Messages from President Gorbachev, Jane Goodall, President José Ramos-Horta

May 6, 2020

Dear Friends,
During challenging times the world needs the insights of wise advisors. The Global Security Institute is blessed with an exceptional Advisory Board and we are pleased to share some of their advice: an article by President Jose Ramos Horta from the Wall Street Journal International Magazine — “The Pandemic World, A Chance to Be Better;” an OpEd in Time Magazine by President Mikhail Gorbachev “When the Pandemic Is Over, The World Must Come Together;” and, a passionate video from Dr. Jane Goodall from the United Nations celebration of the International Day of Conscience.
I am delighted to share that Dr. José Ramos-Horta ( has recently joined GSI’s Advisory Board. He is one of the world’s great peacemakers and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He led the nonviolent movement that successfully ended the Indonesian occupation of East Timor and led to its becoming independent in 2002. Now renamed Timor-Leste, it was the millennium’s first new democracy.
Ramos-Horta went on to serve as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and President of the new democracy; from there he went on to serve in high level posts for the United Nations.
An incident occurred in 2008 which I believe embodies the deeply held values he has instilled in this young democracy. Returning to his house from a morning walk on the beach, a group of attempted assassins, members of a renegade military group that was attempting to instigate a civil war from its mountain hideouts, stormed his house. A gunman hiding in a ditch put three bullets in his back.
He very narrowly escaped death. Yet, when he recovered, one of his first actions was to visit the members of the group now in jail, to sit and talk with them. As a result of this, coupled with thousands of Timorese taking to the streets, holding his photo aloft and demanding an end to the civil conflict, the rebels came down from the mountains and asked and obtained his forgiveness. His generosity of spirit and character were essential in restoring peace in his country and serve as an example of courage and compassion in action for all of us.
Today Ramos-Horta is at home working in the villages, cities and halls of government of Timor-Leste to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prepare for eventualities. I am honored to call him a friend and receive his sage advice.
One need not explain the value of the thoughts of a man who not only made history but arguably saved it – Nobel Peace Laureate former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Dr. Jane Goodall is not only a United Nations Messenger of Peace but is also the world’s most widely recognized primatologist and anthropologist. She is also a voice of wisdom. We are pleased to share her comments from the UN International Day of Conscience.
This was the first year of this formal UN celebration and we commend to your attention the comments made that day in the videos by UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, and Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain, the nation that led in obtaining this important unique day of global attention to a capacity that is essential to guide our personal, national, and international actions – conscience.
Jonathan Granoff
President, Global Security Institute
Senior Advisor and Special Representative to the UN for the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
José Ramos-Horta: The Pandemic
World, a Chance to Be Better
If there is an overriding lesson from COVID-19, it is that with families and nations alike, the health of the unit is only as strong as its weakest link. The other lesson is that no walls are high and thick enough to prevent millions of desperately poor to march towards the affluent North, the US or Europe. We have seen how the wretched of the world, the unwanted, will continue to venture through the unforgiving deserts of North Africa, defy storms and die on Mediterranean beaches. The strongest and luckiest ones having survived unscrupulous human traffickers and the unforgiving wrath of nature, exhausted and hungry, camp at the gates of Europe.
Across the world, we have all had agonized moments when we have come face to face with the prospect of our own mortality and our fragility…
Former President Mikhail Gorbachev on COVID-19
During the first months of this year, we have seen once again how fragile is our global world, how great the danger of sliding into chaos. The COVID-19 pandemic is facing all countries with a common threat, and no country can cope with it alone.
The immediate challenge today is to defeat this new, vicious enemy. But even today, we need to start thinking about life after it retreats.
Many are now saying the world will never be the same. But what will it be like? That depends on what lessons will be learned.
I recall how in the mid-1980s, we addressed the nuclear threat. The breakthrough came when we understood that it is our common enemy, a threat to all of us. The leaders of the Soviet Union and the U.S. declared that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Then came Reykjavik and the first treaties eliminating nuclear weapons. But even though by now 85% of those arsenals have been destroyed, the threat is still there.
Yet other global challenges remain and have even become more urgent: poverty and inequality, the degradation of the environment, the depletion of the earth and the oceans, the migration crisis. And now, a grim reminder of another threat: diseases and epidemics that in a global, interconnected world can spread with unprecedented speed…
Jane Goodall: We’re going through some very dark times
What we have not learned from past pandemics about our relationship to animals and the natural world, and the consequences of our actions.