The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, announced this week that the first-ever recipients of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize will be Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio and Dr. Helena Ndume.
On making the announcement, Kutesa explained that the prize “recognizes the achievements of those who dedicate their lives to the service of humanity by promoting UN purposes and principles while honouring Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation”.
Born in 1939, Jorge Sampaio was a leading light in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Portugal in 1976. Over the following decades, he worked tirelessly for the consolidation of democracy, both as Mayor of Lisbon from 1989 to 1995, and later as President of the Republic.
Jorge Sampaio has long represented local and regional governments in the international arena. During his time as Mayor of Lisbon and President of the United Towns Organization, he was active in fostering local democracy, solidarity and dialogue; values that unite the international municipal movement. He went on to play an instrumental role in the founding of UCLG in 2004 and to hold the post of UN-High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations from 2007 to 2012, an initiative that seeks to galvanize international action against extremism through the forging of intercultural and interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
UCLG would like to express our warmest congratulations to both recipients of the prize, and our pride at this international recognition of one of the most emblematic local leaders of modern Portuguese democracy.
The award ceremony will take place on 24 July 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York as part of the annual UN commemoration of International Nelson Mandela Day.