DAVID SIMON & ELOISE LE GROS
Former president of Timor-Leste and Nobel Prize recipient, Josè Ramos-Horta addressed the global integrity summit at south bank this morning
Without a speech prepared, the current UN Secretary General, as Special Representative of the Secretary General to the nation of Ginua-Bissau captivated his audience, discussing the bitter conflict between his native country and the oppressive regime conducted by the Indonesian government over a 24 year period.
Leaving the stand, Ramos-Horta said despite their conflict, both countries have resolved those differences.
“These two countries, once locked in a bitter conflict, are now, the best of friends,” he said.
Following Ramos-Horta’s keynote address, a panel of five including Human rights activist and lawyer and Senior Director of Research for Amnesty International, Anna Neistat; Professor of Journalism at the American University School of Communication in Washington DC, Charles Lewis; Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Sarah Chayes; Professor Emeritus of Moral Philosophy at King’s College in London, Professor Raimond Gaita, and was chaired by Editor of the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website & co-host of ABC’s the minefield, Scott Stephens.
The panel were discussing the many faces of terrorism throughout Australia and the world, with the focus centering on societies view of terrorism.
Mr Gaita said it is in fact society’s interpretation of terrorism that threatens the values of the countries who fear it most.
“The nation isn’t threatened, they don’t threaten our lives,” he said.
“It’s we who threaten our values in response to terrorism,” he said.
All speakers agreed that there has been a universal rhetoric constructed to either favour human rights on one side, or national security on the other.
In a time when people displacement is at its largest, Ms Neistat was surprised how the politicians and liberal media buy into it.
“It’s surprising how even politicians or liberal media would buy into this argument,” she said.
Professor Lewis also raised concerns on the exponential funding of wars in the Middle East which are costing upward of $2 trillion, as well as the staggering increase in deadly drone strikes conducted by the US in the Middle East.
“These numbers are staggering and we’re still in Afghanistan,” said Prof Lewis.
“The Obama administration quadrupled the use of drones compared to the Bush administration, this is not widely known,” he said.
The conversation took a turn to the moral values and adjustable compass that is used to relate to terrorism as a national context in countries such as the UK and Australia.
Sarah Chayes insisted society continues to make terrorism the major issues on all political agendas.
“We can’t resist ourselves from making this issue the one that trumps every other issue,” she said.
In closing, Mr Gaita said there was one ultimate right that should be afforded to all people.
“If there’s an absolute right, it’s the right to life,” he said.
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