New York

24 September 2018

Secretary-General's remarks at unveiling of Nelson Mandela statue [as delivered]

I am pleased to be with you today to unveil this statue of one of humanity’s great leaders. 
 
Nelson Mandela embodied the highest values of the United Nations – peace, forgiveness, compassion and human dignity. 
 
He was a champion for all people – in his words and in his actions. 
 
He was willing to fight and die for the ideals he held so dear. 
 
When he achieved the pinnacle of power as president of his beloved country, Madiba set an example that still resounds throughout Africa and the world – he stepped down after one term, confident in the durability of South Africa’s newfound democracy. 
He did not pursue power for its own sake, but simply as a means of service.
 
This humility is a hallmark of Madiba’s greatness. 
 
The fight against apartheid marks a landmark in human rights and freedom. 
 
The credit goes to the people of South Africa, but the United Nations played its role, a role that we should be proud of. 
 
So, it is more than appropriate that our Headquarters should be honoured by this statue. 
 
I thank the Government of South Africa for its generosity in donating it. 
 
From this day on, all delegates, staff and visitors to the United Nations can be constantly inspired by Madiba’s legacy looking at this wonderful statue.    
 
Thank you.