Heed Mandela’s calls for solidarity and end to racism: UN deputy chief

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Mandela was the president of South Africa between 1994 and 1999, and helped the country bring an end to apartheid, creating his legacy as a global advocate for human rights.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on Wednesday asked the world to heed Nelson Mandela’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism.

“Madiba’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is threatened by division,” she said, using Mandela’s clan name.

“Hate speech and the denial of facts are moving to the mainstream in liberal democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions. We have seen the alarming trend of people with little or no knowledge of historical facts being infected by the virus of disinformation and distortion, and embracing violent ideologies,” she told a UN General Assembly meeting to mark Nelson Mandela International Day, which falls on July 18.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made these ills more acute while also rolling back years of progress in the global fight against poverty and injustice, said Mohammed.

As always in times of crisis, it is the marginalized and already discriminated against who suffer the most, often while being blamed for problems they did not cause. People of African descent, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, indigenous peoples, ethnic or religious groups and minorities, people who had to flee their homes as refugees bear the brunt of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, she noted.

“These are the ills that Nelson Mandela stood up against to create his lasting legacy,” she said. “It is our individual responsibility to follow Madiba’s example of humility, forgiveness and compassion, while advocating for democracy and peace throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the vital importance of human solidarity and unity, values championed and exemplified by Madiba in his life-long fight for justice,” said Mohammed.

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