On the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 26 December, Secretary-General António Guterres was among the UN leaders paying tribute, describing him as “an unwavering voice for the voiceless.”
“Archbishop Tutu was a towering global figure for peace and an inspiration to generations across the world. During the darkest days of apartheid, he was a shining beacon for social justice, freedom and non-violent resistance,” he said.
Mr. Guterres praised Archbishop Tutu’s relentless determination to build global solidarity for a free and democratic South Africa, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
He added that as Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Tutu also made an immeasurable contribution to ensuring a peaceful, yet just, transition to a democratic South Africa.
“His great wisdom and experience were always communicated with humanity, humour and heart,” said Mr. Guterres.
The Secretary-General called Archbishop Tutu “a steadfast champion of multilateralism”, pointing to important roles he had, including as a distinguished member of the UN Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, and on a High Level Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza in 2008.
Mr. Guterres noted that in recent decades, Archbishop Tutu continued to fight passionately for action on many of the critical issues of our time, such as poverty, climate change, human rights and HIV/AIDS, among others.
“Although Archbishop Tutu’s passing leaves a huge void on the global stage, and in our hearts, we will be forever inspired by his example to continue the fight for a better world for all,” he said.