BY Paul Ndiho
World Leaders are gathered in New York for the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. A full session UNGA meeting was held Monday on global peace in honor of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth also known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit.
The highlight speaker during Tuesday’s session of the United Nations General Assembly session was U.S. President Donald Trump. He touted American economic growth, and said his administration had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” His comments drew an immediate reaction from members of the audience. On Iran, Trump asked all nations to isolate Iran’s leadership as long as its aggression continues.
On Monday, at a UN peace summit honoring the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, nations from around the world adopted a declaration recommitting to goals of building a peaceful, inclusive and fair society and “to revive the values for which Nelson Mandela stood” by emphasizing human dignity. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the statue would serve as a reminder of the values of Mandela.
“Today, we remember a man of great wisdom, quiet dignity and towering achievement, who worked tirelessly for peace and human dignity for people everywhere,”
A statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the United Nations on Monday. South Africa also gifted the U.N. with a life-sized bronze statue of Mandela — smiling, with arms raised. South African President Cyril Ramphosa said his country is “deeply humbled” to have the father of their democracy honored permanently at the United Nations.
“He would come to represent the hopes of millions of South Africans who dreamt of a life unshackled from a system that would limit their potential and stifle their possibilities based merely on the shade of their skin,”
Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, told the heads of state and U.N. officials to take on “ego-driven” decision-makers, political dogma, greed, and the arms industry.
“As leaders of this time, you have moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end,”
The African Union declared 2014-2024 the Nelson Mandela Decade for Reconciliation in Africa. Mandela died five years ago. In 1994, he was elected South Africa’s first black president.
The UN also paid a tribute to the former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan who died on August 18th at 80, after a short illness. Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
Other highlights for Africa include heads of state addressing the United Nations for the first time, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed, Liberia’s George Weah, Sierra Leone’s Julius Maada Bio and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa.