MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Decisions made by today’s leaders will have profound impacts throughout the 21st century on politics, the global economy, environment, and humanity. How leaders navigate these decisions was the focus of his speech, titled: Decisions that build peace in an unpredictable world.
The former president of South Africa, who mentioned that he was invited in Minneapolis in 1995 but couldn’t make it because he said it was a time of drafting new constitution and other pressing issue, he & Mr. Mandela, who was also invited, sent representatives. De Klerk presented the keynote address in front of packed audience at Ted Mann Concert Hall of the University of Minnesota over the Weekend, March 2 & 3 at the 24th Annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum, shared how his own difficult decisions were integral part to bringing equality and peace to that country and how the same leadership principles are needed in today’s world.
“History Ladies & Gentlemen is full of pivotal moments. When a decision is made in one way or the other has sent events in a dramatic way different direction”. De Klerk began his speech and how important it is to seize the moment.
President De Klerk said “25 years ago, we South Africans we face the need to make critical decisions, it was clear to many of us, in the leadership positions, in South Africa’s ruling national party, that we were on the wrong course. Each day that pass the majority of the black people were becoming more adamant to our policies and the concept of nation state, as well as the effect of increased international pressure and isolationism was there, as a result we were trapped downward spiral of resistance and reparation that threaten at some stage no too distant future to erupt into full scale conflict”.
Always that challenge of the leaders is to know he said how to seize the pivotal moment. Giving examples of the Allied Leaders in World Wars and hadn't they took some of the decisions they did how the world would be by now, also mentioned had the Soviet Union leadership took over by a hardliner rather by Mikhail Gorbachev how the world would be by now.
De Klerk said the challenge is to identify the pivotal issues that confront us today to ensure we now take the right decisions to build a peaceful and sustainable future.
So, he said in South Africa, we tried of identifying our problems and wrestled with the fundamental question of what is right and what is wrong within the framework of our values and the values of the international community.
“We had to decide not to reform separately (as white Africans wanted to have a separate state) or stay the course of apartheid. We could stay apartheid some more years but the result was not promising. We decided to abandon apartheid policies & build one South Africa with equal rights for all and set up new constitution that will prevent any misuse of power and the separation of any group within the new South Africa”. said De Klerk.
De Klerk, who won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, was the last president of apartheid-era South Africa, serving from 1989 to 1994. He is best known for engineering the end of apartheid, South Africa’s racial segregation policy and for supporting the transformation of South Africa into a multi-racial democracy. In recent years, his passion for peace continues through his work addressing the complex challenges of the 21st century, such as building multicultural societies, rethinking immigration policy, and understanding global economic forces.
Also, yesterday’s presentations participated a number of great speakers included the long awaited Naomi Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as a panel called “ Creating the Rainbow Nation” and Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 winner of the peace prize, and who is running for parliament in Burma.
The Forum explored issues related to the peacemaking and causes of conflict and war, and includes tracks on business, arts and music, education, and global studies. It runs from March 1-3 on the campuses of Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota. The forum is organized by Augsburg College (http://www.augsburg.edu/) in partnership with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and with ongoing sponsorship from the original college partners. The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is the only affiliation of the Nobel Institute outside Norway. It was founded during 1989 through a unique partnership between the Norwegian Nobel Institute and five private colleges – Augsburg, Augustana, Concordia (Moorhead), Luther and St. Olaf. Major support is provided by The El-Hibri Charitable Foundation, Land O’ Lakes, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
Photo courtesy of Augsburg College, Stephen Geffre