Club de Madrid Member Jorge Sampaio has been chosen by the United Nations committee as one of the two laureates of the Nelson Mandela Prize for the first ever time. The prize, an honorary award presented once every five years as a tribute to the outstanding achievements of two individuals (one female and one male) from different geographic regions, was established on June 2014. However, it was not until now when it finally reached its first inaugural stage.
As President, Mr. Sampaio did much to communicate a democratic and modern image of Portugal and for its international recognition. He is a strong advocate of the European integration project, actively supported its enlargement to all democratic countries in Europe as well as to Turkey, and played an active role in engaging ordinary people, in particular youth, in public debates on European affairs. He oversaw the handover of Macau to China and strongly backed Timor-Leste’s independence. During his two presidential terms, he participated in almost all debates related to challenges currently facing the international community, including HIV-AIDS, drugs, human rights, children’s rights, and other issues.
Also, as the UN Secretary-General’s first Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis from 2006 to 2012, Mr. Sampaio has raised the international visibility of the scale of the disease and its impact on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. As the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations from 2007 to 2013, appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he set up an important UN forum for dialogue and cooperation against hatred and violence and promoted common action at local, national and regional levels to meet the challenges of cultural diversity across the globe.
Most recently he has been involved in two main fields of action: as a member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy, he has been advocating for major reforms of drug policy; he has also launched the Global Platform for Syrian Students, a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at providing emergency scholarships to Syrian students that allow them to resume their university studies. Moreover, as a Club de Madrid Member, he has always been on the front line of the quest for a “democracy that delivers” and the improvement and implementation of Democratic processes worldwide.
The award ceremony will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 24 July 2015 at 10:00 a.m. as part of this year’s commemoration of the Nelson Mandela International Day. The laureates will travel to New York to receive the Prize.