Christianity in the Middle East

A Paper by Georges Dorlian, Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Balamand, Lebanon, presented at the 12th Rhodes Forum on September 27, 2014

The Christian presence in the Middle East has created, throughout centuries, a unique phenomenon which grew on the margins of non-Christian States and among them. It is worth mentioning that the Christian presence was neither incidental nor recent, for its roots date back to the time before Islam had appeared as a religion which later became a vastly expanded State.

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Gandhi for Today: Self-Rule, Non-Violence, Struggle for Justice

A Paper by Fred Dallmayr, Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum, presented at a Plenary Session of the 12th Rhodes Forum on September 26, 2014

The central topic of this session is the work of Gandhi (and at least one of the thinkers who influenced him: Leon Tolstoy). Gandhi’s work is sprawling, it comprises over 100 volumes. These books deal with a great variety of themes; I want to focus here on one area of his life and work which, however, is central and overshadows the rest: the area of politics and political action. I title my talk: “Gandhi for Today”—because it is not enough just to know about Gandhi as a historical figure, but to follow Gandhi, to enact his teachings in our time.

The subtitle of my talk is “Self-Rule, Non-Violence, Struggle for Justice.” The Indian terms for these notions are: swaraj, ahimsa, and satyagraha. Swaraj tells us what is democratic government; ahimsa tells us how to achieve and practice it; satyagraha tells us about the goal of politics: pursuit of truth, justice, and the “good life.” These are the ideas we have to re-learn today. Gandhi struggled for Indian self-rule or “home rule” against the mighty British Empire (where the sun did not set). Today, many people struggle for self-rule against a mighty world-empire, and against many other forms of domination. Gandhi struggled for Indian self-rule mainly non-violently. Today, many movements aiming at independence or freedom resort to violence (virtually as the only and preferred method). Gandhi struggled for self-rule with the aim to establish a rule of justice, non-domination, and ethical rightness. Today, many movements seek self-rule only in order to establish a new form of domination and exploitation (their own domination). So, we have to re-learn a lot from Gandhi.

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Gusi Peace Prize to be Awarded to Professor Hans Köchler

President of International Progress Organization again honoured for his civil society initiatives.

Manila / Vienna, 22 October 2014
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In an official communication addressed to Prof. Hans Köchler, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Gusi Peace Prize International, Amb. Barry Gusi, announced that Professor Hans Köchler, President of the International Progress Organization, will be awarded the Gusi Peace Prize for 2014. According to the Chairman, Prof. Köchler receives the prize in recognition of his contributions, as philosopher of law, to the peaceful solution of international conflicts. The awarding letter also emphasizes Köchler’s activities as Founder and President of the International Progress Organization, his contributions to the dialogue of civilizations and the impact of his ideas on the global debate on international democracy and United Nations reform. The letter concludes: “All your significant accomplishments and achievements have made you a living paradigm for others to emulate, not only in Austria, but throughout Europe, Asia and the international community.”

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The Musical Olympus Festival Returns to Berlin with the Motto “Music – for Peace”

On November, 14, 2014 the Musical Olympus Festival will present its participants on stage of the Chamber Music Hall at the Berliner Philharmoniker. Last time the festival’s participants performed on this stage in 2011.

On the gala night one of the best concert halls in Germany will host the stars of the Musical Olympus: Igor Yeliseev (double bass, Russia), Marc Bouchkov (violin, Belgium), Rémi Geniet, (piano, France), as well as tenor Mario Chang (Guatemala).

All performers are prize winners of prestigious international musical competitions and participants of the Musical Olympus festival in St Petersburg.

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Helsinki and Paris – a New Security Architecture for the Euro-Asia Space

Dr Adrian Pabst, Senior Lecturer in Politics, School of Politics and IR, University of Kent; Visiting Professor, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Lille (Sciences Po), specially for wpfdc.org

1. Europe’s new schism?

The continual crisis in Ukraine is perpetuating an East-West schism that was never overcome after the end of the Cold War. Even if there is no all-out war between the major powers involved in the Ukrainian conflict, Europe faces the distinct prospect of a permanent divide at its very heart. The EU increasingly looks like an annex to the United States, which has historically oscillated between isolationism and interventionism. Indeed, since 1893 Washington has practiced regime change (especially in its own ‘backyard’), [1] but it has also periodically retreated from international affairs – whether in the years prior to 1917 or indeed by refusing to participate in the League of Nations during the interwar period. Today the US is once again meddling in European affairs while at the same time pivoting away from the Euro-Atlantic space to the Asia-Pacific rim in order to shore up its interests against the rising power of China (a theme to which I will return shortly).

Meanwhile, Russia has been repeatedly rebuffed by the West in the 1990s and early 2000s, especially in relation to common security arrangements, and it has had to confront an increasingly aggressive brand of Western liberalism – as John Mearsheimer has recently argued in an article in Foreign Affairs [2]. In response, Moscow has turned its attention to Central Asia and the Far East, tightening relations with Eurasian neighbours and other partners as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). However, there are risks that Russia might become excessively dependent on supplying cheap resources to China. Meanwhile there are signs that Beijing is much more interested in consolidating its own sphere of influence than forging a strategic alliance with Moscow, which it tends to view as a junior partner rather than an equal ally.

For all these and other reasons, the EU and Russia risk finding themselves on the margins of global geo-politics rather than at the forefront. After more than 500 years at the centre of international affairs, the whole of Europe seems increasingly bereft of ideas and incapable of acting as a force for good.

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Principles for a New World Order

A Paper by Anthony Werner, Editor-in-Chief, Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers, presented for the 12th Rhodes Forum, September 26, 2014

‘Whatever lives is full of the Lord. Claim nothing; enjoy, do not covet His property.’
Eesha Upanishad

This is an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit scripture preserved in India that would have been known to both Gandhi and J.C. Kapur. Tolstoy’s book, The Kingdom of God is within You, which so influenced Gandhi, echoes this. The verse is also a reminder of our relationship to the universe in which we live. I have chosen it because I want to focus on a lesser known aspect of Tolstoy’s work, that which deals with the right of property.

Tolstoy was born into an aristocratic family with large estates. As a man of conscience, he grew increasingly uneasy about the large income he enjoyed when he saw so much poverty around him. This disparity in wealth bothered him. Like many today, he did not at first appreciate the significant difference in the natures of the two sources of his income: the royalties he received from his writing were the fruit of his own labours; the rent he received as a landowner was the fruit of other men’s labours.

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Call for Papers

International conference

Risks and Opportunities in the Civil Society – Public Institutions Relationship

A Re-Assessment of the EU and Global Policy Process

LUISS University – School of Government, May 7-9, 2015, Rome, Italy

The aim of the conference is discuss the different and many faces of the relationship between civil society actors and public institutions, both governmental and intergovernmental ones. The conference goals is to gather both scholars and practitioners in a single dialogue inclusive but larger than the mainstream western narrative. It is in fact a firm assumption of the conference that the civil society-public institutions dynamics is politically significant in all areas of the world. Both sides of the coin of the public/private relationship will be addressed. Presentations will deal with both the cooperative and the competitive/contentious relationship between governmental and non-governmental organizations in all the different phases of the policy process. Also, both legal and covered activities will be discussed. In scholarly terms, the conference aims to build bridges between different strands of academic and policy research that have looked at these actors under the differing lens of security, aid and development, public policy, global governance, contentious politics, democratization, human rights and democracy promotion, religious mobilizations, or public diplomacy.

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Presidential Elections in Brazil: What Kind of Domestic and International Scenarios are Opening on the Eve of the Next 26th October’s Second Round?

By Simona Bottoni, Associate Researcher, Institute of Advanced Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (IsAG), Rome (Italy)

Results confirm that the last year’s presidential elections on October 5th were the most controversial in the current democratic Brazil: the PT candidate Dilma Rousseff, with her 41,5% of votes, has failed to avoid a second ballot, while the moderate Aécio Neves (PSDB) gained the 33,6%, far behind in the pre-election polls even compared to the other candidate Marina Silva (PSB), which succeeded the arena in full campaign due to the untimely death of Edward Campos, stopped at the 21,3% of votes.

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Happy Birthday to Professor Hans Köchler!

Dear Professor Köchler,

On the occasion of your birthday please accept our sincerest congratulations and the very best wishes!

We highly appreciate our cooperation within the framework of the World Public Forum initiatives and your personal contribution to the Dialogue of Civilizations discourse in your academic activities and as the President of the International Progress Organization.

Your tireless efforts to uphold principles of justice and state sovereignty in international relations, incessant struggle against war and for peaceful and multipolar world order forged in the spirit of true cooperation are of immense importance. These are principles that lie at the heart of the World Public Forum and are shared by the whole WPF community.

We wish you good heath, happiness and incessant success and look forward to our further collaboration.

Vladimir Yakunin,
Founding President,
WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”

WPF Executive Committee and Staff