(...) My first mission as Member of the European Parliament was to the Sudan and Chad in August 2004, as a result of the Darfur tragedy. What I saw, heard and learnt with the suffering of the refugees and displaced persons and with the aid community and political decision-makers involved in that terrible conflict would mark my entire activity in the European Parliament, and not only as a negotiator of all the resolutions approved from that time forth on the subject.
The challenges posed by Africa in relation to human rights and the principles of justice and democratic governance have never ceased to raise questions in my mind and to spur me on to action: the most exciting, albeit also painful, personal experience I ever went through was in Ethiopia in 2005 as head of the “European Union Election Observation Mission. My involvement in election observation missions subsequently led me to the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor and Angola.
(...) I do not presume to present an academic paper, or to offer a single, complete and coherent point of view for the challenges and options open to Europe or to Portugal.
The connecting thread is, above all, the concern of being able to contribute towards the construction of a fairer and safer world, based on the rule of law at both national and international level, on effective multilateralism and on social progress, where Europe, and Portugal in particular, take on ever more ambitious and decisive roles.
I tried to convey an eclectic approach, integrating several viewpoints of international links, which are often not articulated in the sphere of political decisions or of public opinions, despite the fact that the globalised and interdependent world in which we live demands it. Security and development, gender-related issues and European defence, for example, are topics that are rarely dealt with in the same breath; however they deserve to be looked at together in order to produce more correct, wide-reaching and, above all, more effective policies. Political decision-makers, as well as European citizens, need to understand that global Peace and Security are a result of both the European Union’s capacity to participate in peace-keeping missions and international cooperation and democratic governance policies that help less developed countries to escape from the vicious circle of poverty, conflict and underdevelopment.
(...) Finally, I tried to demonstrate that only action that is coherent and true to values, with no double standards, in terms of human rights and defence of international law, in both peace and war, will vest Europe and its allies – in particular the United States of America – with moral and political authority to demand that other countries meet their international obligations of respect for these values and principles; only in this way will Europe and the United States be effective in the fight against international terrorism, instead of playing the game of terrorists: this is why I have defended (and will continue to defend) that all the truth, main responsibilities and acquiescence be established on both sides of the Atlantic, in regard to the civilisational regression represented by Guantánamo, the secret prisons and the subcontracting of torture by the Bush Administration.
All of the areas for reflection and intervention in these texts are united by a transversal concern: the defence and promotion of human rights and international law as the cornerstone of any national and European commitment to the construction of international peace and security.