Terrorism went global in the wake of September 11’s atrocities, but so, too, did the continuing effort toward peace and justice.
One of the latter’s most potent allies, South African Justice Richard J. Goldstone, was feted Thursday at the United Nations Association of the USA’s first International Visionaries Dinner at the Capital Hilton.
Mr. Goldstone earned the first Global Leadership Award for a lifetime of humanitarian deeds, including helping his country shake the shackles of its infamous apartheid system. His Goldstone Commission, which investigated human rights abuses, led to the creation of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
More recently, he chaired the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo to prosecute former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes.
Mr. Goldstone, a compact man who received the evening’s accolades with grace, applauded Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s international coalition against terrorism in his acceptance speech.
“It’s a clear message that the international community will not put up with the dastardly criminal activity” of September 11, he said.
“Nobody can doubt the political right and the moral right” of the United States to bring the terrorists to justice, he said. “It could happen,” he added of the chances to bring key lieutenants responsible for the atrocities, or even suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, to a court of law.
Milosevic, he noted, is in The Hague, where he has been indicted for war crimes by the international Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
NBC News Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell was mistress of ceremonies for the festivities, in place of ABC’s Mike Wallace, who was on assignment in the Middle East.
In between heartfelt speeches, members of Themba , a dance ensemble whose members have performed in Broadway’s “The Lion King,” delighted the crowd with undulating motions and joyful melodies.
Dressed in a multicolored array of national garb, the dancers coaxed the well-heeled crowd to clap and sing along.
“Just your typical Washington black-tie dinner,” Miss Mitchell joked after one of three enthusiastically received performances.
During a pre-dinner reception highlighted by the spare, melodic sounds of a harpist, UNA President and Chairman William H. Luers said his group informs the public of U.S. ties to the U.N. and its peacekeeping activities.
“Most Americans don’t know how vital this role really is,” he said, referring to efforts to feed starving Afghans, manage Afghanistan’s flood of refugees and assemble a fair governmental system once the war ends.
“The U.N. is trying to put together a coalition government, which is crucial in any post-Taliban government.”
South African Ambassador Sheila Violet Makate Sisulu praised Mr. Goldstone for challenging South African law to bring about freedom for its people.
“He never thought about his own safety,” she said. “He is a very principled person and committed to human rights.”
Financier John C. Whitehead , a deputy secretary of state during the Reagan administration, and AEA Investors Inc. Chairman Vincent A. Mai served as dinner chairmen along with lawyer Lloyd Cutler . Among the other guest-list notables: Dr. Ruth Westheimer , actress-filmmaker Pippa Scott , Edison W. and Sally Dick, Miles and Nancy Rubin, Nancy Soderberg, Esther Coopersmith and Ann and Walter Pincus .