UN declares Mandela Day

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The Independent Culture

The United Nations General Assembly has declared July 18 "Nelson Mandela International Day" to honor the South African leader's contributions to global peace.

In a resolution adopted Tuesday by consensus among the 192 member states, the General Assembly hailed the former president's "promotion of a culture of peace."

It also noted the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's devotion throughout his life to conflict resolution, race relations, human rights promotion, reconciliation and gender equality.

"Nelson Mandela is an international icon and a symbol of hope for the oppressed and marginalized people across the globe," said South Africa's UN Ambassador Baso Sangqu.

"Mandela is not a god, or a saint. He is simply a man who has acted in manner that is a little wiser, a little stronger, a little better than the rest of us."

In anticipation of the General Assembly's vote, the United Nations had already officially paid tribute to Mandela on July 18 this year, for his 91st birthday.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years by the apartheid state but emerged from Robben Island prison in 1990 committed to democracy and negotiated a deal that led to universal suffrage and him becoming the country's first black president.

In 1993 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with South Africa's then white president F.W. de Klerk.

Mandela served only one term as president during which he was seen as a multi-racial unifier amidst South Africa's post-apartheid uncertainty.