The World Beyond Global Disorder, Rhodes Forum 2015

Every 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.

On Humanity

Spiritual Humanism: An Emerging Global Discourse

A Paper by Tu Weiming, Director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University, delivered at the 13th Rhodes Forum, October 9, 2015

I would like to explore spiritual humanism rooted in the Confucian tradition as an emerging global discourse.  On the surface, it does not seem to have any bearing on China’s promise of a peaceful rise or of the so-called First World’s willingness to accept China as an important player in the multipolar world order.  However, from the perspective of the world of ideas, how we find a path toward peace and cultural understanding through dialogue among civilizations and a sustainable relationship with the Earth depends on a new way of thinking, a new ethic, and a new cosmology.  Are there any resources in the Confucian tradition that might help us think through these issues?  Is spiritual humanism a viable option to emerge (or re-emerge) from the current Chinese ethos?  I am indebted to the eminent Indian philosopher R. Balasubramanian for the term “spiritual humanism.”

Vladimir Yakunin to the 13th Rhodes Forum

A Speech by Vladimir Yakunin, Founding President, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”, at the Opening Plenary Meeting of the 13th Rhodes Forum, October 9, 2015
Your Excellency!
Esteemed guests!
Ladies and gentlemen!

On behalf of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations,” allow me to welcome you to the 13th Annual session of the Rhodes Forum!

Also allow me, on your behalf, to express our support and gratitude to the people of Greece who are currently facing serious challenges, in the name of the Management and staff of Aldemar Hotel and the very many friends of the Forum, who in the course of all these years have been giving us their invaluable support in organizing our activity here on the remarkable Island of Rhodes.

Right from the moment it came into being, the World Public Forum took a stand of supporting and upholding a contemporary pluralistic vision of the world. The WPF strongly called for a natural development of the multitude of different civilizations that had formed historically on the basis of mutual supplementation of diversified but responsible approaches that could lead to a viable coexistence of different nations and peoples. The WPF left no stone unturned in the matter of upgrading methodologies and practical means to promote a dialogue among civilizations. It is precisely such a stand that can bring us closer to understanding not an engaged, not an ideologized, but an all-inclusive “picture of the world” without which, in our opinion, the further advancement of mankind will hardly be possible.

WPF Receives Africa Peace Award

Rhodes (Greece), October 9, 2015

United Religions Initiative (URI) - Africa presented its Africa Peace Award of the Year 2015 to the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations.” The ceremony took place at the Opening Plenary Meeting of the 13th Rhodes Forum.

The Prestigious Africa Peace Award of URI-Africa was presented to the World Public Forum in appreciation and acknowledgment of the WPF’s outstanding work in promoting culture of peace, constructive dialogue and partnership and in creating a network among various international and national nongovernmental organizations, representatives of public and state institutions, civil society organizations and faith-based groups, academics, representatives of cultural, spiritual, business, and media spheres from different countries, members of diverse civilizations and cultural traditions.

The award is also in recognition of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”’ effort to protect the spiritual and cultural values of humankind and to create a space for constructive dialogue among the major civilizations of the modern world and introducing the spirit of cooperation and understanding into everyday life.

The award was handed over by Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Special Advisor on Inter-Faith, Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural issues of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union.


Africa Peace Award2

13th Rhodes Forum is Opened

A Speech by the Founding President of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin at the opening ceremony of the 13th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum, Castello, October 8, 2015, Rhodes (Greece)

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Dear friends!

Welcome to our regular annual session of the Rhodes Forum! Ahead of us, we have several days of very intense and meaningful work dedicated to our discussions and meetings. They have become not only our tradition, but our practice and a real action of the dialogue of civilizations. Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla wrote: “Not only the knowledge and science deserve praise or reprobation, but it is the outcome of the knowledge and science by way of goodwill.” I hope that all the participants of the Rhodes Forum 2015 are people of goodwill who share our commitment to the united efforts for the purpose of creating a more humane and dignified future. This is exceptionally important in the situation of today’s world.

The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade

By Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh, Project Syndicate, October 2, 2015

As negotiators and ministers from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries meet in Atlanta in an effort to finalize the details of the sweeping new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), some sober analysis is warranted. The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems.

You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about “free” trade.

The Contemporary Ambiguities of Religions as a Source of Civilisational Identity

By Fabio Petito, E-International Relations, Septemer 25, 2015

Against the prediction of the theorists of modernisation on the inescapable withering away of religion, it is back at the centre stage of international politics. Furthermore, this return appears to be antagonistic and does not seem to be for the (common) good. But how can we explain this visible resurgence of religion in world politics in the post-Cold War era? What can we say about the logic—if there is just one—by which religions interact, infuse or even ‘sacralise’ international politics today? These are questions of great topicality, especially in the light of how religion and politics have been recently interacting in both the Islamic and the Western world as well as in their precarious relationship. In this chapter, my starting point is that the resurgence of religion as a central factor in contemporary international relations is linked to the renewed visibility of the concept of civilisation in post-Cold War political discourses. More specifically, drawing on Johann P. Arnason’s recent work—and in this regard Samuel Huntington’s argument retains part of its validity—I want to argue that the resurgence of religions in world politics has to be read in the context of civilisations, defined in a fundamentally culturalist sense, reasserting themselves as strategic frames of references, not as direct protagonists, of international politics. This development also has to be read as part of a longer-term process of challenge to Western dominance that has intensified since the Second World War and which Hedley Bull called the ‘cultural revolt against the West’.

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Resurgence of the World Left?

By Immanuel Wallerstein,, October 1, 2015

The sweeping triumph on September 24 of Jeremy Corbyn to be the leader of Great Britain’s Labour Party was stunning and totally unexpected. He entered the race with barely enough support to be put on the ballot. He ran on an uncompromisingly left platform. And then, standing against three more conventional candidates, he won 59.5% of the vote in an election that had an unusually high turnout of 76 percent.

Immediately, the pundits and the press opined that his leadership and platform guaranteed that the Conservative Party would win the next election. Is this so sure? Or does Corbyn’s performance indicate a resurgence of the left? And if it does, is this true only of Great Britain?

The Yemen Catastrophe: Beset by Contradictions of Will and Intellect

By Richard Falk at his blog, September 28, 2015

Any attempt to provide a coherent account of the political strife afflicting Yemen is bound to fail. The country is crucible of contradictions that defy normal categories of rational analysis. If we look beyond the political fog that envelops the conflict the tragic circumstances of acute suffering imposed on the civilian population do emerge with stark clarity. Long before the outbreak of civil warfare, Yemen was known to be the poorest country in the region, faced with looming food and water scarcities. The UN estimates 80% of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, 40% live on less than $2 per day. Further there are high risks of mass famine and epidemic outbreaks of disease will occur, while continuing chaos is a near certainty, with the prospect of yet another wave of desperate migrants swept ashore in Europe.