United Nations, 17 July 2020 – H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th Session of the General Assembly (PGA) has announced that Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis, of Greece and Dr. Morissana Kouyaté, of Guinea, are the laureates of the United Nations 2020 Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize.

The Prize was established in June 2014 by the General Assembly to recognize the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting the purposes and principles of the United Nations while honouring and paying homage to Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition, and social transformation.

The selection Committee entrusted with the responsibility for selecting the winners decided on two laureates for the second United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize.

Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis is a Greek philanthropist and world advocate for human rights and the protection of children’s health and welfare. She is a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO since 1999, founder and president of “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” and of “ELPIDA Friends’ Association of Children with cancer.” For more than 30 years, she has been fighting against childhood cancer and for a world without borders in health, helping thousands of children to be cured.

Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea is a leading advocate on ending violence against women and girls in Africa and Executive Director of the Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC). He initiated efforts that resulted in an Africa’s regional instrument on ending violence against women. Dr. Kouyaté carried out exceptional efforts in the fight against harmful traditional practices, particularly the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.

On behalf of Member States and on his own behalf, President Muhammad-Bande warmly congratulates Mrs. Vardinoyannis and Dr. Kouyaté and thanks the selection Committee for its hard work and dedication.

Nominations were received from a broad variety of sources including Member States and Observer States of the United Nations, entities and intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and work of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, institutions of higher education, as well as independent research centres and institutes, NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, and laureates of the Prize.

Chaired by the President of the General Assembly, the United Nations selection Committee for the Prize this year was composed of the Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan, Burundi, Greece, Hungary and Nicaragua, representing the five United Nations geographical regional groups. The Permanent Representative of South Africa was an ex-officio member of the Committee. H.E. Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio, Former President of Portugal and 2015 Laureate of the Nelson Mandela Prize; H.E. Eduard Kukan, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, Former Member of the European Parliament; and
Mrs. Amina Bouayach, President of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) of Morocco served as honorary members of the Committee in an advisory capacity.

The UN Department of Global Communications served as the secretariat.

The laureates will be recognized at the annual commemoration by the General Assembly of Nelson Mandela International Day which due to the COVID-19 global pandemic is being marked virtually on 20 July 2020, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. New York time. The in-person award ceremony will take place at a later date at United Nations Headquarters here in New York.


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Reem Abaza, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly,