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Politics of Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Source: GNA

Kufuor says Human Rights must be cornerstone of constitutions

Accra, Oct 12, GNA - Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has said human rights should form the cornerstone of constitutions and leaders should be responsive and accountable to their people.

“It is such a constitution as the basic law defining the framework and legitimacy of the polity that gives meaning to the concept of the Rule of Law,” he said and challenged “Thought Leaders” around the world to rise to the advocacy for the institution of freedom through democratic constitutions everywhere.

This was contained in a statement signed by Mr Frank Agyekum, the former President’s spokesperson.

“Common humanity must supercede race, religion, wealth and gender,” former Preseidnt Kufuor said during a panel discussion at the 15th Forum 2000 at Prague in the Czech Republic. His topic was ‘Perspectives of Democracy and Human Rights in the 21st Century.”

The Forum, an initiative of former Czech President Vaclav Havel, is being attended by about 1,000 delegates including former Presidents, Nobel Peace Laureates, academicians and civil society advocates.

Among them were former President Olusegun Obassanjo of Nigeria, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Luareate in Economic Science, Yohei Sasakawa, Chaiman of the Nippon Foundation, Peter Eigen, Founder Transparency International and Hernando de Soto, President, Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Peru.

Former President Kufuor said the bravery of the protestors in North Africa and the Middle East has shown that the desire for freedom and democracy is universal.

“The difficulty though is that whereas nature embeds freedom in humanity, it is humanity that must deliberately institute democracies – for social governance. Thus the spontaneous outbreak of people power must be guided into democracy.

This is a challenge of enlightened and committed leadership,” he said.

Former President Kufuor said in country after country people are risking their lives to have a say over the futures of their families and countries and to be treated with respect under the law.

“There are many countries in Africa where democracy is progressively getting embedded, and governments strive to improve life for all their citizens.”

Former President Kufuor said although there are some countries where democracy had not yet taken root, “people everywhere have the same ambitions. They want to be free from poverty and hunger; from fear and conflict. They want the opportunity to build a better life for their childrn and to shape their own future.”

He said what had been called the Arab spring is a warning to dictators and autocrats that their citizens would not allow them to ignore their interests or plunder their country’s wealth forever.

Former President Kufuor said it was also a rebuke to the rest of the world where these protections and freedoms are already enjoyed that not enough is being done to support democracy and human rigts elsewhere.

“We have on too many occasions in too many countries, put the focus on stability or economic performance and turned a blind eye to human rights abuses. There has been a tendency not to rock the boat or upset those in power because of the rich natural resources contained within their country,” he said.

The former President said this was a false trade off for both countries and companies and it is the mistake of putting short interests before long-term good.

“As we have seen in North Africa, there can be no long-term stability withouit democracy and respect for the individual,” he said.

Former President Kufuor has since left Prague for Des Moines, Iowa where he, together with former Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, will receive the 2011 World Food Prize in Agriculture and Hunger on October 13.