UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL,
SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
Mr Koïchiro Matsuura
of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
on the occasion of the nomination of His Excellency Mr Nelson Mandela
as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Johannesburg, 12 July 2005
DG/2005/116 – Page 1
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have gathered here today for a very special occasion: the ceremony
designating His Excellency Mr Nelson Mandela as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Allow me to begin by thanking you for the warm welcome we have received at the
Nelson Mandela Foundation.
On occasions such as this, I normally introduce the recipient with an outline of
his or her life story and the reasons why UNESCO wishes him or her to become a
Goodwill Ambassador. His case does not need an introduction. Nevertheless, I would
like to say just a few words.
Mr Mandela is a truly exceptional person and yet, at the same time, he is a
down-to-earth human being. This is a magical combination because people
everywhere admire him and place him on the pedestal of human greatness and yet
they also feel they can relate to him easily, as though he were a neighbour, a
colleague, a friend.
Mr Mandela knows his own value and knows he has his place in history but he
is also someone who is admiring of others, who recognizes and appreciates qualities
in others that he does not have himself. In this we can see his humility.
Strictly speaking, I do not feel that we really need to bestow this honour upon
Nelson Mandela because, through his life and his actions, he has always been an
ambassador of goodwill and has always expressed the values and principles for which
UNESCO is known. In a sense, therefore, we are simply catching up with his reality.
Nevertheless, it is important to have this opportunity to express in a formal way
what we have always known and what we have always felt about him. He embodies
the spirit o