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Quest for peace

  • Story Highlights
  • Richard Quest meets some of the world's most influential peacemakers
  • He speaks to former U.S. President Carter, ex-Soviet leader Gorbachev
  • Quest visits Johannesburg, the U.N. building in New York and East Timor
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By Producer Deborah Rivers
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(CNN) -- "I have a dream". Martin Luther King's famous speech cemented his status as one of the world's greatest peace makers. The American civil rights activist was the youngest man ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His life mission was to make the planet a better place.


An audience with a great man: U.S. President Jimmy Carter meets Richard Quest.

On this month's show, CNN's Richard Quest meets the world's peace makers. The people who have faced great adversity -- but have never given up. Global peace is the most noble goal of humanity -- but what does it entail and why is it so difficult to achieve?

The name Nelson Mandela is synonymous with freedom. The Nobel Peace Prize recipient fought apartheid for decades before becoming the first democratically-elected president of South Africa.

Still vocal, Mandela and his wife Graca Machel have formed "The Elders" -- a group of 12 wise men and women who strive for peace. Quest traveled to Johannesburg to observe the first gathering of the distinguished group.

Whilst there, Quest spoke to one of the key members, the former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. As the 39th U.S. president, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords and the Panama Canal treaties, but his last year in power was dominated by the Iran hostage crisis.

President Carter freely admits that his post-presidential work has been more satisfying. After leaving office, he founded the Carter Center to promote global health, democracy and human rights. On its 25th anniversary, President Carter takes Quest on a tour of the center to demonstrate how they "wage peace and build hope."

Next stop: New York City. On the corner of 1st Avenue and 46th Street stands an imposing building -- the headquarters of the United Nations. Eager to witness delicate diplomacy at work, Quest tours the chambers of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

It's from this building that tens of thousands of field-based peacekeeping troops get their direction. The man in charge, Under-Secretary-General Jean Marie Guehenno, explains the challenges of achieving freedom and democracy in war-ravaged nations.

Away from the cozy confines of the U.N. tower, Quest travels to East Timor to witness grassroots peacekeeping. Officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, it is one of the world's newest countries.

Colonized by Portugal in 1702, East Timor declared its independence in 1975 but was promptly invaded by Indonesia. Decades of bloody conflict killed hundreds of thousands of people before East Timor got its freedom in 2002. It's relatively calm now, but UN troops still roam the street. Quest finds out how they've helped bring law, order and civility.

Quest for peace airs Saturday November 24 at 0600, 1400 and 1900; and Sunday November 25 at 0600 and 1900 ALL TIMES GMT

To win the Nobel Peace Prize, you have to do something special. East Timor's president, Jose Ramos Horta, was forced into exile and spent the next 24 years fighting for justice. He lost four siblings to war but never gave up hope. President Hortas speaks movingly about his life-long work to battle oppression and liberate his beloved nation and its people.

Peace in Darfur is elusive -- to say the least. This western province of Sudan is riddled with death, disease and violence. As a journalist, getting a visa to visit Sudan is notoriously difficult. Powerful people do not want the world to witness the carnage. That hasn't stopped actress Mia Farrow -- whose made several trips to Sudan and neighboring countries.

As a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, the film star-turned-humanitarian, feels a responsibility to highlight the plight of those suffering. An impassioned Farrow explains to Quest what happens when peace fails.

"If you seek peace ... if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". That was the plea from former U.S. President Ronald Reagan to his then Soviet Union counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Berlin Wall that divided Germany was a symbol of the Cold War. Gorbachev's role in its downfall earned him hero status. Later, he picked up the Nobel Peace Prize for his calls to end the arms race.

Now nearly 80, Gorbachev's passion for peace hasn't diminished. Over lunch in London, the former Russian leader tells Quest how he helped prevent a "nuclear holocaust."

Without forgiveness, peace is impossible. The philosophy of Albie Sachs sounds idealistic, but his story is nothing short of remarkable. He lost an arm in a bomb attack in 1988 but harbors no hatred. He was jailed for speaking out against repressive security laws in apartheid South Africa and detained twice without trial.

Now a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Sachs believes wholeheartedly in forgiveness. He wants no revenge -- just democracy and a fair society.


Quest's journey for peace introduces him to some of the world's greatest minds. They are neither naive about the challenges they face nor are they soft when it comes to making tough decisions. They are the true masters of compromise.

There is a binding principle that they all follow. No matter how small the steps forward, so long as the momentum continues they are happy because in the world of peacemaking that is success. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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