Bill Clinton speaks at Forum 2000

Bill Clinton

The fifth Forum 2000 Conference is presently underway in Prague. The conference is not based on one definitive topic, but is rather a vehicle for world leaders and thinkers to meet up in the spirit of goodwill. The main theme of this year's Forum 2000 - which will be the last in the series - is "Human Rights - The Search for Global Responsibility", and the participants are discussing such topics as Human Rights, the role of international human rights organisations, and state sovereignty. Radio Prague's Nicole Klement has more.

The Forum 2000 project came into being in 1997 at the instigation of the Czech President, Václav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel. At this year's meeting the former US President Bill Clinton, spoke about the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington. He said he had not come to Prague to give advice but rather to lend public support to his country and to his successor, George W. Bush, in his present efforts against the forces of terrorism.

Mr Clinton started by thanking Elie Wiesel for going ahead with the forum instead of cancelling it. He said that now - in light on the September 11th attacks - it was very important for world leaders, people who should try to be the conscience of the world, to meet.

Mr Clinton describes the main differences between the American and Taliban way of life - differences he deems to be at the core of the American-Taliban hostility.

"We believe that anybody can be part of our community, that everyone counts, everyone deserves a chance. We are free to celebrate our diversity because we know our common humanity is more important. They believe community is a group of people who think alike, dress alike act alike and who's rules are enforced by people who beat women in public, paint there windows black and sometimes shoot them for doing what they are not suppose to do."

The former US president placed emphasis on the need for international support against terrorism, which he believes attacks diversity and basic human rights.

"If we want a world which has more human rights and more global responsibility, the world has to have people who are free to exercise those rights. People who have a genuine opportunity to realise them and there must be a global community that supports the development of those rights. A community that does not make exclusive claims to the truth but instead is rooted in our common humanity. Let me say what I think that means, I think that means that those of us who come from wealthier countries have an obligation to increase the benefits and decrease the burden of the 21st century world."

Mr Clinton points out that to resolve these conflicts, a more concrete change on a global scale is needed.

"We have to recognise some basic things, the world will be interdependent, the question is whether it will be good or bad for people. Poor people in the developing world and people in the developed countries. We in the rich countries have to recognise that we can no longer claim for ourselves what we deny others. And the aggrieved of the world have to realise they cannot redeem their suffering by our destruction. Like it or not we will have to finally reach across the human divide in a way that no people, ever have, in all of human history. But if we do we can give our children the future of our dreams."

Author: Nicole Klement
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