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Geunine Need and Justice is one of Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, or the guiding principles of our work. In many cases, poverty is a result of discrimination and racism and Heifer seeks to empower those who are disenfranchised because of their ethnicity, sex or social status. On the day of his passing, Heifer pauses to reflect on the life and lessons of former South African President and tireless advocate for justice, Nelson Mandela. May we remember his work and honor his legacy today and each day in the fight to end poverty and injustice.  

The following is a speech Mandela gave in July 2005 in Johannesburg, South Africa, during Live 8. 

I am pleased to be here today to support Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty, in Concert with Live 8. As you know, I formally announced my retirement from public life and should really not be here. However, as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.

We shall never forget how millions of people around the world joined us in solidarity to fight the injustice of our oppression while we were incarcerated. Those efforts paid off and we are able to stand here and join the millions around the world in support of freedom against poverty.

Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times - times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation.

We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school.

We live in a world where the Aids pandemic threatens the very fabric of our lives. Yet we spend more money on weapons than on ensuring treatment and support for the millions infected by HIV.

It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger.

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

While poverty persists, there is no true freedom. The steps that are needed from the developed nations are clear.

The first is ensuring trade justice. I have said before that trade justice is a truly meaningful way for the developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty. The second is an end to the debt crisis for the poor countries. The third is to deliver much more aid and make sure it is of the highest quality.

In a few days time the leaders of the G8 nations will meet in Scotland. They will face perhaps the most critical question that our world has had to face: How do we remove the face of poverty from our world?

So much of our common future will depend on the actions and plans of these leaders. They have a historical opportunity to open the door to hope and the possibility of a better future for all. History and the generations to come will judge our leaders by the decisions they make in the coming weeks.

I say to all those leaders: do not look the other way; do not hesitate. It is easy to make promises but never go to action. We ask our leaders to demonstrate their commitment and not engage with hollow promises. We want action. It is within your power to prevent genocide against humanity. We stand tall and we await your direction.

We thank you for coming here today and we thank the millions of people around the world supporting these efforts. Today should not be the only time we rally in support of eradication of poverty. This should be an ongoing effort. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.

I thank you.

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Author

Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.