Democracy That Delivers

The Shared Societies Project

Building a World Safe for Difference

Project Co-Chairs

Co-Chairs of the Shared Societies Project

 

Valdis Birkavs

Prime Minister of Latvia (1993-1994) and Member of the Club de Madrid

Birkavs, Club de Madrid, SSPValdis Birkavs participated in the National Awakening Movement (“The Singing Revolution”), and was a leading figure during the process of renewal of democratic principles within Latvian state administration and its legal system. He was a Founding Member and, from 1988 to 1995, President of the Latvian Bar Association, the first democratic lawyers’ association in the former USSR.  It was on Mr. Birkavs’ initiative and under his leadership that the legal foundations for Latvian independence were laid. He is co-author of the May 4, 1990 Latvian Declaration of Independence.

Since 1990 Birkavs has been a Deputy in the Latvian Parliament, serving as Deputy Chairman of the Judicial Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Parliament. He is a founding member of the liberal-conservative political party Latvijas ceļš  (Latvian Way), serving as Chairman since its founding. His election to the Prime Ministry in 1993 made him the first Prime Minister of Latvia following the renewal of the constitution. During his administration Dr. Birkavs reached an agreement with the Russian government concerning the withdrawal of Russian troops. He has served as Foreign Minister and Minister of Justice in seven governments.

Mr. Birkavs has served as Chairman of both the Baltic States’ Council of Ministers as well as the Baltic Assembly’s Judicial Committee. He headed the Latvian delegation to the Baltic Assembly, and his efforts have led to the signing of the Baltic States’ Free Trade Agreement and to the creation of a Baltic Council of Ministers’ Secretariat. Dr. Birkavs has been both Vice President and a Member of the Liberal International since 1997. 

 

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005) and Member of the Club de Madrid

Kumaratunga, SSP; Club de MadridChandrika Kumaratunga entered mainstream politics in 1993 when elected Chief Minister of the Western Provincial Council. She became Prime Minister in August 1994 after her party won the parliamentary elections. She was elected twice as Executive President in 1994 and 1999 serving for 11 years as President. Her campaign was built on good governance, ending corruption, a negotiated political solution to the ethnic crisis and economic development for all.

Ms. Kumaratunga was the only political leader to offer a political solution to the conflict in the form of Devolution of Power to the Regions, including those inhabited by the minority communities, in the new Constitutional Proposals. This could not be implemented as the government could not obtain the required 2/3 majority in parliament.  

She also implemented successful programmes to bring about Understanding and Social Cohesion among the diverse communities in Lanka. - the number of majority Sinhala opting for Peace, Dialogue and a Negotiated Solution to the ethnic problem  increased from 23 % to 68 % in two years. Her government developed much of the neglected Northern and Eastern districts. When the LTTE resumed its armed conflict, Kumaratunga urged the government forces to exercise caution and to minimize civilian casualties. Even after the LTTE attempted to kill her, Kumaratunga persisted in her for Peace. A landmark agreement was signed between Government and the LTTE in June 2005.

Kumaratunga’s government implemented a successful economic development programme, which took the benefits of development to all sections of the population. Education, Health, Ports, Airport, Highways, Power, Water Supply sectors saw massive improvement.

President Kumaratunga is Director of the South Asia Foundation and is Chair of the CBK Foundation for Democracy and Justice which she created in 2008. 

 

Cassam Uteem

President of the Republic of Mauritius (1992-1997, 1997- 2002) and Member of the Club de Madrid

Uteem, SSP, CLub de MadridCassam Uteem has a long history of involvement in politics, both at the community and national level. As a youth leader and social worker he was involved in local community work and, in the early seventies, he joined the leftist political party the Militant Movement of Mauritis (MMM) where he rose to become its deputy-leader. Mr Uteem was nominated to his first formal leadership position in politics in 1969 when he was elected at the Municipal Elections to serve as Councillor of the City of Port Louis. He remained in this position for several years and became the city’s Lord Mayor in 1986. 

In 1976 Cassam Uteem was elected Member of the Mauritian Parliament and was successively re-elected in 1982, 1983, 1987 and 1991. From 1982-1983 he served as Minister of Employment, Social Security and National Solidarity, and in 1990-91 he also held the title of Deputy-Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Industrial Technology. During his time as Opposition Member of Parliament he occupied the post of “Opposition Whip” and Chairman of the “Public Accounts Committee.”

In July 1992 Mr Uteem was elected President of the Republic of Mauritius, and was re-elected in 1997 for a second 5-year term. He resigned from this post in February 2002. Cassam Uteem is also very active in the field of international public policy. He is currently a Board Member of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Sweden, a Member of the Haut Counseil de la Francophonie as well as the international jury for the UNESCO Prize of Education for Peace, and a Founder-Member of the Global Leadership Foundation (GLF). 

 

 

 

 

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