Parliamentarians and Peace
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to be able to address your high assembly. You have just celebrated the 43rd anniversary of the Green March, a memorable event in which you together championed the integrity of your territory. What an example of citizen commitment and unifying force!
The initiative to bring together parliamentarians for peace pursues the dual purpose of information and action. All the problems you have just referred to, Mr. President, go beyond borders, but every nation, and therefore every parliament, can contribute on its own initiative to part of the solution. A more holistic view of all issues can help to better understand the scope; however, only action on the ground allows us to move forward. And whoever tries to understand the other’s problem will have already taken a step in the right direction.
Parliaments, in their role as legislators and in their function of controlling governments, are responsible for preserving the democratic system and respecting human rights. Parliamentarians have the difficult task of making the link between the citizens and the rulers, to vote in all good conscience for or against the texts which are submitted to them, this for the sole purpose of serving the common good. To work for peace is also to be ready to compromise, looking beyond short-term political advantage. It is obvious that any democracy has its moments of confrontation and debates; its strength lies in the consensus it can achieve. And it would be useful to remember that the legislature creates the law. However, what would be the true value of legislation passed by an assembly that has not even been elected by a majority of the population? On the crisis of democracy so well described by Marcel Gauchet in his book "The New World", the author writes, "We have changed the world and this renewal has reopened the question: are we headed towards a democracy with neither people nor power? "
Peace will be unattainable as long as there are people who suffer and, therefore, economic development has a leading role to play. The goal of eradicating malnutrition in the new millennium has not been achieved and neither has that of overcoming illiteracy. However, the arms race requires investments that could otherwise be included in budgets for the development of social policies. Education is a huge project that is under-resourced; adult education and the education of women, allowing them to fully participate in society, are sound investments for ensuring social well-being and peace.
Mr. President, Honorable Members of Parliament, the President of the European Commission, my compatriot Jean-Claude Juncker, has just announced in September a new partnership with Africa.
"Africa does not need charity," he said. A new alliance between the E.U. and Africa will surely create jobs and generate investment. For my part, I would add that Europe needs Africa, and your country is a beacon of hope, a guarantee of stability and equilibrium, a bridge between cultures. Your example will lead the way in this struggle for peace that is ours.
Note: This is a translation from the original French by Alan and Brigitte Sillitoe, edited by David Fraser-Harris, Secretary-General, UPF Middle East.
Author: Hon. Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Former President of the Parliament of Luxembourg and Co-chair of IAPP Europe
Mrs. Hennicot-Schoepges, after a career as a concert pianist and a professor at the Luxembourg Conservatory, stepped into politics. She became the first woman president of the Luxembourg Parliament and held several government portfolios including Culture, Religions, Education, Higher Education, Research and Public Works. As a member of the European Parliament she was appointed Rapporteur to the EP on the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008. She was the founder of the University of Luxembourg and is currently the Vice President of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin.