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November 2018
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Speeches

J. Giraudy-McIntyre: Address to Latin America Summit 2018

 Address to Latin America Summit 2018, São Paulo, Brazil, August 2–5, 2018

"The Role and Mission of Political Leaders for Peace" 

I am from a small island with a population of 180,000 people.  I have not come to this forum to theorize on the dangers of intolerance, the ravages of war or the inadequacies of UN peacekeeping strategies. This is not my context. 

In the high mountains of the island stands a small village community. This community once eschewed all forms of governance. Its residents defined their own internal arrangements of neighborly tolerance or acceptance, denying access to non-residents and displaying open hostility to all forms of authority. The community appeared ungovernable. 

It remained isolated save that its residents occasionally travelled down their mountain and ventured into the capital city. Generation after generation survived in this manner till one amongst them sought to formalize the unwritten systems and structures within the community.

Thus, a leader emerged among his own people, taking the community forward into the national political process. Slowly, the community was peacefully integrated into the whole and was now interdependent with the whole. It was transformed. The residents no longer only survived, they flourished. 

Communities like this exist all over the globe. They are a microcosm of human social organization. Their norms and mores must be respected and validated if enlightened decisions at the political or governance level are to be truly transformative, sustainable and peaceful. 

As a political leader, my role is that of steward of the people and my mission is our development and welfare. 

I have learned that political leadership is always a dual process.  It must exist both at the level of the personal and at the level of the professional. Personal integrity and values guide professional behavior, and leadership is ineffective without a moral, spiritual or philosophical base. Love, compassion, fairness, integrity, commitment, passion, loyalty are qualities we must exemplify for “As he thinketh in his heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Our values and our decisions can lead us to or away from peace.

At the professional level we must respect the political power given to us and our fiduciary duty to our citizens. We must empower our citizens. There must be fairness and justice offered, sustained and guaranteed to all. This is the primary function and responsibility of the State. 

If it is transformative as well as equitable, the State must provide equal opportunity and access. Political transactions must be transparent and trustworthy. Political leaders and public servants must be accountable. Freedom of choice, and freedom of expression must be our unmitigated hallmarks. 

As political leaders we must contemplate all aspects of our societies. We must guide and protect the underprivileged, animals and the environment. We must govern the strong and the powerful as justly as the weak and the underprivileged. So too, we must fight for equality of gender and race, for protection of copyright as much as for the protection of human rights. 

We must protect against abuses by individuals, organizations and the government. This is particularly true in small developing countries where government occupies and controls a disproportionately large share of the economy.

Finally, we must humanize our justice systems. Our laws must give expression to these ideals and must provide legal mechanisms through which resolutions can be achieved. Our laws must offer stability, comfort, good order and protection to all.

Lasting peace is achieved not through military posturing or engagement but through political solutions. This is our work. This is our mandate the world over whether our work takes us to villages, the quartiers, parishes, boroughs, districts, regions, national assemblies or international fora. 

In the words of Mother Theresa: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Let us continue to pray for personal peace and the wisdom to construct political solutions that foster stability, prosperity and lasting peace. 

Thank you.

 


To go to the Latin America Summit 2018 Schedule page, click here.