Item 1573 - Message to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Identity area

Reference code

ZA COM MR-S-1573


Message to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates


Level of description


Extent and medium

Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

Context area

Name of creator

Archival history

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

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Message to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area



Paragraph beginning: "However, in view of a discussion of such importance and specific significance to me and y country as "Africa Emergency", I have decided to make my contribution not only through this message but also by sending a qualified delegation of members of my Foundation to the summit.. "

Changes made: "y" changed to "my"

Paragraph beginning: "These countries are trying to each the Millennium Goals and stand a good chance of doing so"

Changes made: "each" changed to "reach"



Illustrious authorities of the Italian Republic and other States of the world
Fellow Nobel Peace Laureates
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased and honoured to convey my warm greetings to all who have gathered in Rome for this important Summit. A special greeting goes to the honourable co-chairmen of this meeting, Mikhail Gorbachev and Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome. To them I express my most sincere appreciation for their annual invitation to individual Laureates and representatives of those organizations that have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to discuss the emergencies that afflict our planet and to search for and propose concrete solutions for the attention of civil society, statesmen and politicians.
Every year I follow the work and conclusions of the summit through the documentation that the Gorbachev Foundation Italia sends me regularly because, as you well know, the decision that I took a while ago to withdraw from all political activities means that I cannot be physically present with you.
However, in view of a discussion of such importance and specific significance to me and my country as "Africa Emergency", I have decided to make my contribution not only through this message but also by sending a qualified delegation of members of my Foundation to the summit.
In recent years, various tragic and alarming events have afflicted the African continent that has witnessed millions of victims to the HIV virus, tuberculosis, malaria; millions of refugees and other people have been killed in the numerous "forgotten wars"; millions of acres of tropical rainforest have been destroyed. There are other serious problems of which you are all aware, like the huge numbers of those suffering starvation, lack of drinking water, famine, extremely poverty, the aberrant phenomenon of child-soldiers and many more.
Of all these emergencies, the one I feel to be the greatest priority, partly because it is the one that affects South Africa the most, is the battle against AIDS. South Africans fought a noble cause against apartheid to create a new multi-racial democracy in which everyone may live with dignity. Today, we find ourselves faced with an even greater threat, that of AIDS. In order to combat this evil, which directly threatens our very future, we must engage in an even worse battle than the one against apartheid. I want to call the world's attention to this battle so that the world may support us as it did with apartheid. South Africa has the highest number of AIDS sufferers of any country in the world : 6 million out of a population of 45 million. 600 people die of virus-related illness every day. I often compare the battle against AIDS with the one for human rights because AIDS is a threat for the whole of humanity and for each person's right to exist. AIDS destroys every change for human rights. So we must unite and fight it together.
However, what I want to tell you today is that Africa is not only a story of tragedies and failures, but also of glorious battles which, within a short time, overcome colonial rule. Africa today is busy mapping out a new political, economic, social and cultural program. One the subject of politics, I want to remind you of the significant example of African Union, which is based on the principle of political freedom, meaning that only democratically-elected governments can be full members. This assembly therefore now represents its respective peoples and this has been an essential change.
There are now 22 African states that have agreed to join the African Peer Review Mechanism, the African Union body tasked with assessing African countries' adherence to principles of sound governance. Through this mechanism, by which groups of eminent people are asked to assess the performance of a given country identifying its weaknesses and possible resources to dedicate to key sectors, our governments are learning to interact with each other in a more constructive way for the good of the whole continent.
It is clear that problems exist, but the African leaders are showing that they are up to our expectations. With few exceptions, democracy is spreading through the continent. Of the 53 African countries, two thirds have democratic institutions. Sometimes those institutions are still weak, but it is paramount that whoever cares for Africa should check out the real progress that we are making.
All too often we forget that some of the continent's economies have been growing at rates of about 7% per annum, for 4 or 5 years in a row. These countries are trying to reach the Millennium Goals and stand a good chance of doing so. And there is also another group of countries with growth standing at around 3-4%. Taken together, this is a trend that we cannot ignore, in spite of all the difficulties and challenges still to be faced. But people will only start to see the other face of Africa through recognition of these encouraging results.
Another issue where we have made considerable progress regards women : for the first time in our history, the principle whereby 50% of African Union officers must be women has been accepted. It is not a coincidence that all movements for freedom to rule, like, for example, in South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia, have high levels of female representation in their parliaments. Rwanda actually has one of the highest rates in the world, 49%, even higher than the Scandinavian countries. Another indication of this change is the fact that Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 (the first time it had been awarded to an African women) in recognition of her work to mobilize society, work that combines human rights and environmental matters. This is just one positive example taken from amongst the many lesser-known ones.

Another result that should not be understated is the progressive reduction in the more serious violent conflicts. Without overlooking serious situations like those in the Ivory Coast, Congo and of course in Sudan, several countries are overcoming their conflicts and starting reconstruction processes. Rwanda and Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola are examples of the difficult, yet steady, consolidation of new democratic balance. These effects are a priority for African Union which is also receiving help from the international community and the UN. It is however essential for the negotiations taking place to be managed by the Africans themselves as in Rwanda or in Somalia. It is above all the Africans themselves that must take on their own responsibilities.
I hope that, where possible, the example of the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" may be followed. This was instituted in South Africa and uses a system of reconciliation, making peace between victims and perpetrators possible in the medium-long term. Hate will never end if we produce more hate; victims who become perpetrators or perpetrators who become victims will never bring about peace, nor deem the mourning, not get democracy up and running. Of course we need to bear in mind the inevitable mistakes made in beating a path that had rarely been beaten in the past.
But the example of South African can be studied, improved and re-applied in other parts of the African continent and the world (as other countries like Sierra Leone, East Timor and Bosnia are trying to do) where ethnic, religious and political hatred surpass any pragmatic conflict resolution involving their populations in a vicious circle of endless violence.
The road to peace and freedom is long and difficult. We need patience and determination and the ability not to let ourselves be blinded by the desire for retaliation and revenge.
When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
I wish you all a fruitful summit. I look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations.
I thank you.

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation. Accessioned on 2015/07/03 by Rivo and Themba




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places