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Opening Remarks

Liberal Thinkers' Conference

The Future of Freedom
November 17, 2007 in

Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt MP

Chairman of the Board of
of the Friedrich Naumann
for Liberty, Germany
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Liberal Thinkers Konferenz

Die Zukunft der Freiheit
17. November 2007 in

Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt,

Vorsitzender des Vorstandes
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung
fr die Freiheit,

Es gilt das gesprochene Wort!


Ladies and Gentlemen,

in 1215 rebellious barons met

King John.
The king was presented a
document known as the Articles
of the Barons, on the basis of
which Magna Charta was drawn
The Charta forced the King to
limit his own authority.
In the American colonies these
new customs were made explicit ,
and in 1638 the town of Hartford
adopted the first written
constitution in modern history.
In 1776 the Declaration of
Independence and in 1789 the
American Constitution created a
formal framework for the new

There are standards. The Magna

Charta, the Fundamental Orders

of Connecticut, the American

Constitution, and the Helsinki
Final Act, the Charta of the UN,
the latter signed by so many and
respected. By still too few.
As if history didnt happen,
enlightenment never existed and
freedom were a contaminated

Complex challenges confront us.

There are societies in the world
which are in virtual free fall.
There are types of
fundamentalism, patterns of tribe
and religion. There exists never
ending corruption and repression.
Many states have a history of
weak governance and a
fundamental weakness of
legitimacy. They systematically
deny their inhabitants a fair share
of national resources. They have
done nothing to alleviate poverty.

Some conflicts spring from major

historical lows. In some hot spots
very old land maps are surfacing.
Historical debris have not always
been cleared away properly.
National borders are eroding.
Supply chains, raw materials,
components travel worldwide.
Forces of change make it much
more difficult for nation-states,
each on its own, to cope with
threats and to open chances.

At the beginning of the 21st

century a firm conviction of
freedom, of human rights, of
humanism and of a mature,
responsible society is necessary.
We must make people understand
that democracy is fragile.
That tolerance must not be
confused with indifference.
That human rights must be
fought for.

That the free market demands

That prosperity only comes from
That the dignity of the individual
is inevitable.
That new thinking requires
That no culture flourishes in
Political leadership needs
programmatic substance, a wide
range of abilities and passion and
a change in decision making
We must overcome hesitancy and
inability to reform to avoid
further conflicts.
Politic is about a balance
between power and ethics,
responsibility and interests,
natural sovereignty and global

Today we have a broader

knowledge and better
understanding of what drives
development. Most of what is
needed is well known. We know
that sustained growth is
necessary. But many of the divers
of that growth are not
measurable in numerical forms.
They include factors such as
leadership, civil society, private
enterprise, rule of law,
independent institutions and a
balanced regulation framework
that does not eliminate a culture
of responsibility.
There are no more reserved
positions in the world. There are
the upwardly and downwardly
mobile. In global competition
those societies will prevail which
display flexibility and an ability to
adjust quickly to structural
change. Competence in change is
the hallmark of nature societies.

If opportunity knocks on a
countrys door an open society is
more likely to seize it, whereas a
closed one will miss it.

To capture efficiency means to

take openness on board and
human capital. Technological
knowledge and managerial skill
create a package of an important
source of growth and social
stability. But decisive is self
ownership, the human capital,
owned by the citizens themselves.
Several human Development
Depots have pointed to the
shocking under investment and
the poor quality of education

The quality of education is a key

tool for social mobility and the
sine qua non of scientific and
technological advancement.

It threatens the monopoly over

information and interpretation of
powerful regimes. That is
probably the main reason for
underinvestment in education in
several countries.

Governments are often strong in

rhetoric. The actual pace of
implementing is disappointingly
slow. It cannot be, that some
countries sell their national
resources and do not in parallel
develop their human resources
and innovative companies that go
with that.
After the ore has been mined,
the trees cut and the oil pumped,
people in some countries are
often more behind, wrote
recently an African citizen.
Donor countries have to stand for
their commitments. But the
leadership of recipient countries
has to do solid work on the
ground. None of all attempts of
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funding AIDS-treatment, to get

boys and girls in school will come
to anything unless leaders do not
every day insist on funding
infrastructure to built state
capacity and civil society

Credibility requires us to address

the inequalities in global wealth.
Globalization is not a misfortune
but an opportunity.
It has been created by people and
people can shape it in such a way,
that everyone plays an active part
in it.
Those who reject it generally
abuse human rights, make no
provision for social welfare. The
greatest violators of human rights
are to be found among countries
with the least open economies.
The familiar panic in the face of
globalization diverts attention
from the real problems. More
individual responsibility and less
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collective regimentations are the

prerequisite for both social and
economic success.

There is no state able to do more

for the citizens as they should do
for themselves. The states
responsibility is to guarantee a
solid framework for chances and
individual responsibility and the
play by the rules in the
international community.
While democracies are far from
perfect they play in most cases by
the rules. They serve their citizens
and cooperate peacefully with
other nations.
Undemocratic regimes often
follow risky, aggressive policies
that ultimately bring them to

The west, being defined as a

political concept, based on the
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ideas of enlightenment should

not abandon the principles of the
rule of law, even if it
inconveniences a powerful player.
One should not start with a
concept, that the Geneva
Convention and human rights are
incompatible with efficient action
against threats. No country
possesses an exceptional moral
status among nations. No
government has the right to
ignore the constitution when it
suits him.

We are what we do and more to

the point, we are what we refrain
from doing.
Kants famous formula, the
dignity forbids to make any
human being a mere object, is
Dignity is inherent to every
human being, regardless of
abilities, quality, physical or
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mental status, merits and


Countries should avoid

unilateralist dreams.
The UN for all its deficiencies, can
only be as effective as we are
prepared to make it.
It is the only international body
that gives legitimacy and should
therefore be strengthened.
Arms control must once again
become a key regulatory principle
in international relations. A
nuclear free world was agreed on
the NPT. The legal owners are to
fulfill their own disarmament
obligations as a trustworthy

Global policies are increasingly

marked by what could be called
religious undercurrents.
We do recognize the specific
traditions of the Iranian world. Its
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values, its norms and its cultural

ethos have developed over the
millennia and are different from
Europe. They will remain
recognizably different. This poses
no problem as long as a joint
bedrock of human rights and
freedom are valid fore all people,
regardless of the country they live
in or the religious community the
belong to.

Religion should mean honoring

god, not playing god.

We should not allow the

exponents of a confrontational
world view to dominate the
political discourse. They are a few,
but they destroy the chances of
so many.

Years ago, TIME published a cover

story with the title: IS GOD
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Religion was supposed to fade

away. Now the world is
illuminated by the political
culture development between
cultures with a high commitment
to religions with a pronounced
level of secularization.

The freedom of conscience and

religion is out of question. Every
human being has the right to opt
for or against a religion he prefers
without being subject to any form
of discrimination.

A state has not the right to judge

the authenticity of a religion.
A religion should not abuse state
authority with a religions hubris
or out of a claimed authenticity
reject human rights.

Those who are civilized do not

clash, they reason it out. Those
who clash are not civilized.
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Thus the clash is always between

the uncivilized.

When the Harvard Law School

hands its graduates their
diplomas, it reminds them to
think of law as the wise
restraints that make men free.
If we want to renew the perennial
quest for life, liberty and the
pursuit we have to recall the
forces that created them in the
first place.