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.
It does so through its network of Members - former Presidents, Prime Ministers, senior government ministers and other distinguished leaders, drawn together by a desire to give something back to the world.
Working in small teams, in their personal capacity,
Members offer private and confidential advice to
Heads of Government on any issues of concern to them.
GLF is a not-for-profit foundation, registered in Switzerland and is independent of any government or corporate interest.
The Global Leadership Foundation recently held its 2015 Annual Meetings at the Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston, MA with participation by GLF Members, International Council members and representation from a range of like-minded organisations with whom the Foundation is working.
These Annual Meetings are an important opportunity to engage the GLF network to identify challenges, share experiences and plan ways in which GLF can make a difference. In doing so in Boston, the special expertise and the network of contacts of the International Council and partner organisations were especially valuable in complementing the wide experience of the GLF Members in identifying potential project areas. The Meetings were also, as always, important networking opportunities.
The programme was structured around four Regional discussions and two Consultations. The Regional discussions covered Inter-America, Africa, Asia and Middle East/North Africa; the last of these was linked to a broader discussion on the wider implications of religious extremism for democratic governance. The two Consultations addressed Peace Operations and the Myth and Reality of Sanctions.
Now 10 years old, GLF has built its knowledge and experience, and has plans to develop its efforts to reach out and help where it is needed. The interest and enthusiasm of its International Council and the continuing expansion of its partnerships are signs not only that there remains a strong need for the work of GLF but also that the Foundation has a sound basis on which to develop its work for the future.
S.J.V. Chelvanayakam Memorial Lecture by Chandrika Kumaratunga, 25th April 2015.
It is difficult to envisage delivering a lecture to commemorate Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam without reflecting upon the one issue that concerned him most – the minorities question in Sri Lanka. Mr. Chevanayakam and his Party, the Federal Party, engaged in a long and difficult struggle to win the Tamil peoples’ rights
I would like to present to you some thoughts about the ethnic and religious problems we have faced since Independence. I do not intend to go into the history of the problem as most of you here would be well versed in it. I shall focus on the possible causes of these problems and the options we have for its resolution.
The ethnic problem of Sri Lanka has led to political conflict, violence and terrorism. Problems began to arise between the three major communities that had lived in harmony and peace for many centuries, after de-colonisation in 1948. The leaders of all communities living in Sri Lanka fought side by side on a common platform for Independence. With the emergence of independent Sri Lanka after nearly five centuries, the various communities awakened to the existence of their rights – ethnic, linguistic and religious – individually and collectively. Similarly to other newly independent nations, the majority community in Sri Lanka established itself within the political power structures, claiming their rights in the economical, social and cultural spheres, setting up laws, institutions and practices to guarantee their privileges to the exclusion of the “other” that are the minorities. The ruling elite, comprised mainly of the majority community, arrogated an unequal share of opportunities to itself, while excluding the others.
Hence, as in many other countries, “identity” became a major platform for demands of minority communities. People felt that discrimination was occurring due to their specific identity, which was different from that of the ruling majority. Perceptions of discrimination and non-recognition of rights of different groups has led to conflict all over the world. Poverty and deprivation, the non-recognition of ethnicity, language and religious rights are all cited as causes for conflict.
We must adopt a holistic view of conflict, their genesis and causes. In recent times, scholars hold that the main cause of dissent and violent conflict is the existence of inequalities among different groups and communities living in a country. Inequality, deprivation and discrimination should be looked at not only in economic terms but measured in social, cultural and political terms.
Perceived injustice engenders violent or terroristic responses from the victims of that injustice. Frustration and despair caused by continued social marginalization, economic deprivation and political defeat has been known to result in violence. It was said that “young hope betrayed, transforms itself into bombs”. Leon Trotsky described the two emotions central to terrorism as despair and vengeance.
Prof. Frances Stewart writing on Horizontal Inequalities states that the exclusion of some communities from an equitable share of the benefits of prosperity causes inequalities and lead to conflict.
It has also been affirmed that poverty, injustice and inequality and their relationship to conflict may be measured by the difference in opportunities for the excluded. The denial of rights to the excluded of certain groups with a common identity becomes the bedrock of dissent and violent conflict.
Governments have often actively engaged in discriminatory policies against minority groups. History is replete with examples of States and Governments employing the concept of the “other”, represented as the “enemy”, as a tool of Government management. For a large part of human history the “enemy” has helped entrench weak rulers and Governments in power. Governments whip up hatred against the “other” by maintaining the myth of the dichotomy between “us” and “them”. This requires the oppression of the other and the denial of their rights. Such exclusion takes place not only through outright hostility but also through neglect of minority groups. Differences among diverse communities living within a country have been exacerbated by rulers, to their advantage. They tend to conjure up “an enemy” from peoples who belong to different ethnic, religious, caste or political groups.
As for Sri Lanka, the constant economic, social and cultural deprivation of the Northern and Eastern regions is clearly related to the violent conflict we have witnessed. Low levels of development of infrastructure, relatively little opportunity to access quality education and employment, political marginalization with minimal opportunity to participate in decision-making processes in the political and administrative superstructure, are undoubtedly the root causes that gave rise to the terribly violent conflict.
The consistent rejection by the State of the demand of the Tamil movements for language parity, led to increased demands for power sharing through Federalism, and finally the demand for a separate State.
It is of interest to reiterate that numerous studies have ascertained that when all communities living within a State are guaranteed equal opportunities – economically, socially, politically and their separate identities are respected and given free expression, they will become a productive, vibrant part of the State, celebrating the richness of its diversity, while building an united, strong and stable country.
Such a society is called a Cohesive, Shared or Inclusive Society.
It is a society where the political, governmental and societal structures are designed to allow the equitable distribution of and equal access to the benefits of development and prosperity for All, irrespective of the community to which they belong. The Constitution of the State, its political structures such as Parliament and other elected bodies, its government and administrative structures will all have to be constructed in a manner as to accommodate free and active participation of All, in political and governmental processes, as well as the guarantee of equal rights to all.
Sustainable development, prosperity and peace necessarily imply that the “other” be brought in and included fully and honestly into the processes of economic development, as full and equal partners of the process of government – to power sharing, for instance.
To end poverty, hunger and inequality in a durable manner, we need inclusive and sustainable development and an inclusive society. Without this, conflict and destruction will ensue.
Stewart and Brown in an Oxford University study affirm that cultural, economic, political inequalities occurring between specific groups cause deep resentment, resulting in violent struggles. They hold that violence in multi-religious and multi-ethnic Nations is not caused by the presence of diversity or by the “clash of civilizations” as stated by Huntingdon, but is due to the exclusion of the less powerful groups. The marginalized groups then mobilize around their group identity – be it religious, ethnic, linguistic, ideological.
The most potent source of violent conflict today is identity.
In an inclusive society, all citizens are aware that they have equal opportunities and will contribute fully to the Nation building.
Thus Social and Political stresses in such a society will be minimal.
In a Nation where all citizens and communities feel satisfied that they are equal partners, sharing equally political rights, economic, social and cultural benefits, there will prevail political stability and economic prosperity. Leaders and every citizen must recognize the value of diversity, rejoice in its richness and limitless potential and strive to build Unity within Diversity. I would call this a Cohesive and Shared Society.
This is the eternal recipe for lasting Peace in any country. A socially cohesive society would respect the dignity and human rights of everyone, whilst providing equal opportunity for all.
I could cite examples of many countries where benefits of development as well as political power are shared equitably, resulting in the creation of inclusive and shared societies. These countries have successfully resolved conflicts arising from ethnic, religious and linguistic differences by adopting policies of inclusivity and the granting of equal opportunities and rights.
The experience of these countries is proof enough that peace ensues when benefits of development, prosperity and political power are equally shared. These States effectively built inclusive Nations. I must underline here that the proper functioning of inclusive societies can only be achieved within the framework of a free and democratic State.
The challenge of the 21st Century for many Nations remains the enterprise of erecting pluralist, multi-ethnic, multi cultural States. This requires that we manage the existing diversity within our Nations, directing the richness of this diversity towards positive change in order to build Free, Democratic and Prosperous Societies. We need to accept and celebrate diversity, not reject it. The combined efforts and skills of peoples of different communities can only enrich our Societies, not damage them.
Let us reflect a while on the conflict that prevailed in Sri Lanka.
I need hardly say that we lived through an extremely violent and destructive civil war waged against the State by some factions of the Tamil citizenry. Six years ago, in 2009, the civil war was brought to an end after 25 long years of suffering on all sides of the divide. We have won the war, we have not yet won peace. The ending of a conflict or a war does not necessarily bring peace. The mere absence of war is not peace. Peace entails much more than victory in war. The victor of many wars may not possess the vision nor the ability to build peace. In the words of Francois Mitterrand, a former French President, “Peace is a battle. It is not won easily. Peace demands humility and sacrifice from everyone. It requires strong, committed and visionary political leadership”. It requires the will to comprehend and accept the root causes of a conflict and to seek solutions to them.
The Tamil community and their leaders first demanded equal opportunities, especially in education, jobs and political sharing. The continuing non-resolution of the issues led to political mobilization and the demand for political powers – first a Federal State and then a separate State. The rise of the Sinhala majority with successive Governments apportioning the best and most of the public benefits to the Sinhalese majority community led to the frustration and anger among the minority communities who had, during the colonial administration, enjoyed many privileges. The Tamil political leaders at the time were all committed to democratic policies. They made innumerable efforts to negotiate with successive Governments to obtain equal rights for the Tamil citizens. The continuous denial of this led to the mobilization of armed militias, violence and even terrorism.
We know that Mr. Chelvanayakam left no stone unturned in his attempts to arrive at a political settlement of the minorities question. The Bandaranaike/Chelvanayakam Pact, the Dudley/ Chelvanayakam Pact and so many other Agreements were arrived at with much difficulty. However, every one of these Agreements were thwarted and prevented from being implemented. Invariably, the opposition to these Agreements was always led by small groups of Sinhala extremists who would join themselves to the major political party in Opposition.
Sinhala Only : The Bandaranaike/Chelvanayakam Pact and the Reasonable Use of Tamil Bill, for instance, was arrived at to guarantee the rights of the minorities after the promulgation of the Sinhala Only Act.
Although some saw the Sinhala Only Act as an affirmation of Sinhala supremacy, I maintain that the then Prime Minister, Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, did not see it in that way. Granting the Sinhala language its due place after nearly five centuries of colonial suppression of the Sri Lankan identity and our different cultures, bringing back the official use of Sinhala was seen as the driving force for the regaining of our National Lankan identity. The mistake made may be said to be that the language of the other two major minorities was not given its due place at the same time and that a third language was not brought in as a link language, as was done in India.
I need hardly say that, leave alone the Bandaranaike/Chelvanayakam Pact, the implementation of the Reasonable Use of Tamil Bill has not yet taken place nearly 60 years after its birth. Then there was the Indo/Sri Lanka Agreement and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. These too were sabotaged by the same Government which was persuaded to promulgate it.
The moral of the story is that non-violent attempts at resolving the minorities question through a negotiated political solution has been consistently thwarted by the extreme opportunism of the two major political parties in our country. Indeed, there were extremist groups and individuals, but they were not in any way a major force until the rise of one chauvinistic political party and a couple of extremist groups, less than two decades ago. If I may give you one example of the opportunism of so-called political or civil society leaders in this country, there is a certain gentleman, who calls himself a Doctor of something or another, who fought hard for Eelam and a separate State while he was a member of one of the five armed groups in the 80’s. He asked for and obtained a ministry in the North/East Provincial Council, fully supporting the 13th Amendment and even a separate State at that time. Today this man has taken to expressing theories against any form of political sharing, having changed his view a few times for and against power sharing in the interim period, according to the bidding of his political patrons. It is truly sad that people of some intelligence and knowledge adopt such attitudes knowing full well how dangerous and destructive they can be to the Nation’s progress.
When my Government first came into power in 1994, I was deeply committed to attempt to change the prevailing political culture and the attitudes of political leaders.
I was personally committed to the concept that political power sharing and inclusivity were the solutions to Sri Lanka’s minorities’ question. I had ascertained that the majority of adherents to the exclusivist Sinhala Buddhist concept of the State belonged to a small minority of the elite ruling class politicians and clergy and others closely linked to them. The masses, in their vast majority were not committed to extremist political views of any type.
We understood that we must negotiate with the minorities and their leaders and bring in suitable concessions and that sharing what we possess with others will not reduce our strength. Instead, it will enhance it, by bringing together divided communities to work together bringing in skills, talents and knowledge of the marginalized that were deprived to us since the beginning of the conflict. The diverse skills and talents of all our peoples, actively participating in the nation building process, will immensely enrich and unify our divided Nation. Our country is economically weak and our State is fragile. We needed to do much to build a strong, democratic and prosperous State.
Hence we adopted a strategy of honest, public discourse to inform the people that the only viable solution was to choose the path of dialogue, negotiations and peace achieved by means of a federal constitution and by building a cohesive Nation and an inclusive State. We won three major elections within eighteen months, with an increased majority vote at each one.
A Gallup poll we conducted at the time my Government came to power in 1994 showed that only 23 per cent of the Sinhala people opted for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. We undertook extensive programs to take the message of peace and shared societies to the entire country. We held seminars, workshops, street theatre and used the media widely. At the end of 2 years another survey showed that the number of people opting not only for peace, but this time also for devolution of power had increased to 68 per cent.
I must emphasize that my Government only employed democratic methods to persuade the people.
For the first time in the history of independent Sri Lanka, my Government offered a comprehensive solution to the minorities’ problem. Firstly, we began and completed a large number of essential development projects in the North and East, even while war had to be waged. Infrastructure damage during years of war was reconstructed – roads, bridges and culverts, irrigation works, telecommunication, electricity schools and the University, hospitals, saw extensive reconstruction and we made available credit for agriculture, small industries and fisheries.
This no doubt created some employment locally for youth, who until then had seen no hope of a better future for themselves. Thus we were able to demonstrate to the Tamil civilians that there could exist Sri Lankan Governments with honest intensions of including the Tamils and all other citizens equitably in the development process. Empirical evidence showed that the numbers of youth joining LTTE armies were somewhat reduced, since we adopted these policies.
Secondly, we understood that economic development alone could not succeed in creating a society where all our people would feel they were fairly and equitably included. For this, it was required to share political power which we the Sinhalese had jealously guarded to ourselves since independence, marginalizing all others not only in practice but also by law, by means of various legal enactments of constitutions and laws.
Hence we proposed to enact a new constitution, containing extensive devolution of power to the minorities, together with various other measures adopted to guarantee their rights. This draft constitution also contained measures to abolish the Executive Presidency which accords excessive power to the President.
Today, with the end of the war, as well as the convincing defeat of terrorist politics in our country, we have an opportunity as never before to do what is required to resolve the minorities question, especially the Tamil peoples’ problems. For the first time since Independence we have the two major parties participating in Government together. They are jointly committed to a common policy and action programme. The Government has clearly enunciated the need to resolve this problem quite contrarily to the policies of some previous Governments, which stated that there were no ethnic or religious problems in Sri Lanka. The Government has agreed to several essential actions to promote reconciliation in our divided Nation : Resolving the Land issue, implementing a comprehensive infrastructure development, creating livelihoods and a focus on women headed households.
It has also agreed to undertake actions to ensure accountability with regard to violations of fundamental freedoms that may have occurred on both sides of the divide during the war. Firstly we must engage in the difficult but most essential exercise of arriving at a political solution acceptable to all. Then, and only then, would we have won a durable peace. The Government has also rebuilt very quickly confidence in itself and good relations with the International community. I am confident that we will receive the support of the majority of our peoples, as well as that of the International community for our enterprise to transform a divided and violent Nation into a united, free and prosperous Lanka with a strong and stable Government, and for our efforts to build a democratic, pluralist State which is the only magic potion I know, that can bind together diverse peoples of our multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious and cultural country and transform it into one undivided and strong Nation.
To achieve all this we need to essentially change the attitudes and deeply entrenched fears of our people. We cannot continue to dwell on history, chanting forever who did what wrong. We have to rise above hatred, anger, fear to reach out to the humanity we all possess. We must start writing on a fresh page, if we are to cease the unprecedented opportunity history has today presented to us.
Rabindranath Tagore said “Bigotry tries to keep Truth safe in its hands, with a grip that kills it”. Let us not allow one moment of Truth to be stifled by the bigotry of a few.
Let us build a new future for our children, children trapped in poverty, in ignorance, traumatized by political and social violence, children without the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and joys of childhood. An environment where they will have access to good education, health care and nutrition and a peaceful and stable society, where they can grow up healthy, enlightened and skilled, secure in their faith of the future we all dream about.
Notes for Presentation by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, Former Foreign Minister of Australia, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group, Chancellor of The Australian National University, to King Prajadhipok Institute, Bangkok, 3 February 2015
Personal background as academic constitutional lawyer (5 years); Member of Parliament 21 years (18 upper house, 3 lower); Cabinet Minister 13 years (4 major portfolios, domestic and external); President of International Crisis Group 9 years (addressing, inter alia, conflict prevention/peacebuilding/transition/ stabilization situations). But acknowledge experience does not always equate to wisdom…
One size does not fit all. No two country situations are alike – history, political culture, religious/ethnic/social diversity. Great care needed in applying experience elsewhere.
But certain fundamentals of good governance universally applicable:
Legitimacy – representativeness: everyone has significant voice in how governed
Accountability – governors sense of responsibility to governed; mechanisms
Honesty – no corruption in electoral and governing mechanisms
Competence – making good policy, delivering effectively
Institutional Legitimacy, Accountability and Honesty
Assume for present purposes commitment to some form of representative democracy – where government’s legitimacy based on people having significant voice in who governs. If authoritarian model preferred – e.g. ongoing communist party rule, or military rule - my experience of little relevance.
But in devising democratic constitutional system, many imperatives – some competing. Crucial issue in institutional design and management is how you balance them:
Government must be elected by majority – but must govern for all, be sensitive to minority rights, interests and opinions
Government must govern for whole country (esp defence, foreign affairs, economic management) – but must be sensitive to different local or regional interests, and the principle of subsidiarity (matters should be handled by lowest or least centralized competent authority)
Government must be strong enough (and able to govern for long enough) to deliver on policy imperatives – but not be immune from criticism, pressure or accountability
Can be room for trade-offs/compromises in institutional design in addressing these competing imperatives. But no room for any trade-off when it comes to
Governing in accordance with the rule of law (not the arbitrary rule of individuals, in which like cases not treated alike) – recognizing that the law itself must be sensitive to the needs and interests of the country as a whole, not just those running the government
Governing honestly - corruption in the operation of the election system, or the carrying out of any government functions, cannot be tolerated: completely at odds with all principles of democratic governance
Parliamentary systems (viz. where executive government is determined by the majority vote of elected members, rather than directly elected or appointed) are generally to be preferred to presidential systems
- avoids paralysis between executive and legislature (cf. US now)
- better chance of leader being seen to represent whole country cf. particular region or group (cf Afghanistan under Karzai)
2. The best systems of parliamentary government, in my experience, start with electoral rules designed to produce strong and stable governments, but supplement this with necessary checks and balances on how they exercise that power.
3. It is an illusion to think there is some perfect or ideal electoral system which can simultaneously ensure that the composition of the parliament perfectly reflects voter choices (which proportional representation [PR] systems are designed to do) and that a government can be formed with a stable and workable majority (which majority/plurality systems are designed to do): hard choices always have to be made.
4. The requirement of strength and stability can most easily be met if the electoral system is designed to produce a small number of strong parties in the chamber which elects the government. Ideally this will be achieved by systems which tend to produce just two major parties alternating in power (ideally of the centre-left and centre-right respectively, giving voters policy and not just personality choices). Strong coalition governments, usually of no more than two parties, are also achievable where the coalition partners bring complementary interests to the government (eg the rural based National Party in Australia which has for decades been in coalition with the Liberal Party, or in Germany the Free Democrats usually in coalition with the Christian Democrats, or the Greens with the Social Democrats).
- What is to be avoided in constitutional design are systems almost guaranteed to produce weak coalition governments of three or more parties. Mixed systems like Germany’s MMP can be designed which are basically proportional, but (by excluding parties with low voter support) enable reasonably strong and stable coalition governments to be relatively easily formed: they are much better than pure PR systems like Israel or Belgium, which make the formation of strong and stable governments a nightmare.
5. The most appropriate such checking and balancing mechanisms in my experience are (a) regular fairly conducted elections at which a bad or unpopular government can be removed; (b) an upper house which places some limits on the government’s freedom of action; (c) a court system able to check outright criminal misuse of power, and to strike down unconstitutional legislation or executive actions; and (d) other independent watchdogs designed to keep the government, parliament and public service honest and disciplined.
6. Check (a): Regular elections. These should be conducted at no more than 4-yearly intervals, and be conducted with impeccable fairness by an independent electoral commission in which all sides of politics, and all major groups and regions in the country, have complete confidence.
7. Elections should be the only mechanism for removing a bad or poorly performing government: Australia had experience in 1975 of a constitutional coup (in which the Queen’s representative, using formal powers under the Constitution which had long been thought unusable, dismissed an elected government) and the scars lingered for many years. Impeachment processes to secure the removal of political leaders should only be considered in the most extreme cases, where manifest illegality is involved as determined by properly functioning independent courts.
8. The solution to removing a poorly performing populist government is for opposing politicians to provide a better alternative at the next election: clean, competent, sensitive to wider national interests and the concerns of all major groups and regions in the country, and seeking common ground. As New York Governor Al Smith famously put it in the 1920s, “The only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy”.
9. Check (b): Upper house. The best upper houses have clear but limited powers, and bring a wider range of voices to bear on government processes than may be reflected in the composition of the executive government of the day. Ideally they are elected on a proportional representation basis (though with some limits, like a 5% threshold vote requirement) or, if they have an appointed component, do so on the basis of some mechanism which ensures that only persons of genuine experience and stature are chosen. Upper houses should have no power to block budgetary or other legislation crucial to the survival of the government of the day (a problem with the Australian Senate, which is much too powerful in this respect). And in my view ideally they should be limited (like the House of Lords in the UK) to scrutinising and delaying government legislation, not ultimately defeating it. Upper house committees can and should play an important role in holding governments to account through public hearings and reports, and contributing to the policy debate.
10. Check (c): Courts. Respect for the rule of law demands the existence of courts and judges universally accepted as independent and beyond reproach. If these conditions are satisfied, political leaders in or out of office should not be immune in any way from criminal prosecution for corruption or other breaches of the criminal law. But political leaders should never be prosecuted for policy mistakes or errors of judgment: the sanctions for poor government must be political not legal. The role of constitutional courts should be limited to adjudicating on whether legislation or executive action is in breach of specific provisions of the constitution; and those specific provisions should, in turn, be very clearly and narrowly defined.
11. Check (d): Independent Watchdogs. The best systems of democratic governance also usually have built into them a variety of additional scrutiny, accountability and reporting mechanisms designed to keep the government, parliament and public service honest and disciplined, e.g. anti-corruption agencies, human rights commissions, and Ombudsman processes. If these are to be of any use, however, they must be, and be seen to be by everyone, as scrupulously independent and non-partisan
12. Free Speech. Effective democratic governance depends absolutely on the traditional rights of free speech and political association being totally respected, in both law and practice. It is one thing to ban speech or writing which manifestly incites to violence, but quite another to ban speech which merely insults, offends or humiliates: participants in the political process should have thick skins, and governments should earn respect, not try to compel it. Use of defamation law as a political weapon to silence opponents, as has regularly been the case in Singapore, is at odds with fundamental democratic principles.
13. Devolution of power. The proper distribution of power between central government, and local or regional authorities, is always extremely difficult to get right. Federal systems like Australia, Canada and the US can be an important way of meeting regional needs and aspirations, particularly in the delivery of health, education and welfare services, and in areas like land management and urban planning, but it is important not to concede too much ground. Complex modern societies, strongly internationally interdependent, need much standard setting at the national level, and all the key instruments for effective economic and fiscal management must be available to the national government.
14. At the end of the day even the most elaborately and carefully designed constitutional arrangements cannot guarantee stable and effective democratic governance. That depends ultimately on the prevailing political culture, and the mindsets of those exercising the levers of power. And even the best constitutional arrangements cannot guarantee competent government: that depends on a whole set of different factors, to which I now turn.
Perhaps the most basic thing I have learned from 13 years as a Cabinet minister and watching many other governments is that there is wisdom in crowds – when leaders go it alone/don’t consult with interest groups and colleagues/don't pay detailed attention to professional advice before announcing policy initatives, things invariably end in tears. The Hawke-Keating Government ‘83-96 widely seen as gold standard in Australia (certainly as compared with its Labor predecessors and successors Whitlam/Rudd/Gillard, and the non-Labor governments of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and Abbott now, although the Howard non-Labor government of 1996-2007 was also fairly generally respected). From my own experience in that government I would spell out more specifically five factors – I think applicable to any government anywhere – which are crucial for competent government performance:
One: have clear philosophy and sense of policy direction. Maintained consistently throughout the Hawke-Keating term: very dry in our economic policy, very moist in our social policy, and liberal internationalist in our foreign policy, with the concept of the “social wage” - delivered mainly through health, education, superannuation gains – being at the heart of our capacity to sell wage restraint, deregulation, and tough economic reforms generally to the wider community. Rarely let politics drown good policy, certainly in the crucial area of economic policy, because we were confident of the strength and coherence of the policy we were making.
Two: have agreed system of internal government management. Coming into office with memories still strong of dysfunction of Whitlam Government, we had developed a structure-and-process blueprint addressing relations between Prime Minister and other Ministers and their respective offices, between Cabinet and Parliamentary Party, between Executive government and public service: lot of attention paid to consultative processes, committee structures, and lines of decision-making authority. The model served the government well, with little modification, for whole 13 years.
Three: operate internally on the basis of argument rather than authority. We argued everything out, often very fiercely (and in language which reflected the strength of the views held) and didn't just succumb passively to the exercise of leadership authority. The Prime Minister may have been first among equals, but only just. Everything was contestable, and contested. The concept of captain’s picks and captain’s calls, after a couple of early mishaps, just didn't apply. Our leaders didn't always love the reality of Cabinet peer group pressure, but both of them accepted that they were running a Cabinet, not a presidential, system.
Four: listen and consult with relevant industry, profession and community stakeholders, on every major policy issue. We also respected and welcomed the advice of the public service, not just in policy implementation but in conceptualisation and design, and had at least as many public servants seconded to our ministerial offices as political and personal staff.
Five: explain and argue the case for everything the government does. Hawke and Keating both outstanding communicators, remorseless in their determination to ensure that the major opinion-moulders knew what we were trying to do, why and how. If the focus groups told us we had a problem, that was the beginning of the public argument, not the end of it.
It is true that we didn't have in the mid-‘80s some of the technology-driven, 24/7 media pressures that present governments are under, or quite so difficult a set of minority parties to have to negotiate with in the upper house. In all sorts of ways it is now tougher than it has ever been for governments to deliver good policy outcomes. But I’m not persuaded that the problem is wholly a systemic one: it ultimately comes down to intelligent, competent political leadership.
The bottom line, again, is that governments cannot compel the respect of the people: they have to earn it.
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”.