Sunday, 9 January 2011

'support those who fight – for us all'

The point of these awards has of course never been to offend anyone. The Nobel Committee’s intention has been to say something about the relationship between human rights, democracy and peace. And it has been important to remind the world that the rights so widely enjoyed today were fought for and won by persons who took great risks.They did so for others. That is why Liu Xiaobo deserves our support.

Liu has told his wife that he would like this year’s Peace Prize to be dedicated to "the lost souls from the 4th of June." It is a pleasure for us to fulfil his wish.

There are scarcely any examples in world history of a great power achieving such rapid growth over such a long period of time as China. Since 1978, year by year, decade after decade, the country’s growth rate has stood at 10 percent or more. A few years ago the country’s output was greater than Germany’s; this year it exceeded Japan’s. China has thus achieved the world’s second largest gross national product. The USA’s national product is still three times greater than China’s, but while China is continuing its advance, the USA is in serious difficulties.

Economic success has lifted several hundred million Chinese out of poverty. For the reduction in the number of poor people in the world, China must be given the main credit.

We can to a certain degree say that China with its 1.3 billion people is carrying mankind’s fate on its shoulders. If the country proves capable of developing a social market economy with full civil rights, this will have a huge favourable impact on the world. If not, there is a danger of social and economic crises arising in the country, with negative consequences for us all.

Human rights limit what the nation-state and the majority in a nation-state can do. This must apply to all states that are members of the United Nations and who have acceded to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The human rights activists in China are defenders of the international order and the main trends in the global community. Viewed in that light, they are thus not dissidents, but representatives of the main lines of development in today’s world.

Liu also writes, "An enormous transformation towards pluralism in society has already taken place, and official authority is no longer able to fully control the whole society." However strong the power of the regime may appear to be, every single individual must do his best to live, in his words, "an honest life with dignity."

Therefore: while others at this time are counting their money, focusing exclusively on their short-term national interests, or remaining indifferent, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has once again chosen to support those who fight – for us all.
- Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony Speech 2010

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