Michael Davis led work to resolve national and international conflicts – and founded three television companies. His book Life After Democracy led to the development of Live Forum TV. He is now President of the Live Forum Foundation in Geneva.
“The Foundation for International Conciliation, which was active in the 1980s, helped to end serious international conflicts by building understandings and agreements between political leaders. Since leaders were often reluctant to admit that assistance was sought or accepted, the Foundation’s work was confidential and its activities were never made public.
The Foundation’s Director was Michael Davis. He had previously founded and served as Director of the Council for Arms Control, a coalition of senior politicians, academics and church leaders in Britain. At the height of the East-West nuclear arms build-up, the Council carried out serious and responsible work to promote moderation and arms reduction.”
The Rt Hon Lord Blaker, former Minister in the Foreign Office and Minister for the Armed Forces in the UK. September 2008.
The following served as Special Advisers to the Foundation for International Conciliation, contributing to the later emergence of Live Forum TV. Further details are provided in Life After Democracy.
Swiss Ambassador to London/ mediated the end of the Algerian War of Independence/ Member of the Executive of the International Committee of the Red Cross/ Director General of the International Trade Organisation.
Alfonso Garcia Robles
Archbishop Dr John Habgood
Chairman of the World Council of Churches debates on nuclear weapons, peace and security.
Professor Philippe Manin
Professor of Public International Law/ Chairman of European Community talks on peaceful settlement of disputes.
Professor Louis Sohn
Professor of International Law/ Legal Officer to the UN Secretariat.
A number of world leaders influenced the emergence of Live Forum TV. Some deserve thanks and respect. Others highlighted the need for people to be protected against abusive leaders and governments.
Idi Amin, President of Uganda
Meetings with President Idi Amin after Uganda’s democracy had ended, during his reign of mass-murder and destruction, prompted Michael Davis’s determination to develop a new and safer form of government.
Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
After millions had been killed by the extreme policies of Pol Pot, Michael Davis worked with Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, to change Cambodia’s relationship with Vietnam and to reconnect both countries with the international community.
Prime Minister Son Sann and Prince Sihanouk
Resolving tensions in Cambodia required connection with three competing leaders – Hun Sen (de facto Prime Minister), Prince Sihanouk (head of the Royal Family) and Son Sann (Prime Minister recognised by the UN). Michael Davis’s Foundation was accepted by all three.
Pham Van Dong, Prime Minister of Vietnam
After its war against the United States the government of Vietnam was widely criticised, and its decision to push back Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge was condemned as an invasion. Michael Davis’s meetings with President Pham and his government in Vietnam were followed by withdrawal of the Vietnamese army and recognition of Cambodia’s independence.
PW Botha, President of South Africa
The Foundation for International Conciliation was asked by South Africa’s leaders, and accepted by their opponents, to explore and prepare conditions for ending apartheid. Shuttle diplomacy was used to reduce distrust on all sides, and to build confidence that change could be achieved without violence.
Desmond Tutu participated in the work to build confidence. Later, with Nelson Mandela, he established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to build bridges and resolve tensions, instead of pursuing judgements and revenge. Steps to reduce divisions and tensions are a central feature of Live Forum TV.
Siddhi Savetsila, Foreign Minister of Thailand
The United Nations
UN mediation to resolve conflicts was often rejected in the 1980s, after debates and resolutions judged one party or another to be at fault. As described in Life After Democracy, neutral mediation by the Foundation for International Conciliation was easier to accept.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Respect for the Geneva Conventions has survived because the ICRC does not attempt to address the causes of conflicts. Michael Davis’s Foundation was welcomed as a way to address causes of conflict from a neutral standpoint.