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A. Daniel: Address to International Leadership Conference 2018

Address to International Leadership Conference 2018, Seoul, Korea, February 18-22, 2018

It is a special honor for me to be invited to the UPF International Leadership Conference 2018 and to also be able to share some sentiments with you on the complex  nature and issue of peace, under the theme of this conference, “Building a World of Lasting Peace: Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values.”

Although we, from the Caribbean and Latin America region, brought the warmth of our region with us, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with our sister islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. John, St. Martin and St. Thomas—which were all victims of and are still recovering from the ravages of the 2017 hurricane season. Extreme weather events are becoming a new normal for us in the Caribbean region, and we are bracing ourselves for more extreme events as the 2018 hurricane season is predicted to be above normal.

The devastation in Dominica is beyond comparison except with that of a war-torn territory. Much help is still needed to assist with the rebuilding efforts.

We must continue to strive to build a world of lasting peace through our interdependence on each other, our mutual prosperity and accepted universal values. Each day Mr. Chairman seems to throw in our way new challenges that aim to derail us parliamentarians from the path. These are local, national, regional and international challenges. We must never give up; we should never give up. We must remain resolute and steadfast in achieving the mutually accepted goals and principles that we, as global citizens, have accepted as our guiding light.

It was former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who said that the universal values of peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights and human dignity, enshrined in the U.N. Charter, are needed as much today as they were when the document was drafted by representatives of different nations and cultures. Regardless of the heading under which these are listed, the Sustainable Development Goals, etc., we have just one aim: to achieve them all, as we have agreed, for today and the survival of our world tomorrow.

Perhaps it is important for us all to do some deep introspection and examine what drives our thoughts and actions. If we embrace the view of Mahatma Gandhi that “a man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes,” then we will also agree with Buddha that “we are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think” and that “when the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

What is the face of peace we see when we, parliamentarians, look in the mirror? This question is vital if we adhere to the mandate that our central role as parliamentarians in nations throughout the world is to:

  • Represent the people 
  • Respect the rule of law 
  • Uphold human rights

In effect, parliamentarians work to build safe, secure, stable and peaceful societies. I want us to remember that this is in essence the mandate of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, which embodies the spirit of and principles of our sacred core values, our covenant if you will. 

Distinguished colleagues, what does the mirror say of your face? Does it say what St. Jerome saw, that “the face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart”?

The UNESCO Constitution sums it up magnificently:  “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

I share the solemn belief that we, parliamentarians, have a sacred duty to build the defenses of peaceful interdependence to sustain mutual prosperity. Let us examine some of our roles as parliamentarians.

  • Drafting and Interpreting Laws—Are we drafting and interpreting laws that are just in building a world of lasting peace or are we consumed by our own narrow, sometimes partisan political agendas that we are blinded to see a vision for harnessing a culture of peace? 
  • Additionally, are we mainly preoccupied with our parliamentary privileges and immunity in the comfort of the peace that it gives to us?

Universal Values

As parliamentarians entrusted with the duty of high office and responsibility to serve country and people, universal values require that we continuously pay very close attention to:

  1. Honesty – being truthful and sincere
  1. Integrity – being consistent with beliefs
  1. Trustworthiness – keeping promises/fulfilling ones commitment
  1. Loyalty — providing support and commitment based on ethical needs
  1. Fairness – commitment to justice, equal treatment and respect for diversity
  1. Caring – concern for the well-being of an individual, self and the environment
  1. Respect – confidence in ones beliefs and values, and knowledge you understand and support the rights of others to express their beliefs
  1. Responsibility – contributing to society in a positive way and encouraging others to do the same
  1. Pursuit of excellence – pride in ones work, making ones best effort and reflecting on ones work
  1. Accountability – considering and accepting the impact and consequences of personal actions and decisions

Distinguished colleagues, transforming these universal values into a potent source for building a world of lasting peace, interdependence and mutual prosperity requires: 

  • Broadmindedness
  • Wisdom
  • Social justice
  • Equality
  • Benevolence, which includes helpfulness, honesty, forgiveness, loyalty, responsibility and friendship

As I conclude, I am merely throwing out some food for thought as we look in the mirror as leaders and as parliamentarians.

Let us remember always that "the quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." As Dee Ward Hock, the founder and former CEO of the Visa credit card association, put it:

“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers." 


To go to the International Leadership Conference Schedule 2018, click here.