Trust - in a System Built in Stone

An Interview with Saskia Sassen published at openDemocracy on October 14, 2015

If I think of major new sources (of mistrust), one key item is the new surveillance apparatus that more and more of our ‘democratic” states are implementing. These technologies have created a whole new domain: the gathering of massive amounts of information by a state about its own citizens.

UN Climate Change Conference Launches Monday on Massive Global Swell of Action

November 30, 2015

The nations of the world gather on Monday in Paris to reach a new and universal climate change agreement, in the knowledge that they have already delivered an almost universal set of national responses to meet the long-term climate challenge before the conference even begins.

On the eve of the COP21 conference, well over 180 countries covering almost 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had delivered their national climate action plans to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In another unprecedented signal of the global political will to reach an agreement, over 150 heads of state and government are coming to Paris to give their public support on Monday, the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day.

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World Public Forum an Intellectual Journey

By Alexis Kouros, Helsinki Times, November 25, 2015

This years WPF tackled hybrid warfare and the disorder shadowing our world today.

“13” is the bad luck number in some cultures. Even architects and scientists try to go around it, just in case; to the extent that high rise buildings in North America skip the 13th floor, so after 12th floor, comes 14th!

But not for The World Public Forum on Dialogue of Civilisations, held in Rhodes, Greece every autumn. This year’s forum, number 13, was indeed the best ever.

For those who have only been exposed to the Western point of view of the world affairs, Rhodes forum is a breeze of fresh intellectual air full of oxygen; full of new ideas and important questions. Being able to ask the right questions is essential. Answers will be found.

Security and Cooperation in Europe in the XXI century

Propositions of the International Science and Public Conference “Yalta – Potsdam – Helsinki – Belgrade: In Search for Secure World Order” on the Issues of Security and Cooperation in Europe in the XXI century, Belgrade, Serbia, November 24-25, 2015

The participants of the International Science and Public Conference Yalta – Potsdam – Helsinki – Belgrade: In Search for Secure World Order dedicated to the historic agreements and pressing issues of security and cooperation in Europe, which has brought together representatives of many states around Europe, Asia and America, following the results of a widespread public dialogue and opinion interchange that took place during the year of the 70th anniversary of the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences and the 40th anniversary of  the signing of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, consider it necessary to declare:

The issues of security and cooperation in Europe and in the whole world have been a long established subject matter of interstate agreements and inter-country collaboration.  At the same time, we believe that the current state of affairs makes a true progress and continuous headway movement impossible without the support of the public opinion and involvement of non-governmental initiatives in the development of the system of security and cooperation in Europe, based on mutual trust.

The WPF Statement on Downing of Russian Military Plane by Turkey

November 25, 2015

The international community must be called upon to undertake responsible and careful action after the shooting down of a Russian military jet by Turkish air force. The tragic casualty must be investigated in an objective way. It has to be taken into account that Russian pilots were fighting against IS terrorism. The murder of one Russian pilot after his parachute jump by militia men is a clear crime against humanity. It cannot be tolerated and those responsible for that crime must be punished. This is also a task for the international community and must be fostered by everybody who is on the side of humanity's future.

It demonstrates once again how dangerous the ongoing civil war in Syria is for global peace and stability and how important are the efforts of the international community to find a peaceful and long-lasting solution as well as to intensify the public effort to prevent other clashes. This overreaction by one of the too many players in the Syrian crisis could easily lead to military escalation and confrontation which involves the danger of a World War III. So the incident underlines the urgent need of an immediate cease fire among the non-jihadist parties in the Syrian civil war followed by serious and unbiased attempts for a political solution. We also reiterate our previous demand that IS has to be cut off from its financial resources and supply of weapons.


Palestine, the Rule of Law and Global Power Politics

A Speech by Hans Köchler, President of the International Progress Organization, at the Special Meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People convened under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, United Nations Office at Vienna, November 24, 2015

It is sad to state on this solemn occasion that, in the year when the United Nations Organization celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, a just and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict still appears to be elusive. The UN General Assembly’s recommendation of 1947 has yet to be implemented in full. The political and legal reality is exactly the opposite of what that resolution had envisaged, namely the creation of two sovereign states living peacefully side by side. In fact, talk of peace has become virtually meaningless in the face of continuing occupation of Palestinian and Arab land for almost half a century, and of an ever more determined strategy of the occupying power to expand control over and possession of territory acquired by force – in contravention of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

This policy has not been reversed, or even softened, in all the years since – in fact a quarter century after the end of the Cold War – a so-called “peace process” was initiated and the “Oslo agreement” was signed, which has never been acted upon in good faith anyway. Over decades, subsequent Israeli governments have followed a strategy, and worked out corresponding legislation, to create ever-new “facts on the ground.” The absence of a global balance of power – since the end of the Cold War – has made the Palestinian and Arab position even more precarious and has limited the space for independent diplomatic action by concerned regional states and their intergovernmental structures.

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ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies

By Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch, November 23, 2015

The aftermath of terrorist attacks such as the massacre in Paris are a bad time to produce new policies, but they provide ideal political conditions for a government to take radical, if ill-thought-out, initiatives. Leaders are carried away by a heady sense of empowerment as a worried or frightened public demands that something be done in response to calamity and to prevent it happening again. The moment of greatest risk is not when the bombs explode or the guns fire, but when governments react to these atrocities.

Terrorism is, in the first instance, aimed at showing defiance, exacting revenge and demonstrating strength. But, to be truly successful, it needs to provoke a poorly considered overreaction by those targeted. This has always been true. The greatest success of the 9/11 hijackers was not destroying the World Trade Center, but tempting the US government into launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which it failed to achieve its ends and which are still going on.