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D. Traore: Address to World Summit

Address to World Summit 2019, Seoul, Korea, February 7–11, 2019
“Peace, Security and Human Development”
President Dioncounda Traore
Former Acting President of Mali


Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, Co-Founder of UPF, Heads of State, and Heads of Governments, Honorable Elect, Dr. Thomas Walsh, the UPF President, dear friends of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, dear friends of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development, distinguished participants, in your ranks, grades and qualities, all protocols observed.

I say it every time to the Universal Peace Federation which has become our family, but I will never be tired of repeating all the honor, all the pride that I feel for being a member of it, and to be with you. And it’s the same honor and the same pride that I still feel today.

This is for several reasons, all equally important: one is that a family means a strong bond. Solidarity is necessary between its members. It is the benevolence, it is the appeasement, it is the collaboration but it is also and above all the mutual trust in and the sense of responsibility for each of its components. Allow me to greet, again, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of our movement, for her inspiring leadership, for her continued struggle for a world of peace and sharing. Through Dr. Moon, I salute the dynamic team that, year after year, makes our reunion possible, makes our exchanges fruitful, and our projects hopeful.

Another reason for my pride lies in the very goals of the Universal Peace Federation, in its ambitions and in its strategy to make the world a family of peace, a family of love among all its members, a fair and just family towards all of them! A family in solidarity and ready to overcome any shortage!

At the exact opposite of this image, life unfortunately offers too often the example of families that experience hunger and have no way to heal themselves, no means to enroll their children into schools, and who, therefore, will be trapped in a vicious cycle leading from insecurity to poverty, from poverty to disarray, from disarray to decay, from decay to despair and from despair to violence. Sometimes for a lifetime, sometimes for generations. All that inevitably plunges them into a context of non-peace, insecurity and non-development!

A life without peace, without security, without development! It is precisely these three simple words that we must discuss here: Peace, security and development. Not just debate about but make it a strategic goal, then make that strategic goal feasible, work on what underlies our life on earth, not just the time we are here, but far beyond, for our children, our grandchildren. In a word, for posterity. Here lies our challenge, here lies the challenge we want to take up!

For never before has abundance been so close to deprivation, never before have there been so many financial mattresses on the worrisome bed of misery. We have never built so many walls at a time when we must build roads and bridges between human beings, peoples and continents.

Ladies and gentlemen, development, prosperity and happiness on this earth are only possible on a foundation of peace and security. Peace is the substratum of existence, the sine qua non of harmony, cohesion and understanding between men and their common desire to live together.

But what does peace mean? Where does the concept begin, where does it stop? What does it cover? Is it only peace as defined by the dictionary as a “state of calm or tranquility, without disruption, disorder, or conflict”? It is indisputable that, from whatever stance we approach it, the concept of peace implies tranquility, the absence of trouble, the absence of war.

But is this definition proposed by linguists not somewhat reductive? Perhaps we should also be interested in the spiritual dimension of the concept, the one that religions and philosophies talk about, so that the meaning and implication of peace are fully perceived. In Ecclesiastes, the word peace means, and I quote: “Designates the tranquility of the soul as well as the end of conflicts, a period without battles.” Biblical exegesis informs us that the word peace is written 90 times in the New Testament. According to the same exegesis, the state of peace brings with it security, prosperity and happiness, and it is the Lord who makes peace possible. He gives it to the people.

The concept of peace then implies several challenges to be met: faith, improvement of and surpassing oneself, love of neighbor, promise of tranquility for any community, general well-being.

Akedat Yitzhak, a leading expert on the Torah and Talmud, also agrees that a state of peace requires taking on the challenges listed above. But he warns and writes, and I quote: “If the social order and the law are defective and far from the natural truth ... quarrels and conflicts are inevitable between men, because their minds are not quiet and they cannot agree; and such conflicts are becoming widespread and wars are ravaging civilization.”

So if peace is a state of happiness granted by the eternal, it is up to man to build it, to live by it, but he is also the main obstacle to it.

Regarding Islam, the word salam is written 668 times in the Koran, according to specialists.

Islam is now in the spotlight, and many analysts, essayists and even theologians have come to wonder if with this religion, we are not already in the doctrine of violence, a kind that is allowed, recorded, codified. This judgment is undoubtedly due to the terrorist activities claimed to be by forces that are essentially defined as Muslim and exclude all those who don’t agree with the doctrine of violent extremism.

Yet some of the most respected theologians assure that peace and light must apply to every Muslim! The word war, they say, is mentioned only 8 times in the Koran and war is outlawed. It is codified and authorized only in very specific circumstances, well-framed, thus refuting the dogmas on which fundamentalism tries to found its legitimacy.

Thus, a wise reading of all religions allows us to understand peace as the foundation of the human edifice. All religions understand and describe the different channels through which peace can permeate community life, and all explicitly refer to peace through awareness, peace through knowledge, peace through love, peace through justice, peace through well-being. All agree on the fact that nothing sustainable is built in conflict, in war, in discord. Moreover, all known philosophies abound in this same perception.

When Confucius recommends looking for the top of the mountain, he does not think of anything else and he says everything with these words: “Happiness is not in the top of the mountain but in the way of climbing,” before concluding with this sentence: “If there is order in your country, there will be peace in the world.”

The representations of order and chaos among the Incas commented on by some of the conquistadors also indicate that among the first peoples, peace was considered a meta-value, that which conditions the others.

“There is No Quarrel,” the informative tale of Amadou Hampaté Ba where a minor dispute finally sets the village on fire, teaches us that indifference is not without consequence and that the duty to interfere, but at the right time, is a guarantee for collective peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, I tried to define the concept of peace. I tried to give an overview of its constituent elements. I would like to emphasize that, to my mind, if peace allows a context of security and development, the three words—peace, security and development—are a trinomial and go hand in hand.

But what is the state of peace in the world? What is the state of security in the world? What is the state of development in the world? I am an optimist, by my nature and by the conclusions that I get from observation. Therefore, I will not paint only a catastrophic portrait of the world. On the contrary, the evolution of the world is to be welcomed. We are no longer in the age of carved stone, and ignorance has shrunk so much that today we are propelled into a knowledge society. Science and technology have helped push back the boundaries of disease and death. The knowledge, the creativity that it carries as well as its concrete results made it possible to bring time and space closer.

Wars have diminished. Conflicts of low intensity persist and are not to be minimized, but in terms of impact, they are far from tragedies with unbearable consequences, as for example during the two world wars.

What’s more, the world is not poor. It has never before produced the wealth it shows today. Yet the world is not at peace. In any case, it does not benefit from the dividends that it should be expecting thanks to its ingenuity, its hard work, its remarkable breakthroughs.

But its misery is first and foremost moral. Misery is moral when we agree to shoot the last rhinoceros, when by our own misconduct, whole species of plants disappear, when our own consumption habits lead to rivers drying up, streams disappearing, glaciers melting, cyclones sweeping everything, tsunamis devastating countries.

Misery is moral when, in the name of a misunderstood religion, obscurantist forces keep sowing death and desolation. In the Sahel more are dying: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Nigeria.

In the Horn of Africa more are dying: Somalia, Kenya and so on! In Yemen, people are dying, even in mosques. In Syria as well. Ditto in Iraq. Ditto in Afghanistan, and even in Western countries where no one is safe from a devious dagger, a crazy truck!

Misery is moral when, in the name of intolerance, millions of people take the roads of exile, the roads of wandering, risking hunger, disease, precariousness. Look at the tragedy of the Rouhingiya! Look at the South Sudan tragedy! Look at the tragedy of the Central African Republic! Misery is moral, ladies and gentlemen, when corrupt governments drive out their youth, their sap, the rising force not only of Latin America or Africa but of the world, because the future of a human species plagued by a high drop-out rate in affluent countries is being played out in the most vulnerable countries where babies are still being born!

This is the lesson to be learned from African hordes drowning in the Mediterranean. This is the lesson to be learned from the appalling odyssey of entire South American cities, of women and children kept at the Texas border! Misery is moral if we cannot make the decision to invest in the development of countries with strong migratory tendencies instead of having astronomical budgets for walls, rescue boats, electrified barbed wire.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we all know, the solution to our problems lies, on the one hand, in the most rational management of the meager resources of developing countries, and also on a more consistent, more massive and more decisive solidarity approach by the rich countries. Developing countries can only get by when these two conditions are met. Of necessity is the integrity of their internal governance and putting the balance of the planet over profit.

In this globalized world, united by the Internet and planes which, bit by bit, are able to diminish the most dissuasive distances, we are just brothers or sisters. Individually, we are doomed. Together, no obstacle will resist our communion, our combined forces.

Once again, this year Oxfam caused a stir with its latest report, which paints a frightening picture of the world: an uncompromising moral economy in which the twenty-six richest people in the world accumulate the assets of a quarter of the world. Without a methodical and thoughtful re-evaluation of who we are, what we have, and where we want to go, at what pace and at what price, we will be forced to continue with these two-tier societies, where the misery of majorities will be a permanent threat to opulent minorities.

Sharing is not an option. It has become an obligation. Here in the Universal Peace Federation, we understood it. Reverend Moon slept in a cardboard shed, and felt what a poor person can feel. By doing so, he challenges us, challenges the world, and points the way to go. Here we are a force united by the ideal of sharing, solidarity and generosity. We are peacekeepers.

Emile De Gérardin said, and I quote: “We make war only to conclude [with] peace, so between the soldier of war and the soldier of peace the difference is that the soldier of peace takes the shortest way and gets to the goal right away. He arrives at peace without going through war.”

Let’s make sure, in speeding up history, to be a contagious force! For the dignity of human beings, for the life of human beings. For the peace of the world, for its safety. For the harmonious development of each and every one. Thank you.



To go to the 2019 World Summit Schedule page, click here.