Human Rights: Winners of Nelson Mandela Prize Announced

Nelson Mandela International Day. Photo: UN
Nelson Mandela International Day. Photo: UN

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations General Assembly will mark Nelson Mandela International Day (18 July) with a virtual informal meeting on 20 July.

The meeting will also feature official recognition of the laureates of the 2020 United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize.

The two laureates, Marianna Vardinoyannis of Greece and Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea, were officially announced by the President of the General Assembly in his capacity as Chair of the Prize Committee.

They will attend the General Assembly meeting on 20 July. The in-person award ceremony will be held at a later date at United Nations Headquarters New York.

“The work of the Laureates made a significant difference to the lives of others as inspired by the life and values of Nelson Mandela”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly.

He added that this unique prize also serves as an inspiration to all who work tirelessly to contribute to and improve the well-being of others, and in so doing, promote the values of the United Nations.

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The Prize was established by the General Assembly in June 2014 to recognize the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting the purposes and principles of the United Nations while honouring and paying homage to Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition, and social transformation.

Ms. Vardinoyannis is a Greek philanthropist and world advocate for human rights and the protection of children’s health and welfare. She is a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 1999, and founder and President of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation and of ELPIDA Friends’ Association of Children with cancer. For more than 30 years, she has been fighting against childhood cancer and for a world without borders in health, helping thousands of children to be cured.

Dr. Kouyaté of Guinea is a leading advocate on ending violence against women and girls in Africa and Executive Director of the Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC).

He initiated efforts that resulted in Africa’s regional instrument on ending violence against women. He carried out exceptional efforts in the fight against harmful traditional practices, particularly the elimination of female genital mutilation.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year, United Nations staff volunteers in New York City and in United Nations offices around the world are asked to mark Mandela Day by individually undertaking primarily virtual activities in honour of Nelson Mandela.

This includes becoming a digital first responder and helping stop the spread of misinformation on #Covid19 as part of the initiative.

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Rakesh Raman