|Fredrick De Klerk|
doha • Respect for human rights create a climate of freedom that is essential for the prosperity and success of countries in a fiercely competitive globalising world, former South African President Fredrick De Klerk, said here yesterday.
Human rights are important because of the intrinsic contribution that they make to the quality of life of individuals, he told participants at the Seventh Doha Forum on Democracy.
"The recognition of human rights provides the foundation for the development of democratic society. Indeed genuine democracies cannot function in the absence of the freedom of speech and opinion, freedom to organise and to participate in elections and freedom from arbitrary government actions," said De Klerk, who is also Chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation.
He noted that the free systems of the West triumphed over the totalitarian system of the Soviet Union and its satellites, not because they had greater armies or military resources, but because the closed Soviet system was not competitive and was incapable of creativity and innovation and the dynamism of a free society.
"The freedom assured by fundamental human rights empowers people. It enables and invites them to compete in free market places of ideas, of commodities and employment. Overall it rewards the diligent, the creative and the productive participants in the economy," he said.
The aggregate of the efforts of free people, he pointed out, results almost inevitably in accelerated economic growth and improved living standards.
Individual rights will become even more crucial to the success of societies in a globalizing world, he said.
"The creative, productive and competitive individuals who were essential for the success of any society will increasingly be attracted to free environment where their efforts will be properly recognised and rewarded with the resulting brain-drain from less free societies," said De Klerk.
He noted that there is close correlation between basic civil and economic rights on the one hand and high economic growth rates, low unemployment and improving living standards on the other.
Accordingly, he said, respect for fundamental rights and for economic freedom is increasingly becoming an indispensable condition for societies that wish to compete successfully in our globalising world.
Today two billion of the six billion people living in this world do not have human rights, they are being suppressed and dying of hunger, he said, calling for discussion on ways and means on how to move leaderships in those countries to accept the need for change.
"We in South Africa have 30 years ago accepted that need. We have avoided what everybody expected would be a catastrophe. We could do it. It can be done in Palestine and Israel. It can be done in all the many other conflict areas throughout the world," he added.