• FW de Klerk

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    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.

    Joe Clark

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Lakhdar Brahimi

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    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.

    Hikmet Çetin

    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.

    Lynda Chalker

    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.
  • Pascal Couchepin

    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.

    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.

    Marzuki Darusman

    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.

    Tom Daschle

    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.

    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.

    Amara Essy

    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).

    Gareth Evans

    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.
  • Vicente Fox

    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.

    Louise Fréchette

    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.

    Enrique Iglesias

    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.

    Chandrika Kumaratunga

    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.

    Ketumile Masire

    President of Botswana 1980-1998
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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.

    António Mascarenhas Monteiro

    President of Cape Verde 1991-2001
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  • PJ Patterson

    Prime Minister of Jamaica 1992-2006
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    Thomas R. Pickering

    US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs
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    José Ramos-Horta

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    Prime Minister 2006-07
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    Fidel Valdez Ramos

    President of the Philippines 1992-98
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    Elisabeth Rehn

    UN Under-Secretary-General 1998-99
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    Michel Rocard

    Prime Minister of France 1988-91
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    Ghassan Salamé

    UN Special Advisor to Secretary-General, 2003-06
    Lebanese Minister of Culture, 2000-03
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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.

    Jaswant Singh

    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.

    Javier Solana

    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.

    Eduardo Stein

    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.

    Cassam Uteem

    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.

    Vaira Vike-Freiberga

    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.

    Kaspar Villiger

    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.

Chandrika Kumaratunga - Biographical Information

President, Sri Lanka 1994-2005

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the fifth President of Sri Lanka, serving from 1994 to 2005. The daughter of two former Prime Ministers, she was also the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party until the end of 2005. She is Sri Lanka's only female president to date.

During her Presidency, Chandrika Kumaratunga led the successful privatization of state enterprises in a range of industries and her government enacted new laws and institutions to tackle rampant state corruption. President Chandrika Kumaratunga also helped Sri Lanka move away from its pro-war, confrontational mind-set to one of negotiations and peace.

Having inherited a nation plagued by violent politics - a civil war between the government and a separatist terror group as well as a state accused of massive human rights violations - Chandrika Kumaratunga made conciliatory moves towards the separatist Tamil Tigers to attempt to end the ongoing civil war and help steer the country to a plural, multicultural society. These moves towards peace involved two cease fire agreements and negotiations with the rebels even after the LTTE attempted in 1999 to assassinate her and badly wounded her.

Chandrika Kumaratunga’s stated economic policy was “free market economy with a human face” and was designed to give access to the benefits of development to all sections of the population. During her Presidency, in the midst of an ongoing civil war, Sri Lanka experienced annual economic growth rates of 5 and 6 %, both GDP and per capita income doubled, the supply of electricity and safe drinking water to households increased and there was a seven fold increase in fixed and mobile telephones. Under her Presidency, the Sri Lankan government tripled budgetary provisions for education and health to modernize and render these services to be more responsive to the needs of the people, and completed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for Education and Health.

Public career

Having been greatly influenced as a student in Paris by the radical student movement in the 1960s, Chandrika Kumaratunga remained deeply committed, throughout her career, to the imperatives of a plural society and to the welfare of the deprived, the underprivileged and the disadvantaged. Upon her return to Sri Lanka after her studies in Paris, Chandrika Kumaratunga became heavily involved in politics through the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and in 1974 became an Executive Committee member of the Party’s Women's League. Between 1972-1976 she served as Principal Director of the Land Reforms Commission and in 1976 became Chairman of the Janawasa Commission, which established cooperative farms for rural youth. From 1976–1979, she acted as a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. (In 2003 she was awarded the FAO Ceres Medal for efforts to foster rural development and peace in Sri Lanka).

Following the assassination in February 1988 of her husband, Vijaya Kumaratunga, a popular Sri Lankan film actor and politician, Chandrika Kumaratunga left Sri Lanka for the United Kingdom, working for World Institute for Development Economics Research. When she returned in 1991, Chandrika Kumaratunga entered politics and in May 1993 was elected to the Western Provincial Council with an unprecedented majority. She was appointed the Chief Minister of the Western Province, the country's largest.

In August 1994, she contested the Parliamentary General Elections as the People’s Alliance candidate for Prime Minister and was elected by an overwhelming majority. In the Presidential Elections held shortly thereafter in November 1994, she was elected President obtaining a record 62% of the votes cast, thereby ending 17 years of rule by the right-leaning United National Party.

Following the December 1999 Presidential elections, Chandrika Kumaratunga defeated the UNDP candidate, Ranil Wickremasinghe, and was sworn in for a second term. (This followed an assassination attempt on her days before the voting, by the separatist Tamil Tigers, as a result of which she lost vision in her right eye through permanent optic nerve damage). Two years later, however, Chandrika Kumaratunga’s People's Alliance lost to the UNP in the parliamentary elections and her political opponent Ranil Wickremasinghe took office as Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister. Kumaratunga continued as President of Sri Lanka although her relationship with the Wickremasinghe government was a strained one.

In February 2002 Wickremasinghe's government and the LTTE signed a permanent ceasefire agreement, paving the way for talks to end the long-running conflict. In December, the government and the rebels agreed to share power during peace talks in Norway. President Kumaratunga believed Wickremasinghe was being too lenient towards the LTTE and in May 2003 indicated her willingness to sack the prime minister and government if she felt they were making too many concessions to the rebels. On 4 November 2003, while Prime Minister Wickremasinghe was on an official visit to the United States, Kumaratunga prorogued Parliament and assigned Defense Interior and Media ministries on her. In January 2004 President Kumaratunga's People's Alliance and the leftist People's Liberation Front formed the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and dissolved Parliament. The UPFA went on to win the election on 2 April 2004 and formed a government with Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.

Kumaratunga's six-year term ended in 2005. She one of the few Asian leaders to retire at 60 years of age, after serving two terms as President

Activity after public politics

Chandrika Kumaratunga is currently engaged in social entrepreneurship and is Chairperson of the CBK Foundation for Democracy and Justice (FDJ) and the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI). Both are non-profit, non-political bodies.

Chandrika Kumaratunga is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Memberships and Associations

  • Chairperson of the CBK Foundation for Democracy
  • Chairman of the South Asia Policy and Research Institute
  • Member of the Council of Women World Leaders
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Club of Madrid
  • Member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
  • Member of Club de Madrid

Chandrika Kumaratunga has travelled extensively on speaking assignments, including the following:

  • Keynote address “State and Terrorism”, at Kings College, London, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, 12th December 2012.
  • Lecture, “Unity in Diversity; Building Shared and Inclusive Societies for Peace and Prosperity”, Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation Lecture Series, in Lagos, Nigeria in November 2012.
  • Keynote address on “Delivering Inclusive and Sustainable Development” at the First Conference of the South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI) held in New Delhi, on 9th April 2012.
  • “The Absence of War is Not Peace” at the University of Virginia, November 2011.
  • “My Experiences in Negotiating Peace in Sri Lanka”, at the Harvard International Negotiations Program / Harvard University.
  • “The State and Religion in South Asia”, at CERI, Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po), University of Paris, June 2011.
  • Address at conference on “Renewing Dialogue for Peace, Freedom and Human Rights in Today’s World” – Kuwait, 2011. (Fahad Al Saleem Center / Club de Madrid)
  • Keynote speaker at the 6th Education Without Borders (EWB) International Student Conference under the patronage of the President of the United Arab Emirates – UAE, March 2011.
  • Address at Seminar on Global Economic Crisis and the Asia-Pacific Region, “Dynamism in a Post-Crisis World” hosted by UNESCAP and Club de Madrid in Bangkok, August 2010.
  • Panelist at Davos / World Economic Forum “Global Redesign Summit” in Doha, Qatar May 2010.
  • The Arab Democracy Foundation’s (ADF) Workshop on Conflict Resolution and Mediation in Doha in May 2010.
  • Keynote address on “Leadership” at Institute of Political Science, University of Paris, June 2010.
  • The Club de Madrid Mission to Yemen to promote ‘Leadership for Strengthening Women’s Political Participation through Dialogue’- 2009.
  • Conference on “Employment, Social Welfare, and Democratic Rights and Duties” in Madrid November - 2009.
  • Keynote address viz “Leadership for Dialogue, Diversity and Social Cohesion” at the East-West Dialogue [UNESCO, the Asia-Europe Foundation] in Barcelona-November - 2009.
  • Gandhi Memorial Oration in Colombo-‘Democracy in Action in India and Lessons which Sri Lanka can learn’ - 2009.
  • Led Leader–in- Residence programme at Chatham Hall, Virginia, United States - 2009
  • ‘Role of voluntary organizations as change agents’ address to Rotary governors of the Asian region- in Kerala, India - 2009.
  • Address at the launch of the book ‘A Time of Transition’ by Mani Shankar Iyer. ‘Has the 21stCentury Overtaken Rajiv Gandhi?’ – New Delhi, 2009
  • Led Missions to Sierra Leone on African Women Leaders Programme of EU/Club de Madrid – 2008.