14 July 2005
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has made former South African president Nelson Mandela a goodwill ambassador in recognition of his “exemplary contribution to international peace and understanding”.
Mandela was awarded the title by Unesco director-general Koichiro Matsuura during a ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
The award recognises Mandela’s “outstanding leadership in the fight against apartheid and racial discrimination, in his country and worldwide, his dedication to reconciliation between different communities, his unfailing commitment to democracy, equality and learning, [and] his support for all the oppressed of the Earth.”
In 1991, Mandela and then SA president FW de Klerk were awarded Unesco’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize. Two years later they shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mandela served as South Africa’s first democratically elected president from 1994 to 1999, overseeing South Africa’s transition from minority rule and winning international respect for promoting reconciliation.
Since his retirement, he has actively worked for a number of social and human rights organisations.
As a Unesco goodwill ambassador, Mandela joins an outstanding group of celebrity advocates who generously use their talent and status to promote the organisation’s work and ideals.
They include Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus; HRH Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxemburg; Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand; and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum.