New York, Jul 16 (IANS): The UN will mark the first "Nelson Mandela Day" July 18 in honour of the Nobel laureate regarded as the father of the new South Africa, a UN spokesman said here Thursday.
"This week, the UN will commemorate the first Nelson Mandela International Day, designated as the 18th of July," Farhan Haq, the UN associate spokesman, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
A resolution adopted in November 2009 by the 192-member world body called for commemorations every year starting July 18, 2010 - Mandela's birthday - to recognise the Nobel Peace Prize winner's contribution to resolving conflicts and promoting race relations and human rights.
By adopting the resolution, the international community was expressing its appreciation for "a great man" who suffered for the sake of people everywhere, General Assembly President Ali Treki said in a statement.
Mandela, 92, led the fight against apartheid in South Africa as head of the African National Congress' armed wing. He was convicted of sabotage and other crimes and sentenced to 27 years in prison. He was freed in 1990.
Mandela became the country's first president to win in a fully democratic election and led South Africa from 1994-1999.
The General Assembly resolution also recognizes Mandela's "leading role in Africa's struggle for liberation and Africa's unity, and his outstanding contribution to the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist democratic South Africa".