Every year on 18 July, the day Nelson Mandela was born the UN joins a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others, as a way to mark Nelson Mandela International Day.
Mandela was a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa. In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July “Nelson Mandela International Day” in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. General Assembly resolution recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world. Mr Mandela has spent 67 years making the world a better place. We’re asking you for 67 minutes.” Nelson Mandela’s birthday is on 18 July, and the call is out for people everywhere to celebrate his birthday by acting on the idea that each person has the power to change the world. The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Nelson Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008 when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”
The United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”. The celebration of Mandela Day aims to serve as a global call to action for people to “recognise their individual power to make an imprint and help change the world around them for the better”, says the Nelson Mandela Foundation. “Nelson Mandela has been making an imprint on the world for 67 years, beginning in 1942 when he first started to campaign for the human rights of every South African. His life has been an inspiration to the world,” the foundation said. By devoting 67 minutes of their time one minute for every year of Mandela’s public service – people can make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and a step towards a global movement for good.
Mandela said at the time of the campaign’s launch that he would be “honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation”. Former US president Bill Clinton said the core of Mandela’s example was that “the power of public good does not require public office, just a well-placed heart and a determined mind. “In return for everything Madiba has taught us, we each owe it to him to support his work and legacy by doing and living our own as best we can, not just on this day, but throughout our entire lives.”