Upon receiving the invitation to be part of the Parliamentarian for Peace program, I was intrigued. The timing was coincidental but telling. It was around the UN 75th celebrations; the beginning of the COVID19 second wave and it was definitely not business as usual.
Knowing the good name of the Normandy World Peace Forum and that we would be contributing towards this, left me with no hesitation in accepting the invitation to participate. This was a huge honor and the magnitude of being one of only ten members of Parliament from all the countries in the world was not lost on me. It was an opportunity to put my experience from participating in committees such as the Africa Liberal Network, Liberal International Human Rights Committee, Southern Africa Development Countries Parliamentary Forum, and the subcommittee on democracy, governance, and human rights into meaningful participation.
One of the first contributions I made was that the world was starved of bold and unique peace plans that brought buy-in from more than just the politicians, but actually spoke to the people, businesses, and sports tournaments. These different actors are asking for diplomatic inclusion which could have a greater impact on bringing countries together, in a way that politicians could not, or where the UN had not succeeded to date. We took a decision that we would need to bring reform to the UN in its current form and make bold resolutions to ensure that it became more balanced, effective, and consistent.
I was surrounded by nine great colleagues with challenging thoughts and ideas and different specialties. Some were in government, some were in opposition. We had a great facilitation team that kept the conversation guided and focused and brought key speakers to the forum. Members of Parliament had their advisors on the platforms too which was also a blessing to have their valuable input and participation. As we all went from acquaintances to friends and have become one big happy family.
There is a saying that if you put two politicians in a room you will get three opinions. In this case, we had the challenge of narrowing down a broad field of global peace to a precise document that was focused on a few key topics. From the outset, I thought consensus would be a challenge and I thought that each topic would yield debate, especially when talking around the sensitive aspects. You can appreciate that the urgent needs in the driest and poorest parts of Africa right now are not the same as those of the wealthiest, greenest parts of Europe, and if they are, there is no way the citizens are seeing it that way. Our language would have to be sympathetic, empathetic, and universal enough to draw in as much buy-in as possible from as many countries to make this charter a real success. I was pleasantly surprised that there was mainly agreement and cordial discussion around all the topics and that we quickly reached decisions on topics in no time.
It was decided that UN reform, climate control, environmental awareness and response would be the key topics that could bring about the stimulation of a successful globalization. Dealing with these topics would then lead to more jobs and opportunities, more participation from more countries into the global markets, and more redress of the injustices that emerged or have already taken place. The net result is a document that has been created in less than two months with a handful of people.
Yet with all this productivity, all I can say is that the journey has just begun and for P4P and the sponsors behind the program, I am eternally grateful for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Darren Bergman started his political career in 2000 as a City councillor in Johannesburg. He was elected to Parliament in 2014 and in 2019, he was made the Shadow minister of International Relations and Cooperation. He currently serves as a member of the SADC - South African Developing Countries parliamentary forum and as the vice-chair of democracy, governance and human rights for South African Developing Countries and on the Liberal International Human rights committee.