UNITED NATIONS, Jul 21 (APP):United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged everyone to take up a new social contract to combat the “inequality pandemic,” at a UN event marking the weekend’s observance of Nelson Mandela Day.
In his message to the virtual General Assembly commemoration on Monday, he praised the legacy of Mandela whom he described as one of the greatest leaders of our time, a moral giant who still guides us today.
“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest,” said the UN chief quoting Madiba, as he’s known affectionately by South Africans.
Guterres stated that maintaining that inequality damages everyone; it is a brake on human development and opportunities.
Discrimination is not only associated with unfair international relations, he added, but also with economic instability, corruption, financial crises, increased crime, and poor physical and mental health.
“The answer lies in a New Social Contract, to ensure economic and social justice and respect for human rights,” the secretary-general stressed.
During the tribute, the secretary-general extended his “warmest congratulations” to Marianna Vardinoyannis of Greece and Morissana Kouyate of Guinea, the 2020 laureates of the UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize for their long-standing commitment to human rights, access to health care, and the empowerment of women, girls and the most vulnerable in society.
“I commend them for advancing the United Nations’ mission and carrying on the extraordinary legacy of Nelson Mandela”, he asserted.
Guterres called “the persistent plague of racism” an “abomination” that violates the UN Charter, “insults our core values” and must be combated “in all its manifestations”.
In remembering the first democratically elected South African President and global civil rights icon, “let us recall that we all have a part to play in the quest for a better future of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for all people on a healthy planet”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, explained that the annual day was established in 2009 to mark Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, and salute his remarkable life.
“This Day provides us with a moment to reflect upon the contribution of Nelson Mandela to our world, and to re-affirm our collective commitment to eradicate racism and racial discrimination in every context”, he said.
As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Assembly president urged everyone to “take inspiration from our esteemed Laureates and honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, by serving your community in pursuit of a more equal, just, and peaceful future as set out in the Charter of the United Nations”.
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