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  George Soros, Remarks on receiving the ICG Founders Award, 9 October 2003

(as prepared for delivery)

Thank you, Gareth, for this award.  I should also like to thank all my friends for coming.  I see so many of you here, and it gives me great pleasure to see you here even though it is costing me a lot of money because I have to match all your contributions.  But I think that my money is very well spent, and I hope that you will leave this evening with the same feeling.  If you haven’t already been convinced, let me add my two pennies worth to it.

I support a number of organizations on a matching fund basis, and I am particularly pleased with this one.  It has to do with the people who work in it.  The task that the ICG has set itself is a difficult one.  It wants to influence policy makers by giving them an incisive and authoritative analysis of a crisis situation.  It produces a large number of reports but it is not the quantity that matters but the quality.  Writing the reports is the easy part, getting the relevant people to read them and pay attention to them and be influenced by them, is the difficult one.  And that is where the ICG has been so successful in a very short period of time.  It has a lot to do with Gareth Evans.  He is something of a micro-manager.  He insists on approving every report.  Micromanaging is supposed to be a fault in most cases, but in this case it is a great source of strength because a single mistake can undermine the reputation of the entire operation.

My support of the ICG is part of a larger strategy.  I believe in crisis prevention and crisis resolution.  I have developed what I call the Soros doctrine – preventive action of a constructive nature which I juxtapose to the Bush doctrine of preemptive action of a military nature.  As many of you know, I have taken a rather strong political stand with regards to the presidential elections of 2004.  I believe that the fight for an open society has now got to be fought in this country.  But I should like to make sure that the ICG doesn’t become tainted by my political views.  I support the ICG exactly because it is impartial and professional.  I don’t want to call its reports objective because I don’t believe that objectivity is possible.  I do not exert any influence over the content of the reports.  I don’t see them before they are published.  I am the member of a well-balanced board which has such people on it as Richard Perle and Richard Allen.  I do have some influence on the subjects which are selected for study.

The ICG first made a name for itself in the Balkans and it was their success there that induced me to offer my challenge grant.  The ICG now covers most of the trouble spots of the world, and there are many of them, and it has made a valuable contribution to resolving some of them.  I am thinking in particular of the reports on Liberia and the whole western African region, the report on the Palestinian question which I think makes more sense than the roadmap. It is very difficult to remain impartial and professional at a time when passions are running high, but the ICG has managed to carve out a unique position for itself.  It is doing really important work and it deserves your support.

Thank you


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