STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY Mr. YEMDAOGO ERIC TIARE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF BURKINA FASO TO THE UNITED NATIONS, CHAIRMAN OF AFRICAN GROUP FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2020 ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF NELSON MANDELA INTERNATIONAL DAY NEW YORK JULY 20 2020
Mr President of the General Assembly, Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to be here in my capacity as Chair of the African Group for the month of July, and to deliver the following statement on behalf of the Group. Today, as the world commemorates Nelson Mandela International Day, we honor a great individual who fought a noble and great battle for freedom, equality, humanity, dignity, democracy, peace, reconciliation and social justice. Nelson Mandela during his extraordinary life was a force of nature and a catalyst for change. He showed the world that it is possible even under the most challenging circumstances that if we remain focused and determined we can make a change while remaining on the side of truth and justice. As a dedicated young leader who spent 27 years of his life in jail because of his courage during the apartheid era in South Africa; he exemplified an importance that outdistanced his country and his own era. He showed resilience at a difficult time for many countries particularly in Africa. He resisted the oppressors and remained focused in the struggle in a place and time where the color of ones skin determined what a person was entitled to. In his long walk to freedom, through courage and strength, Madiba showed us what true heroes are made of. Excellencies, The struggle and principles that Madiba stood for have never been more relevant as we navigate through these difficult times and strive to overcome some of our greatest global challenges. There are indeed so many lessons that we can draw from the life and times of Nelson Mandela. Today while we remain conscious of the COVID 19 Pandemic and as we struggle to find solutions that should bring the world together to collectively overcome this scourge, we see a resurgence of intolerance that makes us question many of the strides taken by leaders such as Madiba to resist the forces that push towards division rather than unity. Nelson Mandela urged us to accept our differences and see the strength in our diversity. He taught us to forgive. He taught to listen. And he taught us to respect. And most importantly he taught us about Responsibility. Permit me here to draw upon these lessons and highlight the issue of Responsibility. In his words, standing before Parliament in 1995 while giving his State of the Nation address as President he said, and I quote: "The time has come to accept in our hearts and minds that with freedom comes responsibility." End of quote. Understanding this responsibility and obligation to those who fought with him for the freedom of a people for their basic rights is what made him stand apart as such an iconic leader. And we as today’s leaders and decision makers, in our policies and actions have an obligation to ensure that we remain conscious of our responsibilities to collectively work towards building better societies for all. This responsibility calls upon us to remain focused on the big picture, this world and this humanity, for which our energies should be channeled towards protecting and saving. Every decision that we make today can either directly or indirectly affect the interests of future generations, those born and those to yet to be born in the decades and centuries to come. We owe it to them. Excellencies, Let me conclude with the following thoughts: As our hero rests, he has done his part and has left the responsibility for us to continue with his legacy. The magnitude of the impact he made is of historical and social importance that we continue to feel across the globe. As we navigate through these challenging times, we must keep the spirit of hope and optimism alive. In his words “ As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” May we shine like Mandela for those who are around us and beyond; I thank you for your kind attention.