Resolution of the 10th Anniversary Session of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations", Rhodes, Greece, October 7, 2012
In the age of global crisis, it is paramount to question the dominant political, economic and social models that have brought about an unprecedented centralization of power and concentration of wealth. The prevailing paradigms have pitted individuals and nations against each other. Cut-throat competition and short-term private profit for the few have taken precedence over cooperation and the plural search for the common good. Crucially, cultures and civilizations have been either sidelined by the main national and international institutions or else they have been bracketed altogether out of the picture.
The global crisis that is still unfolding calls for an analysis and treatment not of its symptoms but instead of its root causes. Indeed, the origins of the current crisis are not merely financial or economic but can be traced to values, ethical imperatives and global objectives that the world’s leading players pursue. From this perspective, the dialogue of civilizations assumes a particular significance.
The World Public Forum - Dialogue of Civilizations therefore reaffirms its firm commitment to the concept of “Dialogue of Civilizations” for solving today’s pressing problems and for creating a path towards a more humane world. 550 participants from 65 countries gathered for the 10th time in Rhodes (October, 3-8, 2012) to debate innovative ideas and transformative practices.
The rich heritage of mankind in terms of cultural and religious diversity and traditional values is not an obstacle but an asset for responding to the challenges of globalization. Mutual understanding and respect is the guarantee of an open society not only at the national but also at the regional and the global level. Globalization brings greater interconnectedness among people and increased interaction among cultures and civilizations. There is no place for a messianic view of proclaiming that only certain values are advanced and thus are more universal.
Respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples is a prerequisite for international cooperation in order to solve international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian order. The right of countries and peoples to their own identity and historically formed societies should be respected by governments as well as by governmental and nongovernmental organizations both nationally and internationally.
Human dignity, natural human rights and fundamental freedoms for all – without discrimination as to race, gender, language or religion – can only be based on the principle of equality among all human beings and all nations.
Dialogue between civilizations requires the involvement and leadership of national elites. Without such interactions elites lose their legitimacy. In order to engage in fruitful dialogue, prevent conflict and contribute to peaceful settlements, elites need to reach agreements on mutual respect, recognition of international arbitration and the right of peoples to non-interference in their own destiny. A world with robust civilizational foundations that is conflict-free and more prosperous can only be polycentric. At its best, humanity is a family of free nations that practices the same language of dialogue and can attain mutual understanding.
Geo-politically, the pursuit of global peace and justice requires a shift from a hegemonic to a post-hegemonic world order. The world needs to move from the ‘old geopolitics’ based on rivalry between states, the single-minded pursuit of national interest, and the employment of ‘hard’ military force to a ‘new geopolitics’ based on interaction between cultures and civil societies relying on ‘soft’ ethical norms and traditional values to achieve global harmony and cooperation.
Geo-economically, the search for shared prosperity and both ecologically and socially sustainable development is incompatible with the current configuration of economic life, which compels nations and individuals to compete with one other for access to private trade and investment. Instead, companies and countries should be encouraged to compete among themselves based on building advantages in efficiency and sustainable capacities to contribute to the common good. In particular, stable and sustainable growth requires a diversified economy and a balance between large corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprise and family businesses. The WPF promotes the alternative of building a variety of solidarity economies, all of which recognize that the fundamental purpose of any economy is the provisioning of dignified, meaningful, and productive lives for everyone. This framework recognizes the diversity of economic systems and allows societies to draw from each other’s material, technological, and cultural resources, according to their level of development. An enlarged dialogue among civilizations and cultures is indispensable for agreeing on new global rules and arrangements that promote solidarity economies across the world.
Ecologically, the planet faces devastation due to human activities that are linked to the global economic system. A variety of traditions, including indigenous and aboriginal people as well as world religions, can help attain objectives such as safeguarding the earth based on responsible stewardship. Changes in laws, regulations, institutions and structures are necessary to translate individual ideas into concrete common action. Some of the key priorities include a greater sharing of the world’s resources, greater social responsibility on the part of businesses, harnessing environmentally sustainable ways through mass communication and social media as well as new conceptions of land and land ownership.
In terms of the family, inter-civilizational dialogue can only be fruitful within respect for the natural unchanging values of humanity – the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, the importance of traditions for development, the holiness of motherhood, the role of fatherhood, the recognition of man as a social creature, and the value of family for the continuity of the generations. Therefore, a basic civilizational constant is the “Natural Family” based upon the union of a man and a woman, through marriage for the purposes of building a vital home economy and binding the generations. Even in modern society, more than 70% of economic goods and services are still produced inside the home but not counted in measures of national output. Therefore, strong, stable families with a mother and father in the home, contribute to a healthy global economy, generate social capital, help maintain of a culture of peace, and provide a unique opportunity to address all of the major problems including poverty, violence, education and healthcare found in contemporary society. The Natural Family as recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) is a “sine-qua-non” condition for survival and sustainable development of all nations and civilizations, and the basic and integral condition for demographic well-being.
The WPF welcomes the discussions of the Youth Forum, which was held just before the 10th Rhodes Forum. In particular, the WPF supports the roadmap for youth initiatives until 2021 that was agreed by the participants of the Youth Forum.
Bearing in mind the importance of education for inter-civilizational dialogue, the WPF will create a charter of dialogical learning that combines the principles of mutual understanding with educational practices. Both primary and secondary schools around the world that adopt and implement this charter will receive the status of ‘School of Dialogue’, which is certificated by the WPF. This builds on the experience of schools of dialogue initiated by WPF in Russia and the other CIS countries and seeks to promote it worldwide.