President Kufuor becomes Chair of Interpeace
December 7, 2009
‘Peace is possible if we are willing to move beyond our differences and if we can inspire a new form of responsible leadership.’ President John A. Kufuor during his acceptance speech as he became the Chairman of the Interpeace Governing Council.
In a ceremony that took place in Switzerland on Friday evening, 4th December, President John A. Kufuor formally accepted the chairmanship of the Interpeace Governing Council from the former President of Finland and 2008 Nobel Peace Laureate, Martti Ahtisaari. Interpeace is an international organization that enables societies to deal with conflict in non-violent ways and build lasting peace.
Martti Ahtisaari as Out-going Chair, introduced John Kufuor to the Governing Council members present, diplomats and donors saying: ‘As President of Ghana, President Kufuor built his reputation as a solid, wise and patient leader, and importantly, as an instinctive peacebuilder. President Kufuor, from his experience in Africa, has an in-depth understanding of how to overcome internal divisions and to promote peace and stability in societies. His experience in this area will be a great asset to Interpeace.’
In his acceptance speech, Kufuor stated that he was honoured to take on the Chairmanship of the Interpeace Governing Council from such a distinguished and respected peacebuilder, President Martti Ahtisaari.
Kufuor then went on to comment on his own background. He described the region he comes from as rich in cultural, human and material resources, but racked by poverty, facing challenges of governance and suffering regularly from conflict. These combined factors keep the region from reaching its full potential. He went on to state: ‘But I have also seen first-hand, peace is possible if we are willing to move beyond our differences and if we can inspire a new form of responsible leadership.’
Kufuor matched his own values with the principles of the organization saying: ‘Interpeace is an organization that truly seeks to find local solutions, something I believe is critical to sustain peace. I also agree that the most important task in building peace is to foster trust within and between communities, and between the people and their leaders. This can sound simple but I know from my own experience this can be one of the most difficult things to achieve.’
As Scott M. Weber, Director-General of Interpeace, formally welcomed Kufuor he highlighted that he was looking forward to the next chapter of Interpeace’s history under the new chairmanship. ‘I know that all of us around the world are looking forward to benefiting from your first hand experience in helping societies resolve conflicts, your outlook that comes from your role serving as President of Ghana and the African Union, and your direct involvement in numerous peace processes across Africa.’
Weber thanked Martti Ahtisaari for his support and wise leadership over the last nine years. He stated: ‘Martti gave us the encouragement and the confidence to work every day to help societies around the world build peace that will last. Despite all his responsibilities as one of the most prominent peacemakers and international statesmen of our generation, he provided us the support that has enabled us to be where we are today.’
To close, Kufuor pledged to work hard in his capacity to support Interpeace and the team of peacebuilders around the world to further increase the impact of their work.
He stated: ‘I am convinced that Interpeace has a great deal to contribute and I look forward to supporting this noble mission.’
Kufuor now chairs the Interpeace Governing Council. Council members include Hind Bint Hamad Al-Thani, Director of the Office of the Emir of Qatar; Paddy Ashdown, member of the British House of Lords; Zainab Bangura, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sierra Leone; Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Respresentative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support; Thomas Greminger, Head of Peace Policy for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; Joao Honwana, Director, Africa I Division of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs; Hisashi Owada, President of the International Court of Justice, The Hague; Jan Pronk, former Development Minister for the Dutch Government; Mohamed Sahnoun, former advisor to the UN Secretary-General for Africa; Matthias Stiefel, Founder of Interpeace, and Anthony Travis, former Senior Partner, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.