Changing the unchangeable: the role of dialogue in transition

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre based his introduction to the panel debate on the following points:

  • Transition is a process that can take quite different forms: transition from war to peace, from civil war to national reconciliation, from dictatorship to democracy. It is about ending strife, building institutions and a more stable and sustainable future.
  • Three key factors:
  1. The role played by civil society, by the activist. Last year “the protester” was chosen by Time magazine as “person of the year”. Both in bottom-up and top-down processes, the role of the activist is key. At the same time we know how vulnerable activists are – even an activist who gains the majority at the ballot box can end up in house arrest for many years.
    How can we, the outside world, support and interact with civil society and activists who are expressing legitimate needs and are often in great danger?
  2. The role of dialogue. Not dialogue as a sign of weakness, of “giving in”, but as a tool that can be used by activists and governments, and by other different groups, to move from one place to another. Dialogue is the strategy of the brave. A range of brave people – from Nelson Mandela to you, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – have chosen non-violent dialogue to fight for the needs of their countrymen.
    How can we improve and develop our opportunities to support dialogue?
  3. The role of institutions. Institutions are vital for ensuring that legislative processes are transparent, that legislation is implemented in practice, that corruption is addressed. It is vital to strengthen the institutions that make democracy possible in countries in transition, be it in Myanmar/Burma, Afghanistan, Egypt, or in the broader Middle East.
    How can we prevent a “gold rush” into countries in transition before they have the necessary institutions to ensure transparency and fair play?
    We already have tools – for example for monitoring the extractive industries. How can we put these tools into play, and ensure their legitimacy and that they act as accelerators of positive change?

 

Mr Støre then introduced the next speakers, Aung San Suu Kyi and Bono.

 

 

 

 

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