The annual celebration pays tribute to the 67 years of service of Mr. Mandela to the people as a human rights lawyer, prisoner of conscience, international peacemaker and the first democratically elected President of post-apartheid South Africa.
Honor the heritage
The UN chief described the former leader, who died in 2013, as “a man of great courage and conviction”.
Mr. Guterres said the best way to honor his legacy is through action against racism, discrimination, hatred and the legacies of colonialism.
“And action to promote equality, human rights and above all, justice,” he added.
Inspiration for action
The Secretary-General noted that poverty, hunger and inequality are on the rise today, with many countries drowning in debt.
Meanwhile, the climate crisis is destroying the lives of the people who have least contributed to its cause, and the unfair and outdated international financial system is not fulfilling its function as a global safety net.
“We are within our power to solve each of these problems,” he said.
“Therefore, as we commemorate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, let us be animated by his spirit of humanity, dignity and justice. Let’s stand with women and girls, youth and changemakers everywhere. And let’s work to make a better world. “
Climate action today
Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated every year on his birthday, July 18, and people everywhere are encouraged to volunteer for 67 minutes, in their communities or nearby.
This year, the UN is calling for support for its ActNow campaign on climate change and sustainability, recalling that Mr. Mandela said “we must never forget that it is our duty to protect this environment.”
The UN General Assembly will hold an informal meeting on Thursday to mark International Day.
Speakers will include Andrew Young, politician, activist, and former United States Ambassador to the UN.