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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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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Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency 1997-2009
Vice President, Egypt 2013
Mohamed ElBaradei is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who served as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009 and as Vice President of Egypt on an acting basis in 2013. He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
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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.
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
US Ambassador to the United Nations 1979-81
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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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.
Federal Chancellor, Austria 2000-07
Foreign Minister 1995-2000
Wolfgang Schüssel was Chancellor of Austria for two consecutive terms and widely regarded as an active reformer in contemporary Austrian politics.
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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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Speech by FW de Klerk at the FW de Klerk Foundation Annual Conference
02 February 2016
The FW de Klerk Foundation decided to dedicate its annual conference this year to the consideration of the future of multiculturalism in South Africa.
We did so because of the strains that have been developing in relations between our communities and because of the central importance of reaching agreement on how communities in our complex multicultural society should relate to one another in the future. These are questions that will play a key role in determining the long-term success of our society and the security and happiness of all our peoples.
This is also a challenge that increasingly confronts countries throughout the world. The main threat to peace during the 21st century no longer comes from the possibility of conflict between countries but rather from the inability of states to manage relationships between ethnic, cultural and religious communities within their own borders.
The age of the single culture, single language state is over. Two thirds of the world’s 200 countries have minorities comprising more than 10% of their populations. Cultural and ethnic minorities now comprise more than one billion people throughout the world - one in seven of the human population.
Our own country, South Africa, is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse societies in the world.
Like so many other African countries, South Africa was a creation of European imperialists. At the beginning of the last century the British drew arbitrary lines on the map of southern Africa which created South Africa as we know it today. In so doing they incorporated within the same state a wide array of different peoples with different cultures, values and levels of development.
In 1910 when the Union of South Africa was established, the British gave white South Africans a monopoly of political power. During the subsequent decades whites used their monopoly of power to promote and protect their own interests. Their relationship with the other peoples of South Africa was characterised at best by condescending paternalism – and at worst by naked exploitation and dispossession.
26 years ago today I initiated the process that would end the white monopoly of power and that would open the way to our present non-racial constitutional democracy.
During the constitutional negotiations the participating parties gave extensive attention to the manner in which the rights of all our communities would be protected and how they would work together in a new spirit of unity in diversity. Our new constitution recognised our 11 official languages and proclaimed that they should enjoy parity of esteem.
It required us to strive for unity within our diversity.
It prohibited discrimination, inter alia, on the basis of race, language and culture.
It enjoined the state to take special action to develop our indigenous languages.
It stated that government at national and provincial levels must use at least two official languages.
The Constitution importantly recognised the right to receive education in the language of one’s choice in public educational institutions, where such education is reasonably practicable and provided that it does not lead to discrimination.
It also created space for language, cultural and religious diversity.
Everyone would have the right to use the language and participate in the cultural life of their choice.
People belonging to cultural, religious and ethnic communities would be able to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language.
They would be able to form cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society.
Our new Constitution was in line with international thinking on multiculturalism at the time.
A United Nations Development Programme report, published in 2004, pointed to what it called the newly emerging ‘identity politics’.
“In vastly different contexts and in different ways - from indigenous people in Latin America to religious minorities in South Asia to ethnic minorities in the Balkans and Africa to immigrants in Western Europe - people are mobilising anew around old grievances along ethnic, religious, racial and cultural lines, demanding that their identities be acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by wider society.”
The Report affirmed that cultural liberty was a vital part of human development. If handled well, it could lead to greater cultural diversity and enrich people’s lives. However, if it was mismanaged it could “quickly become one of the greatest sources of instability within states and between them.” The answer was to “respect diversity and build unity through common bonds of humanity”.
The UNDP Report recommended that states should promote cultural liberty as a human right and as an important aspect of human development. Neither did the UNDP believe that cultural rights could be secured “simply by guaranteeing individuals’ civil and political rights”.
On the contrary, the promotion of cultural rights required explicit state action:
“…states need to recognise cultural differences in their constitutions, their laws and their institutions. They also need to formulate policies to ensure that the interests of particular groups - whether minorities or historically marginalised majorities - are not ignored or overridden by the majority or by dominant groups.”
It is only within such a framework of tolerant multiculturalism that all of us who live in multicultural societies can achieve our full potential as human beings in the many different areas in which we operate.
For example, I am an individual. I belong to the De Klerk family. I belong to the Reformed Church. I am a member of a number of private organisations - including a number of golf clubs. I am an Afrikaner. I derive my language, my history, and my traditions and much of my identity from all these associations. I am also very proud to be an active citizen of the new vibrant and multicultural South Africa. Like my ancestors since 1688, I am an African - and I like to think that I am a citizen of the world.
None of these relationships is mutually exclusive. People can be all these things at the same time. Their reasonable rights in all these spheres need to be protected. Neither should they suffer discrimination because of any of these affiliations.
I believe that we South Africans are all richer because of the cultural diversity that we enjoy. I am confident that we can show that diversity does not need to be a source of tension and conflict - but can help to enrich our lives by providing differing perspectives of the world in which we live.
Unfortunately, virtually every one of the provisions relating to cultural and language rights that we negotiated into the 1996 Constitution has been ignored or diluted:
English is increasingly the single de facto official language.
The supposed official status of the remaining 10 languages is increasingly an illusion.
Little or nothing has been done to develop our indigenous languages.
Afrikaans, as a university language, is under enormous pressure - and there are increasing pressures on especially single medium Afrikaans schools.
Perhaps the most ominous threat to diversity comes from increasing demands that minorities should conform to the goal of pervasive and all-embracing demographic representivity. The idea is that in a perfectly non-racial society all institutions in the public, private and non-governmental sectors should reflect the ethnic composition of society at all levels - down to the first decimal place.
In a multi-community society like South Africa demographic representivity would mean that minorities would be subject to the control of the majority in every area of their lives: in their jobs, in their schools, in their universities, in their charitable institutions and in their sports. It would be the antithesis of multiculturalism. It would constitute African hegemony – and negate the idea that all South Africans are equal, regardless of the community to which they belong.
Our communities also continue to be deeply divided by our very different perceptions and experiences of the past.
During the negotiations we reached agreement on the need for reconciliation and for actions to promote national unity. We accepted that our approach to the past should be based on:
a need for understanding - but not for vengeance;
a need for reparation - but not for retaliation; and
a need for Ubuntu - but not for victimisation.
We also agreed to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine our deeply divided past and to promote reconciliation and national unity.
In the course of the TRC’s proceedings, I made a full and sincere apology for apartheid. I apologised in my capacity as Leader of the National Party to the millions of South Africans
who had suffered the wrenching disruption of forced removals in respect of their homes, businesses and land;
who over the years, had suffered the shame of being arrested for pass law offences;
who over the decades - and indeed centuries - had suffered the indignities of humiliation of racial discrimination;
who for a long time were prevented from exercising their full democratic rights in the land of their birth;
who were unable to achieve their full potential because of job reservation; and
who in any way suffered as a result of discriminatory legislation and policies.
I said that this renewed apology was “offered in a spirit of true repentance in full knowledge of the tremendous harm that apartheid has done to millions of South Africans.”
Nothing has changed since I made that apology. I stand by it. I believe that all white South Africans should continuously try to understand, acknowledge and process the pain and humiliation that apartheid caused black, Coloured and Indian South Africans. We need to be involved in addressing it.
At the same time, black South Africans must show much greater sensitivity for the enormous complexity of our history. They should not judge previous generations by the moral standards of today - either Paul Kruger or King Shaka. History is not a simple cowboy story about bad guys vs good guys.
The main motivation of my people throughout our history was simply our desire to establish and maintain our own right to national self-determination.
Our critics must also understand that even more important than apologies is the determination to put right what has been wrong. It was inter alia for this reason that my colleagues and I took the decisions and actions that were necessary to get rid of apartheid forever. We also agreed that our new Constitution should make provision for restitution, for a balanced system of land reform and for measures to promote equality that would not result in unfair discrimination against anyone.
Despite the considerable risks involved we gave up our virtual monopoly of power and of our historic quest to rule ourselves. Instead, we put our faith in the non-racial Constitution that we negotiated with all our fellow South Africans. In March 1992 almost 70% of white South Africans supported the course that we had adopted.
Now, 22 years after the founding of our new society we continue to be more deeply divided by our past than ever.
Many white South Africans live contentedly in their own first world bubbles oblivious of the plight of less advantaged communities. This manifests itself too often in what blacks perceive as an unconscious racial superiority - and sometimes in crass, racist and hurtful remarks and attitudes.
On the other hand, the attitude of many blacks towards white South Africans is becoming harsher and more uncompromising. Many feel that little has changed since 1994. Many believe that whites “stole” all the land that they now possess and that their relative prosperity is based not on hard work and enterprise, but on the historic exploitation of black South Africans.
Whites are increasingly blamed for the problems of inequality, unemployment and poverty that continue to afflict many South Africans. The Government openly attacks their history and their heroes - such as Jan van Riebeeck and Paul Kruger - who, ironically, led one of the greatest anti-Imperialist struggles in African history.
South Africans are once again perceiving people from other communities
in terms of negative racial stereotypes and not as individual human beings;
in terms of past animosities rather than in terms of the need for present and future cooperation to achieve national goals.
More seriously, prominent political parties are competing against one another in their attempts to mobilise their constituencies on the basis of hostile racial agendas.
We simply cannot afford this kind of racial polarisation. We must remember the UNDP's warning that if relationships between communities in multicultural states are mismanaged they can “quickly become one of the greatest sources of instability within states and between them.”
We need to return to the spirit of reconciliation, compromise and goodwill that characterised the first years of the New South Africa. We need to hear Nelson Mandela’s call for reconciliation and nation building again.
We need to rediscover the vision of multiculturalism in the Constitution - in which:
all our indigenous languages will be fully developed and enjoy real official status;
all our languages will be treated equitably and with parity of esteem;
the human dignity and moral equality of all our peoples will be respected - regardless of their race or language;
all people will be treated on the basis of non-racialism and non-sexism;
no one will be subjected to unfair discrimination on the basis of their race, gender or language;
everyone will enjoy the right to education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions; and in which
everyone will have the right to use the language and practise the culture of their choice.
Leaders of goodwill from all our communities must now urgently come together to call for calm:
They should unambiguously condemn racism from whatever quarter it might come;
They should call to account those who seek to incite violence - whoever they are;
They should encourage South Africans to abandon negative stereotypes of people from other communities;
They should urge all South Africans to treat one another with respect, courtesy and toleration;
They should promote open dialogue between our communities to gain understanding of the sources of their anger; their fears and their sense of hurt;
They should learn more about one another’s cultures, languages and histories; and They should encourage us all to unite around the values in the Constitution and to work for a society in which those values will be translated into reality.
We must all understand that all of us are mutually dependent: none of us will prosper and feel secure if all of us do not prosper and enjoy security. We really do have a symbiotic relationship and cannot survive without one another. As Pik Botha used to say, it makes no difference whether a zebra is shot in a black stripe or a white stripe: the whole animal dies.
Because of the importance of healthy multiculturalism to the future of South Africa, the FW de Klerk Foundation has decided to establish a Centre for Unity in Diversity that will operate alongside the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which we established in 2006.
The new Centre will uphold the Constitution’s vision of unity in diversity; the language and cultural rights that it ensures; and everyone’s right to equality - regardless of their race, gender or language.
It will monitor any developments that might harm national unity; and that might constitute unfair racial, gender or language discrimination.
It will actively participate in the national debate on issues related to the rights of South Africa’s language, ethnic, cultural and religious communities; and
It will - where possible - assist people to claim their language, cultural, religious and gender rights.
It will support and promote nation building and social cohesion.
Like the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the new Centre will be assisted and guided by a Panel of Experts. We hope that the new Centre will be up and running within the next six months.
In conclusion I call on all fair minded and moderate South Africans:
Let us say no to all forms of hate speech and destructive dialogue.
Let us distance ourselves from all extremists.
Let us take hands and build bridges towards a healthy multicultural nation.
Let us build a successful, peaceful and prosperous South Africa.
Let us revive the spirit and intent of 1994.
Let us work together to make the vision in our Constitution of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms a tangible reality for all South Africans.
Tom Daschle and Trent Lott are two of the most prominent senators of recent time. Both served in their respective parties' leadership positions from the 1990s into the current century, and they have almost sixty years of service between them. Their congressional tenure saw the Reagan tax cuts, a deadlocked Senate, the Clinton impeachment, 9/11, and the Iraq War. Despite the tumultuous times, and despite their very real ideological differences, they have always maintained a positive working relationship, one almost unthinkable in today's hyper-partisan climate.
In their book, Daschle and Lott come together from opposite sides of the aisle to sound an alarm on the current polarization that has made governing all but impossible; never before has the people's faith in government been so dismally low. The senators itemize damaging forces--the permanent campaign, the unprecedented money, the 24/7 news cycle--and offer practical recommendations, pointing the way forward. Most crucially, they recall the American people, especially our leaders, to the principles enshrined in the Constitution, and to the necessity of debate but also the imperative of compromise--which will take leadership, vision, and courage to bring back.
Illustrated with personal stories from their own eminent careers and events cited from deeper in American history, Crisis Point is an invaluable work that comes at a critical juncture. It is a work of conscience, as well as duty, written with passion and eloquence by two men who have dedicated their lives to public service and share the conviction that all is far from lost.
Address to the South African Institute of International Affairs, Pretoria 7 December 2015 and Cape Town 9 December 2015.
If it was not for South Africa we would not have the Responsibility to Protect. “R2P”, as the principle is now universally known, would remain just another possibly good idea, the subject of an international commission report and a flurry of academic articles fifteen years ago, but all of them now gathering dust. We would not have the internationally agreed principle we now do that those at risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, are the whole world’s business – a matter of international peace and security concern – even when such crimes are committed wholly within the boundaries of a single sovereign state.
The unanimous endorsement of the R2P principle at head of state and government level at the 2005 World Summit, and in the UN General Assembly resolution which immediately followed it, was anything but inevitable. Not only was little else of any significance agreed upon by the summit participants – despite all the preparatory build-up and high expectations – but a fierce rear-guard action was fought almost to the last by a small group of developing countries, joined by Russia, who basically refused to concede any kind of limitation on the full and untrammelled exercise of state sovereignty, however irresponsible that exercise might be. And consistent support for R2P from both the US and UK – reasonably strong from Washington, much more so from London – was not particularly helpful in allaying the familiar sovereignty concerns of the South, against the background of the deeply unpopular coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.
What carried the day in the end was persistent advocacy by sub-Saharan African countries, led by South Africa. The Latin Americans’ acceptance of limited sovereignty principles was important, given their own long history of resiting foreign intervention. Canada’s then Prime Minister Paul Martin should also be given credit for some effective last minute personal diplomacy directed toward key wavering countries, notably India. But it was South Africa’s strong and effective advocacy which really proved crucial.
That advocacy was, of course, significantly motivated by recognition of how important the UN’s recognition of apartheid as a “crime against humanity” had been in the long global campaign for its overthrow. But it also reflected the leadership role South Africa had played in crafting the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which came into being in 2002 and which – unlike its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity – placed the emphasis, when it came to catastrophic internal human rights violations, not on “non-interference” but on “non-indifference”. Although article 4(g) guarantees in familiar terms “non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another”, article 4 (h) lays out the ground-breaking notion of “the right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”.
The 2005 General Assembly resolution had its origins in the report of the 2001 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which I had the privilege of co-chairing with the distinguished Algerian diplomat Mohamed Sahnoun, and which had an all-star international cast, including – I am delighted to acknowledge, your now Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa. Initiated by Canada, the Commission was a response to the international community’s failure to act effectively, or at all, or with the legal authority of the Security Council when it did act, in the 1990s horror cases of Rwanda and the Balkans – although this global default had in fact been going on for decades, and indeed centuries, with the flurry of international law making that followed the Holocaust, including the Genocide Convention, making little or no difference. The global North liked, at least in principle the idea of “humanitarian intervention” in these cases, but the South hated it, and by and large nothing happened: the mass murders went on as they had been going on from time immemorial.
My Commission laid the ground for a new consensus by changing the language of the debate from “the right to intervene” to “the responsibility to protect”, and the substantive focus of the debate away from single-minded preoccupation with coercive military intervention to a much more nuanced spectrum of preventive, reactive and rebuilding strategies. In the form in which it was embraced by the World Summit and adopted by the General Assembly, the resolution identified three separate dimensions to the responsibility involved: the responsibility of a state to its own people not to either commit such mass atrocity crimes or allow them to occur (now referred to as Pillar One); the responsibility of other states to assist those lacking the capacity to so protect (Pillar Two); and the responsibility of the international community to respond with “timely and decisive action” (including ultimately with coercive military force if that is authorised by the Security Council) if a state is “manifestly failing” to meet its protection responsibilities (Pillar Three).
It is important to make clear at the outset that, as we in the Commission conceived it and the UN member states adopted it – after four years of protracted diplomatic wrangling – R2P really was designed for pragmatists rather than purists. Its intended contribution was not to international relations theory but political practice. It was designed not to create new legal rules but rather a compelling new sense of moral and political obligation to apply existing ones. It was to generate a reflex international response that genocide, other crimes against humanity, and major war crimes happening behind sovereign state walls were not nobody’s business: that sovereignty could never be a license to kill. The bottom line was always to change behaviour: to ensure that global policymakers would never again have to look back, in the aftermath of yet another genocidal catastrophe like Cambodia or Rwanda or Srebrenica, and ask themselves – with a mixture of anger, incomprehension and shame – how they could possibly have let it all happen again.
So, looking back over the last decade, how well did we succeed in this very ambitious aspiration? Looking at the present catastrophe in Syria, where R2P gained no traction at all, and the horrible aftermath of the initially-successful R2P-based military intervention in Libya, it would be easy to be cynical – as many critics are – and say that the whole enterprise has been a complete waste of time, or worse.
Let me offer you my own rather more positive stocktake, using as benchmarks the four big things that R2P was designed to be: a normative force; a catalyst for institutional change; a framework for preventive action; and a framework for effective reactive action when prevention has failed.
R2P as a Normative Force.
The British historian Martin Gilbert wrote two years after the 2005 World Summit, that acceptance of the responsibility to protect is “the most significant adjustment to sovereignty in 360 years”. That’s a large call, but it is certainly true to say that R2P has gained over the last decade much more worldwide normative traction than most observers had thought possible, and has done so in a way that remains unimaginable for the concept of “humanitarian intervention” which it has now almost completely displaced (Although “humanitarian intervention” language does linger on, especially in US academic discourse – not helped by the Obama administration’s unwillingness, evidently for domestic political reasons, to itself use “R2P” language in any of its non-UN discourse.)
The best evidence of the growing normative traction of R2P is in the annual debates on R2P in the General Assembly, even those occurring after 2011, subsequent to the strong disagreements over the Libyan intervention that year which have had many sceptics pronouncing its death rites. Certainly there is more general comfort with its first and second pillars than the third, and there will always be argument about what precise form action should take in a particular case, but the basic principles are under no threat. In the most recent annual General Assembly debate on R2P in September 2015, statements expressing overwhelming support for all of them were made by or on behalf of 89 states from every regional group, with no other serious dissent evident.
Further evidence of the acceptance achieved by R2P lies in the record of the Security Council itself. Notwithstanding again the continuing neuralgia about the Libyan intervention and the paralysing impact of that on its subsequent deliberations on Syria, this has not stopped the Security Council continuing to refer to, and apply, the R2P doctrine. Between 2005 and 2011 it had in fact passed only four resolutions mentioning R2P, but after its March 2011 decisions on Libya (and the accompanying case of Cote d’Ivoire), it had – at my last count – endorsed 32 other resolutions directly referencing the responsibility to protect, including measures to confront the threat of mass atrocities in Yemen, Libya, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
While none of these have authorized a Libyan-style military intervention (and a great many references are just in Pillar One terms, referring to states bearing the primary responsibility to protect their own populations) they make clear that the Council is comfortable with both the language and substance of the doctrine in all its dimensions.
With the weight behind it of a unanimous General Assembly resolution at head of state and government level, and with all the further UN member-state acceptance it has acquired since, I believe that R2P can certainly now be described in moral and political terms as a new international norm – and, moreover, not just an “emerging” one. It does not create more legal obligations than already exist under international law in relation to genocide, other crimes against humanity and war crimes, and there is a long way to go before we could begin to describe the whole package as new customary law, but it does amount a new standard of behaviour, and a new guide to behaviour, generally accepted as such, for every state.
R2P as an Institutional Catalyst.
All the normative consolidation in the world will not be of much use if R2P is not capable of delivering protection in practice. That means for a start the continued evolution of institutional preparedness, at the national, regional and global level, particularly at the crucial stages of early prevention, and early reaction to warning signs of impending catastrophe.
Although much more needs to be done, the story in this respect so far has been reasonably encouraging. Particular effort is going into the creation of “focal points” within key national governments and intergovernmental organizations – of which the US Atrocities Prevention Board, administered out of the NSC, is a key example – namely high-level officials, or groups of officials, whose designated day-job it is to analyse mass-atrocity risk situations and to energise an appropriately swift and early response within their own systems and in cooperation with others. The global network of these focal points, organised by the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the New York based NGO whose advisory board I chair, now has over 50 states signed up, from every region of the world, although Asian countries have been slower than those in other regions to sign on.
Probably the most crucial institutional need for the future is to create a culture of effective support for the International Criminal Court and the evolving machinery of international criminal justice, designed to enable not only trial and punishment for some of the worst mass atrocity crimes of the past, but potentially providing an important new deterrent for the future. It is deeply regrettable that the ICC has come under so much recent fire from African states, including South Africa: implementation of its mandate may not always have been perfect (and it is certainly arguable, as much of Africa believes, that its prosecution of Kenyan leaders was mishandled) but it is trying hard to fill what has far too long been a major institutional vacuum, and its processes should be respected.
In the civilian sphere, more institutional response capacity is needed in the form of the organization and resourcing of civilian capability able to be utilized, as occasion arises, for diplomatic mediation, civilian policing and other critical administrative support for countries at risk of atrocity crimes occurring or recurring: commitments to develop that capability have to date been more often rhetorical than real.
In the military sphere, the main need is to have in place properly trained and capable military resources available both for rapid “fire-brigade” deployment in Rwanda-type cases, and for long-haul stabilization operations like those in the Congo and Sudan, not only in no-consent situations, but where vulnerable governments request this kind of assistance. And although the establishment of effective military rapid reaction forces on even a standby basis remains more an aspiration than a reality, key militaries are devoting serious time and attention now to debating, and putting in place, new force configuration arrangements, doctrine, rules of engagement and training to run what are now described as “Mass Atrocity Response Operations” (MARO).
Here as elsewhere, regional organizations can be expected to play an ever more important role, exercising the full range of the responsibilities envisaged for them in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter. So far, although both the European and African Unions have shown occasional willingness to act collectively, only ECOWAS in West Africa has so far shown a consistent readiness to respond with a full range of diplomatic, political, economic and ultimately military strategies in response to civilian protection crises. Regional and sub-regional organizations in Latin America, and above all in Asia, have lagged a long way behind.
R2P as a Preventive Framework.
The credibility of the whole R2P enterprise has depended from the outset on giving central importance to prevention, in three different contexts. First, long before any atrocity crime has occurred or been threatened, but when ethnic or religious or other tensions, unresolved economic or other grievances, or manifest governance inadequacies, or all of the above, suggest there may be a serious problem in the making unless these underlying issues are systematically addressed. Second, when warning signs – like overt hate propaganda – begin to accumulate, and more rapid and focused preventive responses have to be mounted if catastrophe is to be averted. And third, in a post-violence situation, where the crucial need is to rebuild the society in a way which seriously addresses all the underlying causal issues, and ensures that the whole ugly cycle does not recur.
The good news about prevention is that the toolbox of relevant measures at all preventive stages – across the whole spectrum of political and diplomatic, economic and social, constitutional and legal, and security strategies – is well known, and as experience accumulates, and lessons-learned literature proliferates, there is an ever more detailed and sophisticated understanding by professionals of the detailed strategies that are likely to be most effective, and cost-effective.
The less good news is that while there is a long tradition of regular lip-service being paid to the need for effective prevention, in both national and international debates, the record of practical delivery is not stellar. Part of the problem of getting sufficient resources to engage in successful atrocity, or conflict, prevention is the age-old one that success means that nothing visible actually happens: no-one gets the kind of credit that is always on offer for effective fire-fighting. It’s not easy to get any politician excited about supporting something for which he or she is unlikely to get any recognition.
All that said, especially in the context of post-crisis prevention of recurrence, there are well documented cases of successful, and since 2005 explicitly R2P-driven, preventive strategies being implemented, particularly in post-crisis prevention of recurrence situations - notably in Kenya after 2008; the West African cases of Sierra Leone after 2002, Liberia after 2003, Guinea after 2010, and Cote d’Ivoire after 2011; and probably Kyrgyzstan after 2010. It also needs to be recognized that ten of the sixteen current UN peacekeeping operations (involving 95 per cent of the 122,000 peacekeepers on active duty) now have protection of civilians mandates – built on R2P’s sister concept of Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (POC)) and most of the time those operations are succeeding in keeping the lids on some often very simmering pots. And there are current cases like Burundi, constantly on the verge of volcanic ethnic conflict, where R2P-driven international diplomatic engagement has – so far anyway – helped contain further eruption.
R2P as a Reactive Framework.
This is where the rubber hits the road. What do we do if a state, through incapacity or ill-will, has failed to meet its Pillar One responsibilities? What do we do if prevention has manifestly failed, and mass atrocity crimes are actually occurring or imminently about to occur?
R2P from the outset has involved a whole continuum of both non-coercive and coercive responses, and is absolutely not about coercive military interventions alone, notwithstanding that these have taken over so much of the ongoing debate. Those reactive responses include diplomatic peacemaking (of the kind that was so successful in Kenya in early 2008, led by Kofi Annan), political incentives as well as political sanctions, economic incentives as well as economic sanctions, offers of amnesty as well as threats of criminal prosecution, the jamming of radio frequencies by non-forceful means, arms embargoes as well as the use of arms, and various kinds of peacekeeping falling short of full scale peace enforcement.
And the application of coercive military force can of course take the form of Pillar Two assistance rather than invariably more controversial Pillar Three intervention – when done at the invitation of the government unable to deal alone with a mass atrocity situation not of its own making. The Congo Force Intervention Brigade, established by the Security Council in 2013 as part of the MONUSCO peacekeeping operation, with a strongly proactive mandate to “neutralize armed groups” – both advancing M23 forces and the retreating DRC military – has been an innovative example of international coercive force being accepted, if not necessarily initiated, by a sovereign government.
Because of the degree of sensitivity and difficulty involved in any decision to use coercive military force wholly against the will of the government of the state concerned, it has been assumed from the outset by most R2P advocates, certainly me, that it would only be in the most extreme and exceptional circumstances that it will be authorised by the Security Council. And so it has proved to be, with only the Cote d’Ivoire and Libya cases in 2011 so far giving rise to such a mandate.
Taking into account all these different available response mechanisms, if one is to do an honest checklist here of R2P’s successes and failures since 2005 in reacting to actual outbreaks of mass atrocity crime, it has to be acknowledged that the record has been at best mixed. The clear success stories have been Kenya in 2008, and both Cote d’Ivoire and initially in Libya in 2011(I will return in a moment to how Libya went off the rails).
There has been a mixed record in South Sudan and the Central African Republic since 2013, where R2P-motivated peacekeeping operations have been mounted – quickly in the case of South Sudan, less so in the CAR, though in both cases in immense contrast to the inaction over Rwanda in the 90s – but have been only partially successful in curbing continuing violence.
The clear failures have been Sri Lanka in 2009 (where the government succeeded in defending its indefensible behaviour as a legitimate response to domestic terrorism) and Syria since 2011, as well as the continuing slow-burning ugliness of North Korea and, one should probably add the troubling plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
We also have to add Sudan to this list. Although the original crisis in Darfur predates R2P, there has been serious deterioration there over the last two years with displacement now reaching catastrophic levels, and there have been extensive atrocities committed in South Kordofan and Blue Nile since 2011. Khartoum has agreed to two major UN peacekeeping missions, in Abyei and Darfur, but undermines, restricts, and sometimes attacks them, politically and through proxies physically. Bashir remains untouched by the ICC indictment and has complied with almost none of the 60 UNSC resolutions that have been passed on political violence, conflict and atrocities in Sudan, doing just enough to keep the Russians and Chinese close and avoid any real action by the Council to hold the state accountable. It has all become just too politically difficult and intractable for everyone.
The most troubling, and costly, case of the failure of R2P to mount an effective response has undoubtedly been Syria. The crucial lapse was in mid-2011 when the violence was still largely one-sided, perpetrated by the Assad regime against essentially unarmed domestic political dissidents, but the Security Council failed even to condemn the regime – let alone apply sanctions, an arms embargo, or the threat of ICC prosecution – all of which it had done quickly as the first stage of its reaction to Libya (UNSCR 1970), with the result that Assad undoubtedly felt off the leash as the situation deteriorated quickly into full scale civil war.
Although the policy issues now are much more complex and difficult than they were in 2011 – with a multi-faceted civil war further complicated by the emergence of Da’esh/ISIL – the blame for that inaction, and much of the paralysis which has continued since cannot be wholly attributed to Russian intransigence, as frustrating as that has been. The basic problem was the reaction of majority of the Security Council, whether one thinks it rational or not, to what went wrong in Libya in 2011, when the P3 – the US, UK and France – were perceived as having exceeded the coercive military mandate given by UNSCR 1973.
The problem with the Libyan case was not the original decision by the Security Council in March 2011 to authorize coercive military force, made in the context of almost universally held fears of an imminent massacre by Gaddafi forces marching on Benghazi: there was no opposition to that resolution, it was immediately successfully implemented, and it was widely hailed at the time – including by me – as the coming of age of R2P, demonstrating that with quick and robust collective action, the horrors of Rwanda and Srebrenica could indeed be made a thing of the past. It is impossible to know how many thousands of lives were saved in Benghazi by that initial intervention in Libya, but certainly possible to argue that had the UN Security Council acted anything like as swiftly and robustly in the 1990s, 8000 men and boys in Srebrenica, and close to 800,000 men, women and children in Rwanda, would still be alive today.
The problem was rather what happened next – the de facto transformation by the P3, without being willing to explore alternative approaches, and without allowing any serious further debate, of the Council’s limited civilian protection mandate into an open-ended regime change one. This was deeply resented by the BRICS states in particular (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), all of whom happened to be on the Council at the time. Not least did it upset South Africa, which wanted to explore with Gaddafi the possibility of a ceasefire and peaceful political transition, and should have been given the opportunity to do so, whatever one may have thought then, or may think now, about its likely prospects of success.
I do believe, having talked to nearly all the participants in this debate, that the breakdown of consensus over the Libyan mandate unquestionably was the major factor in the failure of the Council to agree on any response at all – even just a condemnatory resolution – when the Syrian situation started to explode in mid-2011. The BRICS took the view, whether one regards this as too obdurate or not, that they were not going to concede an inch if there was any chance that the P3 would take that inch to run a mile.
A solution simply has to be found to the current post-Libya stand-off if R2P is to have a future in all the ways that it needs to – if we are not, in the face of extreme mass atrocity situations, to go back to the bad old days of indefensible inaction as with Cambodia, or Rwanda, or Bosnia, or of otherwise defensible action taken in defiance of the UN Charter, as in Kosovo. The good news, I believe, is that a solution is in sight should agreement be able to be reached on some variant of the “Responsibility While Protecting” (RWP) proposal originally put on the table by Brazil, in which Russia, China and India, among others, have all shown considerable interest.
It has two key elements: first, close attention by the Security Council to agreed prudential criteria like last resort and proportionality before granting any military mandate in atrocity crime cases; and second, close monitoring and regular review by the Council of the implementation of any such mandate during its lifetime. The P3 are dragging their feet on this – always reluctant, particularly in the case of the US, to acknowledge any constraint on complete ad hocery on peace and security issues – but I think are gradually coming to the realization that unless some concessions are made on these fronts it will be impossible not only to avoid a veto on these mandates but even to command a basic majority on the Council. None of this is likely to help much in Syria, but it does offer some hope for the longer term.
Overall, while there are certainly plenty of challenges ahead for R2P, there are also many grounds for optimism about its future of R2P over the next decade and beyond. It is important to emphasise again that the disagreement now evident in the UN Security Council is really only about how the R2P norm is to be applied in the hardest, sharp-end cases, those where prevention has manifestly failed, and the harm to civilians being experienced or feared is so great that the issue of military force has to be given at least some prima facie consideration. There is much more to the R2P project than just these extreme late-stage situations, and much to indicate that its other preventive, reactive and rebuilding dimensions all have both wide and deep international support.
What is crucial is that support continue to be strongly articulated by states whose opinions really do matter, of which South Africa is unquestionably one. This country’s leaders have generally continued to be supportive of R2P principles, but that support has not always been as strong or consistent as it could and should have been, and some rather mixed messages have been given, particularly on the International Criminal Court issue. Nelson Mandela’s words about international responsibility should continue to resonate: “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way which respects and enhances the freedom of others”.
We should never forget where we have come from, and just how bad – within our living memory – things were. In November 1975, seven months after the Khmer Rouge had marched into Phnom Penh and commenced its reign of genocidal slaughter, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously said to Thai Foreign Minister Chatichai: “Tell the Cambodians that we will be friends with them. They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way”.
While much more needs to be done to further embed R2P principles in global practice, it is a measure of how far we have come that, as cynical as so many of our political leaders continue to be so much of the time, it is hard to imagine any of them today feeling able to talk like that. For the sake of our common humanity, I hope I’m right.
FW de Klerk, GLF Chairman and former President of South Africa, explains how and why he set up the Global Leadership Foundation and what contribution he sees it playing in today's world.
Joe Clark, GLF Vice Chairman and former Prime Minister of Canada, introduces the Global Leadership Foundation.