UN declares 18 July Mandela Day

12 November 2009

The United Nations has declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day”, in recognition of the former South African president’s contribution to global peace and freedom.

The resolution, to commemorate Mandela’s long-standing commitment to promoting conflict resolution, race relations, human rights, reconciliation and gender equality, was adopted by the 192-member UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Nelson Mandela International Day will be observed annually on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday, starting in 2010, when the former anti-apartheid leader will turn 92 years old.

By adopting the resolution, the UN expressed its appreciation for “a great man who had suffered for the sake of people everywhere”, said General Assembly president Ali Treki, recognizing Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment, most of which was spent in the notorious Robben Island prison off the coast of Cape Town.

After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela became the first president elected in a fully representative democratic ballot in post-apartheid South Africa, holding office from 1994 to 1999 in accordance with the country’s Constitution.

Speaking at an event to mark Mandela’s 91st birthday in New York this year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mandela was “a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nations.

“He inspired people across the world, and across the generations,” Ban said, paying tribute to Mandela’s contributions to a democratic, multi-racial South Africa and his tireless efforts to promote peace and human dignity worldwide.

“May we all continue to benefit from his wisdom, his good works and good humour for many years to come.”

Source: United Nations