Item 1400 - Address to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, New York

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ZA COM MR-S-1400


Address to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, New York


  • 2002-01-31 - 2002-02-04 (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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World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, New York

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  • English

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In 2002,the WEF annual meeting was moved to New York for a one-off change of venue to support the city following the 9/11 attacks of 2001.



The tragic events of 11 September 2001 dramatically brought home to a watching world the horrendous consequences of a lack of peace. The consequent fight against terrorism is ultimately one aspect of our quest for world peace.
The United Nations was established with the one overriding objective of bringing and maintaining peace in the world, preventing war and violent conflict and creating circumstances in which strife amongst and within nations can be avoided and eliminated.

Rather than the events of 11 September dampening our faith in the achievability of those objectives they should spur us on to a renewal and redoubling of our commitment and efforts. Ways must be found to make our world body even more effective in taking the lead and playing a central and forceful role in the management of world affairs.

At the heart of the efforts to create a more peaceful world lie the issues of equality amongst nations and people and the alleviation and elimination of poverty and deprivation. The United Nations and its agencies and the various multi-lateral bodies governing the different aspects of international relations should be seen to be focussing their efforts towards advancing those objectives.

Globalisation has brought people from across the world into ever greater contact with each other. It does not, however, mean that nations, peoples or groups give up or lose what is distinctive to them in order to subscribe to an imposed global identity or set of values and interests. The test of our global efforts will be the measure to which we can accommodate differences while striving for a set of humane objectives for our common world.

It will require for us to genuinely take joint responsibility for the future of humankind. The rich and powerful nations must understand, and demonstrate the understanding, that while large sections of the planet suffer under poverty the future of all of us is under threat. The growing divide between the poor and the wealthy, amongst nations and within societies, impoverishes us all, morally and materially.

Leadership in the developing world is challenged to demonstrate that good governance and a respect for the rights of the citizenry are paramount considerations. The justified claim of developing countries for greater assistance and co-operation to address their pressing social and economic issues is strengthened by a demonstrated commitment to democracy and human rights.

While we talk in global terms about the issues facing humankind, we should not forget, or allow it to be forgotten, that history is made by real active men and women. It is for each and every individual with the opportunity to give leadership, no matter at what level, to commit to those humane values of respect for the dignity of others, and to work towards a better world for all.

There are a number of pertinent questions facing us, amongst others the AIDS pandemic, the debt burden of the poorer nations and the continuing conflicts in many parts of the world. These are all matters to which we can jointly turn our efforts and make a difference.

This century challenges us to give real leadership in moving beyond high-sounding rhetoric. If there is the political will, those objectives are eminently achievable.

I wish you well in your deliberations and thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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