Preventing World War Through Global Solidarity: 100 Years on

Rhodes Forum Opening PlenaryEvery autumn since 2003 the ancient Greek island of Rhodes hosts a session of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" called the Rhodes Forum that brings together public figures and statesmen, academics, religious figures and representatives of the arts, mass media and business spheres from all over the world. The sessions of the WPF "Dialogue of Civilizations" proved the urgency and efficacy of the Forum by brining the focus of world public opinion to the problems of intercultural dialogue and the need to work out instruments to make interaction among cultures and civilizations possible. The results achieved by the Forum give a hope for further harmonization of international relations and strengthening of stability in the world.

Rhodes Forum 2014

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Europe Awake!

Fred Dallmayr, Co-Chairman, World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”

In this year, 2014, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, that ferocious war in which “Old Europe” - the Europe of the “Belle Epoque”, the Europe of traditional monarchies and dynasties - was destroyed. For the peoples of Europe it was an immense bloodletting, epitomized by trench warfare and the battle of Verdun. The war also laid the foundation for subsequent catastrophes. While dubbed “the war to end all wars”, the concluding treaties of Versailles and Trianon ushered in a “peace to end all peace.” The conditions imposed on the vanquished in these treaties were so harsh and ill-conceived that resentment was bound to flare up and, after barely two decades, erupted in an unprecedented paroxysm of mayhem and destruction on a global scale.

The commemoration of the great European war should not be the occasion for finger-pointing and posthumous recriminations - an exercise which, although dear to some historians, can only stir up nationalistic resentments. The much more fruitful and beneficial outcome of the commemoration is (or should be) the determination to keep Europe in the future free from warfare on its soil. This is the basic purpose of the European Union and the Council of Europe and of the whole process of European integration during the past half century. This means that Europe should be a zone of peace.

Unfortunately, there are developments which threaten to undermine the role of Europa as a peace zone. The greatest danger is that Europe might become the victim of "great power" rivalry. There are ominous danger signals in the present crisis in the Ukraine. Although the solution of the crisis is patently simple and obvious - the “federalization” of the country (which has repeatedly been proposed) - there are forces at work seemingly opposed to a peaceful solution and bent on pushing the country into civil war, and even into an all-out war between West and East. Given the latter horizon, the crisis takes on the character of another “proxy war” between big powers - similar to the proxy war which has raged in Syria, but now much closer to the European heartland. In some political circles, one already talks about a possible war between America and Russia, even though this may result in nuclear war (a possibility that is now openly accepted in the same quarters).

In this situation, one has to ask: who is going to be the most likely and most immediate victim? Given its location between America and Russia, Europe is bound to be the site of the most direct and immediate nuclear devastation. This means: it is time for Europe to wake up from its slumber and from its pliant submission to great power politics. As Juergen Habermas rightly pleaded some time ago: Europe has to develop its own foreign policy. The first step should be to bring pressure to bear on all sides to stop the proxy war in Ukraine. Europe should do everything possible to induce contestants in the Ukraine to assemble around a table and to negotiate fair terms of peace. This would be the proper European way to commemorate 1914.

Endorsed by:

Chandra Muzaffar, President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia
Vladimir Kulikov, Executive Director, World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”

The End of Liberal ‘Dialogue’ and the Difference of Debate: Renewing the Promise of the Axial Age

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. Introduction: the current crisis of meaning

There is little doubt that the contemporary world faces a crisis of meaning. After the end of the Cold War, the relative stasis of bi-polarity gave way to a global dynamic that was increasingly unpredictable and volatile. Europe’s ‘multilateral moment’ was quickly supplanted by American hegemony, but the last ten years have witnessed the rise and fall of US unipolarity and the emergence of a multipolar disorder. The ideological battle between capitalism and communism has mutated into a contest for global market shares and central state power at the expense of the autonomous, largely self-regulating intermediary institutions of civil society on which vibrant democracies and market economies ultimately depend.

We have moved from a world of concrete and tangible threats to a world of nebulous risks that exacerbate global uncertainty. Instead of the quest for the common good or the good life, the emphasis has shifted decisively in favour of utility maximisation and the pursuit of individual happiness amid a growing concern with ‘risk management’ (political, financial, environmental, epidemiological, etc.).

Long-term strategic thinking has largely given way to short-term tactical responses to event – without any guiding principles. Amid hypocrisy and double standards, appeals to universal values such as democracy and human rights ring increasingly hollow.

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War in Ukraine / Tragedy of Flight MH 17: Urgent Call for Independent International Investigation

International Progress Organization
Information Service
Chisinau / Vienna, 26 July 2014

In a statement issued today, the President of the International Progress Organization, Dr. Hans Koechler, who is presently on a fact-finding visit to Eastern Europe, has called for the establishment of an impartial and independent investigation of the circumstances of the crash of Malaysian Airlines 17 over rebel-controlled territory in Eastern Ukraine. Between 2000 and 2002, Dr. Koechler served as international observer of the criminal trial following the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He was nominated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the basis of a binding resolution of the UN Security Council.

The former UN observer explained that, because of the ongoing civil war in the eastern part of the country, the Government of Ukraine, itself a party in the conflict, is not only effectively unable to conduct an investigation, but cannot guarantee its independence and objectivity. Under these circumstances, Article 5.1 of Annex 13 (“Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation”) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation – which obliges the “State of Occurrence” to institute an investigation – is not applicable.

An investigation has to be international, Dr. Koechler explained, and it must be ensured that no party to the conflict in Ukraine is in a position to influence its outcome.

Click here to read the full text

The Nature of the EU and Its External Projection

Raffaele Marchetti, Professor of International Relations, LUISS University, Italy, specially for wpfdc.org

What is the EU? This is a question that has occupied the debate in the European Union and beyond for many years. Of course the political significance of the question is high because it constitutes a precondition for interpreting its foreign policy action and hence to understand its role in global politics.

One way of addressing the question would simply be to associate the EU to the American superpower. The EU as the closer (and relatively loyal) ally of the US would be the answer. This way, however, the agency of the EU, its autonomy, would be denigrated, if not denied altogether. And yet, there have been hints of a EU autonomous political agency. It is for this reason that we cannot be satisfied with a simplistic response in terms of bandwagoning with the US.
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War in Gaza: Agreement on Ceasefire Must Address Root Causes of Conflict

Statement of the International Progress Organization

Vienna, 24 July 2014
RE/25057c-is

The international community, represented by the United Nations Organization, has a joint responsibility to stop the ongoing armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people in Gaza. The situation constitutes a serious threat to peace and security according to Article 39 of the UN Charter. Due to their political paralysis resulting from disputes among member states, neither the League of Arab States nor the Organization of Islamic Cooperation can play any constructive role for the ending of hostilities.
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Gandhi and Nehru - Frustrated Visionaries?

An Article by Judith Brown published in History Today, Volume 47, Issue 9, 1997

Above all, the hallmark of new Indians would be a commitment to non-violence in all public and private relationships, as the only moral means of achieving true change. For Gandhi non-violence was the only way to follow after what one perceived as truth without endangering the perception of truth held by others: by its very presence and working it would transform attitudes and relationships, and so begin the process of change at the roots of the individuals who formed the bedrock of society.
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Rhodes Veteran Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr passed away on May 18, 2014

One of the outstanding personalities who contributed substantially to the deliberations of several Rhodes Forums and formed together with others the spirit of Rhodes, Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Dürr passed away on May 18, 2014 in the age of 84.

Prof. Dürr was born on October 7, 1929 in Stuttgart. He received his doctorate in 1956 at the University of California at Berkeley with Edward Teller and got his habilitation in 1962. From 1958 to 1976, Dürr worked with Werner Heisenberg, whom he succeeded in 1978 as managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. In addition to his work in nuclear and elementary particle physics, he turned increasingly to epistemological, philosophical and social issues. He shared his ideas with the participants of the Rhodes Forum.
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Lawrence H. Summers on the Economic Challenge of the Future: Jobs

An Article by Lawrence H. Summers published at The Wall Street Journal on July 7, 2014

The great economic problem for millennia has been scarcity. People want much more than can be produced. The challenge has been to produce as much as possible and to ensure that everybody gets their fair share.

In important respects, the problem has changed. There are many more Americans who are obese than who are undernourished, for example. But that is only a harbinger of things to come. The economic challenge of the future will not be producing enough. It will be providing enough good jobs.
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Illusions Bred by a Reserve Currency

An Article by Vivek Dehejia published at LIVEMINT on July 17, 2014

Short-term US macroeconomic goals conflict with long-term interests of a world reliant on the dollar.

Since the Bretton Woods system broke down in August 1971, economist Robert Mundell has convened periodic round-table meetings of economists, bankers, and officials to deliberate on the future of the international monetary system. The Santa Colomba Conference is named after the venue, a magnificent Renaissance villa situated on a crest in the rolling hills outside the city of Siena in Tuscany, which Mundell has called home since the late 1960s. I had the privilege of participating in this year’s recently concluded meetings and would like to share with the reader some of the insights that came out of the gathering.

This summer’s most noteworthy panels were on the “International Monetary Fund (IMF) at 70” and “Where to for the intentional monetary system?” In the wake of the global financial crisis and the still unfolding euro-area crisis, the topics are more timely than ever.
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