It’s been one hundred years since the birth of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The United Nations General Assembly in New York marked the occasion with a peace summit in his name.
CGTN’s John Terrett filed this report.
It was early morning on ‘Day One’ of the high-level “leaders’ week” at the U.N. General Assembly, and everyone was talking about Nelson Mandela.
In his 100th birthday year, a statue of the former South African President (a gift to U.N. headquarters in New York from the government in Pretoria) was unveiled near the General Assembly Hall, where Mandela once addressed the world.
“The father of our democracy, a symbol of our unity, he is also a symbol of our diversity of a nation,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. “He’s the glue that continues to hold our nation together. Many of us would like to be: integrity, compassion a peacemaker a selfless leader of his people.”
Minutes later, a peace summit in Nelson Mandela’s name convened in the General Assembly Hall next door. The reference for the event were framed by Mandela’s legacy, and his well known desire for a better world.
“Excellency’s, distinguished guests, he was one of humanity’s great leaders. He devoted his life to serving community. He cherished the idea of democracy and free society in which all people live together in harmony. It was a bedrock for which he was prepared to die,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
The plenary session issued a declaration, offering world leaders a chance to renew their commitment to global peace, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building.
“It strikes me with a gratifying humility that we associate Mandela as a reference point in fulfilling this supreme mandate,” said Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s widow. “His legacy as a freedom fighter speaks to the core of our greatest aspiration.”
Mandela is revered at the U.N. not just as a national leader, but for his commitment to global citizenship and the ideals of the United Nations. Now, thanks to the peace summit declaration and the newly unveiled statue, the man known as “Madiba” will forever more have a special place in this corner of the world.