The United Nations General Assembly last week established the “United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize” as a tribute to the achievements and contributions of the late South African leader who inspired not only his own country but the rest of the world.
“Our best tribute to Nelson Mandela is not found in words or ceremonies – but in actions that take up the torch he passed to us," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in remarks to the Assembly, following the adoption by consensus of the resolution establishing the prize.
“The United Nations General Assembly has a proud record of acting against apartheid – and for Nelson Mandela,” said Mr. Ban.
“From the early days of sanctions to the more recent declaration of 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, this Assembly has placed itself on the right side of history – with the people who need us most.
“Today, the Assembly took another step forward in carrying on Nelson Mandela’s lifelong work through this meaningful prize.”
By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Assembly, to establish within six months of adoption of the text the criteria and procedures for bestowing the prize. This is to be adopted by the Assembly no later than 30 November 2014.
Mr. Ban recalled that when Mr. Mandela himself accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, he said he was a representative of the countless human beings who quote, ‘recognised that an injury to one is an injury to all and therefore acted together in defence of justice and a common human decency.’
“Nelson Mandela embodied this altruistic spirit of solidarity. The United Nations will forever be inspired by his example,” the Secretary-General stated.