UN declares July 18 Nelson Mandela Day

The UN General Assembly on Tuesday declared July 18 “Nelson Mandela International Day” to mark the anti-apartheid leader’s contribution to peace.

A resolution adopted by consensus by the 192-member world body calls for commemorations every year starting in 2010 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 reconciliation.

By adopting the resolution, 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 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, he 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 to 1999. 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 Africa.”

It also acknowledges his “contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and in the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.”

United States diplomat Laura Ross said the United States was founded on the belief that all people were created equal and saw in Mandela “a hero and kindred spirit”.

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, he said, was his call for reconciliation with South Africa’s white oppressors, an example that should be emulated by all. - Sapa-AP



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