Desmond Tutu

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Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have spent my time working for dignity for the living. I have campaigned passionately for people in my country and the world over to have their God-given rights.

Now, as I turn 85 Friday, with my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying. Just as I have argued firmly for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to their deaths. Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, world leaders are gathering at the United Nations to act on a groundbreaking goal: to make AIDS history. And while the goal is undoubtedly ambitious, it is achievable if we commit the political will and resources to make it happen.

The progress we have already made in the battle to contain AIDS is quite extraordinary. It is evidence of the irresistible power within the human family, when individuals, communities and countries work together to achieve common goals, to make the impossible, possible.

It was just 15 years ago, in 2001, that the United Nations convened the first High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hoy en día, las personas se ven con demasiada frecuencia obligadas a elegir entre hacer lo moralmente correcto o hacer lo económicamente beneficioso. De hecho, a veces sus opciones parecen ser mutuamente excluyentes, con lo que la decisión de qué vía seguir resulta excesivamente ardua. Sin embargo, a veces la rectitud moral y el interés económico confluyen y representan una oportunidad que no se debe desaprovechar. Así es –desde la perspectiva del arzobispo y del ex ministro de Hacienda que esto subscriben– en el caso de la reacción mundial ante el cambio climático.

El imperativo moral es indiscutible, pues los efectos del cambio climático –incluidos fenómenos meteorológicos extremos, cambios de temperatura y aumento de los niveles del mar– afectan más profundamente a los pobres del mundo, que son también quienes se han beneficiado menos de las actividades económicas que lo causan.…  Seguir leyendo »

During all my years of pastoral care, I have never had the privilege of being with someone when they die. I’ve visited dying colleagues and friends at St Luke’s hospice, Cape Town, in the last period of their lives; I’ve witnessed their being cared for beautifully – but I’ve never been there at the exact moment of passing. I’ve been asked why I consider it a privilege to be present when temporal death takes place. It comes from my belief system. It is the wonder of a new life beginning, the wonder of someone going to meet their maker, returning to their source of life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C.

Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence. They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power; that being held to account by the I.C.C.…  Seguir leyendo »

Todos soñamos con un mundo en que nuestros hijos y nietos crezcan sin la amenaza de la polio y otras enfermedades prevenibles. Sin embargo, a diferencia de la mayoría de los sueños, este se puede hacer realidad. A lo largo de mi vida he tenido la suerte de ser testigo del extraordinario efecto de las vacunas en la protección de los niños contra la enfermedad y la muerte, especialmente en el mundo en desarrollo.

Las vacunas siempre han tenido un especial significado para mí. De niño en Sudáfrica, casi morí a causa de la polio. En ese entonces, a principios de los años 30, no había vacuna para esta enfermedad, muy infecciosa.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Myanmar, the word “kular” is an insult that you hear shouted at Muslims. You can see it printed in vicious pamphlets about the Rohingya, Myanmar’s largest Muslim ethnic group, calling for them to be kept away from towns, kicked out of the country or murdered.

Kular is a slang word for “dark-skinned” — a form of abuse I know something about. And I, like millions of South Africans, know that such abuse can never last. God did not create us for such hatred.

I know also that a country is never truly free or prosperous until it is at peace with itself — until a nation, be it South Africa or Myanmar, loves and raises all its children equally.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week the UN Human Rights Council has an opportunity and a duty to help Sri Lanka advance its own efforts on accountability and reconciliation. Both are essential if a lasting peace is to be achieved. In doing so, the council will not only be serving Sri Lanka, but those worldwide who believe there are universal rights and international legal obligations we all share.

Nearly three years since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan government there has still been no serious domestic investigation of the many allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides during the civil war’s final stages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Before the Copenhagen climate-change summit two years ago, the two of us sat together in Cape Town to listen to five African farmers from different countries, four of whom were women, tell us how climate change was undermining their livelihoods. Each explained how floods and drought, and the lack of regular seasons to sow and reap, were outside their normal experience. Their fears are shared by subsistence farmers and indigenous people worldwide – the people bearing the brunt of climate shocks, though they played no part in causing them.

Now, two years later, we are in Durban, where South Africa is hosting this year’s climate-change conference, COP17, and the situation for poor people in Africa and elsewhere has deteriorated even further.…  Seguir leyendo »

Opportunities to break seemingly intractable and deadlocked situations are rare – especially on a scale which has rapidly developed this year from the beleaguered cries of citizenry across North Africa and the Middle East. There is a palpable consensus that the provenance of this movement is lodged firmly in the fundamental prerequisite for meaningful democracy: self-determination. All conventions on human rights have this tenet as a core rationale. Where it is repeatedly denied and suppressed there will never be peace or justice, let alone stability.

On Saturday the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will open its third session: after Barcelona and London, this session will take place in South Africa, the location of a seminal struggle for self-determination by a community oppressed by apartheid.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dhaki is from the southern region of Ethiopia. At age 13, instead of going to school, Dhaki was marrried and tended cattle for her family. Her husband, 11 years older than she, regularly forced himself on her. Her nightly cries were ignored by her neighbors, and she was shunned by her community for not respecting the wishes of her husband.

Sadly, millions of girls worldwide have little or no choice about when and whom they marry. One in three girls in the developing world is married before she is 18 – one in seven before she is 15. The reasons for child marriage vary: Custom, poverty and lack of education all play a part.…  Seguir leyendo »

We no longer live in a unipolar world. Western nations do not enjoy a monopoly on economic and political power. This is an encouraging shift and one that is bringing greater equality and prosperity to the world. With this progress, developing countries are increasingly influential and, in this regard, China reigns supreme. While China’s economic and geopolitical progress over the past three decades is cause for celebration, its support for abusive regimes and the brutal force with which it crushes dissent within its own borders demonstrates that substantial reform is needed if China is to be viewed within the international community as a true leader.…  Seguir leyendo »

Immediately after the imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this month, for more than two decades of pursuing democratic change in China, the Chinese government responded by calling him a criminal and accusing the Nobel Committee of blasphemy. It sent security agents to the Beijing apartment of his wife, Liu Xia, took away her mobile phone and placed her under house arrest. We have seen this before: in the dark days of apartheid, under the long shadow of the Iron Curtain. Whenever we took a small step toward securing the freedom of our people, we were stripped of our own.…  Seguir leyendo »

Having met President Obama, I’m confident that he’s a man of conscience who shares my commitment to bringing hope and care to the world’s poor. But I am saddened by his decision to spend less than he promised to treat AIDS patients in Africa.

George W. Bush made an impressive commitment to the international fight against AIDS when he formed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program. Since 2004, Pepfar has spent $19 billion to help distribute anti-viral treatments to about 2.5 million Africans infected with H.I.V.

Thanks to these efforts — and similar initiatives, like those spearheaded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — the number of African patients with access to AIDS drugs jumped tenfold from 2003 to 2008.…  Seguir leyendo »

This year the nuclear bomb turns 65 – an appropriate age, by international standards, for compulsory retirement. But do our leaders have the courage and wisdom to rid the planet of this ultimate menace? The five-yearly review of the ailing nuclear non-proliferation treaty, currently under way at the United Nations in New York, will test the strength of governments’ commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

If they are serious about realising this vision, they will work now to shift the focus from the failed policy of nuclear arms control, which assumes that a select few states can be trusted with these weapons, to nuclear abolition.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is now a year since the final stages of Sri Lanka’s brutal war. Peace, however imperfect, is always better than slaughter. But experience tells us that genuine peace is more than the absence of fighting.

On the first anniversary of the government’s military victory over the Tamil Tigers, how far has Sri Lanka moved towards lasting peace? We should not downplay the achievements. After a conflict lasting 26 years, we share the relief of the Sri Lankan people at the end of the war.

The desperate living conditions of the 300,000 Tamils driven from their homes last year have improved.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.…  Seguir leyendo »

How can we respond creatively to the pain that we see everywhere in our world?

On the morning of 27 September, at the Vancouver Peace Summit, I, Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama will accept the Fetzer Prize for Love and Forgiveness and that afternoon, we, Karen Armstrong and Desmond Tutu, will be calling on the world to sign up to a charter for compassion. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves into the place of the other and lies at the heart of all truly religious and ethical systems. Thousands of people have contributed to the charter online, it has been composed by leading thinkers in many different faiths and is a cooperative effort to restore compassion to the centre of religious, moral and political life.…  Seguir leyendo »

When President Obama was elected, I was filled with hope that America would regain the moral standing to aid those who are impoverished and oppressed around the world. I have since rejoiced to see him reversing the most obnoxious policies of the Bush administration — by ending torture, announcing the closure of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay and engaging the world on climate change, to name just a few. But there is another issue on which America’s moral leadership is desperately needed, and here, it must be acknowledged, President Bush was on the side of the angels: the struggle for human rights and justice in Burma.…  Seguir leyendo »

The expected issuance of an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan by the International Criminal Court tomorrow presents a stark choice for African leaders — are they on the side of justice or on the side of injustice? Are they on the side of the victim or the oppressor? The choice is clear but the answer so far from many African leaders has been shameful.

Because the victims in Sudan are African, African leaders should be the staunchest supporters of efforts to see perpetrators brought to account. Yet rather than stand by those who have suffered in Darfur, African leaders have so far rallied behind the man responsible for turning that corner of Africa into a graveyard.…  Seguir leyendo »