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Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to chair SCLC international initiative on peace and nonviolence


Steele and Gorbachev Steele meeting in BerlinEuropean leaders commemorating fall of Berlin Wall
Sign historic SCLC Proclamation on World Poverty and Equality

BERLIN – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has agreed to serve as the international chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Nonviolence Conflict Initiative, calling for resolving conflict through peaceful solutions, the strategy driven during the turbulent Civil Rights era by the organization’s founder and world renowned leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As chairman of the SCLC initiative, Gorbachev will serve as a major advisor, providing the SCLC with more access to leading policy leaders who can help the organization fulfill its mission in eradicating poverty and achieving peaceful resolutions.
Gorbachev accepted the role over the weekend during a summit in Berlin, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.
World leaders, including Gorbachev, confirmed their support of nonviolent resolution to global conflicts by signing a proclamation introduced by SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele, calling for peace through reconciliation, help for the poor and suffering, social justice and equity, stewardship of the planet, defense of global human rights, and economic equality and education. Steele attended the summit at the invitation of Gorbachev.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Mikhail Gorbachev are two of my greatest heroes,” Steele said. “I told him SCLC is interested in addressing poverty and human rights around the world, and he is interested in collaborating with us.”
Prior to signing the proclamation, Gorbachev thanked the summit participants, including Steele and leaders from throughout Europe and said: “The discussion we have had today shows that there are many ideas. The urgency we see here requires immediate attention.”
Martin Lees, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and secretary-general of the Club of Rome, called the summit significant and indicated it could be the start of major changes in the way Europe and the world addresses issues.
“You have people here from all over the world drawing on their expertise and wisdom. They are looking at today’s world and basically saying we are in trouble. We have to mobilize our forces and get together to build a better world,” Lees said in an interview following the close of the summit on Sunday.
He said the next step would come on Monday when Gorbachev meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Everyone has been saying that Europe has been looking inside for several decades. Now the world problems are so acute. I hope the leaders will wake up and see the scale of the problems and start acting to do something about it,” said Lees, who chaired Sunday’s summit session.
Dr. Steele has asked the group to consider holding a future policy forum in Atlanta.