UN: First-ever UN Nelson Mandela Prize winners honoured at General Assembly

New York, US (PANA) -The UN General Assembly on Friday marked Nelson Mandela International Day, which is observed on 18 July by awarding the first-ever UN Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, recognizing the South African leader’s contributions to democracy, justice and reconciliation and his dedication to the service of humanity.

UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa, who spoke at an informal meeting of the
193-member body, stated: "Nelson Mandela International Day is a global call to action for all
citizens of the world, to take up the challenge and follow in the formidable footsteps of Madiba,
a man who transformed his life, served his country and freed his people."

The prize, he explained, was designed to honour and recognize the "outstanding achievements" of two distinguished individuals, one female and one male, who have dedicated their lives to the service to humanity, particularly in the promotion of reconciliation, social cohesion and community development.

The first two laureates of the prize are Dr. Helena Ndume of Namibia and Jorge Fernando
Branco Sampaio of Portugal.

Dr. Ndume is an ophthalmologist whose life’s work has been the treatment of
blindness and eye-related illnesses, both in Namibia and throughout the developing world.

Mr. Sampaio became a leader in the struggle for the restoration of democracy
in Portugal, and served as Deputy Minister for External Cooperation; as Mayor of Lisbon
from 1989 to 1995; and from 1996 to 2006, as President of the country.

According to Mr. Kutesa, the prize was also established to pay homage to Nelson Mandela’s
extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Nelson Mandela inspired the world,
inspired all of us, and although he suffered terrible atrocities, Madiba never sank to the
level of his oppressors; instead, he rose to the moment in history."

Ban said that the UN no longer has apartheid on its agenda, but the international
community continues to confront racial and other forms of discrimination that drive
abuses and violence in all countries.

"On this Day, let us pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by actively fighting for human rights,
development and peace in our communities and our world," the UN chief stressed.

PANA in New York reports that every year, as part of the "Take Action, Inspire Change"
campaign on Nelson Mandela International Day, individuals throughout the world are
encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others by volunteering in a hospital,
tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service

The campaign is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year
that Nelson Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner
of conscience, an international peacemaker and as the President of South Africa.

On Friday at the UN headquarters in New York, staff volunteers partnered with
New York City Parks’ Green Thumb programme to tend community gardens in
Manhattan, as well as lending support to important green spaces in the city.

Some of the volunteers will be working in the newly established UN Food Garden
located inside the UN headquarters complex, which was officially opened on

The UN Food Garden is an initiative of a group of UN staff members who partnered
with NYC Parks’ Green Thumb programme and Brooklyn Grange to transform
unused land at the headquarters complex into sustainable food gardens.

The UN General Assembly declared 18 July 'Nelson Mandela International Day' in
2009 in recognition of the former South African President's contribution to
democracy, justice and reconciliation and to mark his birthday.

Mr. Mandela passed away in December 2013 in Johannesburg at the age of 95.
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  24July2015

24 july 2015 17:37:46

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