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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 18 July 2014 - Secretary-General's message on Nelson Mandela Day

Last year, the world lost one of its greatest leaders when Nelson Mandela passed away.  We remember his legacy especially on his birthday, the 18th of July.

Nelson Mandela and the United Nations had a strong history together.  Shortly after he was released from prison, he came to our Headquarters. It was a moment of great excitement.

Nelson Mandela’s presence in the General Assembly Hall proved that United Nations resolutions, sanctions and solidarity can win over violence and injustice. His extraordinary compassion after 27 years in prison showed that human rights and equality are stronger than discrimination and hate. On that day in 1990, he said people would always be challenged by the fact that, quote, “it took as long as it has before all of us stood up to say enough is enough.” The room burst into applause.

Apartheid is gone – thanks to Nelson Mandela, countless other individuals and the proud actions of the United Nations. But our planet and its people still face terrible threats -- poverty, discrimination, climate change, conflict and more. Nelson Mandela Day is a call to action. Each of us can celebrate this Day by helping to address real problems in our communities. Together we can give great meaning to our celebration by paving the way for a better future.


Statements on 18 July 2014