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Rediff.com  » News » Special UN meet to honour Nelson Mandela on 95th birthday

Special UN meet to honour Nelson Mandela on 95th birthday

July 16, 2013 23:28 IST

A special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly will mark Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18, honouring the South African anti-apartheid leader's contributions to democracy, racial justice and reconciliation.

Speakers at the meeting on Mandela's 95th birthday are expected to include former US President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, and Andrew Mlangeni, who was imprisoned with Mandela and remains a close friend.

The General Assembly meeting starting at 10 am on July 18 is part of a series of events to take place here and around the world to celebrate Mandela's 95th birthday. "This year's commemoration comes at a sensitive time for Mandela and his family," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the day.

"As we extend our best wishes to them, we can give greater meaning to our sentiments by taking action on behalf of others. This is the best tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who continues to inspire the world through his example of courage, compassion and commitment to justice for all."

Every year on July 18, 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 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.

On July 17 and 18, a group of staff from the UN, the permanent mission of South Africa to the UN and the South African consulate general will help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach and Far Rockaway last October. The effort is coordinated by two grassroots organizations -- We Build New York and Respond & Rebuild.

UN offices around the world, including in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Gabon, Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia as well as a number of other locations, are organising events in honour of Mandela.

Prakash M Swamy
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