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Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18
For freedom, justice and democracy

Message from H.E. Ali Abdussalam Treki,
President of the UN General Assembly

It is my honour to welcome all Member States as well as all Observer States of the United Nations to this informal meeting of the plenary to conduct a General Assembly celebration of the inaugural Nelson Mandela International Day.

As we all can recall, this august body had on 10 November 2009 overwhelmingly adopted resolution 64/13 which declared 18 July, the birthday of Nelson Mandela, as the “Nelson Mandela International Day”, to be observed each year beginning in 2010.

As mentioned in the resolution, this rare and exceptional action of the General Assembly was in recognition of “the long history of Nelson Rolihlahla 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”, and also of his “values and his dedication to the service of humanity, as a humanitarian, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities”.

An icon and an exemplary figure, Mr. Mandela is one of the greatest moral and political leaders of our time, an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize, the presidency of his country and international acclaim and respect as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. Mr. Mandela’s life has also been based upon dialogue, an apt example in view of the many conflicts that plague the world today.

Celebration of the Nelson Mandela International Day should also be a reminder to the entire international community on the imperative for social equality and justice and the pursuit of peace through dialogue. It is a call to action to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

As Mr. Mandela has himself often said, “it’s in our hands” to create a better world. Let us take inspiration from his example and resolve to tirelessly and unrelentlessly work for a better just, peaceful, world.

The above statement was made on behalf of the President of the UN General Assembly, at the informal meeting of its plenary on 16 July 2010 which celebrated the inaugural Nelson Mandela International Day.