Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 21, 2022, 8:35

"As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest."

These immortal words were said by Nelson Mandela, exemplifying the values that made him such a great leader of a country suffering from racial injustice. To honour the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela and to keep his legacy of peace, truth, and reconciliation alive, the United Nations instituted the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award in 2014. The award is given to honour the achievements of people who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity. This is aligned with the principles of the UN.

Rumana Sinha Sehgal won the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award in 2021.

What is the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award?

The award is given every 5 years and was first awarded in 2015. The award is given to two individuals, a woman and a man. They have to belong to different geographic regions and must have done exemplary humanitarian work in parts of the world. The award is given to them for their work in promoting social cohesion as well as in community development.

Nelson Mandela's humility is legendary, so it was thought appropriate that the prize be awarded to each winner is a plaque that has a well-thought-out citation and relevant quotation engraved on it. The citation and the quotation to be engraved are decided by The Committee and the UN Secretary-General.

The UN Secretary-General gives away the award. The ceremony is part of the commemoration of the Nelson Mandela International Day (18th July) at the UN headquarters.

Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award Selection Process

  • A written nomination should be submitted by any of the UN member states as well as observer states. Other entities and intergovernmental associations and independent research centres and NGOs and previous winners can also nominate.
  • The secretariat of the Committee is to publicize the prize on the websites of the United Nations. They can also advertise it through other communication channels and outreach.
  • Nominations must reach the secretariat by 31st December of the preceding year. Nominations will be transmitted, keeping in mind the current statute, to other members of the committee.
  • Staff members of any organization of the UN are not eligible to be considered for the award.
  • A meeting will be held, if possible, in March of the year of the prize and select the two laureates for the year.
  • Individuals receiving the Award will be announced in May of the year in which the award is to be given.

Selection Committee

  • Five representatives of States Members of the UN, where one is selected by each regional group
  • The regional groups are - Asia-Pacific States, African States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and Western European and other States, for five years
  • The ex-officio member of the committee is the representative of the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN
  • The President of the General Assembly, again ex-officio, is the Chair of the Committee.
  • The Committee selects five eminent individuals with significant contributions to the service of humanity. These become honorary members of the Committee and serve in an advisory capacity during the 5 years. The Committee can renew it if it so decides
  • The role of the secretariat of the Committee is played by the Department of Public Information
  • The decision is arrived at by consensus. The committee could adopt a working method of its choice for its actions.

Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian award 2021

In the year 2021, the award was given to Rumana Sinha Sehgal, a Software-engineer turned social entrepreneur. She was awarded by the Diplomatic Mission Global Peace. The ceremony was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She founded Serendipity in the year 2012. The company uses recycled newspapers, rubber tyres, metal scrap, and non-biodegradable substances to create art and installations.

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FAQs on Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award

Q.1. Who all have won the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award till now?

  • 2015: Helena Ndume (Namibia) and Jorge Sampaio (Portugal)
  • 2020: Marianna Vardinogiannia (Greece) and Morissanda Kouyate (Guinea)
  • 2021: Rumana Sinha Sehgal

Q.2. Who was awarded the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award in 2021?

In the year 2021, the award was given to Rumana Sinha Sehgal, a Software-engineer turned social entrepreneur. She was awarded by the Diplomatic Mission Global Peace. The ceremony was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Q.3. Why is the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award given?

To honour the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela and to keep his legacy of peace, truth, and reconciliation alive, the United Nations instituted the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award in 2014. The award is given to honour the achievements of people who have dedicated their lives to serving humanity. This is aligned with the principles of the UN.

Q.4. What are the regional groups examined to find a worthy candidate for the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award?

The regional groups surveyed to find a candidate for the Nelson Mandela World Humanitarian Award are - Asia-Pacific States, African States, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and Western European and other States, for five years.