Former South African President Nelson Mandela says poverty is equivalent to slavery and apartheid, and must be eliminated with the support of the world's richest nations.
Mr. Mandela is in Britain at the government's invitation as part of Prime Minister Tony Blair's drive to push for poverty alleviation in developing countries, especially Africa.
The former South African president spoke to several thousand people at a midday rally in London's Trafalgar Square, where he said poverty is a violation of fundamental human rights.
"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural," he said. "It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings."
Mr. Mandela said the world needs a fairer trading system, and the developed countries have been falling behind on their commitments.
"Trade justice is a truly meaningful way for the developed countries to show commitment to bringing about an end to global poverty," he said.
Mr. Mandela will be speaking on similar themes to the finance ministers of the seven leading industrial powers who begin two days of meetings in London on Friday. And he is challenging those leaders to act.
"Do not look the other way. Do not hesitate," he said. "Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision."
Britain is currently chairman of the leading industrialized nations group, and Prime Minister Blair is seeking a commitment to double development aid to Africa.
British Treasury chief Gordon Brown intends to use this week's meeting to get support for his plan to raise $50 billion a year in development aid through the sale of bonds.