Item 121 - Speech of the President, Nelson Mandela, on acceptance of the Prince of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation

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Speech of the President, Nelson Mandela, on acceptance of the Prince of Asturias Prize for International Cooperation


  • 1992-10-31 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Website

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Acceptance of the Prince of Asturias Prize of International Cooperation

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  • English

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Your Majesty The Queen,
Your Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias,
Your excellencies,
The President of the Prince of Asturias Foundation,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a single and notable honour for me to receive from your Royal Highness, Don Felipe, Prince of Asturias, the Prize for International Co-operation, named after you. This is my third visit to Spain and each has been an occasion for joy and celebration.

In July the world rejoiced with you when Spain hosted the Olympic Games, a spectacular gathering of the world at peace with itself. The ceremonies showed to the world that Spain can unite the old and the new and forge a common identity out of its richness of diverse regions, culture and civilisation.

The world needs peace so that the proud claims in the Charter of the United Nations can be renewed and refashioned to meet the challenges of the future. We must all support the review of the role of the United Nations now being undertaken so that a democratic and stronger United Nations can fulfil the hopes of humanity.

The new international order must not become a cloak for the naked self-interest of powerful states but must be based on solidarity and international law.

During our long years of imprisonment on Robben Island, our real contact with the international community was through the principles of international law and the forums of the United Nations. We were sustained by the support of the international community who, even during the height of the Cold War, by their consensus, united in the rejection of apartheid. It is our great challenge to develop new areas of consensus to consolidate the developments of our era.

The principle of decolonisation and the acceptance of the rights of all nations to belong to and participate equally in the life of the world community must not be debased so as to oppress other peoples.

Further, the acceptance of universally applicable standards of human rights, the enjoyment of which is the right of all human beings must now be strengthened by collective measures under the auspices of the Security Council to avert gross violations of human rights and the crime of all crimes, genocide.

Finally, the international community must, as an urgent priority, establish mechanisms to ensure that the finite resources of our planet are not dissipated.

Africa's heritage of beneficial, cultural, political and social relations with the peoples of other continents is a proud and creative achievement of a human-centred sensibility. We still endeavour to emulate its values. In particular, our relations with Spain, dating back to ancient times, compel us to speculate - what Euro-African culture would have been had Hannibal's elephants reached Rome.

The situation in many parts of the African continent can only be described as calamitous. The spectre of famine, starvation, violence and diseases, such as AIDS, is stalking at a time when science and modern technology are reaching the heights of accomplishment. The international community responds with various forms of aid. We welcome and need this solidarity, with the injunction that what our continent needs, above all, is development, to promote and realise our human potential at its fullest.

The path of peace and justice also depends on the renewal of the North-South debate and the strengthening of international structures of co-operation.

South Africa is preparing to take its rightful place in the international community, no longer as an international pariah but as a country which is about to grasp the challenge of non- racialism and democracy. We must therefore pay our tribute to the international community for its contribution to the struggle against racism and apartheid and, especially, for the sacrifices made by many countries in Africa. Without such solidarity, we would not be walking the last mile to freedom.

A free South Africa must forever remove the spectre of force in its relations with other states.

The policy of a free South Africa will therefore contribute to the democratisation of international political and economic relations. In a changing world, we will support the proposal to declare Africa as a Nuclear-free Zone and the Indian Ocean as a Sea of Peace.

Most importantly, we will play a full and dynamic role in regional and international organisations to help overcome the ravages of apartheid and the destabilisation of our neighbours and to build a world where all are cherished equally. I ask Spain to join in this exciting and bold task.

It gives me great pleasure to accept this prestigious and important award.

Thank you.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 9 Nov 2006 by Helen Joannides




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