Statement by H.E. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa On the occasion of Nelson Mandela Day Celebration, UN General Assembly, New York, 16 July 2010

Madame President,

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in his capacity as the first President of free South Africa in October 1994, Nelson Mandela stated that, (I quote) “Our political emancipation has brought into sharp focus the urgent need to engage in a struggle to secure our people from freedom from want, hunger and from ignorance.” (close quote)

My delegation is therefore again honoured to address this body on the occasion of giving effect to the resolution that pays tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
In the next two days - on 18 July 2009 - millions of people from across the globe will come together to give 67 minutes of their time to community service, their actions being inspired by the life's work of Nelson Mandela.

In South Africa, Mandela is known as a symbol of a nation’s struggle for social, economic, and political rights for all. These values for which Mandela lived and was even prepared to die are the foundations of the Charter of the United Nations.

In this regard, on behalf of President Jacob Zuma and the people of South Africa, I wish to thank the General Assembly for the adoption of its resolution which declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of the immense contribution Mr. Mandela made in advancing the cause of justice, peace and development.

This is not only an honour for the people of South Africa.  It is also an unequivocal affirmation of the positive role of the United Nations as a champion and advocate for the cause of the poor and the needy.

South Africa and indeed the world are fortunate to have a person like Nelson Mandela to have sown the seed of change. It was through his -, and many others' - endless tireless and courageous efforts and commitment that today every South African can live in a free South Africa.

Through the Mandela Day initiative, individuals are called upon to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place - to make everyday a Mandela Day!

Indeed, the United Nations can claim our freedom from apartheid like any South African.  This august body was in the forefront of the international campaign against apartheid.  It was by our side, every step of the way, in our determination to rid our country of the monster of apartheid and all what it represented.

We will never forget the role played by the international community, in unison, to bring about the demise of apartheid.

Madame President

In 2000 world leaders in developing the MDGs gave hope for the realization of a dream which reflects and resonates with the vision of Mr Mandela.

The Review Summit on the MDGs gives yet another opportunity to the World Leaders to redouble efforts and commitments to the realization and achievement of the agreed goals in the next five years.

As South Africa, we will not fail the legacy of Nelson Mandela.  We will continue to play our role as a member of this international community that helped give birth to the freedom our people enjoy today. We will spare no effort as a member of the international community to work for peace, human rights and sustainable development.

Madame President

A few days ago we witnessed the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup that was hosted for the first time on African soil.  In hosting this event, South Africa was paying tribute to Mandela as his dream was to bring the Soccer World Cup to Africa.

We wish to thank the FIFA and the international community for their support, and for the faith and confidence they had in the ability of our continent to host this sporting event with distinction.

The FIFA World Cup was for us a celebration of humanity in its diversity.  We witnessed all shades of people from developing and developed countries - the rich and poor – meeting on the soccer pitch under FIFA’s philosophy of fair play.  The event united our people in South Africa and those across our continent as we all raised and blew our vuvuzelas to proclaim that “Africa’s time is Now! Ke Nako!”   

The presence of many Heads of State from all over the world at the event was to us a confirmation that this was indeed a world celebration – an opportunity for global social cohesion and the promotion of the values of reconciliation which Mandela stood for.

On Mandela Day, we set aside few minutes of our precious time to serve our communities for a good cause.  We also remember those whose survival depends on our care; those who depend on our helping hand to see a tomorrow.

This service to humanity is what defines the United Nations.  By celebrating Mandela Day, we are reaffirming our commitment to the values and mission for which the United Nations was established. We are strengthening the United Nations as an institutions and the resolve of its Member States to continue to work together for a better world.

Madame President, I would like to end by calling on all of us to nurture a culture of helping one another. Show you care and do what you can to make a positive change in someone's life.

I thank you

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