0:00:01: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the Ford School. I'm Michael Barr, I am the Dean of the Ford School. I am delighted to introduce this afternoon Kumi Naidoo. Kumi and I met more than 30 years ago when we were in graduate school together. We were housemates quite a while back and have been friends ever since. Kumi is, as you'll see, just an incredible human being, an activist, a civil society leader with a deep commitment to working with citizens around the world to bring change. He's done this in lots of different contexts. He's served as Executive Director of Greenpeace International. He's been Chair for the Global Call for Climate Action. He was the founding Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and Secretary General and CEO of Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. He currently chairs three startup organizations in his home country of South Africa: Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, the Campaign for a Just Energy Future, and the Global Climate Finance Campaign.
0:01:24: And as you probably saw from our posters, Amnesty International has just asked him to serve as the next secretary general of that global human rights movement, a position he will take up in August of this year. The secretary general is the leader and main spokesperson for Amnesty and the chief executive of its international secretariat. Amnesty International is the largest human rights movement in the world, with a global presence, including offices in more than 70 countries, 2,600 staff members, and seven million members, volunteers and supporters worldwide. You will have a chance to hear from Kumi first, and let me just explain our usual process. We're gonna collect cards from all of you with questions. People will be coming around to pick them up from you. Two of our wonderful Ford School students, Larry Sanders and Nadine Juwad, will be responsible for asking the questions with the help of Megan Tompkins-Stange. With that, let me introduce without any further ado, Dr. Kumi Naidoo.
0:02:46: Thank you. Thank you, Michael. Friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, dear brothers and sisters. It's great to be here with you. I almost thought the snow will prevent me from getting here from New York. I'm glad I made it. I must start by saying that these days when I speak in the United States I'm a little more nervous than normal, and that's not that much to do with who's the President of the United States at the moment. It's more to do with the fact that quite often when I've addressed meetings in the United States and try to sketch out the state of where the world is right now, and I should say this is not peculiar to the United States, globally when you tell people what is the state of the world at the moment that generally you get people getting extremely depressed. So once I was addressing a group of foundations in New York and I was just saying, as we sit here today every two seconds, a forest the size of a football field will disappear. That when we look at our oceans, according to Newsweek from four years back, that in four decades, our oceans could only have algae and jellyfish in it because of the triple whammy of overfishing, the dumping of toxics including oil spills, and the problem of ocean acidification which basically is more and more carbon, less and less forests and the excess carbon is going into our oceans.
0:04:23: Then you move away from, I'll return to climate later, then when you talk about deepening inequality in the world, and just as I'm seeing amongst you now, as I'm saying that I can see the strain building in your face. So then eventually it gets to question time, somebody normally puts their hand up and says, well, this happened to me at this foundations meeting. He said, "Dr. Naidoo, have you heard of Martin Luther King?" And I said, "Yes, of course. He inspired me and many people in my generation in South Africa who were resisting apartheid." And the second question is, "Do you know what his most famous speech was called?" Anybody?
0:05:01: I have a dream.
0:05:01: Well, you see, I said it as tentatively as you said it, thinking it was a trick question so, I slowly said, "Uh, I have a dream?" thinking it might be another quote, and the response was, "Yes! It's I have a dream, but when I hear you speak it sounds like you have a nightmare." You know, deepening inequality, the forests disappearing and so on, so let me start there by saying that I think one of the biggest challenges of public leadership and public policy is whether we have the courage to analyze the problems without sanitizing how serious the problems actually are and speaking to power, even if it actually makes people in power, whether it's corporate power or governmental power, whether it makes them nervous or not. So just for those of you who are feeling depressed by the fact that we have all these crises without clear answers to them, let me just give you some good news before I move on. And that is, you probably have heard environmentalists and others say from time to time, "We need to save the planet," or, "Save the environment," but quite often that phrase, "Save the planet," I'm sure you've heard it at some point. So the good news, my dear brothers and sisters, is that the planet is absolutely fine.
0:06:24: Seriously. The planet actually does not need saving. You just think about it, if we continue on the trajectory that we are, if we continue addiction to dirty energy: Oil, coal, and gas, and we continue with activities such as deforesting our forests and so on, the end result is we warm up the planet to the point where our water resources are damaged, our soil is damaged, our ability to grow food is damaged, and for parts of the world like Africa, which is already hot to start with, literally, our people will not be able to manage. So what's the end result of being on the path that we are and not addressing catastrophic climate change is that we will be gone, the planet will still be here. And once we become extinct as a species, the good news is, the forests will grow back, the oceans will replenish and so on. So don't worry about the planet.
0:07:22: Understand that when we say that we need to avert catastrophic climate change, what we are saying is that humanity needs to fashion a new way to co-exist with nature in a mutually interdependent relationship for centuries and centuries to come. Put differently, the struggle to avert catastrophic climate change is nothing more or nothing less than the current adult leadership of the world saying that we are going to take care of ensuring that this planet can go on for our children, their children, and our grandchildren. So, it's very important that we recognize that the climate crisis is much more deeper than many of us are willing to acknowledge, including surprisingly, even people in the environmental movement. So let me stop there and just do a little bit of a quiz. How many of you if I say 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees know what I'm talking about? And don't feel shy because when I was at Greenpeace, I used to ask this question at every office I went to and quite often, 60% of my colleagues were not sure. So, let's see. How many of you, if I say 1.5 versus 2 degrees, you know what I'm talking about? Please raise your hands? Okay, those of you who raised their hands, keep your hands up.
0:08:51: Okay, so I'm going to ask you a second question in a second, but you can put your hands down now. So those of you who don't know, when that figure is talked about, one of the biggest scientific enterprises that our planet has ever seen, which is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which together with Al Gore won the Nobel Peace prize several years ago... What when we are talking about these degrees, the scientists have been telling us for a long time now that from the start of the industrial revolution, roughly the time we started burning fossil fuels, which is oil, coal and gas, from that moment into the future, the planet cannot afford to absorb more than a 1.5 or 2 degree temperature rise. So now those people who put up their hands, put up your hands again, please, and look at that. So how many of you know towards that 1.5 or 2 degrees of where we've warmed the planet up already? How many of you know the answer to that? Okay. We are between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees already. And what the science cannot tell us, the science just simply says that as things warm up further, it will progressively get worse. They don't tell you that if we go from 1.2 degrees to 1.3 degrees whether it will be 10 times or four times temperature increase that we would see.
0:10:32: The difficulty with climate conversations, which is a game changer for all our public policy conversations. Let me say that again. The reality of climate is a game changer for all our public policy conversations because it cuts across everything. And so, this might just sound like... And the difficulty with climate is that it's talked about in ways that are so inaccessible for ordinary people to be able to participate in the conversation. And that's one of the weaknesses I would argue of environmental activism to date, that we speak in a lingo and a language that all of us who are involved feel very good about, but actually we're not spreading that message wide enough. So I want to give you a story about being in the Pacific, one of the most climate vulnerable parts of the world, in July 2015, and I learned a new slogan from the people that I was working with there in Vanuatu, in Fiji, and in Kiribati, one of the first countries that's likely to be wiped out as a result of sea level rise.
0:11:43: And the slogan they were chanting there was this, "1.5 to stay alive. 1.5 to stay alive." It was quite chilling to me to hear that. Six months later, I'm in Paris at the climate negotiations and I bump into my new friends from the Pacific, and I was doing a media interview with CNN and they waited for me and the moment it finished, said, "Rush with us, we need you to speak at some internal rally," that was being intended to put some pressure on the negotiators. So, I get there and I'm sort of, "At least I can shout that slogan that I learned from July 2015." And I go, "1.5 to stay alive," and they say, "No, no, no, no, the slogan has changed." I said, "What's the new slogan?" And the new slogan had changed to, "1.5, we might survive. 1.5, we might survive." So, my dear brothers and sisters, I just want to say to you that, the bottom line is, our political leaders are in denial about how close to the climate cliff we are. Those who are older in the audience will remember a five minutes to midnight clock on nuclear war that used to be shown every now and then. We are pretty much five minutes to midnight on climate, and therefore, we need some fresh thinking. And I thought I'll try and ask Martin Luther King to help us with that thinking. And I hope I don't mess up the technology.
0:13:17: Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in psychology. It is the word "maladjusted." It is the ringing cry of modern child psychology, maladjusted. Of course, we all want to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities, but as I move toward my conclusion, I would like to say to you today in a very honest manner, that there are some things in our society and some things in our world of which I'm proud to be maladjusted. And I call upon all men of good will to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few and leave millions of God's children smothering in an airtight cage of poverty, in the midst of an affluent society.
0:14:37: Let me repeat the last bit on economic conditions. So, he said, "I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, when millions of God's children are smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in an affluent society." Now, he was talking about the US in 1965. I would argue that that wisdom, if it was relevant in 1965 in the United States, it's become a thousand times more relevant today in the United States, but also it is equally relevant pretty much all across the world. So, we have accepted income inequality at a level which is absolutely unsustainable. I don't want to embarrass anybody here, but I want to ask you to do something when you get home tonight, I want you to go to a website called Global Rich List, okay? Global Rich List. It's done in partnership with Care International, and it asks you to put your annual income, and it will tell you exactly from the seven billion people on the planet where you sit. Right? And I would tell you that even if you're a student on a scholarship with about, say, I'm just going to take a random figure, say, $15,000 a year you're spending, you'll be horrified where you will be on that list from the seven billion people.
0:16:11: But leave that for you to reflect as you do it yourself. But I just thought I would take three examples of where we have adjusted as humanity to things that we never should have adjusted to. And income inequality, I would say is the most extreme, because basically from my work in anti-poverty movements, I have come to realize that everybody can say that we're against poverty. There are certain people who actually like poverty, because poverty can give you cheap labor and so on. But nobody these days stands up and say, "Yeah, I'm for poverty," but poverty and inequality are linked. We have one pie, one economic pie at a national level, at a global level. How we carve out that pie and distribute it, how we use the wealth of societies has to have some much greater measure of equity than we have, and the way we value work, the way we value labor, is highly problematic. In South Africa today, there are people like myself, who had the opportunity when the transition happened to really become super wealthy, very, very quick, because all the international companies coming into South Africa were looking for black partners with credibility.
0:17:35: So, for example, I was the head of the South African NGO coalition at that time, and I had some ridiculous offers that people used to come and say, Alliance Capital, one of the largest asset management companies in the world, based out of New York, offered me 10% equity in the South African company because they needed people who were connected, who had good backgrounds and so on. And so many of my comrades went into this kind of world. So when those offers came to me and a few others, we looked at them and said, "Hang on a minute. If you give me that 10% equity, that's not black economic empowerment, that's actually black self-enrichment. Because I am going to benefit from it."
0:18:21: So, what I did, and a few others did, we negotiated that equity, 10% equity in this company, for non-profit organizations that we were part of. But 99% of the folks did the conventional thing and became... Within two years the class mobility was astronomical. But when we look at the quality of life then of these people, I can tell you many of them are my friends. I was in the trenches with them in the old days, they're now in the most elite suburbs and so on. And I can tell you, they're not necessarily much happier than I am. In fact, I would argue that they are carrying heavy guilt because there's a part of them... Because they were involved in the liberation struggle and so on, has a sense of commitment to popular upliftment. But actually, their own personal consumption patterns have got to a point where it's completely crazy. So that's the one thing that we've adjusted to. We've adjusted to an immoral level of inequality that we should actually push back against.
0:19:26: The second thing, example, I thought I would take a security example. So you know when you look at all these tweets between Donald Trump and the person he likes to call Rocketman in North Korea. The way it might be projected in the media here in the US is that that guy is completely... North Korea is completely crazy, and Donald Trump is crazy, but not so crazy. Bottom line is to most of the people in the world, both of them are equally crazy. And the issue and the debate that is happening is completely... It shocks some people. So there are lots of people in the world who actually think that the position that Iran and North Korea are taking on nuclear is actually good. Because they say, "Why is it that the country in the world who has nuclear weapons, that has used nuclear weapons, that is not trying to say anything about reducing nuclear weapons even though they've signed treaties along those lines to actually over time reduce. What moral basis do they have to say to any other country in the world, thou shalt not have nuclear weapons?" And Donald Trump, one nice thing about him is, he's refreshingly honest sometimes, and just out of naivety he's honest.
0:20:47: So like the other day, he said, on television on this nuclear question, when he talked about his conversation with Putin, he never raised the issue about meddling or the Russian ex-spy being poisoned in London, or the fact that there was just a fraudulent election. But one of the things they say they did talk about, is they talked about security issues and he said, he slipped up and said, "We are determined to make sure that nobody else gets what we got." So when you look at it from a justice perspective, people like myself who are completely opposed to nuclear weapons and were so thrilled when the international campaign to ban nuclear weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and we are consistently opposed to it. We see the contradiction in the way that an American citizen thinks, "Oh, it's absolutely fine for us to stop North Korea from getting nuclear weapons." But where is the legitimate basis for the US to have it? So that's the second example.
0:21:51: Then I thought I'll take a social policy issue, and that's the issue of alcohol versus marijuana. We've all adjusted to the fact that alcohol is pretty much legal after you're a certain age. And we also largely, until recently because of good advocacy and lobbying work and campaigning work, but to a large extent, we accepted that alcohol good, marijuana bad. But if you look at it, a little bit, you don't have to be a specialist, but when you drink a glass of alcohol, and you open the bottle, you don't know what actually went into it for sure. I mean, marijuana is a plant that grows there, it has legal, sorry... Medical uses. As far as we know with alcohol, I think only red wine helps cholesterol a little bit. [chuckle] So what I'm saying is that we've just adjusted to... And I can give you a much longer list. And what public policy professionals and public activists now need to be asking is whether, in fact, the net result of the work is largely incremental tinkering and rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while humanity sinks with the pressure of climate.
0:23:13: Or in fact, are we willing to ask some deep and difficult questions that actually will challenge some of the notions that we ourselves have actually mouthed and so on. By the way, I just wanna say quickly that any criticism I make, it's very much a self-criticism, 'cause a lot of these things that I'm reflecting on, I have made those mistakes in different moments in my life. So when we look at the world today, what we are seeing is a convergence of crises, that is, in a very short space of time we are seeing multiple crises coming together. The ongoing poverty crisis, the climate crisis, the inequality crisis, and many other things.
0:24:00: Rahm Emanuel, when he was Chief of Staff for President Obama, and now Chicago Mayor, put it well. He said, "What we have is a perfect storm," and then he said in 2008, "A good crisis is a terrible thing to waste," because crises can actually help you take a good hard look at yourself and say, "Well, hang on. If we just make this tiny minor changes here and here, here and there, we're not gonna secure our children and their children's futures," for example. So in Africa today, even though the African continent as a whole has contributed least to emissions and to the climate challenge, we are paying the first and most brutal price on the continent. I can give you multiple examples, but sea level rise, drought, as well as soil degradation, has meant that we are now looking at a new phenomenon that's called climate refugees, because when you're seeing those folks trying to jump onto boats to get to Europe, I'm not saying that climate is the only or even the primary driver, but the fingerprints of climate change are very much on the mass exodus we are seeing of people from the African continent.
0:25:21: So when we look at all of this, we have to acknowledge that in fact one of the biggest diseases we are facing in the world is not HIV and AIDS, it's not influenza, it's not cancer. It's in fact what you could call affluenza. So affluenza is a pathological condition, where people believe that happiness and a decent life comes from more and more and more and more material acquisition, to the point of absolute absurdity. I can give you examples in South Africa that will shock you. Let me give you an example from India where the kinds of things that have become not normal but frequent enough that it tells you that we've lost the plot completely. There are super wealthy people in India to when their kids get married, they take... They invite the 300 guests they want, put them on a plane, fly the plane up, have the wedding in the sky and then land the plane down, and that's supposed to be like a really great wedding.
0:26:27: And like that, I can walk you through extreme consumption. But understand all of these things are taking from nature, and there's a cost to consumption, which I will refer to now. So when we look at the inequality levels, it's got to a point of absurdity where like eight people in the world own more than 65% of the rest of the world. I'm sure when you look at the US statistics specifically, I don't know them offhand, but I'm sure they're not too far away from patterns of inequality in the US which seem to be getting worse and worse. So I just thought I'd contextualate it to the United States a little bit. So, I'm sure most of you know that the US is less than 5% of the world's population, but it is still economically and militarily dominant. Economically, it is declining in the level of dominance that it had and it's quite likely within the next decade China will surpass the US as the largest economy. But the questions that must be asked by US citizens as well as policymakers from a perspective of the history of the United States, and how the United States understood historically its role in the world as a promoter of democracy, as an enabler of peace and so on, we have to ask the brutal question, is the US on the right side of global justice today?
0:28:00: And looking at the disproportionate power the US has, how does it exercise this power towards the range of global justice efforts that the world is facing at this moment, whether it's on climate, whether it's on trade, whether it's on a range of other economic issues, even currency management and so on. I would humbly submit that actually, to a large extent, it would be wrong to place all the blame on President Trump. Some of this pre-dates him quite some time, and some of these problems, I would say, whether it's a Democratic administration or Republican administration, from a global perspective you haven't seen that much of difference. And right now, to be blunt about it, many people in the world, when we look to the US, are saying, "What can we expect of the US?" And by the way, not just civil society people, but European political leaders, for example, have huge concerns right now about the current political leadership. They just don't know how to handle the tweets, the inconsistencies, the brashness, and so on.
0:29:08: So I put this question down here quite consciously, because I have to say that it's quite shocking, especially for people who come from struggles where we had to rise against racism and bigotry and so on, to see a political leadership that tolerates white supremacists and Nazism, and simply sees it as differing opinions from others, as we saw it on Charlottesville, and obviously I say that because I'm saying that today, many people in the world in policy circles and activist circles are saying, we can't wait for the US anymore, we gotta move ahead on climate, on trade, and other things. You see it happening with the TPP, not that I'm a big supporter of TPP. And that was interesting about Donald Trump, because every fifth thing he said you found that you could agree with, but actually for maybe different reasons why you would actually advocate that.
0:30:12: So I want to take you back to the dangers, the roots of this problem, I think was warned eloquently by President Eisenhower in his farewell address, when he said: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted, only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense without our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." I hope you'll agree with me that in fact to a large extent this cautionary point made in 1961 by outgoing President Eisenhower has been completely ignored and not taken into account, so that in fact that the problem that he has actually warned has got worse and worse, where we see the power of certain industries and particularly the military establishment being disproportionately powerful in public life.
0:31:33: So, coming back to the US and the question of the consumption patterns, the US consumes enough resources on an annual basis that could take up 4.1 Earth, planets. The only reason we don't completely overshoot the budget is the fact that many parts of the world severely under consume, not out of choice, but out of the realities of their economic situation. So, if all the people in the world enjoyed the same levels of consumption as the majority of people in the developed world and the elites of the developing countries do, then according to WWF, World Wildlife Fund, we would need between three to five planets worth of resources to deliver an average median lifestyle for everyone on earth. So that's why when you talk about climate, we say we don't have a plan B, rather than to make the difficult changes that we need to transition from an economy that's driven on dirty brown fossil fuel-based energy, to an economy that's driven by clean green renewable-based energy, we don't have a choice, we don't have a plan B, because we don't have a planet B. We have one planet and we have to learn to live on it as a human family and ensure that we have the policy interventions to get there, and the bottom line is, we're still very far away from it.
0:33:01: So, just to say quickly, Earth Overshoot Day took place in August 2nd, 2017, you should check this, I'll show you a slide right now. Because basically the Earth has an amazing capacity for regeneration. So, there's a logic in a year, you have so much that the planet can collectively give to us and then you need to leave some replenishment time. So in the 12-month period by August we have burst the budget for the whole 12 months, but it would've been worse if the entire world lived like how the US consumption patterns are, we would've burst the budget by 2017. So, just to have a quick sense of... But let me just say, there is a difficulty from a policy point of view. Policymakers have to make policy from what the current reality is. You don't have a choice of imagining something that doesn't exist. So, for public policy professionals, even in academia, also have the same challenge, you have to start with what exists. But those of you who've been through strategy planning processes, normally what happens is, you start by saying: "This is the vision of where we want to be, this is what the program's organization will try to do to get to it."
0:34:33: And then, you start off with a vision, but then, you have to come back to current reality, and current reality brings your vision lower and lower and lower, because you start looking at all the constraints of moving from where we are to where we might agree to be. And so, while I totally recognize that tension, I think it's very important that we recognize that we need to find a pathway to rise above that, rise above that. What I mean is, we cannot allow a maladjusted reality, things that we have adjusted to that we shouldn't have, to be seen now as the norm. We have to go back, and to do that, is incredibly difficult. Because even the poor and the beneficiaries of some of these intended changes are actually believing that that is not in their interest because of the media environment and so on, which I'll come to in a second.
0:35:35: So if you take the whole debate around healthcare, it was quite extraordinary for those of us looking from a distance to see that there were people who were direct beneficiaries of so-called ObamaCare, who actually sometimes moved to go and demonstrate against it, even though it was not in their interest, a problem that I understand that Cornel West calls inverted authoritarianism, but I think maybe I shouldn't get diverted by that. [laughter] But so when you think about it in psychological terms, the problem that we face today is what you could call deep cognitive dissonance. Rather than give you the definition of cognitive dissonance, which I'm sure you all know, I'd rather just give you an example. You know that moment when finally the US troops made it into Baghdad in 2004, and Saddam Hussein's information minister or communications minister was still doing press conferences. He's doing a press conference and they ask him, "So how long will you be able to resist US military power? Do you think you stand a chance to win this war and so on?" And he stands there and says, "What war? What US intervention? We are completely in control. Everything is fine." And behind him, you've got buildings burning, bombs dropping and so on.
0:37:04: And I would say that today, most of those in political and economic power are suffering a deep sense of cognitive dissonance, where all of the facts actually say, that it's never gonna add up. All your interventions are not go be big enough to actually secure the positive results we need to avert catastrophic climate change, and so on, but there's resistance to it. But I want to say that this is not a problem that only afflicts those in power, but even civil society also suffers from this problem, because civil society reflects the broad trends and currencies in society as a whole, and that we, some of the most passionate activists that I've met across the world can sometimes also fall foul of not being as ambitious and as bold and courageous enough, because we are all scared of being... I shouldn't say we all, because many of us are scared about being dismissed as loony, crazy lefties. Because if you actually go against the status quo in a fundamental way, then in fact in this current information age that you're in, that we are in, you can be much easily maligned and dismissed.
0:38:24: So it's therefore important to just reflect a little bit on how those with power control us. Now, many of us think that the main form of control is through what sociologist Louis Althusser said in the '70s that people think that governments control primarily through the use of what he called the repressive state apparatus. By repressive state apparatus he meant army, police, the use of formal laws and so on. But actually, he goes on to say that the more insidious and powerful form of control is not in fact the repressive state apparatus, but what he called the ideological state apparatus, which is the framework for schooling and education, the framework for religion and, importantly, the framework for media. Now, I lived in the United States for six years, when I was secretary general of Civicus, and I can tell you it was a torture being able to get news on television, normal television news, to keep up with what was happening in the world. Because world news is something the US did somewhere in the world or something that happened to the US.
0:39:41: But like big events that happen, you hardly will see it mentioned. There were exceptions. When I encounter anti-Americanism in Europe, for example, during the Iraq War, I do a small experiment. I ask people, "How many of you have seen CNN International?" 90% of the people put up their hands. And then I say, "How many of you think CNN International is a left wing, ultra liberal or progressive news source?" Everybody puts their hands down. Nobody would think that in Europe, especially people involved in movements and so on. Now, here's the thing, just to give you a disconnect about a part of the world where the US has a greater political alliance with historically and so on. The difference and how widely divergent they see the world. But it comes down primarily, actually, to the question of what's put before the people. And as Mandela taught us, it's very important to make a distinction between racism and the people who perpetuate it. That is the only reason we managed to rise above the violence of the past and make a peaceful transition, because Mandela and other leaders taught us to make a distinction that our struggle was never against white people.
0:41:17: Our struggle was against a system of racist oppression. And so being able to make those distinctions are not easy, and I think that right now, if we look at the US place in the world, I would say that one of the biggest things holding us back is that the majority of the people in the United States are seeing, if you look at the ideological continuum of your main media outlets, with FOX on the far right, and MSNBC on the left and perhaps CNN slightly less to the left than MSNBC. But the CNN that you see is not even CNN International. It's a right wing version of CNN International called CNN Headline News. So just to put you in perspective, all of Europe thinks that's a conservative news source. The way it plays out in the US context, it's on the left. So what I urge people to understand, and this might sound the wrong thing to say that I say the majority of people in the US are also ideologically oppressed, in the sense that what is put before them is actually very limited and they do not get the diversity of opinion in the mainstream media. So here in the United States if we decide here today we want to set up a ultra revolutionary magazine, we can print it and sell it freely, no problem, but maybe three relatives and our dog will buy it, and we get very happy, we produce it.
0:42:55: But the question about understanding media diversity and what is put before people is whether the penetrative media, the mainstream media that penetrates and shapes mass consciousness, whether there is enough diversity in that so people can make their own choices about what is happening, and I would argue it doesn't exist, and that's something that when you put it to people who have impatience with the fact that Trump gets elected and so on outside of the US, I'm talking the impatience there, then people begin to actually say, "Well, okay, maybe there's something much more deeper here." So I'm not going to spend too much of time on what is America's role in solving this crisis, but I would just say that it's important that the US shifts on one very important thing, and the US has to now move from this logic in the last bullet point, "Do as we say, don't do as we do."
0:43:52: Does that resonate with you at all? Because basically the US says, "Don't torture." It signs up but they torture, and then make some justifications, and I can give a long list, and the example that's always given is, and it's a bit erroneous historically, but with regard to Nicaragua, an American journalist was asking a US political leader at that time, "How can we as the United States support the dictatorship in Nicaragua, under Somoza?" And the response was, "Somoza might be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch." Is this new to you? I'm sure you've heard of that. And that's what US foreign policy has been about, unfortunately, and even today, the fact that Saudi Arabia now is the biggest ally of the US, and no talk about human rights, gender discrimination, and so on, is highly problematic.
0:45:01: But I'm not going to spend too much time on that because we'll run out of time. I want to just draw your attention to this question of how change happens. And yeah, I'm targeting these comments to especially the students in the audience. Many of us who've been involved for a long time now are beginning to say actually, "We got it wrong." Those of us that have been trying to push for changes, that we've got it wrong because like as my daughter says to me, once I got stuck in Ethiopia where two colleagues were convicted for a long time in prison for peacefully doing election monitoring in 2005, and I basically missed Christmas with her. Eventually when I got to her after Christmas she said, "Dad, I hope you don't mind me saying this but you're really useless at your job, aren't you?"
0:45:57: So I say, "Why do you say that?" She says, "No, you've been campaigning for these guys to get out of prison for so long. It's been three years, you've been fighting poverty all your life, it's getting worse. You've been talking about democracy. I see democracy moving in a backward direction, and so on." I tell you, I had to take that seriously. And I'm standing here before you at the age of 53 to say that the responsible thing for somebody like me to do right now is to say, while I might have acted in good faith, I must acknowledge that some of the investments of time, effort, and so on that one made actually did not deliver the result and that in fact we might need to go back and ask some more fundamental questions. So if you look at the first column, when I say macro, meso, micro, by macro I mean trying to change governance systems, by meso I mean trying to change policies, and micro is the delivery of projects and programs.
0:46:57: Now, when you look at period of success to get something started and finished. Yeah, start a project and build a school and get it up and running, you can do it in one to three years. But if you wanna change a policy, you get lucky like in South Africa, when we were trying to pass a domestic violence act. We were able to do it in two years because we had an issue that was very popularly felt by the people, and we were able to push that through. But when you look at the investment of money, time, effort, and so on, you'll see that delivery of projects and programs takes the majority of resources. And what is this in effect? This is actually quite often treating the symptom of the problem, not actually treating the root cause. Because policy and governance is... If you take an issue like violence against women, yes, we need more shelters for women who are survivors from violence, we need more counseling, we need to do work with men who are abusers and so on.
0:47:56: But you put all your eggs in just running shelters and counseling, and you don't try and get legislation passed that protects women in their home and in the public spaces in the country, you're not gonna get too much of success. So the problem is we need to be investing more of our effort, and not in monetary terms but also in intellectual and other terms, and we need to increase our effort of asking the question, what are the governance changes that we need to make to deliver the results that we need as well as the policy changes. So I think to ask the question what is to be done in conclusion, understanding the role that all of us play as part of the problem is part of the solution, but is only the first step. And I say this... Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." We all need to start with asking ourself the question before we even think what is the right policy, what is my place in the world? And this is uncomfortable and un-populating to raise, but we must all be looking at our own consumption patterns, how we live our lives, are we using resources in the most equitable way and so on and so forth.
0:49:10: Secondly, we need to recognize that we need bold systemic change that requires courage and tenacity to challenge immoral conventions and orthodoxies that have actually become far too dominant. So that means changing the narratives, we need to mobilize principled, courageous resistance to the status quo which includes, I will say, a intensification of use of civil disobedience, because those with power all seem to have the same medical problem, which is they cannot hear easily. So the only way we can get them to hear is by ensuring there is amplification of our resistance to them, and that often includes some measure of people having the courage to say enough is enough and no more and prepare to put their life on the line and prepare to go to prison if necessary. So I want to leave you with a Thomas Jefferson quote and then I'll end on something more personal. You will find this on the Jefferson memorial where he says, "I am certainly not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and constitutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstance, institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times."
0:50:32: So for example, I would argue the anomaly of Hillary Clinton winning 3 million more votes and still losing the presidency and the whole Electoral College system, might have been critically important at that time when it was done. I'm not sure that it's critically important today, I'm not sure, maybe you think it is, but basically your electoral system is one that you promote in different parts of the world, please stop promoting it.
0:51:04: Get your system right. Because I would say today in the United States there are three types of people that can run successfully for political office: The rich, the extremely rich, and the obscenely rich, with a few exceptions. And when you have a system that is so polluted by money, you're not going to get the results that ordinary people's interests need. You are gonna get the results that serve special interests. Given the richness and the diversity of the people of the United States, my second point, I do not believe that two political parties can give expression to the diversity and richness of the thinking and diversity that we have in the United States while two dominant political parties... And then to be honest, you don't even have a two party system, I will say you have a one and a half party system, because there's a very high convergence on policy between your two dominant parties. So I'll leave that with you to ponder.
0:52:06: But I thought I'll end with a story which is... Okay, I have to say this carefully now. This is an inspirational story but it is sad. But you have to focus on the inspirational part and ignore the sad part. So when I was 22 years old... This is personal. When I was 22 years old I was fleeing South Africa into exile and a few months later I met Michael, which is one of the joys of my life. So I'm really happy to be here, Michael, but, sorry, the dean.
0:52:39: So I flee... So before I flee, I was for one year operating underground, running from the police and changing disguises and so on. And just a few days before I left I had a conversation with my best friend at home called Lenny Naidoo, same surname, no relation. And he was a very philosophical guy. And he asked me a question, this is the last time we would see each other right before we flee into exile in different directions. And he says, "So Kumi, what is the biggest contribution you can make to the cause of justice and for humanity?" So I said, "That's a very simple question... Going, perhaps giving your life." And he said, "No, that's a wrong answer. It's not giving your life." He said. "It's giving the rest of your life." I was 22 years old at that time, my friend Lenny was way ahead of us. He was the first environmentalist I met. And at that time I think he was probably only one of 2,000 voluntary vegetarians on the entire African continent. [laughter] The guy was ahead of his time is what I'm trying to say. And so he would say these things. We hugged each other, shed some tears and fled in different directions.
0:54:00: Two years later I get a call that my friend, Lenny, had been brutally murdered by the apartheid regime. Michael will remember that well, because he was one of the people who supported me through that. And he was brutally murdered, there were so many bullets in his body, his parents couldn't even recognize him at the mortuary as with other people. There were three young women who were murdered with him. So, obviously when I get the news in Oxford, I had to think deep and hard about that distinction he made between giving your life, versus giving the rest of the life.
0:54:32: And simply what he was saying is, the struggle for justice, whether it's economic justice, social justice, gender justice, climate justice, environmental justice, more broadly, these struggles are marathons and they're not sprints. And those of us who have had the privilege of education, like those of you are receiving at this world-class institution, also have a moral obligation to continue to push and fight and persevere until those injustices or challenges are eradicated.
0:55:04: Because we take the example of Mugabe in Zimbabwe. If Mugabe had died in 1981, one year after he became head of state, history would have recorded him on the positive side of history, that he was a liberation fighter and so on. But, 30 years later in power, and he's not the person that we want to celebrate in that way. And when I look at my own country, from the president we've just ousted, President Zuma, to most of the people in the ANC leadership, they have put their own self-interests ahead of the interests of the majority and there's no question about it.
0:55:45: So, when you hit your low moments, right, as I do every other day, the thing that keeps me going and that's why I share it with you, is this wisdom that the struggle for justice is a marathon, it's not a sprint. We have to recognize that difficult policy choices, difficult systemic change, difficult structural transformations, are going to have to happen if we have a chance to make the world a better place and to save the ability of humanity to survive on the planet.
0:56:21: So, when you hit your low moments, either in your academic research, when your research is not giving you the results that you want, or when you enter public life yourself, just remember that it's an amazing thing to have had the opportunity to understand and analyze the world that your education has given you the opportunity for. And I think we all have a moral obligation to use that education for a genuine public purpose, however difficult that public purpose might be in a very fragmented, unequal and unjust world. Thank you very much.
0:57:11: Okay. Good afternoon, everyone, my name is Larry Sanders. I'm a second year NPP.
0:57:18: Hi, good evening, everyone. My name is Nadine Juwad, and I'm a second year in the BA program.
0:57:23: And we are responsible for the Q&A. So, our first question, how would you advise human rights activists to address climate change in their work and vice versa? How can we be successful in framing this work in an intersectional way?
0:57:42: Wonderful question, which some of the second part of it almost answered it. And that is the intersectional way. Now, that word intersectional, you have to give credit where it's due, it's a very powerful concept, but it's a very, very cumbersome word. It comes from the feminist movement where they talked about intersectionality. How, if you wanted to make progress on gender inequality, you needed to understand how gender intersects with race, class, ability, religion and so on.
0:58:12: So, similarly, I think... The leader of the Global Trade Union Movement, Sharan Burrow, was the first woman to lead the Global Trade Union Movement, put it to the secretary general of the United Nations in 2012, that as a mother, as a human being and as a trade unionist, she had to make climate a priority because, and this is the most chilling one-liner you'll hear on climate. She said, "Because there are no jobs on a dead planet." Because her job is to fight for jobs, right? And she said, "There are no jobs on a dead planet."
0:58:52: So, if you followed that for human rights movement, if there are no jobs on a dead planet, there are no human beings on a dead planet, and if there are no human beings on a dead planet, there are no human rights on a dead planet. So, to be honest with you, I think the main reason that Amnesty sought me out for this position, because there's lots of agitation on the base of Amnesty wanting more activism around climate, but I don't know the answer to the question yet, because I haven't spent enough time with exactly how we're going to do it. But I think it's about making those connections and understanding where the issues overlap and not seeing them as two separate silos that exist in isolation to each other.
0:59:41: Okay. Thank you again for being here. We have adjusted to a global system of sovereignty where rights are conferred by citizenship. Will the new approach to climate change and inequality require a re-imagining of the system?
0:59:54: That's a... Who's coming up with these questions?
1:00:03: This is a very fundamentally important question for us in the African context, right? If you don't mind, I'll just answer this as the chair of the board of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, which is an African-wide social movement, including religious organizations, trade unions, NGOs, social movements, as well cultural activists and academia. One of the things for us is the nation state as a construct. We didn't draw the boundaries, the African people didn't draw the boundaries of the African continent. It was decided in the conference in Berlin when European monarchy sat together and that's why when you look at the map of Africa you see many of our countries as very straight lines.
1:00:49: No, that's why, they literally, no, seriously, they sat in Berlin and they drew and they said, "You take that, we take that." It was called the Scramble of Africa, and it was like a divvying up. Now today most of the nation states on the African continent do not make any economic, cultural, linguistic, environmentalists or any other sense, but we live in a nation state reality, and this is a good example of the problem I was trying to say about you have to start with what exists, that even if you say we wanna make really bold policy changes and so on, you have to start. What we are saying is, yes, we recognize the nation state system still is the dominant system, but we are wanting to rise above that. For example, I jokingly said in 2001 after the European Union adopted the Euro, I said, "If Europe can have a Euro I don't see why Africa can't have an Afro," and I wasn't talking about the hairstyle, I was talking about one common currency. Because basically all our currencies are really weak. Maybe South Africa is a little bit okay and, by the way, the African Union just had a meeting, all the heads of state, and there's a proposal and actually they are calling it the "Afro."
1:02:10: So they say Ramaphosa calls... Ramaphosa is the new president of South Africa, "Ramaphosa calls for Afro" is on the social media today. That's a very astute question which I'm not fully capable of answering because of time constraints as well, but basically I think the nation state configurations that we got will change over time, just so we know it's always changed. It's not like... You go back and look at what the map of the world, there were countries and empires and all of that over time existed, they were dominant and they've moved on. I think the difficulty is we have to be careful, though, about what battles we pick at what time, at what moment, because I think right now we need to push for greater social, economic and political integration, and especially the issue of climate change should lead us to a much more collaborative governance, like so for example, Canada and the US, and the US and Mexico, rather than talking about walls and so on, we should be thinking about how do we actually build big concentrated solar power plants, for example, that could serve both countries. By the way, to be fair to Trump, one day he tweeted that he thinks that the wall could be a solar wall.
1:03:41: And then they showed a picture of the solar wall on The Daily Show, which my fellow countryman Trevor Noah runs, and they had it in an angle, and Trevor Noah says, "Wow, that's perfect, I just couldn't see all those people getting over that thing," because it was done in such an angle that it would have made it easier to jump over.
1:04:01: But the bottom line is, this is the kind of question that I think people in your generation need to be asking. You all should be saying... Are you from North Africa?
1:04:12: The Middle East.
1:04:13: The Middle East, okay. But like you look at North Africa, I don't know how well you know the geography there. It's totally arbitrary how those boundaries have joined. Do people know a country called Botswana? Okay, let's just take that. Botswana, where the language is Setswana, there are more Setswana-speaking people in South Africa than in Botswana, and the neighboring, where Botswana and the province from South Africa are neighbors, they're one people. They're one people culturally, they're just cut by a line and they speak the same languages, they have the same culture and so on, but colonialism just chopped them up. Now, different parts of the world, it's going to be slightly different, but let me just make one point.
1:04:55: Why did the European Union put so much of effort into building a more united entity? Because they recognized as individual countries in Europe, rich and dominant as historically and maybe presently they are, they recognized that if they did not aggregate the power, pull together the power, that they'll never be able to compete with the US and China. For us in Africa, it's the same question, that we are even weaker than Europe was. That's why if you look at aid, how aid is given, how rich countries can buy policy decisions in African countries because they get aid package and so on, it's awful. Unless the African continent can be more united and act together, we're not gonna make progress, but I think that principle will apply to different parts of the world. Like, for example, I would say, anybody from the Caribbean here? Let me just check before I say it. Okay, nobody. Like, for example, we should probably have a federation of Caribbean states and aggregate that power. But try and ask any head of state to give up being a head of state. It's not a easy thing. [laughter] So it's back to you.
1:06:18: Next question. Does the global erosion of democracy create new challenges for human rights advocacy and how will you address in your new role?
1:06:28: Yes and no. Yes, on the face of it, it does create more challenge, right? But if you take Trump's position on climate, when you look at it at first glance, you say, "Oh, my God, it's a disaster, it's embarrassing. We are one of the biggest emitting nations in the world. Historically, we've emitted the most and now our president takes a position." I would argue that, I don't argue this too publicly, but because of Trump taking this position, in fact, climate activism has increased considerably in the United States, there are more than half the states in the United States have signed up to it already. They said, "We don't care what the federal government is doing. We're going to deliver." About 400 municipalities in the United States have signed on to deliver on that. About 250 biggest companies in the United States, not some of them that we really need and those that are closer, the Koch brothers, for example. But what has happened actually is that it's created a new energy from below. Of course, it would be better if the federal government takes a position.
1:07:41: So what I'm saying is, I know you asked it specifically with human rights, there is a Chinese wisdom where there's a character. It's called White Sheet. It's debated exactly how it plays out, but it means both things. It means crisis and it means opportunity. And so I think in the crisis of some of the backward movements on human rights, there might be opportunity there, because it's easier to motivate people to sacrifice, to contribute, to get involved and to do something when they think the situation is serious. Having said that, I don't think we want to say that it's good for the situation to be serious, but what I'm saying is we don't have an option. We have to turn that crisis into an opportunity and turn it into something good, because we can't throw up our hands and say things are getting worse. We have to say, "Okay, things are getting worse. How can we actually use that opportunity and do something creative to make it better?"
1:08:45: Okay, this is a shorter question. What do you read for your news and world briefings?
1:08:52: What do I read?
1:08:53: What do you read for your news and world briefings?
1:08:55: My news? Okay. That's a very good question, actually, because right now, it's changing. I'm reading three things that, I'm very focused on Africa. So there are three, and it's interesting. They're all online publications, because I find that the online stuff, especially when I know where it's coming from, who's doing it, the evidence is clear. And so I use, there's something called Africa Online, but in South Africa, we have a wonderful satirical online magazine, which I recommend to you all, actually, called The Maverick, The Daily Maverick, where it's very deep analysis and so on. For the US, I use two sources, POLITICO and realclearpolitics.com. I like Real Clear Politics, especially for tracking of polls and elections. By the way, I was trained as a political scientist and the only thing that can tell you that I'm a political scientist and I'm still anal about polls [laughter] tracking and trying to see how it's going to come out. And so I can still tell you when Obama won the primary against Hillary, I can still tell you how the results played out in Texas [laughter] and so on and the different primary systems and so on. But I'm now also trying to do something that was advised by a younger activist at home, as a student activist told me, "You want to be connected with reality in our country, you need to watch some soap operas."
1:10:38: So first I thought it was a joke. And then the person said, "No, it's not a joke." He said find two or three locally produced soap operas, which are very good, by the way. I've now started watching two of them. [laughter] No, no, because what they do is the script writers are writing one week behind reality. So it's actually very topical and it's in a frame called Infotainment and Edutainment. And so, actually, just to see how, because, you see, there is a thing, right? I come from a working class background, but I ended up getting a Rhodes scholarship and landing at Oxford, and that can corrupt you. You can forget your roots, and to be honest, and Michael can tell you, I thought to be a good student at Oxford, I needed to write long sentences with big words. [laughter] No, no, because that's, I have to say consciously, that's how people around me were. And then thankfully there were some more sane people who said, "No, you have to write shorter sentences where people can understand." But just to say that, and this is my appeal to the students here, your education is a very powerful weapon. But that can actually lead you to greatness or it can deliver mediocrity.
1:12:08: By mediocrity I mean you can get a stable job, you can earn a stable salary and have the car and the house and the garden and a kennel for the dog and a few things, right? But the point I'm making is that it's important to remind yourself consistently where you're coming from and to recognize that the news environment is changing so rapidly. So people of your generation I learnt that you all are called digital natives and we are called digital immigrants. [laughter] Right? No, no, because what comes to the younger generation intuitively in terms of how you process information and so on, it doesn't come in that same way to us, you know. Let's leave it there.
1:12:58: I think this is our last question, it's all we have time for. Maybe one more? Okay, we'll see how long this goes.
1:13:05: Yeah, yeah, sorry I'll try and be brief.
1:13:07: No, you're fine. You're the guest, you're totally fine. Can you tell us how you are so successful in building coalitions accross causes, countries, cultures? What would you want young policy professionals to know about how to build coalitions effectively?
1:13:22: So, this question about building coalitions, I would say that it... If I'm brutally honest, it's really hard work. It requires, firstly, the ability of the people that are bringing people together to tolerate difference, right? Firstly you have to tolerate difference because coalitions are going to bring... You should not be setting up coalitions where everybody think exactly the same. What's the point? Rather just merge and set up one organization. So you want to accommodate difference without ending up with the lowest common denominator, if you know what I mean. There's no point setting up a coalition where people agree on the most minimalistic things and then that's your agenda. And I will give you a practical example, which is probably the best thing to say, the kind of attitude that you have to have. When I was the chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, which we launched in 2004, 2005, but we started the work in 2004. That was the one where Bono and Geldof and all were involved, we were doing these big concerts and tens of thousands of people came and so on. When we were... Two of the key constituencies were the women's movement and the faith-based movements.
1:14:52: There were others as well, labor movements and so on, but I just want to talk about these two movements. So we end up after one year of campaigning, having won some successes, got the debt of 18 of the poorest countries cancelled and so on, we have a coming together to talk about the next phase. Now, the good thing about when we did it for the first year, we kept the policy ask to less than one page, so we were able to articulate in broad and inclusive terms without going into too much detail. Now, one year later, the movement now is like in every continent, there's large numbers of people involved and so on, and we have a meeting in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, and I still remember it, I thought people were going to actually start fighting with each other, and guess who? The religious folks and the women. You can guess what the issue was, it was the question of... So the women's movement was saying they wanted in the text that the Global Call to Action Against Poverty is committed to reproductive rights for women. The religious movement were saying we don't want any reference to... They don't say reproductive rights, they say we don't want any reference to abortion. And these are two of the big constituencies in the coalition, if one of them left, it would have been a disaster.
1:16:13: So what we did was, we told five people from each of the movements, "Go into that room, don't come out until you work out a solution." But we knew that we needed to send some facilitators in there to keep the conversation cordial and so on. I was one of the people that was playing a small role. To cut a long story short, in the end they came out hugging each other and smiling and so on, and everybody was excited, "So how did you all solve it?" So what happened was, the women's movement said, "Okay, we will live with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty is committed to reproductive health." It was less than what the women's movement wanted, it was much more than what the religious community wanted, but both of them could live with that compromise and both of them felt that each other had moved to... So it's about, I think, managing difference, and respecting the difference, and also always saying that the challenge of a coalition is whether we can bring people together across differences, where we focus on the things that we agree on, and always there's much more things that we agree on than we disagree on.
1:17:35: But then we also consciously should be saying that we agree to respectfully disagree on the things where there's difference, but we continue to talk and educate each other about why we hold those different positions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, here you would think as the Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, he would have a very clear position on saying to people you shouldn't have premarital sex and so on, but at one point in South Africa, we absolutely needed him to go on television and do an advert, saying, "I call on people to use condoms because of the HIV AIDS pandemic." So even him, when he went on television, he said, "I call on you to abstain from sexual activity until you're in a committed long-term relationship." He would have probably said marriage.
1:18:33: And then he said, "However, if you choose not to, then please use a condom." But now that might sound like it's not a big deal. What I'm saying is that people can move out of their comfort zones, but that's because the HIV AIDS movement were working so closely and in the HIV AIDS movement, you've got the LGBTQ community, you've got a diversity of views, but because they worked with Tutu respectfully, they used to invite him to the events, they used to brief him properly, so then they went and said, "We need you to make the statement," even though it was way outside his comfort zone, he felt comfortable to do it.
1:19:14: So coalition is not easy, but it's critically important. I'll tell you right now. When I went for the Amnesty discussion, the interview, I said, "I'm very clear that Amnesty, even if it becomes 10 times bigger than it is and is 10 times more effective on its own, will not deliver the results that we need. We have to have the ability to work with others and find the intersections with other movements." Thank you.
1:19:51: So thank you, Kumi, and everyone, please join us and join Kumi Naidoo for a brief reception afterwards in the great hall. Thank you again.