Synonymous with the fight for justice and equality’
Celebrating what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 102nd birthday on Wednesday, the UN deputy chief hailed the man who led the struggle that ended the racist apartheid system in his native South Africa as exemplifying “courage, compassion and an unwavering commitment to social justice and equality”.
Affectionately known as Madiba, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the General Assembly meeting celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day – officially commemorated on Sunday – that he “embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family”.
‘Blurring the truth’
Hate speech and the denial of facts are becoming “mainstream in liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes alike”, Ms. Mohammed said, “blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions”.
She pointed to an alarming trend that “people with little or no knowledge of historical facts are infected by the virus of disinformation and distortion and embracing violent ideologies”.
And COVID-19 has intensified this, rolling back years of progress in the global fight against poverty and injustice, leaving the marginalized and disenfranchised suffering the most, and often being blamed for problems they did not cause, she said.
It is our individual responsibility to follow Madiba’s example of humility, forgiveness and compassion — Deputy UN chief
People of African descent, Indigenous, ethnic or religious minorities – and those who have fled their homes as refugees – bear the brunt of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, according to the UN official.
“These are the ills that Nelson Mandela stood up against to create his lasting legacy”, she said.
Decade of Peace
In September 2018, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at UN Headquarters gathered government and civil society representatives who committed to redoubling efforts for a prosperous, inclusive and fair world and declared 2019 to 2028 the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace.
“It is our individual responsibility to follow Madiba’s example of humility, forgiveness and compassion, while advocating for democracy and peace throughout the world”, said the deputy UN 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”.