REMARKS BY THE HONORABLE NELSON MANDELA
University of Maryland at College Park
November 14, 2001
President of the University, the Governor of this State, and distinguished
If you think I am bluffed by the presence of such a large crowd, you are
making a mistake. I know why you are here. You are not here because you
think the man who stands before you is of any importance. You are curious
to see how a pensioner who is unemployed looks like. A pensioner looks like
It is a great honour to have been invited to deliver this lecture in the
name of Anwar al-Sadat, a great African leader and man who in his life faced
and dealt with the complex challenges of making peace, whether within a
single nation or amongst nations.
One can of course not speak of Anwar Sadat without thinking of and paying
tribute to his great mentor and presidential predecessor, Colonel Gamal
Abdel Nasser. His name shines brightly in the gallery of African heroes,
liberators and statesmen; and we salute his memory tonight.
Many of you will remember that in Africa, there were two blocs - the Monrovian
group and the Casablanca group. The Casablanca group was the most progressive
in its attitude towards the deliberation movements in Africa and in relation
to its attitude towards the Western world. And Egypt under Colonel Nasser
as well as King Mohammed V of Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, and Mali were in
the Casblanca group, and it is in the light of this background that, in
addition to Anwar Sadat, we think of Colonel Nasser.
It was thought proper to give as the title to our own autobiography the
phrase "long walk to freedom." I shall not pretend to be a literary
critic even where it concerns a work written by myself. What I can say about
that phrase is that it not only signals retrospectively the length of struggle
to attain freedom and peace; it is also, one hopes, a call to readers to
be ever attentive that the struggle for freedom and peace is a continuing
one. We do not ever reach an end to a road where we can sit down and lay
Recent and current events in the world have forced us anew, and perhaps
even in new ways, to focus on the complexities of maintaining, establishing
and consolidating peace in our own planet. We were hopeful that the beginning
of the new century was increasingly witnessing the dawn of consensus about
global responsibility for peace.
The terrible audacity of the events of 11 September, 2001 shook all of
us out of preconceptions about peace and security in the world. It is not
clear that we have already fully comprehended the implications and consequences
of what happened on that day, but surely the world will not be the same
after those events.
The events, with such cold-blooded efficiency executed in the heart of
the most powerful nation in the world, reminded us that the entire world
stands exposed to terrorism that confounds because of its utter and ultimate
lack of respect for law and convention.
Acts of terrorism have of course not been confined to those we saw in New
York and Washington on 11 September. Many parts of the world, too many parts
in fact, continue to be haunted by this scourge that is terrorism. It assumes
many forms and presents itself as in service of many causes. Its moral issues
is around the pursuit - I'm so sorry, I skipped a page. I must say I know
a president of a big country who used to confuse his papers. He would start
from page one and go to page five and come back to page three, and he would
then read and finish his speech without discovering that he had made a mistake.
At least I know I made a mistake.
I say that terrorism assumes many forms and presents itself as in service
of many causes. Its defining feature is its ruthless and deliberate attack
on innocent civilians.
It was the perversely spectacular nature of the events of 11 September
- and not that other lives lost are less valued than those - that focussed
the world's mind anew on the threat of terrorism. It starkly confronted
us with some of the ultimate implications of the ultimate lack of respect
for law and convention.
We have had occasion to express ourselves publicly in support of the current
military actions by the United States and Britain in pursuit of those they
identified as the perpetrators of the acts of terror. We accept that the
United States and Britain are bent on bringing to book the identified terrorists
and that the unfortunate civilian casualties that arise are coincidental.
We accept that they will and are taking all precautions possible within
a war situation to minimize civilian casualties and suffering.
But before I proceed, there are certain hard facts we must accept about
this attack on the 11th of September. The efficient manner in which it was
executed shows that the preparations for this attack must have taken a long
time time indeed. I wouldn't be surprised if those preparations took more
than two years. What is disturbing is that the West, with all its technology,
its intelligence services, its enormous resources, was unable to have a
clue of what was being prepared. And they only became aware when the attack
was actually launched. That has serious implications, and challenges some
of the platitudes which the West has repeatedly told us, that they are superior
in intelligence to the developing world. And the fact that they had no clue
whatsoever of such elaborate preparations has got serious implications.
The tragedy of war - and therefore one of the main reasons why we should
redouble our collective efforts to create a world in which war shall have
no place - is that inevitably innocent civilians and bystanders suffer and
die. In the process of war, infrastructure, so vital to the lives of ordinary
citizens, gets destroyed. This is undoubtedly happening again in the military
activities conducted by the United States and Britain in Afghanistan.
Those in that country - already so devastated by war and conflict - who
refuse to co-operate with the international forces against terrorism, have
brought this war on the country and are the ones in the first place responsible
for this further tragic suffering.
We must wish that the military action needed in pursuit of the objectives
against terrorism will be concluded in the shortest time possible and that
the world attention can turn to the other forms of action required to combat
and eradicate terrorism, thereby creating a safer and more secure world
We trust that the international community and agencies will be giving all
the humanitarian assistance possible to the people of Afghanistan, now already
in the conditions of war and also in the longer term, as that country needs
to be reconstructed after so much war and suffering.
We must trust above all that in Afghanistan, and all over the world, democracy
will be established and the interests and well being of the people will
We shall not be as arrogant to dictate that one particular form of democracy
that we are used to and practice in our own country, provides the answer
to all situations.
There are countries without the popular institutions we know, that provide
in the social and economic needs of their citizens to a far greater extent
than many of the popular democracies. What one is asking for, is that government
serves the people and that their interests be the priority in national life.
In a world where, as we are now witnessing, the pursuit of peace and the
conduct of war sometimes coincide, it is absolutely necessary that our international
and multilateral bodies become more effective as agencies for conflict management,
resolution and prevention, and in the fight against terrorism. The manner
in which virtually all of the nations of the world responded to condemn
terrorism provides the basis for multilateral action, with the United Nations
particularly key in this regard.
The support that the United States and Britain have received from the international
community for their stance and action against terrorism, must surely in
future encourage them to lend their strongest support to making our world
body an effective and potent agency for dealing with these international
issues affecting peace and our common safety.
It is common knowledge that the First World War broke out in 1914 and ended
four years later. Twenty-one years later, the Second World War broke out,
and ended in 1945. It is now fifty-six years after the end of the Second
World War. There has been no world war. Indeed, there have been many conflicts,
civil and regional, but no world war. That is because we now have international
bodies in which the majority of the states are members, and that the most
dominant of all these is the United Nations, whose charter provides that
members must seek to resolve their problems through peaceful means, and
therefore it is the duty of every country, big or small, to respect the
United Nations. We condemn countries, no matter who they are, that avoid
that the United Nations and take action independently of the world body
and violate the integrity of other countries, whatever the excuse is, because
in that way they are introducing chaos in international affairs, unless
they say we can avoid the United Nations, although we are members, and go
and attack another country, but you have no right to do so. It is something
that we have to condemn in the strongest terms. If you are a public figure,
you don't hestitate to criticize any country, even those countries who happen
to assist in the development of your country. We must thank them when they
do good, but we must criticize and even condemn them when they deviate from
the basic rules the international community has laid out to ensure that
problems are settled peacefully through negotiations and through respect
for the international structures that have been created.
It is often warned that the current conflict should not be dealt with in
a manner that divides the Islamic and non-Islamic world. We have right at
the outset, and also in our communications with President Bush two days
ago, said that any campaign conducted should be against terrorism and not
against Muslims or Arab nations and people.
When this attack occurred, I made a statement in South Africa which was
publicized very widely, in which I condemned in the strongest terms the
attack on the 11th of September, and I called for the accurate identification
of all the terrorists who were responsible, both as the masterminds and
those who carried out these acts, and I said that they should be heavily
punished. But at the same time, I said I hope this attack will not read
to the rise of an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feeling because it is not the
Arabs, it is not the Muslims, who are responsible for this attack. Those
people who have launched the attack and cover themselves as people who are
acting in the interest of the Muslim religion are hypocrites because the
Holy Prophet Muhammad made it clear that human relations must be based on
respect for one another, and that problems should be solved through negotiations.
We almost regard it as offensive to repeat that warning as if Islam is in
any way implicated. Leaders in the Islamic world have expressed themselves
as strongly as any against terrorism, and those acts of terror have been
strongly condemned. Islamic countries form as important a bulwark against
terrorism as any other bloc of countries in the international community.
I must also add that when I came out of prison and I went to the Middle
East, went round the Arab world, I was shocked because the Arab countries
had been presented as countries that had no respect for democracy, where
there are no votes, where there are no parliaments. Indeed, I found that
there were no votes, there was no parliament. We want all countries, including
the Arab states, to introduce representative governments.
But the West must not bluff itself and think that when they talk of democratic
government they are superior to the Arab countries. There are certain respects
in which the Arab countries, especially the Saudi Arabian kingdom, the United
Arab Emirates, Brunei, have served their people in a way which you do not
see in the West at all. Saudi Arabia, for example, has free education from
the primary level right up to university and at university, the students
are given an allowance of $400 a month. They have free health services.
There are no taxes. Houses are so heavily subsidized that to get a house
is next to nothing. You don't find that in the West. You live at the center
of New York and you go to Harlem. You will find that poverty will stare
you in the face. Of course we find poverty everywhere, including the Arab
countries. But from the point of view of treating their people, the Arabs
are doing far better than the West. And talking about Saudi Arabia and UAE,
the leader of government has more contact with his people than is done in
the West. In Saudi Arabia, the crown prince who is now the virtual ruler,
every Tuesday, he sees anybody that wants to see him. He sees thousands,
listens to their demands and their complaints, and wherever possible tries
to address them. Nothing of the sort in the West. And you must also realize
that in a country like the United States of America, you cannot be a mayor,
a governor, or a president, if you are not wealthy. I was reading the other
day to find that a mayoral campaign cost one candidate $300 million. Where
would a common man get $300 million to be able to be a mayor, to be a governor,
to be a president? So especially the students, all the of thought must understand
what is the world in which they live, and they must not be taken up by propaganda
which in many cases is actuated by other interests different from serving
The longer-term issues in the fight to eradicate terrorism - and this does
not mean that these will have to wait for later to be addressed - concern
the resolution of conflicts in many areas and the developmental needs of
poorer countries and regions.
It is appropriate in this Sadat lecture that we should point specifically
to the situation in the Middle East and the imperative that a lasting and
just settlement be found to that long simmering conflict. Towards the end
of 1999, we visited a number of capitals in that region and stipulated three
conditions for finding a settlement. We repeat those conditions now.
Firstly, the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories.
Secondly, the unequivocal commitment by the Arab countries to the right
of Israel to exist within secure borders. The aim of the attack by the Arab
states on Israel in 1967 was to obliterate Israel from the face of the earth.
Israel fought back and defeated the Arab army. So the Arabs must themselves
must make a clear statement that they recognize the existence of the state
of Israel within secured boundaries, and also to establish diplomatic relations
with that country.
Thirdly, an international commission acceptable to both parties, to oversee
the negotiations and implementation of these agreements. That is what will
bring about a solution. The Western countries, ever since the end of the
Six Day War in 1967, have been trying to bring about peace in the Middle
East, no so much peace for the Middle East. The main aim of each country
was to make sure that each country will have the honor of having brought
about peace in the Middle East. As a result, there was competition. The
United States of America and Britain would make a move. France would oppose
that move. Russia would oppose France, Britain, and the United States. So
there was that competition and that is why I suggested that we must have
an international negotiating machinery composed of the United States, Britain,
France, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. And when I said this to President Bush
the other day, after expressing my serious reservations that he refused
to meet President Arafat when he had met Mr. Sharon. I said, "Mr. President,
that was a serious mistake. That confirms the perception that the United
States is a friend of Israel and therefore is not an impartial negotiator."
And I said to him, "You must accept this proposal because it is the
only one that will bring about peace in the Middle East." And I made
it clear that I have never doubted the integrity of President Bush, the
father of the present president. I never doubted the integrity of President
Clinton. I said "I do not doubt your integrity, but this is the perception,
and your failure to see Arafat strengthens that perception."
At the same time, I must indicate that President Bush to me appears to
be keen to do the right thing. He appears to agree with the statement that
was that was made by President Clinton when he paid a state visit to South
Africa. He said, "We Americans have been asking the wrong question.
We have been saying what can we do for Africa?" That was a wrong question.
The right question should have been "What can we do with Africa?"
And I side with the president. That was a radical change in the foreign
policy of the United States. And I complimented President Bush for having
invited leaders like President Mbeke, President Obasango of Nigeria, and
other African leaders, to listen to their views, their demands, and to try
and shape the foreign policy of the United States in accordance with what
the leaders are thinking.
There are many other parts of the world where violent conflicts continue
to rage. In all of these the world, through the world body and regional
organisations, need to be involved as the common concern of all of humanity.
In Burundi, for example, we have just managed with the assistance of the
international community to reach a political agreement amongst the negotiating
parties, with a transitional government of national unity installed on 1
November. Now the support of the United Nations and the international community
is required for peacekeeping activities and particularly for the development
of that poor country.
Ultimately, the world must take common and global responsibility for social
and economic development all over the globe. While the divide between the
rich and the poor, with the latter vastly outnumbering the former, continues
to grow, we allow fertile breeding ground for discontent and for extremism
and terrorism. Our fight for peace is also and importantly a war against
poverty and deprivation.
The challenges of finding peace are as complex now as they were in the
times of Anwar Sadat. The events of recent and current times may just be
the warning sound for us to take a global responsibility for addressing
the expressions as well as the underlying causes of terrorism and other
threats against peace.
The long walk to freedom, the constant struggle for peace, continues. It
never was an easy road, and is certainly not so now. We have to reconnoitre
many difficult twists and turns, and find answers to complex moral and practical
questions. A global partnership on all aspects of the quest for peace, makes
that road considerably more negotiable.
I'm grateful that you've had patience. You must remember that I am an old
man. It is my privilege to speak as long as I have the strength to do so.
I thank you.
Mandela Brings Message of International Cooperation to
Campus - Outlook Online, November 27, 2001