By Colleta Dewa
Johannesburg- Experts at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in South Africa say the recent recognition of the late Nelson Mandela during the United Nations General Assembly should be an eye-opener that peaceful resolution of conflict makes the world a better place, adding that the late liberation icon deserved international recognition.
Their comments came following the recognition of Mandela during the United Nations General Assembly this week.
The current president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa on September 24 unveiled the historic statue of Tata Nelson Mandela in front of the New York United Nations building.
The gesture was in remembrance of Mandela's struggles against injustice.
The statue was a gift to the United Nations from South Africa.
Mandela’s journey from the anti-apartheid leader, to prisoner, to president, to global statesman, his "Long Walk to Freedom" has become one of the most influential and significant tales in history.
As the United Nations seeks to harness the soaring symbolism of Mandela’s legacy, leaders from across the world attended the Nelson Mandela peace summit after the unveiling of his statue in honour of the late hero.
Allan Ngari, a senior researcher for Transnational Threats and International Crime Division at ISS, said the UN recognizes that the world could have been a better place if conflicts were resolved the peaceful Mandela way.
“Honouring the late Mandela is recognition of a model that has worked and that has the potential of being replicated, taking into consideration local contexts, to promote peaceful resolution of conflict globally.
Many years after the end of apartheid, the spirit behind the peaceful resolution to oppression that a majority Of South Africans endured, remains an inspiration to humanity. This is the legacy that Nelson Mandela left. He certainly deserves this honor for being the chief architect of a process that averted further suffering and what would have been the death of many through a civil war in South Africa,” said Ngari.
He added that the legacy that was left by the late world hero is enough evidence that Africa has the potential to resolve its issues without external interference.
Ngari added that the current generation of African leaders should emulate the smart politics championed by the late icon.
“Africa has the potential to resolve its problems. Mandela was not always in government and in fact, it was the efforts of the masses that he led that brought about the end of apartheid. The power of the people to stand up against injustice against all odds is manifestly powerful. This is worth noting for all African states that continue to suppress the will of the people,” he added.
Ngana, however, went on to criticise the UN for not having done enough to help South Africa during apartheid.
He said honouring Mandela could have been the UN’s way of trying to clear their guilty conscience regarding atrocities that were committed during apartheid. He believes some of the mayhems could have been avoided if the UN had done more.
“Obviously, there has been criticism that there was little support at the UN level and some states for the challenges that SA faced during apartheid. This is because of the bureaucratic nature of the organisation, which is itself not perfect in its functions.
“This gesture could, however, be seen as a recognition of the failure of states to rally against the evil that apartheid represented and a memorial to remind states that this sort of crime against humanity should not happen to any other group of people anywhere in the world,” he added.
Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, head of special projects in the office of the ISS Executive Director, said Mandela deserve the recognition and honour from the United Nations for his outstanding leadership principles that helped make the world a better place.
“Nelson Mandela’s legacy centres on peace-making in difficult circumstances and the role of negotiated settlements. At a time when Africa is still ravaged by conflicts – most notably in South Sudan where warring factions are putting self-interest over the country’s peace and stability – this is an important lesson for all in power,” she said.
Maunganidze added that individuals and leaders need to work together to if Mandela’s vision of a unified Africa is to be achieved.
“The longer-term vision of Mandela to realise a unified non-racial South Africa (and ultimately Africa) is still a work in progress. The greatest lesson thus is that change is a process and takes time. This change cannot rest on one person alone, but should have the buy-in of as many people as possible,” Maunganidze added.
The Mandela peace summit was attended by several influential leaders who paid tribute to the late leader.
His widows Graca Machel as well President Cyril Ramaphosa were also in attendance.
In her address to the Nelson Mandela peace summit, the United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said continued unrest in the world was derailing the Mandela’s global peace efforts.
“Dialogue is key and courage is needed to take the first steps to build trust and gain momentum. Mandela represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering,” said Garces.