the world, there are people who follow in Madiba’s footsteps with that same stubborn optimism that defined him.  I want to acknowledge two such people who are with us today — the laureates of the 2020 Nelson Mandela Prize:  Marianna Vardinoyannis of Greece, for her decades-long fight against childhood cancer; and Morissana Kouyaté of Guinea, for his quest to end female genital mutilation.

COVID-19 restrictions did not allow travel to New York in 2020 and I am very pleased that we are able to recognize and congratulate you in person today.  The Mandela Prize is guided by the purpose and principles of our United Nations, and the promise of the ideals championed by Madiba.

We work towards this vision — of peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet — every day, everywhere, leaving no one behind.  Our best tribute to Madiba is to realize the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, to stand united against hate, and to work for peace, prosperity, and human rights for all, on Mandela Day and every day.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.