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K. R. X. Gusmao: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

I congratulate the Universal Peace Federation for their faith and tenacity, and particularly Mother Moon for her commitment and Father Moon for his legacy, in making sure that many important global issues continue to be on the agenda of so many international leaders that are here today. I believe the testimonies of the distinguished individuals in attendance will contribute to raising awareness about international concerns that affect humankind.

Currently, the idea of achieving peace, security and human development for all countries and all peoples of the world is nothing but a simple mirage, and this is because it is not yet even a dream or legitimate aspiration.

And if, in these meetings, we cannot find solutions for all the problems of the world; if we cannot immediately relieve the suffering of the victims of the horror of the war, poverty and countless abuses perpetrated in a troubled world – where moral values are subjugated to the economic interests of a powerful minority – we can, at least continue to be attentive and to try raising collective concerns.

We want to contribute with our experiences, our perspectives and our clear desire to change the current world disorder, so that the primacy of the human person is put at the core of the political agenda of the global decision-makers.

I represent a small country that, like so many others over the history of humankind, suffered atrocities perpetrated over centuries, in successive events that brought us to this day.

Timor-Leste became independent on May 20, 2002, after 24 years of a hard struggle. Being a country that had just emerged from a prolonged conflict with Indonesia, as well as conflict among ourselves, we opted for dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation.

We knew that all that our people wanted was to live in peace, because peace was the only condition in which to feel free. Immediately after the end of the war, we started a difficult and lengthy process to achieve a true reconciliation within Timorese society. This process led to the establishment of a Commission of Truth, Mutual Acceptance and Reconciliation, where all the victims of repression could testify without fear.

All the testimonies of violations of human rights are now sealed and safe in the Office of that Commission, which produced its report, which was titled “Enough!” “Enough” is a strong word that will remind everybody of the commitment of the entire society not to repeat the conflict of the past, for the sake of the Timorese people.

Following this report, we believed we could go beyond our borders and, thanks to the goodwill of the Indonesian leaders, the two states established a Commission of Truth and Friendship. For two years, a joint team worked hard to hear all the witnesses and the possible perpetrators of the violations of human rights. The final report was signed by the heads of state and government of both countries, putting an end to the painful past, with a solemn agreement that the Timorese and Indonesian people will never again be harmed.

I have to say, to uphold this policy of reconciliation, we needed to fight against pressure from the international community that demanded trials in the International Court of Justice, in accordance with a principle of “no impunity,” for the “perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”

We fought against this hypocrisy in the mind-set of the world leaders that, even today, are supporting other conflicts and wars, without any sense of responsibility, just as they supported the war in Timor-Leste.

Both Timor-Leste and Indonesia wanted to clear the way for true and genuine reconciliation and tolerance amongst communities and people, rather than feed hatred and revenge that would only destroy the country and impede the efforts of the population to improve their living conditions.

As a result of this forward-looking policy, Indonesia and Timor-Leste now enjoy a solid relationship between people and between states, based on cooperation, friendship and a collective vision for the future.

Today, Timor-Leste is a development success story, thanks to the determination of our people and the support of our international friends. Timor-Leste has established a vibrant and free democracy, a tolerant and peaceful society, and the foundations for sustained economic growth and development progress.

At the same time, we are witnessing the amazing transition in our neighboring Indonesia from an autocratic regime to a sound democracy, with an emerging economy and a pluralistic and tolerant society. Indeed, Indonesia has become one of the main development partners of Timor-Leste.

More than a close neighbor, Indonesia is an inspiration for our nation. Under the wise leadership of His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, we witnessed the construction of a modern democracy that encompasses progress and the promotion of peace at national, regional and international levels. We wish that the peaceful transition to President Joko Widodo will contribute to the success of this great nation.

At the end of the millennium, when we Timorese were deciding our own future, the world proclaimed the end of the cold war and the advantages of globalization and the technological and communications revolution.

We are now on the eve of 2015 and no least developed country, essentially the fragile and conflict-affect countries, will achieve a single Millennium Development Goal.

Instead, in some countries in Africa, abductions, bombings, war and killings are the daily news that feed the hunger, fulfill the poverty, and sustain the persistence of all kinds of deprivation.

We continue to watch helplessly as the Middle East tears itself apart as a result of endless sectarian violence and disputes that have gone on for far too long. We watch scenes of horror and death as well as bloody confrontations in Syria and Iraq, in Afghanistan and, very recently, in Ukraine.

We are also watching Libya on a continuous descent into chaos. In addition to the calamity that is the loss of human lives, an environmental disaster also appears to be looming. Throughout the region we see frailty and conflict, making it impossible for anyone to predict the future. The high hopes of the Arab Spring have become a hell in which it is mostly the innocent who have become the victims.

We were caught with disbelief and deep sadness by the events in Israel and Gaza and despair that peace remains elusive. His Excellency, the President of Indonesia, wrote an open letter to the world leaders:

“Although I am a Muslim, I realize full well that this conflict is not a religious conflict. I do not associate my call and thoughts with Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity and any other faiths or religious beliefs. The problems that we are facing now relate to the issue of humanity, morality, law and war ethics, as well as actions from any side that have gone way beyond what is acceptable. This humanitarian tragedy and unbearable human misery are also attributed to the sense of responsibility from the leaders, which directly or indirectly have made this humanitarian tragedy an enduring problem.”

And yet, there is no single reason in the entire world that justifies the massacre of innocent civilians, including women and children. Nor could the threat of so-called “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” justify the endless war that destroyed that country, which is now heading to a fatal self-mutilation.

In the name of “universal values” and “moral principles,” the world’s decision-makers chose war to impose democracy, provoking conflicts to teach human rights. And it seems that the world is preparing a diversion from the tragedy in providing humanitarian assistance. With billions of dollars spent sustaining war, and millions of dollars spent on emergency needs to temporarily solve the problems of refugees, the world avoids looking deeply into the roots of the problem.

Inequality, exclusion, disease, hunger and poverty all stimulate anger, despair and revolt, which contribute to intolerance, radical behaviors towards others, and extremism of actions by individuals seeking to achieve feelings of psychological compensation in accordance with their sense of injustice.

If peace doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of war, security certainly cannot mean a strong and well-equipped army, ready to be deployed to any corner of the planet.

Security, for every single person and every single country, comes from the sense of a peaceful social environment. Security means a tolerant and stable political atmosphere. And security means a sense of freedom as the result of good regional and international cooperation.

And while in our region, including under ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asia Nations], nations are cooperating and promoting peace – which, led by China, has enabled Asia’s rise and the lifting of hundreds of millions of people from poverty – we must still be worried by the tensions in the east and south of the China Sea.

I just came from the 70th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok in which debates were focused on how to reduce the inequalities in the Asia Pacific region. And I continue to appeal to all parties to seek beneficial solutions through dialogue, instead of increasing the capability of winning through rising tensions. Asia Pacific is a large region, where every single person seeks peace and security to develop himself or herself, their family, the community, the country and, consequently, the whole region.

Before I conclude, I would like to share with you that Timor-Leste has been working hard within the scope of the G7+, a group of 20 fragile and conflict-affected countries. In addition to sharing experiences and knowledge and seeking to put the needs of those countries on the international development agenda, we continue repeating that there can be no development without peace.

Unfortunately, theaters of war are commonplace today. Often, the unjustified use of violence or the isolation of countries with international sanctions are the instruments for the supposed instillment of universal values and democracy. However, death, destruction, misery and isolation do not build democracies or nations.

Furthermore, in the imbalance of today’s multi-polar system, crises can lead to unpredictable results?

The spirit of solidarity and cooperation should prevail in the world. If Timor-Leste is today a success story and a peaceful country that is growing fast, it is in part due to the international aid we received during the final stage of our struggle for independence and, particularly, during our early years of statebuilding.

Ultimately, it is sad to recognize that, today, we can do unimaginable feats, thanks to advances in knowledge and technology, but we still cannot search within ourselves to find peace!

Our campaign should not be anytime “I am against war,” because it will lead us to try to end the war, whatever the consequences. Our campaign should be “I am for peace,” because peace doesn’t mean the end of a war or the absence of war; peace means peace of mind, peace in the social behavior, peace in the solidarity of communities, peace in the political environment and peace in the relations between people and between nations.

We need a world of peace!

For more information about the World Summit, click here.