World Bulletin/News Desk
The United Nations today (18 July) marks as Nelson Mandela International Day, celebrating the South African leader's 95th birthday and honouring his dedication to public service, social justice and reconciliation, inspiring millions around the world.
At Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly held a special meeting to mark the Day. Speakers included former United States President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Andrew Mlangeni, a close friend of Mandela who was imprisoned with him, among others.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting that "at the dawn of the struggle the United Nations stood side by side with Nelson Mandela and all those who fought the inhuman system of apartheid."
Ban said "let us all continue to be inspired by Nelson Mandela at this moment of reflection of his life and work. Let us pledge to live up to his example."
To commemorate the Day, the UN is joining a call by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to "Take Action, Inspire Change" to volunteer 67 minutes to helping others by volunteering in a hospital, tutoring a child, providing food for the homeless, or any other community service.
President Clinton recalled his friendship with Mandela and praised his efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa years after he left office.
Clinton said "none of us has to be in public office to be of public service" adding that we must free ourselves, then we must free and empower others, then we must serve as a way of life, not as a root to office."
He said "every person on earth can learn, embrace and live by" the lessons that Mandela imparted.
Reverend Jackson praised Mandela's commitment to achieving reconciliation and his emphasis on forgiveness and tolerance, as well as his determination to not give up and continue fighting for social justice.
Jackson said "those of us who have dedicated our lives to the possibility of freedom and equality understand with amazing clarity that social transformation is an intentional act."
The "67-minutes" campaign is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Mr. Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically-elected President of post-apartheid South Africa.
While United Nations staff in New York are helping to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, elsewhere around the world, UN staff are engaging in various volunteer activities: preparing meals for the elderly, helping out in orphanages, cleaning up parks and organizing computer literacy workshops.Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2013, 12:08