6th Annual Desmond Tutu Lecture: Respecting Rights and the Pathway to Peace
The 6th Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture was held at the Artscape Theatre on Friday, 7 October 2016 in celebration of the 85th birthday of former chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - and former UWC Chancellor - Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
This year’s installment of the lecture, Respecting Rights: Pathway to Peace and Tolerance, was delivered by Advocate Hina Jilani of the Supreme Court of Pakistan – a tireless campaigner for human rights who continues to speak out in defense of the vulnerable.
In her address she explained that peace could no longer be associated only with the absence of war.
“Communities are besieged by violence in the name of religion, ethnicity and rejection of diverse identities,” she said. “Communal tensions have bred intolerance, hatred and extremism that is destroying the values of humanity that had become cherished ideals of a world shaken by the experiences of mass, flagrant and systematic violations such as those resulting from apartheid, all forms of racial discrimination, colonialism, or foreign domination and occupation.”
At the same time we are experiencing a decline in the quality of world leadership and a lack of political vision, will and capacity to address the causes of conflict.
“This collective failure to restore hope for peace and people’s security has given more critical dimensions to present-day crises. Indeed, responses to conflicts and crises - whether political or economic - instead of restoring security have themselves become part of the problem.”
This is apparent from situations that prevail in several parts of the world, she noted: “In Asia and in Africa, for instance, several countries have emerged or are in the process of transition from authoritarian rule, armed conflict, or struggles for the right of self-determination.”
International cooperation and a sense of collective responsibility to end violence, Jilani explained, remain the critical elements in removing the foremost threats to peace and security.
“There are many challenges that are already testing the resolve of the international community to promote accommodation and tolerance in order to prevent the erosion of peace and harmony,” she said.
“I fervently hope that such a resolve at the international level leads the world out of the crises we confront today, and that people learn the value of coexistence and shared progress.”
Hina Jilani is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and was the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008. She has received several national and international awards, including the Human Rights Award by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Award for Women’s Rights, and the UNIFEM Millennium Peace Award for Women.
The Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture is an annual event presented by the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, in partnership with the University of the Western Cape. The lecture series was inaugurated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama (connected via satellite from India) in 2011. Subsequent lectures have been delivered by Ms Graca Machel (2012), Mr Kofi Annan (2013), Ms Mary Robinson (2014) and Advocate Thuli Madonsela (2015).