Former PM Gordon Brown speaks in Gaston

The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2009, spoke earlier today in Gaston Hall on global values and institutions.

Brown, the Labour Party leader who followed Tony Blair, was in office during the time of the global financial crisis and focused much of his address on the issue.

“We are in a new situation in the year 2011,” Brown said. “We now have problems that we can call global problems that can only be solved by global solutions.”

Brown noted that the focus has too often been on what individual nations or small groups of nations to solve crises, but he believes that this is no longer feasible for the problems the world is facing.

“Bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral solutions will no longer work for them. There must be global solutions,” he stressed.

Brown also emphasized that everyone must take responsibility for what happens in the world, rather than blaming other countries. He noted that European nations blamed the United Kingdom and the United States for the global financial crisis at a meeting shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Brown told the crowd that he reminded the leaders at this meeting that more than half the subprime mortgages that were a part of the problem were actually held by European banks.

In response to the problems facing the world, Brown stressed the need for a global ethic.

“We need a global ethic for people to see strangers as neighbors,” he said.

Brown touched upon his admiration President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address and its call to public service, saying that this is not just for policymakers, but for ordinary citizens as well.

He noted that Africa has a quarter of the world’s population of young people, but only one percent of the world’s wealth and investment, which continues to cause more global problems.

Brown concluded his remarks with a part of Kennedy’s inaugural address, saying,  “A world free of poverty, hunger, disease, and conflict should be the aim of this generation.”

Photo: Max Blodgett

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