Wednesday, July 18, 2018 10:12 pm
The UN has unveiled a centennial stamp to celebrate late Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birth, describing the global icon as a “true symbol of human greatness.”
The stamp featured one of Mandela’s quotes: “It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.”
Paying tribute to the first democratically-elected President of South Africa and iconic civil rights leader, the UN celebrated his legacy for humanity and reflected on the lessons he left behind.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “He stands today as a beacon for universal values – peace, forgiveness, humility, integrity, passion, respect and service.
“Madiba showed us that these are not just words or vague ideals, but concrete actions that we can all take.”
In his tribute, the UN Chief quoted the anti-Apartheid leader’s declaration that “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.”
“Let us act on Madiba’s words. Let us recall all the promises we have made – in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda – and let us commit to honour our pledges.
“Let us work for the better world we know can exist,” the UN chief added, calling on the world to “persevere with commitment and conviction”.
Guterres highlighted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the international community’s “roadmap” for creating a better world.
“At its heart is a promise to end all forms of poverty and leave no one behind,” he said, noting that “we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
The President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, focused on the lessons that Madiba taught the world on the importance of dialogue, peace and tolerance.
“He showed us that dialogue and negotiation should be pursued relentlessly – no matter how deep the divides, or strong the hurt,” he said, regretting that “too often we have let peace slip through our fingers. And we have waited until it was gone, to act”.
“The prophet is no longer with us. But his teachings are. And we need them – now, more than ever,” he stated, denouncing the current global rise in intolerance, hate, inhumanity, racism, prejudice and discrimination.
“We cannot be silent in the face of them. We need to push back harder – and to speak out louder than ever,” he appealed.
At the event, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York, tributes were also delivered by leading film actor Forest Whitaker, Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who highlighted Mandela’s ability to “turn enemies into partners”.
Edna Molewa, South Africa Minister of Environmental Affairs, in her tribute to Mandela, cited his sense of “humility, forgiveness and compassion” as qualities that are “sorely needed in the world today.”