CHICAGO - Nobel peace laureates gathered for an annual summit said the work that earned them their prizes is far from over and rallied support for their fight for human rights and global justice. Mikhail Gorbachev, who as president of the Soviet Union helped end the Cold War and open the communist regime to democracy, said the time has come for “a new global order” that must be “more stable, more just and more humane.” Frederik de Klerk, who as president of South Africa helped to end apartheid, said poverty and a “failure to manage diversity” were at the root of misery that is not only unjust but also leads to social unrest, conflict and terrorism.
“Where do the terrorists come from? They come from countries where the masses do not have good living conditions and it is stimulated by fanaticism in its worst form,” de Klerk said.
“They are vulnerable because they have nothing to lose.”
While South Africa is now troubled by the government’s failure to honour its commitments to citizens such as good education, its history also provides a lesson in the power of diplomacy over threats of violence or embargoes.
“From the South African experience, I can testify that we did not change because of the many big sticks wielded - at times that delayed reform,” de Klerk said.
“Haven’t we had too much big stick and isn’t it time for speaking softly?” he asked, in reference to US president Theodore Roosevelt’s slogan “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Lech Walesa, who led Poland’s Solidarity movement and served as the nation’s first post-communist president, warned of the threat of unsustainable economic disparities.