UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that Nelson Mandela embodied the highest values of the world body, in remembrance of the late South African leader who was a hallmark in the fight against apartheid.
A general view of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit held during the ongoing UN General Assembly's annual top-level meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 24, 2018. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that Nelson Mandela embodied the highest values of the world body, in remembrance of the late South African leader who was a hallmark in the fight against apartheid. (Photo: Xinhua)
In his remarks to the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit held during the ongoing UN General Assembly's annual top-level meeting, the UN chief said Mandela "devoted his life to serving his community -- as a lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, a peacemaker, president and a respected elder."
"He cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in equality and harmony," he added.
Guterres recalled the changes Mandela has brought about both to South Africa as well as to the world, saying "under his leadership, South Africa expanded access to healthcare, education, housing, water, sanitation and electricity," and beyond South Africa's borders, he "was a profound influence for peace and democracy."
"Let us commit to build on Nelson Mandela's legacy so that all people everywhere can enjoy peace, prosperity and inclusive and sustainable development," Guterres said in concluding his remarks.
In December 2017, the UN member states decided to hold the peace summit to mark the 100th anniversary of Mandela's birth.
Before that, in 2015, the UN decided to award the Nelson Mandela Prize every five years to two individuals who have made significant contributions to the service of humanity.
Also, each year, the UN observes Nelson Mandela International Day by promoting and engaging in community service.
Mandela was born in July 1918 and died five years ago due to a respiratory infection. He had been imprisoned for 27 years for his role in the fight against apartheid and became the first black president of South Africa.