Diplomat Calls for Honesty, Goodwill and to Bridge ‘the Faith Deficit’ at
Friday, 13. June 2003

Former British Ambassador Archie Mackenzie and his wife Ruth spent three
days in Geneva 9th – 11th June 2003, speaking at two public
events.

An evening event at the International Red Cross Museum, just
opposite the main gates to the United Nations building drew workers from several NGOS and friends of Caux – Initiatives of Change. It was co-hosted by the newly created NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global
Concerns.

The following day, the Mackenzies were guests of the Swiss Forum for International Affairs at a luncheon attended by more than 30 participants, including the Deputy Director of the World Trade Organization and the Finnish Ambassador. Both events led to lively times of discussion and public debate, followed by personal talks, and many of the participants bought copies of Mackenzie’s book ‘Faith in Diplomacy’.
Mackenzie drew on his long experience of the United Nations, since its inception and founding at the Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco conferences in 1944 and 1946. He contrasted the current atmosphere of doubt and confusion with the post-war ‘will to agree’, in a spirit of idealismbordering on euphoria. At both events, he noted that there were those today who thought that the UN had outlived its usefulness, while others wanted to
strengthen it and amend the charter. The latter was a worthy longer-term objective, he believed, but scarcely realistic in the short-term, given the complicated structures and rules.
He pleaded forcefully for a third approach, based on bridging what he called ‘the faith deficit’. Moral and spiritual elements were there in the Charter, but had never been given real weight, he said. He called for honesty, goodwill and humility to help deal with ‘the complications of human character’. He quoted one of his first bosses, who told him that even imperfect instruments could be made to work if you had the right spirit – and perfect structures could fail, without the needed human qualities.

Andrew Stallybrass

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