It has become a truism that the world will never again be the same after the terrorist attacks of 11 September last year.   How has the world changed?  Where do we stand now, seven months later.  And what are the implications for the United States and the international community?


These are some of the questions that I – a sympathetic outsider from a distant country in Africa – would like to address tonight.


The events of 11 September have reverberated around the world.


11 September has dramatically changed our conception of the world in which we live.


There are those – particularly in the third world and even in Europe – who condemn the outrage of 11 September – but add that the United States should ask itself why it has become so unpopular.  I am inclined to agree with what Mayor Giuliani said in this regard last year:  even to ask the question is to admit the possibility that there might have been some justification for the terrorists’ acts.


Much of this is in reaction to the United States’ position as the world’s sole surviving super power.  Because of this role, it is often condemned whatever it does.  If it intervenes in a country like Somalia to restore order, it is criticised for being a bully.  If it does not intervene – as was the case in Rwanda and Burundi – it is accused of being callous – and is even held morally responsible for the ensuing massacres.


How then should the United States and its allies respond to this latest challenge?

How can they overcome this faceless and remorseless enemy?


But as President Bush admits, it will be a long, hard campaign.  And ultimately

the international community will have to address the environment within which such fanaticism and terrorism flourish.


That environment is characterised by poverty, repression; and conflict


It is not by accident that the country that Osama bin Laden chose as his refuge is also one of the poorest, most tyrannical, repressive and conflict-ridden societies in the world.


The long term way to combat what Bin Laden stands for must then include tackling the roots of poverty, repression and conflict.  These, I believe, should be priorities in the post 11 September world:


Our new millennium is not just a nice round number:  it in fact coincides with one of the most profound developments in human history, the process that we have come to call globalisation – or world integration.  During the past decades we have begun to lay the foundations of a new supranational global community.  One of the central implications of this new community is that none of us – and particularly not the leading powers – can any longer ignore problems and grievances in distant countries.  Non-performing economies cannot be ignored and relegated to a basket-case category outside of the mainstream of global commerce; and bloody crises and conflicts in distant societies deserve much more than mere thirty-second segments on the evening news.


In the new millennium it will be less and less possible to ignore the stark reality that a large part of the human population still lives in unacceptable poverty, misery and repression.


Some will argue that there has been progress, that the portion of the world’s population living in absolute poverty has declined from two thirds to one third in the past forty years.  However, fact is that the total number of people living below the poverty line has stayed about the same – at about 2 billion – because the world’s population has doubled since 1960.  Even more serious is the fact that the disparity per capita between the poorest and richest fifths of the world’s nations has widened from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 78 to 1 in 1994.


In a shrinking world, the problems of one region will inevitably become the problems of other regions and ultimately of the whole world:


In our globalised society such problems and conflicts will sooner or later breach international borders and affect the interests of us all.  It is accordingly essential for us to develop the policies, the resources and the will to tackle the root causes of these problems.   The challenge is to ensure that a sizeable proportion of the human population does not fall further behind in the global race for prosperity, peace and democracy.


How then can we achieve this?  In the time allowed I can only highlight a few guidelines.


We need to recognise the symbiosis between stability, prosperity and freedom:  Economic prosperity creates the environment in which democracy and free institutions can grow – and they, in turn, help to promote the stability which is essential for economic growth.


There is an undeniable link between peace, development, growth and democracy.  Only three of the countries in the world with per capita incomes of less than US $ 1,000 are full democracies, while nearly all of the twenty richest countries – those with per capita incomes above US $ 13 000 – are democracies (the exceptions being a number of oil-rich states).


There is also a link between levels of development and peace.   Eleven of the thirty poorest countries – including Afghanistan – have in recent years been wracked by devastating civil wars.  On the other hand, none of the twenty richest countries have experienced serious internal conflict – with the exception of Northern Ireland.


How then can we achieve this symbiosis between economic development, stability, democracy and a vibrant civil society?  Once again I only have time for a few guidelines.


In the sphere of the economy, the developed countries need to help to promote economic growth in the least developed societies.


The international community also needs to continue its efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law in third world countries.


The sad reality is that twenty of the 45 countries of sub-Saharan Africa are presently – or have recently – been involved in wars.  Much of this instability can be ascribed to the lack of democratic mechanisms and protection of the law.


One of the fundamental causes of conflict throughout the world lies in the inability of different ethnic and cultural groups to coexist peacefully within the same societies.   In the post Cold War world, conflict seldom takes place between countries.  In 2000, the first year of the new millennium, only two of the 25 significant conflicts that afflicted the world were between countries:  the rest were within countries – primarily between ethnic, cultural and religious communities. The present or recent conflicts in the Middle East, former Yugoslavia, southern Asia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Kashmir all bear bloody testimony to this fact.


The question is: How can the international community help to defuse conflict  in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies and regions?


The current conflict in the Middle East is, unfortunately, a good example of both the challenge that the international community faces in this regard and of the risks that such conflict can hold for the entire world.


For all of these reasons the United States, as the pre-eminent world power, cannot afford to allow the conflict to spiral further out of control.  Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, peace in the Middle East is to important to the key interests of whole international community to be left to the Israelis and the Palestinians.


The Israelis and the Palestinians are simply going to have to find some way of learning to live together.  This means that both sides will have to take risks; both sides will have to make painful compromises; both sides will have to accept that military force, and suicide terrorist bombings will only accelerate their downward spiral into unrestrained war.  At the end of that war, after immense and unnecessary suffering they will still have to negotiate.


Although the situation looks desperate, I do not believe that it is hopeless.  I recall the dreadful period that South Africa went through between 1984 and 1987.  We also, were confronted by our own version of the intefada; we also resorted to draconian security measures to restore order; we also experienced growing international isolation and condemnation.


But we pulled back from the brink.  We discovered that there was another way: that it was possible to solve our long-standing and bitter dispute through peaceful means.  In the process, we learned the following lessons:


Finally we emerged with a new constitution which guarantees the individual and communal rights of all our people and which is enabling us to live together with one another in peace and co-operation.


If we could do it, the Israelis and the Palestinians should also be able to do it.  The United States and the rest of the international community can play a major role in this process



The most eloquent response to the terror attacks of Bin Laden would be to achieve a settlement that would ensure the security of Israel, living in harmony with a viable Palestinian state.


These, I believe, are the priorities for the international community after 11 September;


The key to addressing these priorities may be for the United States and its allies to resist the temptation of becoming absorbed with what they have done wrong in the world.  Instead, they should redouble their commitment to the things that they have done right:


If the United States and its allies can work to eradicate poverty, tyranny and irrationality throughout the world there will ultimately be no place for the terrorists to hide.