Item 1068 - Message to the Opening Ceremony of the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent - Protecting Human Dignity

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ZA COM MR-S-1068


Message to the Opening Ceremony of the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent - Protecting Human Dignity


  • 2003-12-02 (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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28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent - Protecting Human Dignity

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  • English

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We wish to convey to all present at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference our sincere apologies for not being able to attend in person.

We do, however, want you to know that we are with you in spirit.

The work that you do has inspired generations of human beings committed to building a world of compassionate caring for each other across hostile divides. And in a world that remains divided and in conflict, your work continues to hold aloft a flame of hope.

We dearly wish that we could have been there with you to pay our tributes and to assure you of our unstinting support for the message you send out into the world.

The theme of this year’s conference revolves around the protection of human dignity.

This focus speaks to me in a very special manner. In the Founding Provisions of the Constitution of democratic South Africa the first and leading value stated is that of human dignity. That first statement of values speaks of ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.’

The representative founders of our Constitution sought to communicate to us and the world the belief that human dignity stands at the base of and is generic to all quests for a better world.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent have stood at the forefront of international and multilateral efforts to secure human dignity in conditions that were at most times fundamentally undermining of dignity of individuals and groups. That you chose to make that theme your focus of this year’s conference speaks of the consistency of your commitment.

The beginning of the twenty-first century has brought, unfortunately, more portents of dehumanising strife and division. New divides are appearing in the post Cold War era. We are faced with the threat of global divisions and tensions that could be as deep and even deeper than those of the Cold War. And those global divisions always undermine respect for human dignity.

In a world still so grossly unequal and divided, both in material terms and in terms of power and influence, our hope for orderly co-existence and for the protection of human dignity lies in global co-operation and an uncompromising multilateral approach to dealing with our problems, conflicts, differences and challenges.

For almost one and a half centuries the International Red Cross and Red Crescent had stood as such an organ of international and multilateral co-operation. To speak with you today is a proud affirmation of the values of global co-operation and respect for the basic human rights of all, irrespective of all social or national differences. We salute you and join with you in this quest for human solidarity and caring.

May your deliberations be fruitful, and may your noble work continue to be a flame of hope and inspiration as it has been to me and others in circumstance of great adversity. And may the quest for a world of human dignity never be defeated. May there always be such as you in the world who believe in the basic dignity of all human beings.

And as always in these circumstances, I cannot conclude without referring to the HIV/AIDS pandemic – without doubt the greatest threat faced by humankind today. The most basic dignity, the right to live and to live healthily, is under threat from this destructive pandemic. You have a crucial role to play in this regard as well.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 03/03/09 by Razia Saleh




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