IBA mourns and celebrates Nelson Mandela, Founding Honorary President of its Human Rights Institute

The International Bar Association (IBA) joins the international community in expressing sadness at the announcement of the death of Mr Rolihlahla Dalibhunga ‘Nelson’ Mandela, Founding Honorary President of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and international ambassador for democracy and freedom.

IBA President, Michael Reynolds, commented, ‘Today, I express the deep sadness of all at the International Bar Association following news of the passing of Nelson Mandela. Our deepest condolences go to his family, friends and to the people of South Africa on losing their “Tata”. Mr Reynolds added, ‘Mr Mandela was a distinguished statesman, admired across the globe, and so it is at this sad moment that we also celebrate the life of a man who achieved so much.’

A qualified lawyer, Mr Mandela became the first Honorary President of the IBAHRI, established in 1995 to promote and protect human rights under a just rule of law and the right and ability of judges and lawyers to practise freely and without undue interference. After an IBA-arranged conference of African Bar leaders in South Africa where they met with President Mandela ‘in splendid   gardens,  where  the  great  man   was  in  astounding   form...greeting  leaders  from  all over  Africa’, said Ross Harper, present at the meeting and President of the IBA at that time, Mr Mandela  agreed  to  become  Honorary President of  the  newly established entity.

Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, said,‘When the IBA’s Human Rights Institute was founded, Mr Mandela was one year into his term as President of the Republic of South Africa and major progressive social reforms were taking place across the country. The IBA believed that Mr Mandela’s unremitting fight for equality, freedom and democracy stood as a beacon for the values of the Human Rights Institute.’ He added,‘We were honoured by his acceptance to be a part of the Institute, and we continue to promote and protect, around the world, the principles for which he fought.’

Mr Mandela opened the first Black South African law practice in 1952, with partner Oliver Tambo. Together they campaigned against apartheid and oppression of the Black majority in South Africa.  He joined the African National Congress (ANC) and became the founding president of the ANC Youth League.  In 1962 Mr Mandela was arrested, tried, and convicted of sabotage and other charges. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 and held in the notorious Robben Island prison. On his release in 1990 he proceeded to lead the ANC party in multi-party negotiations that led to the country's first multi-racial elections and to him becoming the first President of South Africa to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.

Zimbabwean lawyer and IBAHRI Co-Chair, Sternford Moyo, said, ‘I am deeply saddened by the death of the great Nelson Mandela, who has done so much for freedom and democracy in Southern Africa. Mr Mandela’s courage and determination to fight for justice and equality is an inspiration to us all. He was an incredible man, who demonstrated enormous courage and sacrifice for the cause and principles in which he believed. His achievements are both within and outside of the political arena, and span beyond the borders of South Africa. His legacy will remain.’

A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mr Mandela was born on the 18 July 1918 in Transkei, South Africa and died on Thursday, 5th December 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.