UN declares July 18 Nelson Mandela Day

2009-11-11 09:32

THE UN General Assembly yesterday declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela

International Day” to mark the South African anti-apartheid leader’s

contribution to world peace.

A resolution adopted by consensus by the 192-member world body

calls for commemorations every year starting next year on July 18 – Mandela’s

birthday – to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s contribution to

resolving conflicts and promoting race relations, human rights and


By adopting the resolution, the general assembly president, Ali

Treki, said the international community was expressing its appreciation for “a

great man” who suffered for the sake of people everywhere.

Mandela (91) led the fight against apartheid in South Africa as

head of the African National Congress’ armed wing. He was convicted of sabotage

and other crimes and served 27 years in prison. When he was freed in 1990,

Madiba, his clan name, supported reconciliation and helped lead South Africa’s

transition toward multi-racial democracy.

Mandela became the country’s first president to win in a fully

democratic election and led South Africa from 1994-99. He is celebrated today as

an international statesman and continues to speak out on human rights and other

global issues.

The resolution recognises Mandela’s “leading role in and support

for Africa’s struggle for liberation and Africa’s unity, and his outstanding

contribution to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South


It also acknowledges his “contribution to the struggle for

democracy internationally and in the promotion of a culture of peace throughout

the world”.

US diplomat Laura Ross said her country was founded on the belief

that all people were created equal and saw in Mandela “a hero and kindred


Tanzania’s UN ambassador Augustine Mahiga called Mandela “a

visionary leader and an icon of social freedom” whose life has been the ultimate

definition of peace, both in South Africa and throughout the world.

Perhaps Mandela’s most outstanding contribution to world peace,

Mahiga said, was his call for reconciliation with South Africa’s white

oppressors, an example that should be emulated by all.

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