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Nelson Mandela was unanimously selected as the first-ever recipient of the Club of Madrid Democratic Leadership Award on December 15.

The award was presented to the former South African president in a private ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Foundation headquarters in Houghton, a suburb of Johannesburg. According to the Club of Madrid, the honor – just established this past November – is to “recognize and promote ethical and courageous leadership that translates visions of a democratic society into practical action for the benefit of millions of people around the world.”

Mandela became an anti-apartheid activist in 1948, when the National Party of South Africa – a supporter of racial segregationist policies – came into power. He was arrested in 1962 on charges of sabotage against the government, and spent the next twenty-seven years in prison, refusing early release at the expense of giving up the struggle for a post-apartheid South Africa. Following his release from prison, Mandela won the country’s first multi-racial election in 1994 and served as President until 1999.

Since retirement, Mandela has supported several causes such as the Make Poverty History Campaign, SOS Children's Villages, and the Nelson Mandela Invitational Charity Golf Tournament.

Ricardo Lagos, President of the Club of Madrid and former President of Chile, commented on Mandela’s selection for the Award noting, “President Mandela has inspired millions of people worldwide to continue to struggle for equality and ‘democracy that delivers’ — a democracy based on the notion that shared societies are not just necessary, but possible.”

The Club of Madrid is made up of 72 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 51 countries. The organization is committed to strengthen democracies around the world by drawing on the collective experiences and resources of its Members, who offer support, counsel, and advice to leaders and institutions around the world.

Learn more about The Club of Madrid at their website.

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