Nelson Mandela International Day

By | 12 July 2012

New York – In recognition of Nelson Mandela’s contributions to democracy, racial justice, and reconciliation and his service to humanity, the United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July (his birthday) as Nelson Mandela International Day.

 Every year since 2010, on 18 July individuals around the world are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to helping others – by volunteering in a hospital, tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service. The 67-minute campaign – “Take Action – Inspire Change” – is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Nelson Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected President of South Africa.

This year – Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday – the following activities are being planned in New York:

Informal Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly

An informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters on the morning of 18 July will be devoted to “Building a Caring World – Nelson Mandela’s Vision.” Speakers include Mr. Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa; Professor Ibrahim Gambari, last Chair of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; Dr. Enuga Reddy, former Principal Secretary of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid; and others to be confirmed. The event starts at 10 a.m. and will be webcast live at


Performance by University of Cape Town Opera School Students

Two South African graduate students at the University of Cape Town Opera School, Mr. Thesele Kemane, a bass baritone, and Ms. Bongiwe Nakani, a mezzo soprano, will perform during the General Assembly meeting. The Opera School, under the direction of the American Kamal Khan, has made major efforts to cultivate gifted singers and introduce them to the international stage. As a result, some of the world’s greatest new classical opera talents over the past few years have emerged from the townships of South Africa. The performance will be webcast live at


UN and Diplomatic Staff at the Bowery Mission Soup Kitchen

A group of staff from the United Nations Secretariat, the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations and the South African Consulate General will volunteer at the Bowery Mission ( on 18 July, helping to serve meals for homeless people. Since 1879, the Bowery Mission has provided homeless men and women with a warm meal, shelter, clothing and medical care. Information and photos will be posted on


Mandela Corner

The south-east corner of 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue was named after Nelson and Winnie Mandela in 1984, in recognition of their fight against apartheid in South Africa. This year on 18 July, UN volunteers will be handing out postcards on the corner, raising awareness of Mandela Day and the “Take Action – Inspire Change” campaign.


Queens Museum of Art

The Queens Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States is partnering with the Queens Museum of Art ( in an event at 6:00 p.m. where audience members will be asked to state what Nelson Mandela means to them – in 67 seconds. The interactive evening will include a brief film screening, music, and guest speakers. The event is organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.

Immigrant Movement International

This community centre in Queens ( is organizing an event at 6:00 p.m., largely in Spanish, featuring remarks by representatives of the diplomatic community, a film screening and a performance by a local artist. The focus is on multiracialism, which Nelson Mandela embraced in South Africa and which is evident in Queens. The event is organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.


Madiba Restaurant

Madiba – a South African restaurant in Brooklyn ( – will donate 7.18 per cent of its day’s revenue on 18 July as a tax-deductible donation to two local schools, and is encouraging other businesses in the Fort Greene neighbourhood to do the same. The action is part of the United Nations Academic Impact’s “7/18 for Mandela” initiative.


Harlem Arts Summer Camp

ProjectArt (, an after-school, weekends and summer visual arts education program for children and youth in Harlem, will be marking the day by teaching 30 children aged 4 to 12 about Nelson Mandela and having them create paintings inspired by South Africa and Mr. Mandela.


The Hope and Promise of Leadership

Brahma Kumaris, an international NGO, is organizing an event at the Church Centre for the United Nations (777 UN Plaza), from 1 to 3 p.m., exploring the hope and promise of leadership. The event will feature expert presentations, South African dancers, reflection and dialogue in small groups. For more information and to R.S.V.P., please contact 212-688-1335 / 646-290-1770 or


Around the World:

Young Changemakers, a non-profit youth group in India, is arranging 67 scholarships for children at the Shree Ganesh Vidya Mandir primary school in the Dharavi Slum in Mumbai who need to finance their own education after the seventh grade. The scholarships will be announced on 18 July at an event in Mumbai, organized in association with the United Nations Academic Impact initiative.

A number of UN offices around the world are also marking the day. 

Further information, photos, videos and other resources:


Media contact:

Martina Donlon

UN Department of Public Information

Tel +1 212 963 6816


 Issued by the UN Department of Public Information, 11 July 2012

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