World Leader for Peace and Security Award 2019
October 6, 2019
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the first woman president of Latvia, and a founding member of the World Leadership Alliance–Club de Madrid will be presented with the World Leader for Peace and Security Award on October 21, in Madrid. The award will be presented by Governor Michael Dukakis, Chairman of the Boston Global Forum and Michael Dukakis Institute for Leadership and Innovation (BGF-MDI).
Vike-Freiberga currently serves as the president of Club De Madrid, the world’s largest forum of former heads-of-state and parliamentary governments. She is also a member of the International Programme Board of the Prague European Summit.
Vike-Freiberga, who served two terms as Latvia’s president from 1999-2007, is being recognized in-part for her contributions to the AI World Society Initiative–launched by Boston Global Forum and the Dukakis Institute, as well as other contributions to peace and security in the Baltics, Europe, and internationally.
Club De Madrid has also been partnering with Boston Global forum and The Dukakis Institute in in an effort to build the Next Democracy Generation using AI and AIWS models. This project addresses the main factors that impact the world’s democracies, among them new technologies and social media.
In presenting the award, Gov. Dukakis, whose organization is dedicated to international peace, security and cooperation, is expected to say:
“We’ve been fortunate to have worked with President Vike-Freiberga in recent years. The first contact with her for many of us in Boston was when she was a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Since then, she has been a frequent participant in the proceedings of the Boston Global Forum and is a member of our board of international thought leaders. She has made significant contributions for the AI World Society Initiative as well.
“She served for two terms as President of Latvia, at a time when it joined the NATO and the European Union. During her last year in office, Latvia’s economy had GDP growth of more than 10 percent, one of the highest in the world.
“Europe, too, has benefitted from her efforts. She has, for example, served as Vice President of the Reflection Group on the long-term future of the EU, was a member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, and chaired the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Media Freedom.
“As Co-Chair of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, she brought attention to Azerbaijan’s development and its critical role in maintaining peace and harmony in the Caucasus. A Muslim-majority country, Azerbaijan is a model for religious tolerance and cooperation.”
President Vike-Freiberga will also be recognized at the Boston Global Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Day event, to be held at noon, December 12, 2019 at Harvard University.
Michael Dukakis’ Remarks Honoring the Recipient of the World Leader for Peace and Security Award 2019
It is my distinct honor today to recognize President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as the recipient of this year’s Boston Global Forum World Leader for Peace and Security Award.
I’m Michael Dukakis, co-founder and chair of the Boston Global Forum, which is dedicated to analyzing and finding solutions and initiatives to help create a world of peace, security, and cooperation.
We’ve been fortunate to have worked with President Vike-Frieberga in recent years. The first contact with you for many of us in Boston was when you were a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. Since then you have been a frequent participant in the proceedings of the Boston Global Forum as well as serving as a member of our board of international thought leaders. You have made significant contributions to our AI World Society Initiative.
Additionally, our award is given in recognition of your many other contributions to peace and security in your home country, the Baltic Region, Europe, and internationally.
You have had a rich career, serving for two terms as President of Latvia, at the time it joined the European Union. During your last year in office, Latvia’s GDP grew by more than 10 percent—among of the highest in the world.
You have been a leading voice in strengthening the Baltic region, most continuously but not solely through the Riga Conference, which you founded in 2006, which meets annually to discuss critical defense and foreign policy issues.
Europe has benefitted from your efforts, notably through your leadership as vice-president of the Reflection Group on the long-term future of the EU, membership in the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, and as chair of the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Media Freedom.
And it goes without saying, you were a founding member of the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid and are concluding your second term as its president in December 2019.
For these many reasons, Madam President, Boston Global Forum is honored to join the long list of your admirers by presenting you with our annual World Leader for Peace and Security Award.
We will also be celebrating your contributions to world peace and security at our Global Cybersecurity Day, December 12, 2019 at Harvard University.
Thank you for your participation in the work of Boston Global Forum, your many contributions to the betterment of all people, and for your distinguished career as an international leader.
Award Ceremony Video
Award Ceremony Speech
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My first source must be of course my heartfelt thanks to the Boston Global Forum for this distinction that they have bestowed upon me, not once but twice in a row, because you have heard the ill Adagio twice. I do not wish to be standing between you and your dinner for very long, but allow me to just make one remark among many that have come to mind after hearing the most interesting debates that we’ve been having here today, and may I say how thrilled the members of the club de Madrid are to have gathered with us such a group of great intellects coming to share with us truly important concerns of the day and making such stimulating presentations.
Just one thought that I’ll share with you at the moment. Remember the picture we saw in a remarkably exciting lecture this morning, where we saw Faraday on one hand with his invention of electricity, and Gladstone the politician on the other hand, thus science on one hand and politics or governance on the other. Our forum here is about linking advances in science and technology of which AI is a shining example with politics and leadership and democracy. We were told that the response of the prime minister to the scientist was what’s it good for, and the question then is, whose fault is it that there was really a lack of understanding between a great discovery being made and its implications for the population at large and for those who govern it as already in a democracy? Well I would say that neither is at fault. Gladstone was a brilliant politician. He knew all about politics. He knows beans about science, and there’s no reason why he should. Today many scientists actually happened to reach the highest levels of both the government and of being presidents, but in those days that was not the case, and we cannot blame him for being what he was, a very successful politician. Faraday for his part cannot be blamed as a scientist for not being able to put in simple words what his discovery meant, and even less so for thinking and anticipating all the incredible applications that it would see in the near and far future. That was not his job. Imagine if Faraday had been an employee of a firm, having paid for his research and only looking to its bottom line at the end of the year, and the dividends to its shareholders, and the price of its shares in the stock market. It would have been a disaster especially since we know that he was the son of a blacksmith, was apprenticed in his teens, and it’s only by an absolutely blind accident of chance that a member of the Royal Society actually took him under his wing and helped him get in to become self-educated and to become one of the most brilliant scientists of the 19th century.
What we need to join the tool is somebody like Edison. Edison is a different kind of animal. He is a different species, and that is the man who invents something practical by seeing the potential of application in discovery and fundamental science. So if I may use this opportunity of having you as a captive audience, I would say that all of you who are either opinion-shapers or in contact with your leaders, please remember that artificial intelligence is based on fundamental research, that’s whatever its relations and the results of its applications in terms of impact on society and on democracy. It starts out with a need for governments and for politicians to support basic research basic, non-applied research, free research, peer-evaluated, not commanded or ordered or asked for in order to make a profit. No. The startup firms, the entrepreneurs, the teenagers in their basements; they are the ones, like the inventor of the light bulb, who make the link between a tool. So do let’s remember Gladstone is not he is not alone on his own or on his side. He should have been creating already support for the scientists of Britain, as we have now various research councils, and also Research Council in Europe. And the countries that support basic research are the ones that have the most applied research results. You see the tool all together. And as a former scientist I couldn’t help but make this pitch when we were talking about the link between politics and science.
Thank you very much.