UN chief calls for combatting racism in all manifestations

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to promote justice and combat racism in all its manifestations.

“Every day, in our work across the world, we must strive to do our part to promote inclusion, justice and dignity. We must combat racism in all its manifestations,” the secretary-general said on Monday in his remarks to the annual General Assembly Commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day and United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize Laureate Recognition, Xinhua news agency reported.

“As we celebrate Madiba (the name most commonly used by South Africans for Mandela) and his life-long struggle for justice and equality, we must recognize that we still face the persistent plague of racism,” said the secretary-general.

“This abomination violates the Charter of the United Nations and insults our core values,” he said.

Guterres warned that “COVID-19 has been likened to an x-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of our societies, and it has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate healthcare; gaps in social protection; structural inequalities; environmental degradation; the climate crisis.”

“In response, we need world leaders to foster unity and solidarity,” he said.

The UN chief called on the international community to work hard “to reduce the common threat of the pandemic” and “to promote a recovery that will build more sustainable, inclusive and gender-equal societies and economies.”

“As the United Nations marks its 75th anniversary in this fragile time, let us reflect on the life and work of Nelson Mandela, who embodied the highest values of the United Nations and who took action and inspired change,” said the secretary-general.

Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on July 18, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on July 18, 2010. However, other groups began celebrating Mandela Day on July 18, 2009.

The United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize was established by the UN General Assembly in June 2014 to recognize the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting the purposes and principles of the United Nations while honouring and paying homage to Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition, and social transformation. This year’s laureates are Marianna Vardinoyannis of Greece and Morissanda Kouyate of Guinea, who attended the General Assembly virtual meeting on Monday. The in-person award ceremony will be held at a later date at the UN headquarters in New York.

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