At Nelson Mandela Memorial Ceremony, World Leaders Honor Life and Legacy of South Africa’s Icon of Peace

Soweto, South Africa, December 10 2013

World leaders, senior government officials, United Nations leadership, and citizens from around the world gathered in Soweto, South Africa to honor the life and legacy of the late Nelson Mandela, a global icon of peace and justice whose work has fundamentally shaped not only his home nation South Africa, but also much of the world.

The ceremony was attended by dignitaries from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including over 100 current and former Heads of State and Government, dozens of celebrities, and key officials from various organizations. Many leaders, such as US President Barack Obama, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, and South Africa’s current President Jacob Zuma had a chance to offer words of remembrance for Mandela, as well as offer promises to continue the enormously powerful work he had begun in promoting peace, tolerance, and sustainable development.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the legacy Mandela left for Africa, the global South, and the entire world. “South Africa has lost a father. The world has lost a beloved friend and mentor. Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time. He was one of the greatest teachers, and he taught by example,” Mr. Ban told the over 10,000 attendees at the stadium.

President of the 68th UN General Assembly Ambassador John Ashe described the importance of continuing Mandela’s message of peace. “We are gathered here today at this ‘ceremony of remembrance’ to honor his memory, recount his achievements and, I hope, ensure that his good deeds are never forgotten and that his legacy lives on,” Ashe said.

In September 2013, Mandela was honored with a high-level recognition during the 2013 South-South Awards at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on the eve of the opening of the 68th UN General Assembly. The South-South Awards gala was hosted under the guidance and leadership of the South-South Steering Committee for Sustainable Development (SS-SCSD).

Mandela was awarded the Humanitarian Achievement Award – an honor bestowed on leaders who have made extraordinary progress in advancing the causes of South-South cooperation, promotion of peace, and building global respect for the fundamental values of the United Nations.

In addition to his leadership of the anti-Apartheid struggle against white oppression in South Africa, and being the first democratically elected black president of the nation, Mandela was also a tireless campaigner for South-South Cooperation between and among countries of the developing world. In many speeches and statements, Mandela extolled the virtues and successes of countries of the global South helping one another to promote better governance, create healthy democracies, and respect the rights and dignity of the people.