Nelson Mandela International Day is observed every year on July 18 to honour the life and legacy of the man who changed the course of history through his services to humanity.

Nelson Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist, and a great social reformer, serves as the first democratic president of South Africa.

His resolute commitment to social justice and human rights makes him a beacon of inspiration, encouraging the young generations to make a positive impact in their communities.

As a leader of great determination, he advocated for equality and justice, playing a central role in establishing peace in South Africa.

Furthermore, he was jailed for leading the liberation movement against Apartheid Government in South Africa, but he firmly resisted oppression and tirelessly worked for justice and freedom.

History of Nelson Mandela International Day

The UN General Assembly officially established “Nelson Mandela International Day” in 2009, acknowledging his profound contributions to peace and freedom on his 91st birthday.

This day commemorates the idea that every individual possesses the power to change the world and make a meaningful impact in society. Moreover, it inspires individuals, activists, governments, and organizations to address pressing global concerns and strive for a just and equitable world.

The day also marks the positive efforts of the global community in making our world a better place for all without any discrimination.

The Nelson Mandela International Day is inspired by Mandela’s message in 2008, calling young individuals “It is in your hands now” to individually fight against the global ills of injustice.

Nelson Mandela International Day 2023 Theme

This year, the Nelson Mandela International Day theme is “The Legacy Lives on Through You: Climate, Food, and Solidarity.”

As the world is facing extreme climate change, racism, and food insecurity, the theme encourages the international community and individuals to act with strong determination in addressing these complex issues. Additionally, the theme promotes solidarity and sustainable practices, steering the world toward a better future.

United Nations Message

Celebrating the 67 years of struggles and public service of Nelson Mandela, the United Nations motivates the people to devote 67 minutes of their lives to benefit their community.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, described Mandela as “a colossus of courage and conviction, a leader of immense achievement and extraordinary humanity.

He said that the most effective way to honor the legacy of Mandela is by taking resolute measures against racism, discrimination, hate, and the legacies of colonialism.

Also Read: UN’s message on Mandela Day 2022

In alignment with Mandela’s wisdom, the UN has summoned global support for its ActNow campaign on climate change and sustainability.

Antonio Guterres also called on the international community to support women and girls, young people, and changemakers everywhere and build a better world together.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/70/175 to widen the scope of Nelson Mandela International Day to raise awareness about prisoners as an important part of society and promote their humane treatment.

UNESCO message on Mandela Day

Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay highlighted that “as an anti-apartheid revolutionary,” Mandela aspires for the establishment of equality and freedom for all women, men, and children without any discrimination. In addition, he advocated for the basic rights of every individual, irrespective of their gender, nationality, or race.

She also underlined that these ideals were the very cause for which Nelson Mandela endured 27 years of imprisonment, yet he strongly held onto them.

Mandela championed women’s rights, recognizing them as drivers of freedom while strongly opposing any form of violence against them.

UN Women also celebrated Mandela Day and called for continuing his legacy by praising his efforts to bring justice and freedom to women and girls.

Furthermore, in 2014, the UN General Assembly established Nelson Mandela Prize.  This award recognized the achievements of those who displayed exceptional commitment and service to humanity.