It is easy to break down and destroy.
The heroes are those who make peace and build. - Nelson Mandela

Secretary-General's Message for 2020

Video message by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, on the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day 2020.

photo card with the Mandela quote: 'As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.'
photo card with the Mandela quote: 'We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.'

20 July 2020: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (New York time) — Virtual Event

UN General Assembly Meeting and
Recognition of the Mandela Prize Laureates

Card announcing the Mandela Annual Lecture with a photo of a woman wearing protective attire during COVID-19 times.

Tackling Inequality
A New Social Contract for a New Era

This year, coinciding with the date of the Nelson Mandela International Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at 9:00 a.m. EDT (18 July).

In his speech, "Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era," the Secretary-General takes aim at the various layers of inequality that are being exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Radio Programme

Looking back at the struggle against apartheid and the campaign for Mandela's release in which the United Nations played an important role — special programme for the first commemorative Mandela Day in 2010.

UN Food Garden and a commemorative Mandela Day card.

What is Mandela Day?

On 18 July every year, we invite you to mark Nelson Mandela International Day by making a difference in your communities. Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better! Mandela Day is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change.

A display of the books entitled 'Nelson Mandela: In his words' on a table.

67 years in service of humanity

Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

A participant writing a message on a board in commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day.

How did the day come about?

November 2009 - in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom, UN General Assembly declares 18 July "Nelson Mandela International Day". Resolution A/RES/64/13 recognizes Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in: conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty; the promotion of social justice. The resolution acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.

Nelson Mandela Rules

December 2015 - the General Assembly decides to extend the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to also be utilized in order to promote humane conditions of imprisonment, raise awareness about prisoners being a continuous part of society, and to value the work of prison staff as a social service of particular importance.


General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/175 not only adopted the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, but also approved that they should be known as the "Nelson Mandela Rules" in order to honour the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle referred to above.