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Forum 2000: Participants Call For Global Leadership

  • Elizabeth Weinstein

Prague, 13 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Polish Justice Minister Hana Suchocka today called on world leaders to exercise "personal moral decency" as nations become more interconnected.

Suchocka said that politicians have recently shown an "erosion of leadership" and abuse of power in their offices. She said politicians have a responsibility to act as guardians of the institutions that make democracy and human rights possible.

She made the comments in Prague on the second day of this year's Forum 2000. The four-day event brings together more than 40 prominent world leaders and thinkers to discuss globalization of the world's economy, politics, and culture.

Former Australian foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans cited the scandal surrounding U.S. President Bill Clinton as an example of how world leadership has lost its focus. Evans said that U.S. congressional leaders have ignored world global crises in favor of what he called "tasteless privacy-invading political point scoring."

"There really is a desperate necessity for leadership here to avoid the kind of parochialism that so many countries are prone (to) and which can have such devastating consequences when the biggest countries, most influential countries succumb to that. There's simply no substitute for leadership."

Evans also said that stability in the world financial markets is directly connected with stable political institutions. He said transparent and open political systems will strengthen world markets and investor confidence.

Philosopher and former Indian Ambassador to the United States Karan Singh said world market globalization and integration depends on leadership as well as a major restructuring of the United Nations. Singh said the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States -- should grant permanent membership to new countries.

"It is clearly anomalous that countries like Germany and Japan, with their amazing post-war resurgence, huge nations like India and Brazil, and the whole African continent should remain outside the pale of permanent membership of the Security Council."

Singh urged world leaders to finalize U.N. Security Council expansion by the year 2000. He also downplayed the role of the World Bank and IMF in favor of what he called "strong regional economic groupings." Singh proposed 10 economic groupings in Latin America, and the Arab world, among others, to ensure what he called "a more equitable world order." Singh said the EU represents a dynamic model for other regions because it has formed a monetary union.

Singh also criticized participants at the 1992 UN environmental conference in Rio de Janiero for not living up to their environmental commitments. He said the floods in China and South Asia this year are evidence of massive global warming. He said successful globalization in the next century will depend on repairing much of the environmental damage done in the 20th century.