Message by Nelson Mandela to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland

6 July 2005

I am writing to you as one of eight most powerful leaders in the world. As leaders of the major industrialized democracies, you are used to having to take hard decisions and make difficult political choices, balancing the equally valid but conflicting desires of different people. At Gleneagles next month, at the G8 Summit, you will be asked one of the most important questions you will have every faced : are you ready to do everything you can to help free one billion people from the most desperate poverty imaginable?

This question is so important because if you do to do everything you can to help the poorest people in the world, hundreds of millions of people, mainly children, are going to die unnecessarily or continue living on the absolute margin of existence. And if you don’t take this decision now, half of Africa who are children will grow up in the next 10 years without hope.

But this decision is not as difficult as the others you have to take. There are no conflicting objectives here. This is the right thing to do but it is also in your interests to see all countries in the world thriving, peaceful, happy and part of the global community. And no-one is telling you not do this. Your people want you to make this decision. They know that it is in their interests and they know it is the right thing to do. They do not want to live in a world where one billion people are slaves to poverty.

And, it is also not that difficult to do this because it is not so expensive to do this. We are talking about an extra 1% of your governments’ budgets. That is all. 1% to give one billion people true freedom, from want as well as tyranny. You have that opportunity. An opportunity like no generation of leaders before you has had. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great and to be courageous. You can be that great generation. You have it within your power to act and act now to change the lives of millions of people. I plead with you to do this right thing.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation