Address by President Nelson Mandela at unveiling of Human Rigths Monument, Ottawa - Canada

24 September 1998

Minister Lloyd Axworthy; Your Excellencies, Honourable Bill Commanda, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege, as a South African, to be invited to unveil this memorial in honour of an exemplary Canadian.

Had I not been on my way to your Parliament, I would have wanted to devote more time to the occasion.

John Humphrey was one of those rare men and women who make the world the theatre of the operations. As an architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights he became a citizen not only of Canada but of the world.

For those who had to fight for their freedom, such as ourselves, the Declaration vindicated the justice of our cause. There is therefore special pleasure for us in acknowledging John Humphrey's contribution to the advancement of humanity.

Our visit to Canada also brings an opportunity to thank the Canadian people for their steadfast support, through the years of struggle and now as we rebuild our country.

Having benefited from your commitment, and that of the entire international community, to the principle that human rights are the rights of all people, everywhere, South Africa now works wherever it can to implement the perspectives contained in the Declaration.

Though we can celebrate many advances in the frontiers of political freedom in the past fifty years, millions still live in conditions that prevent them from the full enjoyment of the rights they have been formally accorded. In many respects the gap between those who are secure in their rights and those who are not, is growing.

The best tribute that we could pay to a person such as John Humphrey is to dedicate ourselves to the eradication of poverty, disease, hunger, violence and insecurity.

That is why the developing countries are working together, and seeking closer co-operation with industrialised countries such as Canada, to create a new world order which will help make poverty and underdevelopment something of the past.

May this monument inspire all who see it to join hands in a partnership for world peace, prosperity and equity.

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)

Source: South African Government Information Website