Comment by John Robbie

Let’s see conflict zone leadership emerge for peace

Did you see nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize? A very interesting list and there were hundreds nominated, I think there’s something like 200 nominations to go through and then it gets shortened to twenty or thirty and here are some of them:

(1) Pope Francis – he’s been a breath of fresh air, hasn’t he? He’s focused on the poor and tolerance – absolutely brilliant.

(2) Malala Yousafzai - she’s that amazing young Pakistani girl that who was shot at by the Taliban and came back as a spokesperson for girls’ education. She was nominated last year as well, a brave girl.

(3) Ban Ki-moon –the UN Secretary-General, he grew up in war, the Korean War. He tries his best you would have to say, with limited success.

(4) We got an email about Denis Mukwege – he’s this amazing doctor who runs a rape crisis centre in the Eastern DRC. A very brave and dedicated man.

(5) Jose Mujica – there’s lots about him on the internet and he’s the Uruguayan President, who is proudly the poorest president in the world. He donates 97% of his salary, he drives around in an old Volkswagen beetle and he sells flowers with his wife from his house. So there’s no Nkandla issues there with the Uruguayan President.

(6) And then there’s Novaya Gazeta – an independent Russian newspaper and it criticises President Putin and holds him accountable and some places say it’s the only place you can get ‘real news’ in Russia.

(7) Edward Snowden – very controversial: is he a peace hero or is he a traitor? Remember he exposed the American security snooping, but the question was ‘Did that compromise national security?’ Remember they suffered 9/11 and security is vital over there.

It’s a fascinating list - that’s just a couple of them.

It makes us think back to the heady days when we had Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and FW de Klerk as winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s tempting to say we don’t have candidates like that anymore from South Africa – I think that’s simplistic and it’s not fair.

The real peace candidates emerge when there is violent conflict and thank goodness, although we have crime, we don’t have violent political conflict any more in South Africa and that is when giant statesmen and women emerge.

The trouble is – not looking at South Africa – if you look around the world, there is violence and it seems to be escalating and it begs the question:

Where are the people who can look beyond narrow interests and populism or religious bigotry or insane nationalism to settle these conflicts? There seems to be a paucity of such people around at the moment and that’s very sad.

Next year I’d love to see Syrians and Iraqis, Ukrainians, Russians, Sudanese and even Israelis and Palestinians on that list - think about that – John Robbie

Listen to John's Comment in full below:

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