Remarkable People

ID #5248

Desmond Tutu 6 International Affairs.

Tutu has focused poverty, AIDS and non-democratic governments in the Third World.  To foster peace in Darfur he led an Elders' mission to Sudan in 2007. "Our hope is that we can keep Darfur in the spotlight and spur on governments to help keep peace in the region," said Tutu.

Tutu has condemned crackdowns on Tibetan activists. He did not support a boycott of the Olympic Games but did call on the heads of state to not attend opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "For God's sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of their children, for the sake of the beautiful people of Tibet – don't go. Tell your counterparts in Beijing you wanted to come but looked at your schedule and realized you have something else to do." He supported dissident Yang Jianli and wrote to the Chinese government demanding Yang's release.

Tutu assisted with the Solomon Islands' Truth and Reconciliation Commission, modelled after the South African body. He spoke at its launch in Honiara in 2009, emphasizing the need for forgiveness to build lasting peace.
In 2003 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He was named a member of the UN advisory panel on genocide prevention in 2006.

However, Tutu has criticized the UN, particularly on the issue of West Papua. Tutu expressed support for the West Papuan independence movement and criticized the UN role in the takeover of West Papua by Indonesia. Tutu said: "For many years the people of South Africa suffered under the yoke of oppression and apartheid. Many people continue to suffer brutal oppression, where their fundamental dignity as human beings is denied. One such people are the people of West Papua."

Tutu was named to head a United Nations fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip where, in November 2006 the Israel Defense Force killed 19 civilians after an incursion to curb attacks on Israel. Tutu planned to "assess the situation of victims, address the needs of survivors and make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinians against further Israeli assaults" According to president of the UN Human Rights Council, Luis Alfonso De Alba, Israeli officials expressed concern that the report would be biased. Tutu cancelled the trip in mid-December, saying that Israel had refused to grant him a travel clearance.  

He is a supporter of the magazine New Internationalist, which campaigns for social and environmental justice worldwide.

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:25
Author: Alan McIver
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