Selected Speeches Of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
INAUGURATING THE 15TH PUGWASH CONFERENCE
We and the Ethiopian people are honoured to welcome to our country this most distinguished gathering of eminent scholars and scientists. The occasion is of especial significance to Us since We respect and earnestly seek to support in all Our actions the very principles which have brought you together here from diverse nations and political creeds vigorously and openly to discuss with one another some of the major problems of our time. We are pleased, indeed, that the University and the Foundation which bear Our name, have been able in some measure to further the noble work and ideals of the great men whose efforts led to the creation of this extraordinary series of Conferences on Science and World Affairs. We must acknowledge once more Our sincere admiration for Lord Bertrand Russell, whose indomitable courage and profound moral and scientific teachings have left an indelible mark on the history of our times, and whose spirit infuses and enlivens the discussions which take place under the aegis of these Conferences.
It was, of course, inevitable that Pugwash should one day come to Africa; nor could a more appropriate location have been found for the first of these Conferences ever to be held on African soil. For it was in this very room that the unity of Africa first took form and substance less than three years ago with the establishment of the Organization of African Unity. The location is appropriate, not merely because this room and building are in some ways symbolic of the common hopes and aspirations of all the free peoples of this continent, but also because the fundamental principles which Africans have espoused in so joining together appear to Us to be closely linked with those which underlie the Pugwash Conferences.
These Conferences arose out of the belief that there were certain problems facing the world today; problems of such vital importance to mankind that there was great need to discuss them freely without reference to conflicting moral or political ideologies; problems indeed of such magnitude, such universal importance, that common ground of agreement must and could be found and common proposals for their solution could arise through the process of objective observation and analysis in which scientists are trained.
Free Communication Needed
Africans, too, have recognized the imperative that there must be, for the sake of their common welfare, some means for the free communication and exchange of ideas in an atmosphere untainted by extraneous political considerations. We may not consciously have sought the “scientific” way to deal with Our problems, but we have recognized and continue to maintain Our belief in the necessity for an objective approach to the difficulties which we share.
In these hours of crisis and tension across the world, no nation, however willing, can hold itself apart from the encroachment of political and nationalistic forces. Nonetheless, it remains clear beyond doubt that the interests and concerns shared by the developing nations cover a vast expanse demanding exploration, but as yet scarcely known to exist.
Thus, the subject matter of this, the fifteenth of the Pugwash Conferences, is vital, timely and potentially of far-reaching importance. The developing world now includes the greater part of the human race; thence it is essential that the hopes, the aspirations, and the necessities of its peoples be carefully evaluated and understood.
Progress in this world had been possible only through the consistent application of knowledge which was amassed by you scientists and your predecessors during the past centuries. One need look no farther than the wonders of Axum and Lallibela to realize that this continent in which you are now assembled did, at one time, share the benefits of science and technology.
However, all of you here, trained, and excellent, in the application of your minds to the true understanding and betterment of the world, are now confronted with what has been termed the “revolution of rising expectations.” Ultimately, this is a revolution which can be peacefully accomplished only through an unselfish cooperation among nations. Yet we cannot postpone the needs, the hopes, the aspirations of our peoples indefinitely.
Little Spent For Development
To be sure, there exists throughout the world a sense that something must be done, and, as well, a belief that all that should be done is being done. But in terms of the enormous resources squandered in wars or in the amassing of weapons of destruction or even devoted to the enthralling conquest of space, the amount which has been allotted to bettering the existence of the individual in the developing world is little indeed.
Poverty, fear, ignorance, disease are not problems vanquished in the wake of scientific progress; they are the problems with which we struggle from day to day. All these problems will surely not be solved by the present Conference. But, it is Our earnest conviction that, at the very least, the forthright exchange of ideas and impressions concerning them will occur here.
In a world made strong and prosperous through the force of man’s intellect, it is a further challenge to that intellect that science be charged to solve the unique problems of development; for all mankind must share in the better life which progress has made possible.
It is this challenge which must triumph over the evils that plague our peoples; which must temper and reduce the racial, political and religious differences among them; which must bring to them the peace required for the better world which you seek to create.
It is this challenge which must be the impetus and the inspiration of your deliberations here.
December 29, 1965.
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January 4, 2017