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Haile Selassie: League of Nations, 1936

“Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.”

Haile Selassie: United Nations, 1963

“…until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil…”

Haile Selassie, known by birth as Tafari Makonnen, was an Ethiopian regent and Emperor. He was titled by his people, “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and “Emperor of the nation”.

His most testing moment came, when the much better equipped army of Italy led by Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Given the overwhelming might of the Italian army, the Ethiopians put up a strong resistance and held back the Italians for longer than expected.

Nevertheless, he was deposed and forced to leave the country. However, he triumphantly returned in 1941 (with help from Great Britain) and went onto become a prominent symbol of African independence.

Haile Selassie was the only statesmen to address both the League of Nations and United Nations. In 1936 he addressed the League of Nations criticising the use of chemical weapons in the invasion of his country. Ethiopia was a charter member of the United Nations and Haile Selassie expounded themes of multi-lateralism and collective security.

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