I should also like to thank the Mayor and the City of Rome for stepping into the breach at such short notice and for making it possible for the 14th World Summit still to be held during 2014 – despite the suspension of the event in Cape Town.
Together with my fellow South African Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Laureate Foundations, I was deeply disappointed that it was not possible to hold the 14th World Summit in Cape Town as had originally been planned. We had all looked forward to the day when South Africa would have been able to host this prestigious event.
As I mentioned at the time, this was because I believed that we South Africans could make a very special contribution to the international debate on the peaceful resolution of conflicts. What we achieved in South Africa between 1990 and 1996 was perhaps one of the best examples of the vision that Alfred Nobel had in mind when he instituted the prize more than a century ago.
We wanted to share this experience with the world and with our fellow Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town – the city in which so many of the momentous events that occurred during the transformation of our society took place. We also wanted to dedicate this Summit to the memory of Nelson Mandela – a man who is perhaps one of the most inspiring embodiments of the true spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize.
As we all know, this could not happen – firstly because our Government once again refused to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama – and, secondly, because our fellow Nobel Peace Laureates, to my mind erroneously, decided to boycott the Summit because of the visa refusal.
I am happy that, despite this setback, the Summit will still proceed during 2014 with much the same agenda as it would have had in Cape Town:
- It will still be dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela – who died just one year ago;
- It will still provide us with a platform from which we will be able to share our peace-making experience with the rest of the world;
- Cape Town will be represented by our Mayor, Patricia de Lille, who has throughout been a strong supporter of the Summit – and who would have hosted an excellent event if circumstances had permitted us to hold it in Cape Town as originally planned;
- The FW de Klerk Foundation will also be present to share our experience of peace-making with the students who will be attending the Summit in Rome.
Here I must add that despite the suspension of the Summit in Cape Town we were able to host – together with the Chaeli Campaign and the Albert Schweitzer Institute – a very successful conference for the 120 young people who had already purchased air-tickets to come to South Africa. In addition, we were able to proceed with the installation of the IPB’s ‘Making Peace’ exhibition in the centre of Cape Town.
I would like to wish the organisers and participants in the 14th Summit in Rome every success with your discussions and deliberations.
I would like to reaffirm once again my firm support for the annual World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates. The world needs a forum like this where leaders who have made contributions to the peaceful resolution of conflict can consider current threats to peace; and where they can share their experiences with the youth – with representatives of future generations of world leaders.
FW de Klerk
12 December 2014