Guterres paid the tributes in a message to mark the Nelson Mandela International Day commemorated annually on July 18.
According to him, the anti-apartheid campaigner and first democratically-elected president of South Africa is “one of the most iconic and inspirational leaders of our time.”
The UN declared the Nelson Mandela Day in November 2009 as a global call to action under the premise that everyone has the power to make an impact on the planet.
“Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice.
“He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his liberty and even his life for them,” Guterres said.
The Secretary-General noted that with hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world, Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and an end to racism were particularly relevant today.
“As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development and human rights for all, we would be well served to recall the example set by Mandela.
“Our best tribute is found in actions. Every one of us can step up and act for enduring change.
“Nelson Mandela’s message to the world is clear and we all have the duty to do so.
“On this day of reflection on Nelson Mandela’s life and work, let us embrace his legacy and aspire to emulate his example,” the UN Chief said.
Africa News24 (AN24) recalls 95 year-old Mandela, who led South Africa between 1994 and 1999, died on December 5, 2013, after suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection.