Monday, July 20 2020

The “Nelson Mandela Prize 2020”, the highest honor for humanitarian work, was awarded to the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, by the United Nations General Assembly.

The award ceremony was held in the presence of H.E. the President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande and H.E. the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the context of an informal meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, held on the occasion of Nelson Mandela World Day, via the UN webTV due to the measures for the COVID-19 pandemic, on Monday July 20, 2020. The award ceremony will take place, when the conditions allow, at the UN Headquarters in New York.

This is one of the highest distinctions for Greece, as the nominees for the award were important international personalities nominated by the 193 UN state members.

Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis accepted this highest honor from the UN with deep emotions, dedicating the award to Greece and to all Greeks and addressing a call for peace and solidarity, in the footsteps of those words taught by Nelson Mandela: “It is a great privilege for me to stand in front of you and to humbly accept the Nelson Mandela Prize 2020. It is difficult to find words to express my deepest gratitude to the United Nations, to Your Excellency, President of the General Assembly, to Your Excellency, Secretary-General and to the members of the Award Committee. I could never have imagined that one day I would receive such a great honor and that I would feel so touched. This award does not belong to me. It belongs to my country and I dedicate it to the Greek people. “Today, more than ever, let us all follow in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela for a world of peace, freedom, democracy, equality and solidarity.”

Along with Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, the other recipient of the “Nelson Mandela Prize 2020” was Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté, a doctor from New Guinea who has fought throught his life for the protection of the rights and health of girls and women.

UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres addressed the winners in a very moving way, saying “they continue the great legacy of Nelson Mandela“. He warmly congratulated them, emphasizing that they are both recognized for their long-term commitment to the service of humanity, in the field of human rights, social contribution, protection of women and girls in the most degraded societies.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, congratulated on his part Mrs. Vardinoyannis for this great distinction and spoke in detail about her work and personality, describing her as “a great philanthropist who has dedicated her life to support of children and the weak”. Addressing both winners, he stressed: “The world is a better place thanks to the courage of the two winners, their empathy and their dedication to offering to people”.

 The life and work of Nelson Mandela were also discussed at the event by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Mrs. Naledi Pandor, as well as representatives of the 193 UN member states, who warmly congratulated Mrs. Vardinoyannis referring to her important humanitarian work.

The Nelson Mandela Prize aims to recognize the achievements of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of humanity, guided by the goals and principles of the United Nations. The Prize pays tribute to the exciting life of Nelson Mandela and the legacy he left for reconciliation, political change and social transformation and is awarded every five years to two leading personalities from around the world.

The event was broadcasted live around the world through the UN online platform.