Item 1412 - Annual Sadat Lecture for Peace November 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1412

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Annual Sadat Lecture for Peace November 2001

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  • 2001-11-14 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Annual Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace 2001

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  • English

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TRANSCRIPT

It is a great honour to have been invited to deliver this lecture in the name of Anwar al-Sadat, a great African leader and man who in his life faced and dealt with the complex challenges of making peace, whether within a single nation or amongst nations.

One can of course not speak of Anwar Sadat without thinking of and paying tribute to his great mentor and presidential predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser. His name shines brightly in the gallery of African heroes, liberators and statesmen; and we salute his memory too tonight.

It was thought proper to give as the title to our own autobiography the phrase "long walk to freedom." I shall not pretend to be a literary critic even where it concerns a work written by myself. What I can say about that phrase is that it not only signals retrospectively the length of struggle to attain freedom and peace; it is also, one hopes, a call to readers to be ever attentive that the struggle for freedom and peace is a continuing one. We do not ever reach an end to a road where we can sit down and lay down tools.

Recent and current events in the world have forced us to anew, and perhaps even in new ways, focus on the complexities of maintaining, establishing and consolidating peace on our planet. We were hopeful that the beginning of the new century was increasingly witnessing the dawn of consensus about global responsibility for peace.

The terrible audacity of the events of 11 September 2001 shook all of us out of preconceptions about peace and security in the world. It is not clear that we have already fully comprehended the implications and consequences of what happened on that day, but surely the world will not be the same after those events.

The events, with such cold-blooded efficiency executed in the heart of the most powerful nation in the world, reminded that all of the world stands exposed to terrorism that confounds because of its utter and ultimate lack of respect for law and convention.

Acts of terrorism have of course not been confined to those we saw in New York and Washington on 11 September. Many parts of the world, too many parts in fact, continue to be haunted by this scourge that is terrorism. It assumes many forms and presents itself as in service of many causes. Its defining feature is its ruthless and deliberate attack on innocent civilians.

It was the perversely spectacular nature of the events of 11 September - and not that other lives lost are less valued than those - that focussed the world's mind anew on the threat of terrorism. It starkly confronted us with some of the moral issues around the pursuit of peace in the world.

We have had occasion to express ourselves publicly in support of the current military actions by the United States and Britain in pursuit of those they identified as the perpetrators of the acts of terror. We accept that the United States and Britain are bent on bringing to book the identified terrorists and that the unfortunate civilian casualties that arise are coincidental. We accept that they will and are taking all precautions possible within a war situation to minimise civilian casualties and suffering.

The tragedy of war - and therefore one of the main reasons why we should redouble our collective efforts to create a world in which war shall have no place - is that inevitably innocent civilians and bystanders suffer and die. In the process of war infrastructure, so vital to the lives of ordinary citizens, gets destroyed. This is undoubtedly happening again in the military activities conducted by the United States and Britain in Afghanistan.

Those in that country - already so devastated by war and conflict - who refuse to co-operate with the international forces against terrorism, have brought this war on the country and are the ones in the first place responsible for this further tragic suffering.

We must wish that the military action needed in pursuit of the objectives against terrorism will be concluded in the shortest time possible and that the world attention can turn to the other forms of action required to combat and eradicate terrorism, thereby creating a safer and more secure world for all.

We trust that the international community and agencies will be giving all the humanitarian assistance possible to the people of Afghanistan, now already in the conditions of war and also on the longer term as that country needs to be reconstructed after so much war and suffering.

We must trust above all that in Afghanistan, and all over the world, democracy will be established and the interests and well being of the people will be supreme.

We shall not be as arrogant to dictate that one particular form of democracy that we are used to and practise in our own country, provides the answer to all situations. There are countries without the popular institutions we know, that provide in the social and economic needs of their citizens to a far greater extent than many of the popular democracies. What one is asking for, is that government serves the people and that their interests be the priority in national life.

In a world where, as we are now witnessing, the pursuit of peace and the conduct of war sometimes coincide, it is absolutely necessary that our international and multilateral bodies become more effective agencies for conflict management, resolution and prevention, and in the fight against terrorism. The manner in which virtually all of the nations of the world responded to condemn terrorism provides the basis for multilateral action, with the United Nations particularly key in this regard.

The support that the United States and Britain have received from the international community for their stance and action against terrorism, must surely in future encourage them to lend their strongest support to making our world body an effective and potent agency for dealing with these international issues affecting peace and our common safety.

It is often warned that the current conflict should not be dealt with in a manner that divides the Islamic and non-Islamic world. We have right at the outset, and also in our communications with President Bush, said that any campaign conducted should be against terrorism and not against Muslims or Arab nations and people.

We almost regard it as offensive to repeat that warning as if Islam is in any way implicated. Leaders in the Islamic world have expressed themselves as strongly as any against terrorism and those acts of terror. Islamic countries form as an important bulwark against terrorism as any other bloc of countries in the international community.

The longer term issues in the fight to eradicate terrorism - and this does not mean that these will have to wait for later to be addressed - concern the resolution of conflicts in many areas and the developmental needs of poorer countries and regions.

It is appropriate in this Sadat lecture that we should point specifically to the situation in the Middle East and the imperative that a lasting and just settlement be found to that long simmering conflict. Towards the end of 1999, we visited a number of capitals in that region and stipulated three conditions for finding a settlement. We repeat those conditions.

Firstly, the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories; secondly, the unequivocal commitment by the Arab countries to the right of Israel to exist within secure borders; and thirdly, an international commission acceptable to both parties, to oversee the negotiations and implementation of agreements.

There are many other parts of the world where violent conflicts continue to rage. In all of these the world, through the world body and regional organisations, need to be involved as the common concern of all of humanity.

In Burundi, for example, we have just managed with the assistance of the international community to reach a political agreement amongst the negotiating parties, with a transitional government of national unity installed on 1 November. Now the support of the United Nations and the international community is required for peacekeeping activities and particularly for the development of that poor country.

Ultimately, the world must take common and global responsibility for social and economic development all over the globe. While the divide between the rich and the poor, with the latter vastly outnumbering the former, continues to grow, we allow fertile breeding ground for discontent and for extremism and terrorism. Our fight for peace is also and importantly a war against poverty and deprivation.

The challenges of finding peace are as complex now as they were in the times of Anwar Sadat. The events of recent and current times may just be the warning sound for us to take a global responsibility for addressing the expressions as well as the underlying causes of terrorism and other threats against peace.

The long walk, the constant struggle for peace, continues. It never was an easy road, and is certainly not so now. We have to reconnoitre many difficult twists and turns, and find answers to complex moral and practical questions. A global partnership on all aspects of the quest for peace, makes that road considerably more negotiable.

I thank you for listening to me.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata

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