Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States of America, was born in Plains, Georgia, in October 1924. He attended Georgia Southwestern College and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and received a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. In the Navy he became a submariner, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and rising to the rank of lieutenant, senior grade.

In July 1946, Jimmy Carter married Rosalynn Smith of Plains. When his father died in 1953, he resigned his naval commission and returned with his family to Georgia. Jimmy operated Carter's Warehouse, a general-purpose seed and farm supply company in Plains, until being elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962. In 1971 he became Georgia's 76th Governor.

Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy for President of the United States on December 12 1974. As the Democratic Party nominee, he was elected President on November 2 1976, serving from 1977 to 1981.

Significant foreign policy accomplishments of his administration include the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and the establishment of US diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.

Jimmy Carter has championed human rights throughout the world. On the domestic side, the administration's achievements included a comprehensive energy programme conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications and finance; major educational programmes under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation that doubled the size of the national park system. (Credit: The Elders).




Global 'elders' launch new alliance, by Danna Harman - 19th July 2007
(Credit: The Christian Science Monitor)

Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and others formed a group to articulate new approaches to global issues.

Johannesburg, South Africa - It was about as high-level a gathering of former leaders as one could imagine.

Former President Jimmy Carter was there. Former Irish President Mary Robinson was in attendance. Kofi Annan, who just stepped down as Secretary General of the United Nations, was sitting tall.

And, on the far side of the small stage, relaxing with a hint of a smile on his face, was the most famous former leader of them all and the man who had brought them together for the occasion – former South African President Nelson Mandela.

"The Elders."

That is what this clutch of influential men and women are calling themselves. And Wednesday, on Mandela's 89th birthday, they gathered here in Constitution Hill (a former complex where Mandela and other political prisoners were held under apartheid) to unveil their new global initiative and explain their intentions.

"This group of elders will bring hope and wisdom back into the world," said British businessman Richard Branson. He and his friend, the rock star Peter Gabriel, came up with the idea and pushed for the creation of such a group. "The elders will play a role in bringing us together to help unnecessary human suffering and to celebrate the wonderful world we are privileged to be part of."

The other members of the group of elders, announced yesterday, are Graça Machel, a Mozambican human rights activist and Mandela's wife (they celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary Wednesday); Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in extending loans to impoverished borrowers; and Li Zhaoxing, China's foreign minister, until this year.

A chair was left empty on the stage for another elder who was unable to travel to South Africa yesterday – human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ela Bhatt, a women's trade union leader in India, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, two other members of the elders, were absent from the launch.

Elders of a 'global village'

"We all live in a global village, but what is the state of that global village? No one country, no matter how powerful, can resolve our problems," said Mr. Annan, listing problems such as "poverty, environmental degradation, infectious diseases, international organized crime, and weapons of mass destruction," as some of those the group would be turning its attention to.

In an interview with the Monitor, Mr. Carter explained that the elders hope to articulate new approaches to global issues and share wisdom by "helping to connect voices all over the world." He was quick to add that they would work to complement, not duplicate or compete with, the efforts of other organizations and leaders.

Asked why "elders" such as themselves would be able to solve some of the very problems that dogged them when they were in power, Carter suggested that being free agents would make the task easier.

"There were problems [in the past] that we [as leaders] did not solve because of a lack of time, or because of very intense pressures from our own constituencies, or because we were too bogged down with multiple, simultaneous questions to answer," says Carter. "But the elders ... have complete freedom to escape from the restrains of political niceties and be able to do as Nelson Mandela pointed out – we can talk to anyone and become involved in any issue."

The elders declined to elaborate on which issues they would first address. But, at a press conference following the announcement, Ms. Robinson hinted that they might focus on human rights.

"We are coming up to the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights," she said, adding that they might want to play a role in "reframing the agenda of human rights."

"The principle of universal human rights has become very politicized. There are double standards and people feel alienated," she explained. "The elders can make it a living document … that we can certainly do."

The idea to put together such a group came about before the Iraq war, said Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Branson in interviews with the Monitor.

"We were chewing the fat, as we do quite regularly, and Richard had Madiba [Mandela] coming to the house," recalled Gabriel. "That was the first time that it was mentioned to him."

"I had seen Mandela had spoken out vehemently against the [Iraq] war and I contacted him to see if he would go to Iraq and try and get Saddam Hussein to go live in Libya," says Branson.

Mandela was willing, but two weeks later, before he was able to begin such a mission, the war had already begun. "An elder or a group of elders could have persuaded Hussein to leave and we would have avoided the war," says Branson.

The elders, said Robinson, had already begun working and the group would meet "as often as was necessary."

Prodded by Branson, Gabriel closed off the ceremony by singing his old hit song "Biko" about Stephen Biko, an anti-apartheid activist who died in police custody in 1977. Tears flowed as the audience hummed to the music.



Jimmy Carter faces down security in Darfur - 3rd October 2007
(Credit: The Associated Press)

EL FASHER, Sudan: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter vowed Wednesday he would hold world powers to their pledge of ending the "crime against humanity" taking place in Darfur by deploying a strong peacekeeping force and ensuring democratic elections.

Nobel Peace laureates Carter and Desmond Tutu of South Africa headed a delegation known as "the Elders" made up of respected international figures seeking to promote peace. The group made Darfur in western Sudan its first mission.

"I'm just a retired politician, but I'll certainly do my best to remind the international community it must fulfill its commitments," toward ending Darfur's crisis, Carter said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday as he was ending his tour of the war-torn Sudanese region.

While describing the conflict, which has claimed 200,000 lives and resulted in more than 2.5 million refugees as a crime, Carter said he disagreed with U.S. George W. Bush and others who call it a genocide.

"Rwanda was definitely a genocide; what Hitler did to the Jews was; but I don't think it's the case in Darfur," said the former president. "I think Darfur is a crime against humanity, but done on a micro scale. A dozen janjaweed attacking here and there," he said, noting that fact that so many refugees have survived the violence.

"I don't think the commitment was to exterminate a whole group of people, but to chase them from their water holes and lands, killing them in the process at random," he said. "I think you can call it ethnic cleansing."

Carter deplored that it had taken such a long time for the international community to mobilize over Darfur, since the conflict erupted in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled against the government, charging it with neglect.

"Because of Iraq, this crisis had been simmering at a lower level," Carter said. "But now, I don't think the attention will wane."

Carter did go out of his way to praise Bush for his efforts to end in 2005 Sudan's other great conflict, the two-decade old civil war between the north and south.

"I urged Bush on his inauguration day to change policy and seek peace in Sudan," Carter said. "I disagree with Bush on just about everything else, but I give him credit for bringing peace in Sudan."

During his tour of Darfur, Carter got a taste of the Sudanese regime's interference with those seeking to help ethnic African civilians when a local state security official barred him from meeting a refugee delegate in the town of Kabkabiya in North Darfur, a stronghold of the pro-government janjaweed militias accused of the worst atrocities.

Carter later played down the incident, saying the Sudanese national security official had "only been doing his job."

"But it's true that I'm not accustomed to people telling me I can't walk down the street and meet people," Carter said after having returned to a United Nations compound in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

Most of the community leaders the mission met during its two-day visit to Darfur appeared to be government-vetted, and several ethnic African delegates told AP they had been intimidated by authorities into turning down invitations from the Elders.

The government denies it has indiscriminately retaliated against ethnic African civilians in the course of putting down the rebellion, but the International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued warrants against a Sudanese cabinet minister and a janjaweed chief on 52 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Elders' visit came at a crucial time for Darfur, with a peacekeeping mission of 26,000 United Nations and African Union troops set to come in, and new peace talks between the government and rebels due to begin later this month.

On Sunday, 10 peacekeepers from the current AU force were slain when rebels overran their base in Haskanita, some 150 kilometers south east of El Fasher.

Gen. Martin Agwai, the AU troops' commander, told the Elders that the 7,000-strong force was ill-equipped to fight off the attackers. Agwai said it had also taken over 12 hours to evacuate injured peacekeepers from Haskanita because the AU currently doesn't have its own helicopters.

Tutu said it was "awful" that the AU had come to pacify a region nearly the size of France without the proper gear, funds or armament. The Elders vowed to push for countries to support to the new, hybrid U.N.-AU force due to take over on Jan. 1, and said they would draw up a list of advice for the new Darfur peace talks in neighboring Libya, which Carter anticipated would be "a very difficult process."

"These are important benchmarks ahead of us," Carter said, emphasizing that Sudan's most crucial next step was general elections across the country. The elections are due in 2009 according to a peace agreement signed between Sudan's government and rebels in the south of the country ending the long civil war.

Observers fear that delayed elections could lead to a breakdown in the peace agreement.

Carter, who turned 83 upon his arrival in Khartoum on Sunday, said he met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who had committed to holding the elections on time and invited international observers from his foundation, the Carter Center, to monitor the vote.

Al-Bashir also announced Khartoum had committed US$100 million (€70 million) to a Darfur reconstruction fund, with China pledging another US$200 million (€140 million), Carter said.

Despite all the problems between northern and southern Sudan, Carter said he was convinced neither side was willing to go back to war.

"The elections are a crucial point, both for the stability of southern Sudan and the improvement of Darfur," he said.

The Carter Center has monitored 68 elections worldwide so far, and its founder said he was confident it could help make the vote a success throughout Sudan, even Darfur.

But he questioned the commitment of al-Bashir, who was brought to power in a military and Islamist coup in 1989. "When people have been in power for so long, and in an authoritarian regime like this one, they don't want to endanger their power," the former president said.



The Elders


The Elders