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

Secretary-General's Message for 2021

Video message by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, on the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day 2021.

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.