|On Friday, November 5, 2010, President Jacques Chirac and the Jury for the Prize for Conflict Prevention distinguished Mr. Mario Giro and Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi at the musée du quai Branly.|
Mrs. President, my dear Vaira Vike-Freiberga
Mr. Rajendra Pachauri,
Dear Stéphane Martin,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Members of the Jury,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My dear friends,
Please allow me to start with a tribute to my friend Mohammed Arkoun, Professor Emeritus at the Sorbonne, who passed away on September 14. Specialist in the history of Islamic thought, a defender of secularism, he was one of the initiators of inter-religious dialogue. Convinced of the importance of cultural exchanges between the Muslim and the Western world to encourage better understanding, his entire life was spent tirelessly defending this ideal. His work was at the crossroads of that of a historian, an anthropologist, a sociologist, combined with wise yet vigorous words. It demonstrated that religions are not immutable but rather, their mutual influences have enriched the thought of East and West for centuries and can advocate mutual tolerance rather than confrontation. In 2008, Mohammed Arkoun agreed to join me in creating my own Foundation dedicated to dialogue between cultures and civilizations. He was instrumental in creating the prize for conflict prevention that we will award today. Before you, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to him.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Around the world, particularly in Africa, fragile balances are being challenged. Many regions are now faced with the proliferation of “gray areas”; areas beyond government authority, from where State administrations withdraw, leaving chaos and the law of arms, confrontation and anarchy. The danger is growing. Indicators are alarming. It affects the poorest individuals, the weakest states. It directly threatens peace in vast regions.
To raise awareness about those who are fighting this injustice, the Prize Jury of the Fondation Chirac, after considering many individuals and NGOs, has chosen to reward two who have contributed in major conflicts, to restoring the rule of law, an essential prerequisite for civil peace and the main antidote to the emergence of these “gray areas”. Throughout their lives, these individuals have been advocates of dialogue for peace. They were able to discern amidst the blindness of hatred, men and women who were capable of talking to each other, those who could dispel misunderstandings before it was too late. They had the courage to bring together those who kindled timely reconciliations.
They never gave up. They never accepted.
The first of these individuals, Lakhdar Brahimi, has, on behalf of the UN, made sure that the two conflicts with the most devastating consequences of this new century, were followed by a more optimistic tomorrow. His work in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, and Lebanon before, was to restore State authority. And as there can be no authority if it is not just, he helped establish an institutional process that allowed the Afghan government to act legitimately, to reconcile its people, despite the lack of infrastructure, despite cultural and ritual diversity, despite the conflict, despite the still open wounds.
Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, democracy is imperfect and work to preserve this priceless gain has only just begun. There will certainly be a need for another inter-Afghan conference, to follow up the Bonn conference in 2001.
Lakhdar Brahimi, on behalf of the UN, laid the first stone.
The second individual, Mario Giro, helped invent a new diplomacy. It is a preventive diplomacy designed to impress no one. A diplomacy made up of dialogue and respect for warring parties. The Community of Sant’Egidio, alongside Mario Giro who is its most active representative, has been a major springboard for this diplomacy. We can measure the scope of his work and its results from reading the list of Mario Giro’s missions: Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Liberia, Guinea, Burundi, Kosovo, Togo … the list is long. It is a lifetime spent at the service of peace.
These two individuals have acted to restore State authority, which is currently far too absent in northern Mali, in the Sahara, which has become the route for all illegal traffic, and in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia, a country continuously ravaged by civil war since 1991.
Do you believe that should the referendum on the autonomy of southern Sudan degenerate in 2011, despite the efforts of the UN and the international community, the situation will not concern us?
It would revive a century-old conflict, undermine economic growth throughout the region, and destabilize populations even further, destroying their last hopes. This confusion leads to extremism.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Conflict prevention is not just for negotiators, it includes everyone and it is our States and leaders that shoulder the main responsibility. Conflict prevention greatly needs examples such as those we are honoring here this morning. But now, more than ever, conflict prevention must be at the heart of development policies.
Development aid is the best tool to sustainably prevent conflicts, to ensure that past conflicts are not revived at the slightest alarm.
Yet everywhere we see the barely doused fires of conflict, rekindled by the scandal of poverty, the unfair distribution of resources, drama and mass disasters caused by climate change.
Do you think we will be able to meet the challenge launched by the AQIM, if we fail to meet the challenges of climate change in a fragile area like the Sahel?
Preventing conflict means enforcing the fundamental right of access to water and food security, for the most vulnerable populations, the most malnourished, with the lowest life expectancy in world. Development aid needs additional resources. We must urgently find new financing.
We did it in 2003. It was not an easy task but with my friend, President Lula of Brazil, we pushed through the creation of a solidarity contribution on air tickets and thus facilitated the acquisition of essential drugs at the lowest prices. Today, UNITAID manages this program effectively.
We must once again imagine more “innovative financing”, as requested by the President of the Republic, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, during the Millennium Summit last September, to support the development sectors which require large financial outlays: access to water, access to education, agricultural development, preservation of biodiversity…
I support the “Declaration on Innovative Financing” presented on September 21 by Japan, Belgium, and France, supported by Brazil, Spain, Norway, the African Union, the European Union, and soon by several African countries.
I am ready, alongside my foundation, to help convince policy makers and mobilize civil society of the need to establish funding consistent with the characteristics of globalization: speed and the mass movement of people, goods, or values. Such financing is needed more than ever to help fragile states improve their governance, to work together for better regional cooperation, and to eradicate poverty for good.
In recent years, we have accomplished similar achievements for the environment. It is only by integrating the global issue of poverty and inequality into our public policies, that we will be able to rise to the challenge that concerns us all.
I strongly hope that the G20, which will be under French presidency at the end of the month, will answer this request for solidarity, this urgent plea for peace and security.
I want to thank the experts and Jury members who have accompanied us in the difficult process of selecting candidates.
I want to express my gratitude to Rajendra Pachauri, who made the trip to present the Prize, even though Diwali is being celebrated in India today, the celebration of light representing the victory of good over evil.
The prize has been given shape through the talent of sculptor Ousmane Saw in the form of this statue of a “child leaf” protected by plants and animals.
I thank Mr. Naguib Sawiris, who has supported the initiative of this Prize from the very beginning.
I want to express all my gratitude to Mr. Khalil Al-bunnia and his father Abdul Wahab Al-bunnia, who have come especially from Iraq, today a battered country; as well as to the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, who gave us their support this year.
I thank Stephen Martin for hosting us here, in the Claude Levi Strauss amphitheater.
Finally, before she speaks, I salute President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who has done so much so that Latvia could join our European home.