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

Commemorative Events for 2012

Events at UN Headquarters in New York

New York

An informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters on the morning of 18 July was devoted to “Building a Caring World – Nelson Mandela’s Vision.”

Speakers included Mr. Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa; Professor Ibrahim Gambari, last Chair of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; Dr. Enuga Reddy, former Principal Secretary of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; and Ms. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former member of the anti-apartheid movement.

Two South African graduate students at the University of Cape Town Opera School, Mr. Thesele Kemane, a bass baritone, and Ms. Bongiwe Nakani, a mezzo soprano, performed during the General Assembly meeting.

Watch the archived webcast of the event.

In keeping with the theme of "Take Action! Inspire Change", staff from UN Headquarters in New York volunteered at the Bowery Mission, preparing and serving food to homeless men and women.

Download the Media AdvisoryPDF document and the Press ReleasePDF document

General Assembly hall

The UN General Assembly marked Nelson Mandela
International Day at a special meeting on 18 July 2012

A large banner at the visitors entrance to UN Headquarters encouraged visitors to devote 67 minutes of their time to public service in honour of Mr. Mandela.

UN volunteers handed out postcards to passers-by on the south-east corner of 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue -- the corner was named “Nelson and Winnie Mandela Corner” in 1984, in recognition of their fight against apartheid in South Africa.

And in Harlem, ProjectArt, an after-school, weekends and summer visual arts education program for children and youth, marked the day by teaching 30 children aged 4 to 12 about Nelson Mandela and having them write notes and make drawings inspired by Mr. Mandela.

Events around the World

The UN's network of information centres organized a variety of volunteer events and commemorations.

Accra, Ghana

The Information Centre in Accra marked the day with a forum at the Senior Correctional Centre, a correctional facility also known as the Borsal Institute, currently holding 116 inmates between the ages of 13 and 18 years for various offenses such as rape, theft and assault. The forum, on the theme of “The Legacy of Nelson Mandela, from Prison to President,” was held to inspire and motivate the inmates of the Centre, and to discourage negative lifestyles. All the 116 inmates and 50 officers of the correctional facility attended, and many of them participated in a question-and-answer session. UNESCO-donated books on HIV/AIDS were given to the most active participants. The event also included a screening of the Secretary-General’s video message.

Antananarivo, Madagascar

In partnership with the South Africa Embassy and the Institute of Political Study (IEP), the Information Centre in Antananarivo organized a ceremony which included video messages by the Secretary-General, a performance by a choir, and a screening of the film “Invictus.” Ambassadors, politicians and members of various institutions and Government were presents at the ceremony, which took pale at the IEP. In collaboration with Shoprite supermarket and UNICEF as sponsors of the activity, UN staff and girl scouts offered school kits to children, and soup and bread to residents of an old people’s home.

Athens, Greece

Millions of commuters using the Athens subway were able to see a Mandela Day poster displayed on electronic screens. Created by the Regional Information Centre in Brussels, the poster was displayed from 16 – 20 July on the 210 video screens of the Athens Metro. The Secretary-General’s message was also translated into Greek and posted on UNRIC’s website.

Bujumbura, Burundi

Some 50 people participated in a volunteer activity at an orphanage in Bujumbura, organized by the Information Centre there, in collaboration with the South African Embassy. They cleaned and re-painted the building, then played with the children housed by the orphanage. The event included a drumming performance, a community painting, and visits by high-level officials.

Brussels, Belgium

In Brussels, the Regional Information Centre, with the support of the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Embassy of South Africa, marked the day with an exhibition, featuring background on the day and suggestions for 67 minutes of service. A dedicated drop box was available at the exhibit site throughout the day, for the public to write a message to Mr. Mandela that would be sent to him through the South African Embassy. A photo slideshow with a selection of quotes by Mr. Mandela was screened, and the day was promoted via social media.


Harare, Zimbabwe

In commemoration of Nelson Mandela Day, staff from the UN Information Centre and 40 United Nations Volunteers cleaned the Harare Children's Home in Zimbabwe. The team, which included staff from Childline, Connect, the University of Zimbabwe's Department of Social Work and other organizations, cleaned up the dining room and kitchen, as well as the gardens. Situated in Eastlea, the Harare Children's Home takes care of abandoned and orphaned children brought to them through the Department of Social Welfare. Currently there are 93 children in the home, between 6 months and 20 years old.

Manama, Bahrain

UNIC Manama mobilized the three Rotary Clubs of Bahrain -- Manama, Salmaniya and Adliya -- to launch a charity campaign to donate food boxes to 1,000 needy families during the Holy Month of Ramadan. The launch event, which included the screening of the Secretary-General’s video message, took place at the Golden Tulip Hotel and was attended by H.E. Samira Bint Ebrahim Rajab, Minister of State for Information, and the presidents of the three Rotary Clubs.

Moscow, Russia

Supported by the UN Country Team, the Information Centre in Moscow partnered with the South African Embassy, to organize a round table discussion at the Hall of International Organizations of the Russian State Library. The event, which brought together more than 50 participants, included remarks, the screening of a documentary film about “Madiba” and the unveiling of an exhibition of publications dedicated to Nelson Mandela and Africa. UNIC staff also took part in social work at the church of “Great Ascension” in downtown Moscow, organized by the South African Embassy.

Pretoria, South Africa

The Information Centre in Pretoria, with the support of the UN Communications Group, organised a commemorative ceremony at the UNIC Library, featuring an exhibition, the Secretary-General’s video message, the short film Nelson Mandela in the United Nations, a performance by poet Vangile Gantsho, and the premiere of a YouTube video clip of UN staff in South Africa paying tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Outreach activities ranged from refurbishing the playground facilities at the Mohau Children’s Home, to donating comforters and winter blankets for institutions in need, cleaning the premises of the Miriam Makeba Home for Girls, donating laundry detergent for the Limpopo Clinic, and organising the filing system and cleaning the premises of Potters House. The UNCG Task Force, chaired by UNIC, also organised ten computer literacy workshops for teachers and students at under-resourced schools in the Soshanguve township of Pretoria.

Tehran, Iran

Some 30 representatives of non-governmental organizations attended an event organized at the UN Association of Iran by the UN Information Centre in Tehran. The centre presented the Secretary-General’s message to the participants, and translated it into Persian and issued it as a press release. The Persian daily Ettela’at -- the oldest newspaper in Iran, with a large nationwide circulation -- published the press release on its front page, along with coverage by other media.