UN: UN pledges acts of kindness and goodwill to mark Mandela's Day

New York, US (PANA) - The UN pledged on Friday to promote "desperately needed" acts of kindness and goodwill and uplift poor and underdeveloped communities worldwide.

Speaking at a special event in New York to mark the Nelson Mandela International Day, the UN General Assembly President, Mr. John Ashe, said: "For the past five years, we have come together to celebrate the life and spirit of a unique individual who touched the entire world – Nelson Mandela – the Madiba."

He recalled that, in 2009, the Assembly declared 18 July "Nelson Mandela International Day",
in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace
and freedom.

Mr. Ashe noted that "Today is the first observance since Mr. Mandela’s passing last

He stated: "To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom."

"This year, for the first time, we celebrate his birthday without him. But while our hearts hang heavy with loss, we have his indelible memory and his important legacy to carry forward," the Assembly president said.

He also said that, every year on Mandela Day, people around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others, by volunteering in a hospital, tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service.

According to him: "We may not be able to change the sorrows or the tragedies of the world singlehandedly, but indeed, it is in our hands to make a difference with our individual 67 minutes."

He also stressed that, the campaign: "Take Action, Inspire Change" is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Nelson Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and president of South Africa.

"We cannot give in to despair and despondency, because each inspired action of service,
kindness or generosity will bring us closer to the realization that if we give our all we can
strive for a better tomorrow.

"Hence, it is critical to involve each and every one of us in the process to craft a global
development agenda, he added. A future plan must create a vision of justice, prosperity a
nd opportunity for all the peoples of the world, while honouring the planet," he stated.

Mr. Ashe also added: "In this first year without Madiba, each and every one of us gathered here knows that he will be remembered and revered for many generations to come. His impact on the world was so profound and meaningful, that his name will be spoken by our children and our children’s children."

Also speaking at the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, "Nelson Mandela
sacrificed his freedom for human rights. He was also a champion of sustainable development."

Ban remembered Mandela’s personal connection to the earth as a gardener. Even in jail, he gained the right to plant a garden on the roof of the prison.

The UN chief quoted Mandela: "To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest
it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small
patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom."

In tribute to that, Ban joined volunteers from "MillionTreesNYC" and UN staff to tend to dozens of newly planted trees near UN headquarters and in the community of East Harlem in New York City.

He also said that New York City’s trees remove an impressive 2,200 tons of pollutants from the air each year, noting that, "the city is also aiming to increase its urban forest by 20 per cent. These valuable initiatives show that everyone can be part of the climate solution."

On a global scale, the secretary-general said creative ideas were advancing progress and
called for a major global push for action.

In September, Ban will convene a climate summit at the UN with Heads of State and Government, along with leaders from business and finance, local government and civil society.

He also noted that, honouring Mandela’s legacy included addressing climate change, promoting sustainable development and helping all people to enjoy lives of dignity.

He recalled that Mandela wrote a letter to the UN in 2010, when the UN General Assembly
declared this Day, asking the organisation to honour him by honouring millions of people,
who contributed to the struggle for freedom everywhere.

"The best way to commemorate these struggles is for people everywhere to work with and
within communities to make this a better world," Mandela wrote.

PANA reports that the event was attended by US civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, and representatives of UN member states.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 18July2014

18 Julho 2014 18:34:50

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