President De Klerk initiated and co-managed the process that abolished apartheid and culminated in South Africa’s non-racial constitutional democracy in 1994. Since retiring from politics in 1997 he has supported reconciliation and constitutional governance in South Africa and throughout the world. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
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Prime Minister of Canada 1979-80
At 39, Joe Clark was elected Canada’s youngest Prime Minister. Later, as Foreign Minister, he drove Canada’s active roles in the Americas, Asia, Africa, NATO, and the Commonwealth campaign against apartheid. He led complex Canadian constitutional negotiations, securing unanimous agreement among provinces, territories and Aboriginals.
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HRH Prince El-Hassan bin Talal
HRH is founder of the West Asia - North Africa (WANA) Forum, Chairman of the Arab Thought Forum and an internationally recognised leader in the fields of interfaith, education and water and energy issues. Between 1965 and 1999 HRH was Crown Prince of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
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Abdul Karim al-Eryani
Prime Minister of Yemen 1980-83 & 1998-2001
One of Yemen’s most experienced politicians, Abdul Karim al-Eryani was twice Prime Minister of Yemen and is known for his crucial role in developing the North’s political strategy before and during the civil war.
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UN Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General
One of the most widely respected international diplomats, Lakdhar Brahimi, a former Foreign Minister of Algeria, served as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General as well as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa and Haiti.
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Deputy Prime Minister, Turkey, 1978-79 and 1995
Foreign Minister, 1991-94
A former minister of foreign affairs, Hikmet Çetin was twice Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, leader of the Republican People's Party and also served as the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. He has served as the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan.
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UK Minister for Overseas Development 1989-97
A long-serving Member of the British Parliament, Lynda Chalker served as Minister for Overseas Development, and Minister for Africa and the Commonwealth for over 11 years. She is also a Founder Trustee of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa.
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President of the Confederation of Switzerland
2003 & 2008
Pascal Couchepin twice served as President of the Swiss Federal Council (President of the Confederation). During his eleven years in government, he served as Minister of the Economy and then Minister of Home Affairs, covering social welfare, science and education.
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Chester A. Crocker
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
As US Assistant Secretary of State, Chester Crocker led the diplomacy that produced the peace treaties signed by Angola, Cuba, and South Africa in 1988. These agreements resulted in Namibia’s independence and the withdrawal of foreign forces from Southern Africa. He chaired the US Institute of Peace Board from 1992 to 2004.
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Attorney General, Indonesia 1999- 2001
A veteran human rights campaigner, Marzuki Darusman was Attorney General under Indonesia’s first democratically elected government and pursued the prosecution of many cases of corruption, mass murder, and human rights abuses that symbolized the inequities of the three-decade rule of Suharto.
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US Senator 1987-2005
Member of the US House of Representatives 1979-1987
Majority Leader of the US Senate
One of the longest serving Senate Democratic leaders in US history and the only one to serve twice as both Majority and Minority Leader, Tom Daschle helped to navigate the Senate through some of its most historic economic and national security challenges.
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Álvaro de Soto
UN Under-Secretary-General 1999-2007
During his 25 years at the UN, Álvaro de Soto mediated the 1992 peace accords ending the 10-year war in El Salvador; prepared the first-ever comprehensive plan for a settlement in Cyprus in 2004; and was the chief Middle East envoy from 2005 to 2007.
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Foreign Minister, Côte d'Ivoire 1990-99
Secretary General, OAU 2001
Chairman, AU Commission 2002-3
A long-serving diplomat, Amara Essy served his country as Foreign Minister before his appointment as Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), and then Chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU).
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Foreign Minister of Australia 1988–96
Gareth Evans was a Cabinet Minister in Australian Labor governments for thirteen years, including Foreign Minister 1988-96, and President of the International Crisis Group from 2000-2009. He has played prominent international roles on nuclear issues and developoing the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle.
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President, Mexico 2000-06
As President of Mexico, Vicente Fox took steps to improve the Mexican economy through banking reforms, tackling crime and corruption and improving trade relations with the US. He also sought to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration while working to strengthen the rights of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.
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UN Deputy Secretary General 1998-2006
A long-time Canadian diplomat, Louise Fréchette became the first Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations for eight years. During this time she assisted the Secretary-General in the full range of his responsibilities.
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Foreign Minister of Uruguay 1985-1988
A former Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Enrique Iglesias also served as the President of the Inter-American Development Bank for 17 years, during which time he increased the institution’s resources and expanded its activities to become the leading institution for multilateral development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean.
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President, Sri Lanka 1994-2005
As President of Sri Lanka Chandrika Kumaratunga oversaw the privatization of many state enterprises, the enactment of laws to tackle state corruption and the pursuit of a free market economy with a human face. She also tried to move relations with the Tamil Tigers from confrontation to negotiated peace.
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President of Botswana 1980-1998
Ketumile Masire was Botswana’s second President and served for 18 years. A leading figure in his country’s independence movement and then in the new government, Sir Ketumile played a crucial role in facilitating and protecting Botswana’s steady financial growth and development.
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Donald F. McHenry
US Ambassador to the United Nations 1979-81
A long-serving diplomat, Donald F. McHenry served as US Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and represented his country in a number of international fora, including leading the US negotiations on the question of Namibia.
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António Mascarenhas Monteiro
President of Cape Verde 1991-2001
António Monteiro was the first democratically elected President of the Republic of Cape Verde, having served two terms. Prior to his election, he was President of the Supreme Court and led several international delegations, including one to the OAU Conference that drafted the African Charter on Human Rights.
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Prime Minister of Jamaica 1992-2006
PJ Patterson was Prime Minister of Jamaica for 14 years. His policies of
economic liberalization and free-market reforms during a time of economic difficulty for Jamaica attracted substantial foreign direct investment. He vastly improved the physical infrastructure and initiated programmes for social transformation.
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Thomas R. Pickering
US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Thomas R. Pickering served as US Ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan, and also as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. As US Representative to the United Nations during the First Gulf War, he played a lead role in the UN Security Council’s response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
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Prime Minister 2006-07
José Manuel Ramos-Horta was President of Timor Leste from 2007 to 2012, having previously served as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. He was the exiled spokesman for the East Timorese resistance during the years of the Indonesian occupation (1975 to 1999). He is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and is currently the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Guinea-Bissau.
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Fidel Valdez Ramos
President of the Philippines 1992-98
As President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos’s policies and programmes to foster national reconciliation and unity led to major peace agreements with Muslim separatists, communist insurgents and military rebels, which renewed investor confidence in the Philippines economy.
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UN Under-Secretary-General 1998-99
Finland's Elisabeth Rehn was the world's first female Minister of Defence and later served as the UN Under-Secretary-General in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her engagement for the situation of women in war is well documented and together with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is the co-author of the UN-Report "Women War Peace”.
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Prime Minister of France 1988-91
As Prime Minister under François Mitterrand, Michel Rocard created the Revenu minimum d'insertion (RMI), a social minimum welfare program for indigents, and led the Matignon Accords regarding the status of New Caledonia.
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UN Special Advisor to Secretary-General, 2003-06
Lebanese Minister of Culture, 2000-03
After serving as Lebanese Minister of Culture, Ghassam Salamé was appointed Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, serving also as Political Advisor to the UN Mission in Iraq. An expert in international relations, he is one of the most respected actors and observers of conflict resolution and Middle East politics.
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Salim Ahmed Salim
Prime Minister of Tanzania 1984–1985
One of Africa’s most senior diplomats and statesmen, Dr Salim served as Prime Minister of Tanzania, Secretary General of the OAU, President of the UN Security Council in 1976 and of the General Assembly in 1979. He recently served as the African Union’s Special Envoy for Darfur.
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Foreign Minister, India 1998-2002
Defence Minister, India 2001
Finance Minister, India 1996 and 2002-04
The only person to have served as India’s finance minister, foreign minister and defence minister, Jaswant Singh is widely respected for having launched the first free-trade agreement in South Asia’s history, initiated India’s diplomatic opening to Pakistan and reorienting the Indian military with closer ties with the West.
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Secretary General of the Council
of the European Union 1999-2009
Best known for his role as Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, Dr. Solana was previously the NATO Secretary General during the Kosovo War, and Foreign Minister of Spain, in which role he chaired the Barcelona Conference, which sought to foster cultural and economic unity in the Mediterranean region.
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Vice President, Guatemala, 2004-08
Foreign Minister 1996-2000
Prior to his appointment as Vice President, Eduardo Stein served as Guatemala’s Foreign Minister during the country’s peace negotiations and was also involved in the Esquipulas peace process in Central America and the San José Dialogue between Central America and the European Union.
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President of Mauritius 1992-2002
Cassam Uteem served as President of Mauritius for ten years and is known for having relentlessly promoted his country's "Unity in Diversity" policies which succeeded in establishing nationak unity and a stable inclusive democracy in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.
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President of Latvia 1999-2007
As President of the Republic of Latvia for eight years, Vaira Vike-Freiberga was instrumental in Latvia achieving membership in the European Union and NATO.
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President of the Confederation of Switzerland
1995 & 2002
Before serving as the President of the Swiss Federal Council (President of the Confederation), Kaspar Villiger headed the Federal Military Department and the Federal Department of Finance. He was until recently Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS AG.
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The Global Leadership Foundation exists to make available, discreetly and in confidence, the experience of former leaders to today’s national leaders.
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Speech by FW de Klerk to the Vienna Congress on the Power of Regions
Vienna, 20 January 2015
It is a great honour to be with you today and to be able to address the extremely relevant question of the Power of Regions within the context of the challenges facing Ukraine.
I have no doubt that the greatest single threat to peace in the new millennium lies in the accommodation of diversity, within the borders that the countries of the world have inherited from their diverse histories.
The era of the homogenous nation state has gone. Immigration, emigration and the unfolding of history have led to a situation where populations all over the world are becoming increasingly diverse – and in which the great majority of countries have minorities that comprise more than 10% of their populations.
Diversity has two broad roots: firstly, it arises because different peoples have, for one or other historic reason, been included within the same borders. This is what happened in the United Kingdom; in Spain; Switzerland; the Russian Federation – and many other countries. In South Africa, widely diverse peoples were corralled together by the British in 1910 to form the Union of South Africa.
The other root of diversity is immigration. The diversity of countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and Brazil – and increasingly of Europe - came about as a result of the arrival of millions of people from other countries. The general pattern was that such immigrants integrated into their new societies within a generation or two. There was a reasonable expectation that new-comers would with time accept the values and identities of the countries which they have chosen as their new homes. As we are all observing at the moment, new waves of immigrants do not necessarily accept the assimilation model.
Minorities that have historically been part of the countries in which they live are also reluctant to submerge their identities in the culture and language of the national majority.
In many countries throughout the world, such minorities are increasingly restive. In regions like Scotland, Catalonia, Kurdistan, the Donbass region of Ukraine - and even Venice - long dormant identities are once again beginning to stir – with profound implications for the countries to which they belong.
This is partly because of a perceived lack of recognition by central governments of the language, cultural and educational rights of the affected regions;
It also arises from the frustrations experienced by regional populations with distant central governments that are too often perceived to be out of touch and insensitive to their needs and concerns;
Often there is a sense that regions contribute more to the national pool than they receive back in services from central governments;
There is also a growing perception that states do not have to be big to be successful. Some of the most prosperous societies are found in mini-states like Singapore and Luxembourg - or in countries with relatively small populations like Norway, Finland and Switzerland.
The continuing crisis in Ukraine also has its roots in its failure to accommodate diverse ethnic and linguistic communities within its traditional borders.
The situation is far more complex than the good guy/bad guy analysis that has often been thrust upon us by the media. 77,5% of the population are ethnic Ukrainians and 17,2% are ethnic Russians. However, many of the ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language – so the language split is 67% Ukrainian and 30% Russian. The political divide follows the languages spoken.
In the 2010 election the north-western part of the country, which is overwhelmingly Ukrainian-speaking, voted solidly for Yulia Tymoshenko while the Russian-speaking south-east gave equally solid support to her opponent Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych won the election in what was generally regarded as a free and fair poll. Tymoshenko landed in jail.
Issues came to a head in February last year after Yanukovych rejected an association deal with the EU and opted instead to move closer to the Russians. Following violent riots, instigated primarily by pro-EU Ukrainian speakers, he was forced to flee to Russia – leaving behind his lavish presidential palace and copious evidence of state corruption.
One of the first acts of the new Ukrainian parliament was to abolish Russian as a regional language. Although the measure was subsequently vetoed by the acting President, it bore testimony to the anti-Russian orientation of the revolutionaries. The Russians quickly retaliated by - in effect - invading the Crimea which was populated overwhelmingly by ethnic Russians and which included the strategic Russian naval base of Sebastopol.
This led to recriminations by the West and to the imposition of sanctions aimed primarily at Russian leaders. Since then Russia has undoubtedly been supporting a Russian insurrection in south-eastern Ukraine. Russian troops are reported to be in Ukraine and many more could be quickly deployed along the border. Europe is facing the most serious military confrontation since the end of the Cold War.
Language and identity issues lie at the heart of the Ukrainian crisis. According to Astrid Thors, the OSCE’s Commissioner for National Minorities “It is undisputable that long-standing disagreements about the respective roles of the Ukrainian and Russian languages and different interpretations of history in Ukraine have aggravated this crisis. The deliberate politicization of identity issues has reinforced these divisions during the past 20 years and the regional divide in Ukraine has widened as a result. “
All of this underlines the need for the effective management of ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity in an increasingly multicultural world. What rights should these minorities have to speak their languages, to practise freely their cultures and religions and to manage their own cultural and language affairs?
Should minorities that constitute clear regional majorities have the right to secede? The reply seems to depend on political interest rather than constitutional principle. Kosovo’s secession from Serbia was supported by the West – and was opposed by Russia. However, when Abkhazia split from Georgia, the Russians supported its right to do so while the West opposed it.
Last year Scotland held a referendum on whether it should secede from the United Kingdom. If a majority of Scots had voted ‘yes’ it would have become independent. If Quebec were ever to vote to secede from Canada the wishes of its people would also be respected. So, why should this principle not also be applicable to Crimea - or to regions in south-east Ukraine where Russians are in a majority?
In fact, most countries with ethnic minorities - including Russia - are adamant about the preservation of their territorial integrity. The Spanish government refuses to countenance an independence referendum in Catalonia; the United States would not allow any of its constituent states to secede - or accept the right of the Navajo homeland to independence. Canada would not hand over its arctic territories to the Inuit and Turkey would certainly not accept the secession of the Kurds. The Russians - having supported the principle of a referendum in Crimea would vehemently oppose it if any of its own constituent republics - like Chechnya - ever wanted to secede.
However, the crisis in Ukraine has not been caused solely by regional tensions and language policy: The underlying cause is that, after the overthrow of the Yanukovych government last February Russia believed that Ukraine - which for the past 350 years had been a part of its sphere of influence - was beginning to gravitate toward the European Union.
For the Russians - still smarting after the humiliation of the disintegration of the Soviet Union - this was intolerable - particularly because they believed that the February revolution had been unconstitutional. A few salient facts should be mentioned:
Opinion polls show that in south and east of Ukraine a considerable majority - even of Russian speakers - wants Ukraine to remain a single, united country;
Russia is deeply involved in supporting - and perhaps instigating - the military campaigns of secessionist groups in the south and the east;
However much it might want to deny or disguise its actions, Russia is clearly prepared to use military force to promote its interests in what it regards as its sphere of influence. This poses a serious threat to the doctrine that has helped to maintain peace in Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union;
The Ukrainian crisis has served to ignite Russian patriotism; hostility to the EU and the West; and massive domestic support for Putin.
However, nobody can or should ignore the Russian Bear when it is in so dangerous a mood.
One of the abiding principles of international relations - whether one likes it or not - is that countries must take into consideration the interests of other states to the degree that they control power. The EU does not have to worry too much about the interests of say Costa Rica or Lesotho because neither country can have much of an impact on the EU’s own interests.
The same is not true of Russia. The economies of many EU countries are deeply inter-dependent on the Russian economy. The EU shares a long border with Russia. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have significant Russian minorities - that are also concerned about their cultural and language rights. Russia is by far the largest country in the world and can influence events in all the regions with which it has borders - especially the Middle East, Iran, Central Asia and North-East Asia.
Militarily it is the second most powerful country in the world: it has large conventional forces - with more than 20 000 tanks, 3 500 strategic nuclear weapons and 2 000 tactical nuclear weapons.
The situation is made all the more volatile by the current - and extremely serious - implosion of the Russian economy; the sanctions imposed by the West; and the deep sense of humiliation and alienation that the Russians have experienced since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
All this creates a very dangerous cocktail of
bruised national pride;
social, political and economic volatility;
resurgent nationalist populism;
weak - or non-existent - constitutional institutions;
enormous military power; and
the evident willingness to deploy military force in the pursuit of national interest.
I tend to agree with Henry Kissinger that the West’s failure to understand the special significance that Ukraine has for Russia was “a fatal mistake.”
South Africa’s constitutional negotiations in the early ‘90s might have some relevance. We know all about demographics - since they have, in essence, been the main determinant of our politics for the past three hundred years. However, we were able to resolve our long-standing divisions through comprehensive negotiations on the basis of:
genuine acceptance that there could be no armed solution;
inclusion of all the relevant parties in the negotiations;
the accommodation of the reasonable concerns of all parties - including language and cultural rights; and
acceptance of a sovereign constitution - with a strong bill of rights and an independent judiciary.
However, the crisis in Ukraine is, in many respects, very different. It is deeply intertwined with the country’s relationship with its powerful neighbour, Russia; with the relationship which many of its citizens would like to have with the European Union; and with Russia’s increasingly problematic role in the global strategic order.
In the volatile circumstances to which I have referred, the West would be wise to:
be very careful about adopting and any additional policies that would further humiliate the Russians;
take into consideration the reasonable interests of all the parties involved in the conflict;
initiate constitutional negotiations - along the lines of the process that we followed in South Africa – that would involve all parties to the current conflict. The goal would be to reach agreement on constitutional guarantees that would address the concerns of all Ukrainians;
hold a new referendum under international supervision to establish the views of Crimeans regarding their future;
guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine with proper safeguards for the language and cultural rights of all communities; and
behind the scenes, send a very strong and credible message that the pursuit of national interests by military force is unacceptable and will be resisted by NATO with all of the means at its disposal.
The future stability and security of a very large part of the world might depend upon it.
“Preventing conflicts, ending wars, building durable peace”
Public lecture by Jose Ramos-Horta at the Distinguished Annual Lecture Series, hosted by Sergio Vieira De Mello Foundation
Geneva, 15 May 2014
Since the tragic day of 19th August 2003, I never missed an event honouring Sergio Vieira De Mello, primarily, in my own country, where every year, on 10th December, The Sergio Vieira De Mello Human Rights Award is awarded in two categories, Civil and Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in a solemn event held in the National Parliament presided by the President of the Republic.
In this very forum, you heard eloquent tributes written and said by many more erudite and important people than this small servant of God - you heard last year our esteemed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; in previous years you heard Cornelio Sommaruga (2012) Jose M Durao Barroso (2011), Bernard Kouchner (2010), Sadako Ogata (2009) and Kofi Annan (2008).
Let me just say a few words about the human being, the man who felt very guilty about being always away from home as his children were growing up. In the difficult years of 1999 and 2000, as my country emerged from the smoldering ruins of the conflict of years past, Sergio and I met countless times; we did not always talk about the great project and challenges of rebuilding Timor -Leste from the ashes of war, how to build the institutions of the State or how to reconcile our people with each other and with Indonesia. On occasion, I would visit him in his tiny room at the derelict Hotel Rezende, where he was initially lodged before moving to a larger modestly refurbished Portuguese colonial house in Farol; we talked about our often lonely lives, about people, emotions, family, future plans. Sergio loved his family and often felt lonely and guilty for being away so long, so often.
In February or March 2003, a Saturday morning, Sergio and I had a long conversation in a cafe in the Vieille Ville, Geneva. Over croissants and renverses (as you know here the old cafe au lait is called) we talked about his new assignment as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; the Iraq invasion by US-led forces was well under way and Sergio was worried that the Commission on Human Rights would be bogged down together with the US intervention. We talked about his mission to Iraq. In his heart Sergio didn't want to go there or anywhere. His assignment to Timor-Leste from the end of 1999 to May 2002 interrupted his then new role as Head of OCHA in New York. Sergio was hoping that after 30 years in countless missions abroad he would finally settle in Geneva. But he told me that morning, as an international civil servant he was at the service of the Secretary-General and couldn't say no to a request by the Secretary-General to serve in Iraq.
Sergio lost his precious life in a brutal manner together with 20 other international civil servants; they joined a long list of peace-makers who lost their lives to extremists.
May Sergio's legacy inspires us all, particularly, the young generation to strive to serve the cause of peace and freedom. In 1999 the Security Council, as always, and understandably so, was not in mood to authorise a reasonably long UN tutelage of Timor-Leste. So Kofi Annan and Sergio were told in 1999, "build a State from nothing in two years". Between 1975 and the late 80's, for about 15 years, I lived in New York and to survive I did occasional menial work here and there, including in a small Chinese take-away food business. Do you know how long does it take to have a little Chinese take-away business up and running and turning some decent profit? My Chinese employer with his unintelligible English and unique accent would say, "I cook many fly lice (sic) many years, five years, then make good money". I assume you know that "fly lice" actually means "fried rice". The Chinese owner of a small take-away business says it takes him five years of hard work, morning to night, seven days a week, selling many thousands of "fly lice" dishes before he is satisfied his modest business is turning some decent profit. However, the mighty Security Council told Kofi Annan and Sergio that they must build a modern functioning State within two years!
More than 10 years later we are continuing what was started with Kofi and Sergio in 1999-2002 - building the institutions of the State, consolidating the rule of law and peace. There are no short-cuts to peace; peace has to be built bloc by bloc; in my country we had to heal the wounds of the body and the heart; we honoured the victims, we are caring for the survivors; and we decided not to be hostage of the past, not to succumb to anger and hatred. Justice postponed is not justice forgotten. Sometimes prosecutorial justice has to wait for when time is ripe. It might take five years, 10, 20. The greater Justice is our freedom, we are sovereign!
We owe much of our freedom to the UN, to Kofi Annan and the many diligent UN specialists in the Department of Political Affairs who for 24 long years with dogged determination explored every opportunity to push the Timor-Leste case.
In his 1997 inaugural speech as UNSG Kofi Annan promised he would work towards a solution to the conflict in Timor-Leste within the first five years of his mandate. By 1999 the people of Timor-Leste were set free. Timor-Leste owes much of our success to our own people and the leadership but we would not have succeeded without the steady, generous solidarity from many, people and governments. We owe it in particular to the Comunidade dos Paises de Lingua Portuguesa (CPLP) for their steadfast solidarity through the darkest years of a long struggle. We also owe our freedom to the people of Indonesia, particularly its youth, who in 1988-1999 poured into the streets of major Indonesian cities and brought down a 30-year autocratic regime, thus paving the way for Timor-Leste' own freedom.
Today, Timor-Leste is very stable, both politically and economically, with double-digit growth for the last 8 years, and in terms of HDI it is situated at 134 out of 200 countries, doing better than some much older countries in our region. A decade after independence, Timor-Leste is in the forefront in the efforts to bring Guinea-Bissau back to constitutional order, working closely with the UN and in particular with Nigeria and other ECOWAS leaders in carrying out the very successful voter registration process. Timor-Leste committed $6 million for the voter registration, providing digital equipment, more than 20 experts and training to several hundred Bissau-Guinean electoral staff and is continuing to provide additional cash support and equipment to the CNE.
When I asked Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in October 2012 whether I should accept the invitation from the Secretary-General to undertake an assignment in Guinea-Bissau, he said: "Go, the country will be behind you, we will provide as much support as we can; we owe it to the UN, we owe it to our CPLP brothers and sisters.”
A few years back I was invited by the Vienna Peace Academy to be a speaker in their yearly series Bridges of Dialogue in Southeast Asia; this brought me to address a very mixed audience of peoples in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The theme of these lectures was "Is real, lasting peace possible in our life time?". For idealists, the answer is yes. The Dalai Lama says peace will bloom when we all have "inner peace". But His Holiness does not offer practical advice on short-cuts to Nirvana – how can we soften the heart and open the mind of a fanatic, guide
him from extremism and hatred to "inner peace"? Though I am a believer in the fundamental good of human being, I also fear the human capacity for extreme inhumanity. From the time of our ancestors many thousands of years ago till present times human beings have each passing century perfected the art and science of war and killing. I'm a frequent visitor to Japan and visited several times the historic city of Hiroshima, toured the Museum that so vividly walks a visitor through the corridors of horror caused by one single atomic bomb dropped on that city one clear day in August 1945 at the end of World War II. But no less heart-breaking have been my visits to the Holocaust Museum in Berlin that reminds us of the systematic cleansing of millions of Jews in Europe by the Third Reich. In both cities we are sadly reminded of human beings' capacity to inflict destruction and pain on fellow human beings.
Unfortunately human beings do not seem to ever learn from history. Soon after the end of WWII and the Jewish Holocaust and of the Gypsies, we witnessed the Korean War unleashed by the communist regime in the North of the Korean Peninsula as it attempted in a surprise attack to conquer the South. Not every US-led intervention was/is wrong, ill-intentioned. If it were not for US intervention, the whole Korean Peninsula would be ruled by the same communist dynasty that has (mis) ruled the North for the past 60 years. And we had mad policies of Stalin in Russia and Mao in China, the 1965-66 mass killings in Indonesia, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields in Cambodia in the mid 70's, the genocide in East Timor beginning in 1975, the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the Balkan wars and ethnic cleansing in the 1990's, the tragedies in Darfur / Sudan, Southern Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Congo, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan. You might recall another war, not long ago, the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980 to 1988's, during which thousands died horrible deaths from poisonous gases unleashed by Saddam Hussein on Iranians and Iraqi Kurdish. More than one million people died and the war ended only when both sides were exhausted. It was the longest conventional war of the 20th Century.
Two Patriarchs of diplomacy, Kofi Annan and Lakdhar Brahimi, attempted to bring about an end to the carnage in Syria. They pursued the most realistic and reasonable strategy to end the war but neither side was/is prepared to compromise just enough to end the carnage and the destruction of their country. The tragedy in Syria continues with no light at the end of the tunnel - and it is created conditions for many young people to rise in anger and to seek redress through the same means inflicted on them, on their parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends. The so-called Middle East "peace process" must be the oldest so-called "peace process" in history and constitutes the most abject failure of national, regional and international leaderships.
Hamas emergence and extremist politics are a by-product of this abject failure. That others in the Palestinian Movement, notably President Mahmoud Abbas, still adhere to the principles of the now defunct "Oslo Peace Agreement" and refused to join in the jihadist war illustrate their extraordinary faith and endless hope in diplomacy and American mediation.
Can we prevent social and political tensions from escalating into violent conflicts? Can we do better in bringing parties in a conflict to the table and restore peace? And how can we build durable peace?
In some cases neutral and credible national and/or external actors may be able to discretely or openly influence behavioural change and policies among competing actors, when those involved, are willing to welcome advice. But too often, individual pride and egos bloc friendly, neutral help, domestic or external. In spite of all the negative reporting about the political and military elites of Guinea-Bissau and in spite of the fact that they are all very proud people, they have welcome intrusive international mediation, swallowing their pride and telling us "Please help us".
The unfolding situations in three countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Ukraine illustrate how social and political tensions, almost normal in multi-ethnic countries, but nevertheless manageable and contained, may exacerbate spiralling into open conflict when excessive pride, lack of courage, wisdom and humility prevail on all sides blocking creative, cold-headed, rational debate and compromise.
Too often those in power do not have the wisdom and humility of the truly great in embracing the other half who disagree with them. And the opposition overestimate their own power, underestimate the adversary and miscalculate, with excessive demands amounting to ultimatum for surrender.
My humble advice: when you are at the top of the mountain, embrace those on the fringes of power and privileges; in victory be magnanimous, embrace the vanquished adversaries; if they are on their knees, help them to their feet, invite them to join in the new enterprise of peace.
To those in the opposition my advice is, never surrender to violence and hatred; seize every opportunity, enter the political process, and try to advance your interests with patience, through dialogue and persuasion. Maybe the Syrian opposition missed such an opportunity that was available three years ago in the Annan Peace Plan.
There are many simple ways to prevent conflicts and some old tested methods are -
genuine, patient dialogue, consultation and empowerment of all, making all feel part of the nation. All it actually requires is serious investment in mechanisms of dialogue; and dialogue means listening attentively and respectfully to the other side, accommodating their views as much as you can.
In too many countries, leaders view ethnic and cultural diversity as weakness and a
threat to national unity. Rather than embracing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity as a blessing, they suppress particular ethnic groups, usually minorities, their language and religion, in the name of an artificial national unity - unity of the majority ethnic group. When a particular ethnic/religious minority somehow achieved power, they build a powerful minority army and intelligence apparatus to protect themselves from the majority. They are just buying time but time is not on their side, as the majority will continue to swell in numbers and resentment.
When I took up my UN assignment in Guinea-Bissau in February 2013, I was aware that I could not in one year fulfill all that was contained in UNSC Res.2103 (2013) and 2048 (2012). However, I believed that if I could just restore hope to the people, create an atmosphere of less fear and tension, and a habit of dialogue, I would have contributed much.
The Charter says "we the people of the United Nations". Upon arriving in Guinea-Bissau in February 2013 I decided to make UNIOGBIS a truly peoples UN by travelling across that beautiful country and meet with the poor and the forgotten, making them feel that the UN care. I met with community leaders, the Imans, Catholic and Protestants, the bideras (women vendors), and simple farmers, students, youth, academics. We made those living in remote regions of the country, in the humble tabankas, the forgotten and poor, feel that the UN is close to them; we opened four regional offices without requesting more resources from HQ.
There were and there are those, among our brothers and sisters in Guinea-Bissau who called for the country to be placed under UN Trusteeship for 10 to 30 years.
Some others and even some Member States called for a "peace-keeping force" to be deployed to Guinea-Bissau. I did not share those views. They were not doable anyway. We were and are managing a political problem with a complex security dimension; however, on the positive side, Guinea-Bissau has been exempted from ethnic and religious violence that prevail elsewhere in the Continent.
We have since seen a very successful voter registration with more than 95% of potential voters registered - this was never before done in Guinea-Bissau; we have seen a legislative general election and the first round of presidential election with more than 80% of voter participation - again this was never achieved in Guinea-Bissau; and for the first time ever in Guinea-Bissau's history of elections no complaints were lodged.
This Sunday, 18th May, we will witness the second round of the presidential election and I am reasonably assured that we will witness the same atmosphere of tranquility and civility. I might have defrauded you with my speech today as I could not offer simple recipes for how to prevent conflicts, end wars and build durable peace.
Human beings (usually men) are the authors of conflicts and wars; and human beings are the only ones who can prevent the outbreak of violent conflicts, negotiate the end of wars and build peace. Peoples are the makers of history but peoples need leaders; when they are inspired by their leaders, leaders they trust, leaders who preach compassion and reconciliation, people follow, and peace grows. To prevent conflicts, end wars, heal wounds, reconcile communities and nations, build durable peace, we require leaders with vision, courage, determination, humility and compassion. Lacking such leaders at community, national, regional and global level, we will not see end of wars and durable peace.
Our collectivity called the United Nations is made up of its many parts, and the parts are we the peoples of the world. Sometimes we are well represented, by those we elected with our free will. Often, those speaking for us, do not really represent us for they were not freely, democratically elected. This is our world, our common Home, with its beauty and ugliness. From the ages till this very day, we the inhabitants of this increasingly crowded Planet, not only we kill each other but we destroy the natural riches on which we depend on to survive; we manufacture nuclear bombs, chemical and biological weapons to wipe out entire cities and peoples; we poison the water we drink; we dump every conceivable waste in our rivers and seas; we burn forests for short term gains.
By Javier Solana and Carl Bildt
Published: Project Syndicate, 06 January 2015
STOCKHOLM/MADRID – When Pope Francis addressed the European Parliament last November, he compared the European Union to a grandmother – pleasant and rich with experience, but lacking the vitality and energy of the past. It is high time, Francis argued, that EU leaders shed their dozy image, recognize the strategic challenges that Europe faces, and forge a clear policy for tackling them.
Admittedly, the pope’s characterization was alarmingly accurate in some respects. But, despite its seeming lassitude, Europe retains significant strengths. It is a hub of high-level thought and innovation; it is home to some of the world’s most competitive regions and industries; and, perhaps most impressive, it has built a community and market encompassing a half-billion people.
But the world is changing: the Asia-Pacific region is increasingly influencing global developments, economic and otherwise. The Trans-Pacific Partnership – by which the United States and 11 other countries would create a mega-regional free-trade zone – would most likely accelerate this shift (all the more so if China eventually joins). Though the TPP faces no shortage of hurdles to clear before an agreement is finalized, its potential to augment Asia’s economic power cannot be underestimated.
Europe must work to secure its position in the new world order – beginning by enhancing its own trade and investment ties with the US. The problem is that, as the TPP negotiations progress, talks on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have become so deeply mired in domestic controversies that the entire project may well be scuttled.
Business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are convinced that a successful TTIP agreement would bring substantial economic benefits – a perception that many studies reinforce. Yet trivial issues – for example, the use of chlorinated chicken and settlements of investor disputes – continue to dominate the debate.
The TTIP’s goal is to unleash the power of the transatlantic economy, which remains by far the world’s largest and wealthiest market, accounting for three-quarters of global financial activity and more than half of world trade. (If the TTIP was opened to other economies – such as Turkey, Mexico, and Canada – the benefits would be even greater.)
Even more compelling than the benefits of achieving an agreement, though, are the potentially catastrophic consequences of failure. For starters, a breakdown of TTIP talks would give considerable ammunition to those in the United Kingdom who advocate withdrawal from the EU; conversely, if the TTIP were implemented, the UK would be unwise – and thus unlikely – to leave.
Moreover, the perception that the EU’s internal squabbles had led it to squander a strategic opportunity would probably drive the US to accelerate its disengagement from the continent. And Russian President Vladimir Putin would invariably regard the EU’s failure as a major opportunity to exert more influence over parts of Europe.
All of this contributes to a starkly fundamental strategic risk: If the TTIP stalls or collapses, while the TPP moves forward and succeeds, the global balance will tip strongly in Asia’s favor – and Europe will have few options, if any, for regaining its economic and geopolitical influence.
When the TTIP was first proposed, Europe seemed to recognize its value. Indeed, it was the EU that pushed the US, which initially doubted Europe’s commitment, to launch the negotiation process in June 2013.
The ambition was to complete the negotiations on “one tank of gas.” No one wanted to endure protracted talks – or the associated political pain.
But EU leaders essentially abandoned the project, seemingly confirming American fears. Trade negotiators struggled to make headway, while anti-globalization groups seized control of the public discourse, presenting the TTIP as a threat to everything from Europe’s democracy to its health.
This is dangerously inaccurate talk, and EU leaders must prevent it from gaining any more traction by making the strategic case for the agreement. And they must revive their commitment to conclude the talks successfully in 2015.
This is not to say that resolving the remaining issues in the TTIP negotiations will be simple. But establishing a trade agreement, especially one that entails so many regulatory issues, is always difficult, as it must account for the complexity and changeability of modern economies. The fact is that the challenges inherent in completing the TTIP are no more intractable than those that EU leaders have faced in the last few years of crisis.
When the TTIP negotiations resume next month, EU leaders must push for genuine progress, with the goal of completing a deal by the end of the year.
The good news is that the recent midterm elections in the US might have improved their chances. President Barack Obama now might get so-called fast-track negotiating authority from Congress. If he does, Congress would simply approve or reject any negotiated agreement, rather than picking it apart.
The US presidential election season is starting, and other issues in the new year could easily take over the EU agenda. That is why Europe’s leaders have no time to waste. They must seize economic opportunity – and avert strategic disaster.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/2015-ttip-conclusion-critical-by-carl-bildt-and-javier-solana-2015-01#bmmjiBtJeJfFQtwt.99
GLF Member and Vice Chairman, Joe Clark introduces the Global Leadership Foundation to the Woodrow Wilson Centre.
“Objective advice from people without a personal, financial or political agenda has been priceless for me. It enabled me to resolve seemingly overwhelming problems through negotiation”.