|Nelson Mandela |
© Leon Neal / AFP
In 1990, the ILO was privileged to welcome Mr Mandela, then Vice-President of the African National Congress, to the 77th Session of our International Labour Conference. He thanked the ILO and delegates to the Conference for their support in the struggle against the apartheid regime and declared: “All of us on Robben Island and other jails could hear your voices demanding our release very clearly. We drew inspiration from this."
He also asked that we “walk the last mile together”. We were honoured to have played a small part in this journey towards social justice, dialogue, equality and freedom of association.
Today, these values are at the centre of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Mandela’s centenary is a reminder to us all that we must stand up for the most vulnerable and prepare a future that works for all. It needs to be a future with decent work.
Decent work is based on the efforts of personal dignity, on democracies that deliver for people and economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development."Nelson Mandela
When the ILO awarded Mandela with its first-ever Decent Work Prize, he defined it very well: “Decent work is based on the efforts of personal dignity, on democracies that deliver for people and economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development.”
As our societies are becoming increasingly unequal and as they are increasingly perceived as being unfair, the world desperately needs another Mandela, another champion of freedom, of tolerance and of dialogue.
Mandela will be a lasting source of inspiration. So let us walk the last mile together in Mandela’s spirit – in our pursuit of social peace and social justice. Let us do it with his passion, his commitment, his perseverance, his integrity, and above all, his humanity.