Dialogue of Civilizations for a Humane Order – 2003
The World Public Forum (WPF) has been constituted to bring together a broad cross section of public, religious, academic and political figures for the establishment of a “Dialogue of Civilizations”.
This was the outcome of a series of discussions held this year in Moscow and St. Petersburg (the Russian Federation), in New Delhi (India), in Tehran (Iran), in Prague (the Czech Republic), Athens (Greece), and Vilnius (Lithuania).
The aim of this dialogue is to discuss and elaborate such forms of the world community existence that could reinforce fundamental civilization values and the inalienable human rights, that would capable of meeting the global threats and challenges.
The participants of the Forum reflected that the present world order, the established system of international relations and its acting institutions do not provide complete implementation of the pressing human needs in security, in justice and in the qualitative improvement of life. This has lead to expansion of enormous areas of human deprivation, to promotion of senseless desire for consumption and acquisition, to persistent attempts through the use of information technologies to bring not only economies, but also cultures, spirituality, moral and ethical norms to a single common denominator.
The participants of the Forum have paid special attention to the irreversible damage to the Institutions of International Peace and Security, due to unjustified use violence against sovereignty, security, and culture of other nations which results from the lopsided structure of the world.
To transform this state of affairs into a just, compassionate and a humane order, would require patience, sacrifice, and sustained action to approach these problems of vast magnitude.
The satisfaction of the minimum basic needs for all – food, habitat, health, education, work environment, air and water, should be the first priority for all people of all countries, for all the time. Yet the material, cultural and spiritual consequences of the currently imposed paradigm of reckless consumption and its global spread become less and less acceptable because they serve the accumulation of affluence of a few countries and a small group of people while leading the vast part of the mankind to impoverishment and deprivation.
Ways should be found to break the unholy link, which generates internal and external compulsions to consumption, acquisition and aggregation as the driving force the New Global World Order. Society should glorify spiritual values and achievements. A cultural and spiritual counteroffensive is a need of the time.
Different indigenous cultures evolve into different civilizations. Therefore, the process of induced reduction of diverse cultures as a part of globalization into a single civilization model is detrimental to the process of human evolution. A dialogue of faiths and cultures can freely and creatively evolve only in the absence of a threat of cultural diversity being absorbed and assimilated into a single global standard.
The present globalization fixed on material sphere and conducted in the interests of a small group of the rich developed countries without any ethical, moral and value limitations, conducted without consideration for the interests of poor and developing countries can be detrimental for the future of humanity. The New Global World Order forged by the unipolar power structure is a challenge to the true concept of human dignity and equality and is an affront to the freedom and sovereignty of nations.
So much damage has already been done to the human system, and it is being backed by so much military power that this state of affairs cannot be transformed instantly. We have first to meditate, seek peaceful non-violent and orderly solutions which will fire the imaginations of vast society of the people worldwide, to direct a trend towards a humane future for all. But the time scales for change will vary from one nation to another with the possible advantages for those with lesser damage from the present paradigm.
To seek long-term perspective requires a prophetic vision. But understanding of short and medium term objectives of world development would require a search for new cognition models needed to find an adequate response by different civilizations to the challenges of the time. The essence of this response is in defending the human freedom to develop within the frame of their own culture and territory, their own resources and needs. An innovative civilizational project, which embraces all aspects of material, cultural and spiritual growth is required.
The search for that humane future must evolve to an alteration of the material world, where we live, where our modern civilizations exist. Otherwise humanity will forever continue in a state of rapid drift towards an Armageddon.
The present Forum is just a beginning of a large process that brings people and nations belonging to different civilizations closer to each other.
The participants of the Forum have unanimously decided to continue the serious discussion about the destiny of humanity that started on the island of Rhodes. This discussion should become a substantial factor of the international situation. Practical implementation of the stated goals can be acheived through a series of joint projects especially in cultural, educational and ecological spheres.
The participants and delegates of the Forum have decided to establish a permanently acting International Coordination Committee (ICC) of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”.
The Rhodes Forum calls public organizations, legislative and executive bodies of governments, academic institutions and research centers, scholars and thinkers to widely discuss our proposals.
Rhodes, September – December 2003
Rhodes Declaration 2004
The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” met for the second time in Rhodes (Greece), 29 September – 2 October 2004, gathering several hundreds intellectuals, practitioners, public figures, NGO’s activists, religious authorities, representatives of means of communications, business leaders from over 40 countries.
In these times characterized by a spreading of a cult of violence, when we have an overemphasis on war talks and a deficit of peace and justice talks, the Forum reaffirms the commitment to dialogue among civilizations as an antidote to the looming clash of civilizations.
The dialogue involves the recognition of the dignity and integrity of different cultures and human identities, and opposes any form of hegemonic domination and cultural standardization.
The dialogue recognizes the values of different traditional religious and cultural traditions and condemns the abuse of these values for power political purposes.
In an effort to strengthen these commitments the Forum concentrated on the following themes: globalization and the need for humane global governance; culture and identity in world politics; the new generation in search of values; and the role of religions within the dialogue of civilizations.
On the theme of globalization, the discussions concentrated on the need to develop a plural and democratic form of global governance as a counterweight to unilateral domination and the unregulated rule of market forces.
On theme of culture and identity, the focus of the discussion was on both preserving the integrity and multiplicity of cultural traditions and preventing the decline into extremisms and militant confrontations.
On the theme of the new generation in search for values, the participants recognized the need to bridge the gulf between tradition and modernity and to encourage dialogue between generations.
On the role of religions within dialogue of civilizations, the discussions concentrated on the need to strengthen interfaith encounters and contribute to the consolidation of ongoing inter-religious dialogues.
The Forum believes that in pursuing these goals we can advance the positive role that public opinion movements can make to global peace and progress.
The Forum also recognizes the need for broad information support to disseminate the dialogue of civilizations and to influence the current political systems in recognizing the value of dialogue as opposed to hegemonic oppression and terrorism.
Rhodes Declaration 2005
Participants of the Forum have stated by common consent that the goal for which the World Public Forum was created that had been proclaimed in the 2003 Declaration of Rhodes has become even more relevant than ever before. New representatives of different civilizations, countries and nations join the Forum for the implementation of this goal. This year representatives of Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia have taken part in the work of the Forum.
Today one can contend that the World Public Forum “Dialogue of civilizations” is acquiring the features of a network community working all over the world on the basis of different models of civilizations.
It should be noted that not only the scope of the Forum participants has increased; the range of the discussed themes has also expanded. We now pass from the in-depth study of the most burning problems of the dialogue of civilizations to systemic work and concrete steps.
The third session of the Forum was focused on the problem of integration and self-determination civilizations at the brink of the 21st century. Participants of the discussions noted that modern integration has encompassed all spheres of contemporary public life: economy, politics, education, culture, science and even the newest technologies. It is the basic element of globalization, which on the one hand, brings nations closer to each other, establishes new connections between people from all the continents that had been unthinkable only a decade or two decades ago, an on the other hand, it leads to further cleavages, it increases the gap between the poor and the rich nations. Hence, there is a need of find ways and mechanisms to change the currently domineering globalization model. It may be substituted by a model that would allow to harness the benefits and fruit of globalization for the benefit of all nations and civilizations.
The participants have expressed concern over the state of affairs in the areas of tension and international conflicts: they insist on the need for a persistent search for a stable and lasting peaceful resolution.
It was emphasized during the work of a special section on stability and security in the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia that there is a need for constant monitoring of the processes that play the crucial role for the future of these regions. It was stated that the encounter and interaction of civilizations in these regions of the world already had evolved in a contradictory way. The processes of development in these regions have not been logically implemented and are in the state of flux; therefore, they will be subjected to external and internal pressures in the foreseeable future.
Discussions of the role of religion in the contemporary world have stated that religions more actively influence the public processes, surpassing the domain of private live. The task of the Forum is seen as creating conditions for believers to freely construct their own lives – both private and public in harmony with each other and with the secular part of society. The positive impact of religious communities, their dialogue and cooperation with each other, with the state and society should be freely evolving in the sphere of education, human rights protection, mass media as well as in the other public processes.
A central role in the development of the dialogue of civilizations is played by culture and arts. Multiplicity of cultures represents not only the realities of the contemporary world a value of itself; it has an intrinsic impact on the development of inter-civilizational integration. It may be regarded as its key element. The inter-cultural dialogue based on the principles of national cultural identity preservation is the most efficient and humane way of inter-civilizational understanding and interaction.
Special emphasis in the Forum was paid to the inclusion of the representatives of young people in the process of dialogue of civilizations. Forum participants favor the need to create conditions and possibilities for the young people from all countries to become the most active participants in the construction of a more just and harmonious world. The younger generation has the right to being heard by the world community.
Participants of the third session unanimously state that harmonization of inter-civilizational relations, the development of a functioning network community, in order to create a world order based on dialogue, are necessary.
Rhodes Declaration 2006
The Fourth session of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”, which took place in Rhodes, September 27 – October 1, 2006, brought together over 500 participants from more than 50 countries of the world, united by their desire to implement in practical terms the idea of “bringing closer people and nations, belonging to different civilizations”, recorded at the Rhodes declaration in 2003.
The participants note with satisfaction, that following the decision of the Third annual Forum the process of registration of the international non-government organization “World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” has been successfully completed.
Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and representatives of other faiths and world views have come together to reaffirm that cooperation free of traditional cultural and political barriers is, indeed, possible.
The work of the Forum resulted in the following conclusions:
Today, when inter-confessional, inter-ethnic and other conflicts have become increasingly more abound all over the world, the work of the Forum has testified again to the fact, that today’s world cannot be comprehended and changed in a constructive way without recognizing the key role of civilization factors in international relations.
Neglect of civilization aspects in solving vital problems of the world brings destructive consequences both for our contemporaries and future generations.
On the basis of this understanding the Forum concentrated its work on discussing main issues of the inter-civilization agenda.
Discussing political problems of interaction between different civilizations, the Forum stressed the importance of national states, which notably influence decision making process related to the most important tasks of the world development.
Discussing issues of the dialogue of religions, the Forum participants noted implicit dangers of exploiting religious feelings of believers for political purposes, and pointed out the need of affirming the role of religion as a factor of peace, constructive work and unity.
Discussing social consequences of global migration, the Forum noted that migration processes have transformed into one of the frontline areas of inter-civilization cooperation and integrated efforts of all civilizations in developing norms and regulations for peaceful coexistence of people of different cultures, religions, races and communities.
Discussing top priority issues of socio-cultural integration, the Forum participants pointed out the need of recognizing the value of different cultures and the importance of resisting any attempts to impose discrimination and uniformity. The Forum participants noted the positive role of intercultural dialogue in developing constructive forms of political discussions and economic cooperation, in expanding the space for public interaction between representatives of different civilizations.
Discussing the diversity of modernization patterns for the Middle East, the Forum participants pointed out the absence of a common model for the development of the region that could significantly reduce the conflict potential in the Middle East. At the same time the participants mentioned a number of positive aspects that may de-block the current political situation in the Middle East in the near future.
Discussing the fates of the young generation in today’s world, the Forum participants emphasized the need of teaching young people the skills of dialogue at the earliest possible age and the importance of enabling them to participate in inter-civilization dialogue, remaining at the same time heirs and representatives of their own civilization. The participants specifically indicated the necessity to make the young generation immune to any phobias and ideological cliches, focused on the rejection of the Alien.
The Fourth Rhodes Forum stressed the necessity of broad cooperation between leading international political organizations, public entities, religious figures, different research centers in order to promote initiatives of the Dialogue of Civilizations to set values of inter-civilization dialogue against different forms of violence, suppression and terror.
Rhodes Declaration 2007
The mission of the World Public Forum annual session “Dialogue of Civilizations”, Rhodes 2007, is to make the world community clear about the idea that instead of chaos and destructive tendencies in the world today accompanied by dubious attempts of separate communities to offer themselves in the role of saviors of the world from perish, it is quite possible to see global development as a process of building up a united civilizational space. This could allow, through dialogue, to harmonize inter-civilizational relationships, widen the system of religious contacts, form the structure of regional dialogue aimed at settling critical problems of mutual existence. All of these positive initiatives could help to design integration systems in different spheres of human activity and provide for inter-subsidiarity of opportunities of human self-perfection in various areas of people’s lives.
Rhodes Forum is called upon to express public concern upon disintegration tendencies in the life of the world community and, also, anxiety about attempts to guarantee privileged development of some at the expense of others.
Rhodes Forum, together with other friendly public organisations, positions itself at a new level as instrument of forming a united civilizational space of international relationships. Namely, the instrument able to help diverse public groups come out with and co-ordinate their interests and positions, thereby fully participating in the global development.
Rhodes 2007 claims, that it is precisely this level of inter-civilizational contacts which allows to sort out current problems and blind alleys of social-political life, create a fair order of legal relations and appropriate conditions for a human being’s growth irrespective of his/her ethnic or cultural origin.
Rhodes Declaration 2008
We, the participants of the 6th Rhodes Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” from Oct.9 to 13, 2008:
Bearing in mind the deliberations and results of the five previous Rhodes Forums as well as of several regional conferences under the auspices of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations that contributed to a permanent process of a vibrant dialogue among the representatives of civil society from different countries;
Bearing in mind the role of the public initiatives and efforts to find appropriate solutions for the resolution global challenges;
Stressing that the dialogue between civilizations is the dialogue between individuals and public organizations;
Recognizing the role of the Kronstadt Initiative of 2002 in creating and supporting “the regular holding of the World Public Forum which could become a deliberative and consultative body uniting various social organizations to represent the public interests of their respective countries in this social process”;
Reaffirming the intentions of the co-founders of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations, Vladimir Yakunin, Jagdish Kapur and Nicolas Papanicolaou and the members of the WPF society to support the United Nations activities in the area of dialogue among civilizations worldwide thru initiatives of civil society.
1. Establishing control over the present situation: new peaceful initiatives
1.1. The situation in international relations is deteriorating steadily and, in its impacts, dramatically. Confrontational debates are held instead of dialogue in the spirit of mutual respect.
1.2. Civil society and its organizations have to contribute to confidence building among nations, religions and civilizations by promoting and supporting peaceful solutions of international conflicts and emphasizing the desire of the people for peace, stability and security. Civil Society should play a major role in these circumstances.
1.3. We appeal to the leaders of the world to refrain from cold war rhetoric and to return to a climate of constructive dialogue which brings together all available forces to face the global challenges and to find common solutions for the greatest threats to mankind.
1.4. States and International Organizations should therefore further develop legal principles and rules and their effective implementation for the resolution of conflicts on the basis of respect of civilizational (human) dignity.
1.5. Leaders and nations should voice resentment of the use of military force, except in cases stipulated by the UN resolutions, and reaffirm the complete ban on the use of weapons of mass destruction. States and International Organizations should commit themselves to support peace operations, including peace support and enforcement operations conducted in support of diplomatic efforts to establish and maintain peace.
1.6. The international community must find ways to find common responses to global and regional challenges respecting the equality of nations as well as the right of each civilization to self-determination.
1.7. Fruitful dialogue should lead to partnership of all nations in order to jointly fight terrorism, to take all possible measures against climate change, to bridge the poverty gap and to overcome dangerous imbalances.
2. Economic partnership to overcome the financial crisis
2.1. The present condition of the global economy confirms the need to discard the principle of unipolarity, not only in politics but also in the international economy, bearing in mind that 2|3 of the world population lives in poverty and hunger.
2.2. We consider regional economic cooperation important and necessary, to avoid a situation where one economy is the dominating one and problems of this economy can hurt the whole world.
2.3. New communication technologies, including audio, video, printed press, multimedia and the Internet provide new economic opportunities as well as the opportunity of closer cooperation between civilizations, which serve as the basis for the intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
2.4. We underline the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Private Partnerships in a new World Economic Order, since the ultimate target of all economic activities should be the well being of human beings and not the agglomeration of capital.
2.5. Constantly rejecting the predatory aggressiveness of consumerism, our societies should overcome this prevailing trend after the obvious failure of the ideologies of communism and capitalism. The permanent desire for more consumption would lead to a global system of beneficiaries of consumption and the victims who would have to satisfy this desire.
2.6. We firmly believe in the responsibility of the richer countries to bridge the poverty gap. Poverty of whole nations is endangering regional and global stability. We consider the use of the Kyoto agreements for commercial trade-offs amoral, when developing countries are deprived of development perspectives. The conclusions of the 6th session indicate the inevitability of the a world economic order, based on the multipolarity in this era of globalization.
2.7. We firmly express our appreciation for new forms of financial business such as social business, ethical funds, environmental funds and all types of ethical banking, in particular Islamic banking.
2.8. We encourage “historical and cultural” tourism one the one hand as a mean to foster economic development and on the other hand as a means of learning more about other civilizations and cultures. This means also that tourism has to respect traditions and customs of the host country.
3. Education – the key to dialogue and mutual understanding
3.1. The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations is therefore an active partner of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. We support the global dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge –helping all civilizations to build their human and institutional capacities for the sake of a better and peaceful future.
3.2. We work for a sustainable world with just societies that value knowledge, promote a culture of peace, celebrate diversity and defend human rights, achieved by providing education for all. As underlined by World Public Forum’s conference at Carleton University Ottawa, Canada, education serves as a “Dialogue Model of Social Development”.
3.3. But today there is not only a big gap in the world economy, but following the same dividing line there is also a huge gap in education which leads to a vicious circle – no economic resources, no education, no education – no economic development. We therefore want to support the UN millennium goal that, by 2015, all children complete a full course of primary education.
3.4. We stand for the establishment of schools for the dialogue of civilizations, which would promote social skills, cultural and religious tolerance, the study of other cultures, respect of the right of the “alien” (if it does not contradict the norms of the local civilization).
3.5. We emphasize the importance of adult learning and education in a very fast developing world. If the gaps in economy and development should be narrowed it will be necessary to give everybody the chance to keep his or her knowledge and skills up to date.
4. Believers of different religions united for peace
4.1. The world religions constitute a unique pool of wisdom and desire for a better co-existence of mankind in friendship and peace. But no one possesses the “ultimate truth”. Dialogue and cooperation between the world religions, their believers as well as their leaders, is therefore essential to achieve their common goals, which are better relations among people and enhanced respect for the divine creation.
4.2. To achieve greater unity among mankind, dialogue, cooperation and common actions of the world religions should be promoted at all levels, not only among leaders, but also among believers, in particular where they share the same neighbourhood.
4.3. A prerequisite for mutual respect is knowledge about each other. We therefore suggest that the world religions work together for the elaboration of a common curriculum for teaching about the other religions. This will ensure respectful information on the one hand and avoid misunderstandings, while wrongful stereotyping and hatred will be avoided.
5. A legal basis for a just world order
5.1. In an increasingly interconnected world progress in the areas of development and security must go hand in hand. There will be no development without security and no security without development. Both development and security depend on respect for the rule of law.
5.2. The foundation of the United Nations Organisation back in 1945 was in important step towards justice and legally based international cooperation after the catastrophe of World War II and as a response to the barbarism that initiated this tragic experience.
5.3. Interstate relations should therefore be the supreme place of dialogue among civilizations and nations, the ultimate instance in international law and the only source of law enforcement at the international level. WPF “Dialogue of civilizations” is a platform for public support of these activities.
5.4. Human rights and human dignity are indispensable and indivisible. They are based in the common heritage of all civilizations and religions and in traditions and moral values of societies around the world. No civilization and no nation has the right to monopolize the system of human rights. Each member state of the United Nations has committed itself to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in accordance with its civilizational traditions and societal values.
5.5. WPF supports the Millennium Declaration of the UN, which reaffirms that each nation has the right to choose how it is ruled, and through the who rules it. This has to be achieved thru the self-determination of peoples and nations. It can neither be imposed from outside nor can it follow a single model.
6. Migration – not a danger but a chance for the dialogue of civilizations
6.1. Migration trends are linking different civilizations. This calls obviously again for the dialogue of civilizations to ensure that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society, a principle the International Migration Organization is committed to.
6.2. The root causes of contemporary migration can be found very often in armed conflicts, in extreme poverty, in racial, ethnic or religious discrimination and in natural disasters (more and more connected to climate change). This underlines once more the need of dialogue, not only on migration, but on its root causes.
6.3. We appreciate the work of the International Migration Organization which brings together all interested parties, states of origin, of transit and of destination of migration. But still a lot is to be done. Daily tragedies suffered by migrants in many parts of the world, e.g. in the Mediterranean, exploitation of illegal migrants as a cheep work force, racial, ethnic and religious discrimination of migrants, rising xenophobia in many countries, all call for action.
6.4. Through dialogue, also within the societies concerned, conditions for a humane and orderly migration should be prepared. Immigrants have the right to keep their identity as well as to be integrated in the host country’s society with due respect to the culture of the recipient nation. This requires the effort from both sides. Natives should also have the right to maintain local traditions as well as self-identification vis-?-vis immigrants.
6.5. Education to dialogue and integration is not a one-way-street. Therefore awareness of traditions, customs and religions of major migrant groups in the main stream of the host country’s society is essential for a successful integration without tensions.
7. Culture and arts – fertile soil for dialogue of civilizations
7.1. Each civilization has its specific expression in arts and culture which contributes to its distinctive character. But at the same time the arts and culture of a civilization can attract the people belonging to other civilizations and traditions and build bridges between people of different civilizational background.
7.2. Literature, music, architecture, archaeology, fine arts as well as theatre and film are valuable tools of dialogue.
7.3. Interaction between artists and cultural institutions of different civilizations contributes to better mutual understanding. Such interactions as cross-border exhibitions and guest performances are fostering the dialogue of civilizations.
7.4. We highly value the freedom of expression and the role of the media in developing a better society. At the same time we want to remind the media of their responsibility to contribute to better mutual understanding thru fair and unbiased reporting, and not to fan the flames of confrontation. We appeal therefore to the mass media, to refrain from provocation and direct or implied insults of other civilizations and religions.
8. Conclusions: Intercultural dialogue as a platform for global development
8.1. Facing increasing tensions in international relations, dangerous tendencies to seek military instead of political solutions, and to ring back cold war rhetoric, we are firmly convinced that the world needs dialogue instead of confrontation, partnership instead of ruthless competition.
8.2. All civilizations are committed to respecting human dignity and the indispensable fundamental rights of each human being, but also of each nation and of each civilization. International relations as well as national legislation should therefore be based on the principle of equality of human beings and of the civilizations and of nations built by them.
8.3. The financial crisis which started in the United States and has spread to the whole world needs efficient means against virtual economy. We support the idea of international financial markets supervision and trans-national taxes on speculative profit. This depends on mutual trust among the nations which can be achieved through true dialogue.
8.4. Taking into consideration the complexity of the global system, and in particular, current economic and social turmoil, the participants of the Forum recommend to the co-founders to launch a special taskforce to foresight and analyze medium – term socio – economic and political development with the aim to support the statutory activities of the Forum.
8.5. We appreciate the creation of an internet network (http://www.wpfdc.at/network.php) of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations and invite all those who are interested in promoting the dialogue to join this network.
8.6. We pay tribute to the laureates of the International Prize “Dialogue of Civilizations”, who contributed substantially to the development of the philosophy of dialogue and its implementation in practice.
8.7. Despite all obstacles, despite all recent deterioration in international relations, despite the current financial crisis, we are convinced, dialogue will prevail over confrontation, we will overcome the reigning culture of clashes and violence and replace it by greater cross-cultural understanding and partnership between societies and civilizations. We, the participants of the 6th annual session of World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations will continue to work for these goals, for a new humane world order!
Rhodes Declaration 2009
We, the participants of the
7th Rhodes Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” from October 8 to 12, 2009
Recalling the results of the previous six annual conferences of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations on the Greek Island of Rhodes,
Reaffirming the firm commitment to the “Dialogue of Civilizations” concept for the solution of today’s pressing issues,
Underlining the rich heritage of mankind through cultural and religious diversity,
Emphasizing that mutual understanding and respect is not only the guarantee of an open society at national, but also at regional and global level,
Bearing in mind that respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, is a prerequisite for international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character,
Underlining that human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, gender, language or religion, are based on the principle of equality among all human beings and all nations,
Noting that globalization brings greater interrelatedness among people and increased interaction among cultures and civilizations,
Underscoring that globalization is not only an economic, financial and technological process but that it also presents the challenge of preserving and celebrating the rich intellectual and cultural diversity of humankind and of civilization,
But also recognizing that global threats, like terrorism, climate change, financial and economic imbalances, migration flows, and the poverty gap between and within nations are still waiting for global responses,
And last but not least being concerned, that in international politics abrupt setbacks towards traditional and conservative models of confrontation can be seen,
1. New Developments in International Relations
1.1. Unable to find solutions for international and regional conflicts some players in international relations turn back to confrontational behaviours of the past. But these models would lead just deeper into the crisis.
1.2. We therefore reiterate our appeal to the leaders of the world to refrain from any cold war rhetoric and to return to a climate of constructive dialogue which shows humane responsibility and brings together all available forces to meet the global challenges and to find common solutions for the greatest threats to mankind.
1.3. International relations and international co-operation must take into account that main impulses of international development are not anymore coming from the traditional centers but have been gradually shifting to emerging economies.
1.4. States and International Organizations should commit themselves to co-operation based on mutual trust in order to overcome the global crisis which is by far not only an economic and financial one but to a large extent a crisis of a society which lacks of values and well understood responsibility.
1.5. Civil society, non-governmental organizations, non-profit institutions, international, regional and national foundations should play a bigger role in the establishment of the “Dialogue of Civilizations” culture in international relations. We therefore welcome the gradually enhanced participation of NGOs in international organizations like United Nations, UNESCO, ISESCO, Council of Europe, League of Arab States, Asia – Europe Foundation, Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation and others.
1.6. Civil society and its organizations have to contribute to confidence building among nations, religions and civilizations by promoting und supporting peaceful solutions of international conflicts and emphasizing the desire of the people for peace, stability and security.
1.7. Discussing the situation in the Middle East we urge the parties concerned to use the windows of opportunity for establishing peace. There is no military solution to the conflict; it may only be resolved on the basis of historic compromise providing for mutual recognition and respect for each other’s legitimate rights and interests. Israelis and Palestinians should get together in Moscow for an international conference under the auspices of the Quarter. This may open the road to peace.
1.8. In Iraq and Afghanistan, one the homeland, the other the crossroads of ancient civilizations, dialogue between the different ethnic, religious and social groups should lead to the ownership of the two nations of the own affairs and in particular of their own future in peace, stability and self-determination.
1.9. We also emphasize that the debate on Iran’s Nuclear Program should be carried out in the spirit of dialogue of equals and with the aim not only of non-proliferation but of global reduction of nuclear arms.
1.10. Territorial integrity and safeguarded national independence shall be the guide lines for the solution of the above mentioned conflicts as well as for strengthening democratic stability in Lebanon and for the solution of the Darfur crisis.
2. Post-Crisis Architecture of the Global Economic System
2.1. The global economic and financial crisis has not ended yet. It is obvious that this crisis cannot be fought with the traditional economic and financial tools only.
2.2. In particular protectionism does not work; on the contrary it is worsening the consequences of the crisis. The way different nations structure their economies within the globalised market probably matters less than we like to think. Therefore we need more, not less international economic cooperation
2.3. International economic cooperation must be based on mutual interests instead of raw national egoism and shift from global domination to the balanced multi-polarity including the new emerging economies.
2.4. The ultimate target of all economic activities should be the common good of human beings and not the agglomeration of capital. The focus of economics should be on the benefit and the bounty that the economy produces, on how to let this bounty increase, and how to share the benefits justly among the people for the common good.
2.5. We need new ethics in economy instead of prevailing consumerism on the one hand and unbridled free-market capitalism which culminates in so-called share holders values on the other.
2.6. Managers have to responsibly safeguard the interests of shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which they operate and to manage their enterprises in good faith, guarding against decisions and behaviour that advance any own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
2.7. A new economy will need managers who run their enterprises in good faith, guarding against decisions and behaviour that advance their own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves. Special attention should be paid to corporate ethics.
2.8. We welcome the call of many religious leaders for ethics in economy and in particular that of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical letter “Caritas in veritate” for a civil economy re-embedded in civil society that transcends the old secular dichotomies of state versus market and left versus right.
2.9. We also express our appreciation for new forms of financial business like social business, ethic funds, environmental funds and all kind of ethic banking such as Islamic banking and others.
3. Education and Innovations – Foundation for Sustainable Development
3.1. Education is the main and essential mechanism of social development by means of nurturing and formation of a personality aimed at achievement of unanimity and civilizational dialogue. However, the growth of civilizational tension and destruction of the global public order formed after the World War II give evidence of the crisis in the dominating educational model and the necessity to search for the possible “way out”.
3.2. We are in the middle of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and urge all nations to intensify their efforts in the frame of this programm.
3.3. The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations is an active partner of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and has reaffirmed its agreement of cooperation with the organisation. We support the global dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – helping all civilizations to build their human and institutional capacities for the sake of a better and peaceful future.
3.4. We affirm that education should be made available to everybody regardless of class, religion, gender, race and cultural origin. This education should empower the students to achieve responsible citizenship. Special attention should also be given to open-mindedness, an important prerequisite for entering a dialogue.
3.5. The present crisis leads to more discrimination, xenophobia and racism, both within and between societies. These problems should be addressed in an education aiming at empowering the young generations to identify and challenge instances of these phenomena.
3.6. It should be our responsibility to make the moral aspects of life clear for the youth; we should urge the young generation to cooperation and mutual interchange of spiritual values, to a constructive dialogue, founded on the grounds of common to all people moral, unacceptance of the destructive informational influence and violence propaganda and rejection of any forms of discrimination.
4. World Religions Facing Tradition and Modernization
4.1. Particularly in times of a global crisis the world religions can play an important role in stressing spiritual and humane values, reminding people of their responsibility for the common good and counteracting a way of life which is only determined by more profit and more consumption.
4.2. Religions can play this important role even better when they engage themselves in a fruitful dialogue with each other and demonstrate that the spiritual values are their common legacy and therefore common values of mankind.
4.3. All world religions are confronted with a tension but also an interdependence of tradition and modernization. Religions can help people to stick to valuable traditions on the one hand and to accept modernization on the other by underlining that not the form but the substance and the spirit are important.
4.4. We encourage leaders and believers of all religions to continue their dialogue and cooperation, to work for mutual knowledge and respect and contribute hereby to the development of a better and more peaceful world without conflicts and crisis.
4.5. We appeal to believers as well as to non-believers to learn more about religions and in particular about the beliefs, customs and traditions of believers of other religions who live next to them in order to better understand and to respect them.
5. The Contribution of the Youth to Dialogue for Peace and Justice
5.1. The young generations in many countries grew up not only with all means of modern technology unknown for their parents and grandparents but also without the dividing lines of the cold war. Therefore they are technically as well as politically prepared for dialogue beyond traditional borders and for networking with young people all over the world.
5.2. But we shall not forget also millions of young people who have not yet access to modern communication tools and are therefore excluded from the global information community.
5.3. Opportunity should be offered to young people to cross boundaries and to break barriers (not only geographical ones, but also social, cultural etc.) and to be educated to a spirit of openness.
5.4. Dialogue cannot start but early enough. International youth exchange is one of the best practices for mutual understanding and respect. We encourage governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations and institutions to promote and to organize youth exchange.
5.5. Material incentives may be not good tools to promote immaterial values. Young people need examples and best practices how to live guided by the eternal values and ideas for a better world. The consumerist paradigm should be overcome.
5.6. Service to community is such an opportunity to experience values and ideals. Local projects can reinforce identity and serving the community will offer satisfaction through the social impact.
5.7. Sharing the experience from serving the community through World Wide Web will enhance dialogue and encounter of young people.
5.8. Young people from conflict areas should be offered places to meet and to discuss their common interest in peace and reconciliation.
6. Global Mobility
6.1. Migrants and foreign communities are not to blame for the current economic crisis, indeed they can help work us out of it.
6.2. Civil society, the private sector, associations, religious entities and local governments have a crucial role to play in mobility policy and practice, alongside with central governments.
6.3. In order to optimize the advantages of international human mobility and to deal appropriately with increasing pressures and challenges, governments should take steps to facilitate international human mobility in legal and orderly channels, whether temporary or permanent, according to their national needs.
6.4. In addition to central governments and international organizations, civil society, the private sector, associations, religious entities and local governments play a crucial role in encouraging better understanding of human mobility as a positive factor and in working together to improve conditions for Diaspora communities through public debate, advocacy and the provision of services; the role of these institutions should be encouraged.
6.5. The international community should devise credible mechanisms to monitor the impact of the economic and social crisis on mobile populations, especially during the recovery and reconstruction phase.
6.6. The international community as a whole should work to expand the application of information technology to international human mobility in order to assist Diaspora communities and those who provide services to them.
6.7. The private sector and large corporations in their long term plans should seek improved symmetry between the emerging demand for skills and orderly arrangements for the supply of workers and professionals.
6.8. New tools should be created and mobilized to catalyze private sector activity and foster meaningful public-private partnerships. The Association for International Mobility is an essential and constructive instrument. Other civil society institutions could equally make positive contributions.
6.9. The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations is well on the way to institutionalizing the debate on human mobility and should continue to provide a platform for discussion on human mobility and should foster the adoption of constructive measures by states and societies. It should cooperate more closely with bodies such as UNESCO, ISESCO, ALESCO, and others.
6.10. We must never forget that the foreigners among us are “messengers of civilization”.
7. Culture and Arts – Fertile Soil for Dialogue of Civilizations.
7.1. Recognition of national and cultural particularities is the most effective and human way of resolution of ethnic conflicts, one of the main elements of inter-civilizational interaction practices.
7.2. Literature, music, architecture, fine arts as well as theatre and film are valuable tools of dialogue and artists are excellent messengers between civilizations.
7.3. Interaction between artists and cultural institutions of different civilizations contributes to better mutual understanding. Such interactions like cross-border exhibitions and guest performances are fostering the dialogue of civilizations.
7.4. We highly value the freedom of expression and the role of the media in developing a better society. At the same time we want to remind the media of their responsibility to contribute to better mutual understanding through fair and unbiased reporting and not to fan the flames of confrontation. We appeal therefore to the mass media, to refrain from provocation and direct or implied insults of other civilizations and religions.
7.5. We welcome the founding of the “WPF DoC Media Award” which will honour outstanding promotion of dialogue among cultures and civilizations and mutual understanding in the media.
7.6. An expert group in the framework of World Public Forum – Dialogue of civilizations should gather renowned cultural workers and mass-media representatives in order to develop intercultural dialogue practice.
7.7. The diversity of writing systems as well as richness and diversity of human speech is an important heritage of world cultures. In spite of the differences all civilizations look upon writing as a divine gift, a road towards some higher spiritual occupation and transformation.
7.8. At the same time the problem of literacy for millions of people still exists.
7.9. We need new cultural policies, coordination of efforts, information, preparation and realization of programs and decisions in order to secure in the future the integral civilization diversity of writing.
8. Conclusions: Dialogue of Civilizations as a Platform for Global Development
8.1. Like the participants of the previous six conferences “Dialogue of Civilizations” on the Greek Island of Rhodes we are convinced that all civilizations, nations, peoples, religions have much more in common than what may divide them. Therefore dialogue will prevail over confrontation.
8.2. Convinced that the current global crisis emerged in particular because many of the decision makers forgot their responsibility for the common good we call upon the leaders in politics, business, culture, education and religion to work together in creating a common humane responsibility for sustainable social stability.
8.3. We commit ourselves to the spirit of Rhodes which is the spirit of equality of all human beings and of mutual respect which should be reflected in good neighbourly relations at local level as well as in international relations and cooperation.
Rhodes Declaration 2010
We, more than 450 participants from 57 countries meeting for the 8th Rhodes Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” from Oct. 7 to 11, 2010, to discuss timely problems related to the formation of a world order in the emerging conditions of a multilateral world, declare:
In the short historical timeframe of 20 years the world community has witnessed a consecutive disintegration of two systems of global management – a bipolar equilibrium and a unipolar hegemony. Now the world is going through a multidimensional systemic global crisis that is determined by an antagonism between finance and the “real” economy. The financial economy does not only produce goods and services but besides the notorious bubbles it also contributes to the so-called “grey capitalism” where immense profits escape from taxation (and therefore from the contribution to the common good), from state control and even jurisdiction. The collapse of the financial economy occurred because it is totally inadequate to a world order in which the intrinsic values of human life, society and nature should be present in equal measure.
The inadequate and painful rise and fall of the financial economy has had a negative impact on the development of the world economy. In particular the gap between rich and poor has not only failed to narrow; on the contrary, it has increased, and this is accompanied by an overall drop in the level of social support in many developed countries. In addition, humanity has been confronting the consequences of man-made global warming. New tensions in geopolitics may be the result unless a new culture of dialogue will prevail.
So we emphasize the challenges of global climate change and the social challenges of the world community that has historically been constituted on the basis of mutually augmenting values of different civilizations.
A sustainable and prosperous global economy needs to pursue the common good, in which profit making is compatible with a fair society and a sustainable environment. We cannot rescue and reform national economies or the world economic system without the participation of governments and parliaments. By contrast with neo-liberal market fundamentalism, what is required is a new civic covenant between states, markets and civil society.
The failure of markets, institutions and morality during the current financial crisis highlights the need for an ethical, moral and spiritual framework. Strengthening the role of the family will help address problems related to demographic decline, family break-up and the closely connected disintegration of human society.
The independent Rhodes Youth Forum that preceded our conference was freely organized by the young people themselves in a spirit of dialogue. It showed the importance of shared values such as solidarity, family, morality and responsibility for a fairer and more peaceful society.
The world does not need any new ideologies that purport to possess absolute truth. Mankind needs plurality, mutual respect for diversity and fruitful co-operation among equals.
Our conviction is that there is no financial way out of the financial crisis. Rather, the world is ready for a multilateral and multilevel social and political dialogue of civilizations that promotes a fair post-crisis world order.
As usual, we the Forum invite all those who consider themselves capable of supporting our efforts in discussing and building the future of the world to participate in the Forum’s agenda and to be active members of the dialogue network community.
Rhodes Forum 2011 Declaration
We, more than 600 participants from about 70 countries meeting for the 9th annual session of the WPF “Dialogue of civilizations”, declare:
We have met in a year of key landmarks: 10 years after the declaration of the international decade of dialogue of civilizations and cultures, 10 years after the barbarism of 9/11 and the challenge to all civilizations, 20 years after the end of the confrontation between East and West and 50 years after the first manned space flight that provided a unique window on our shared globe:
We met for the first time without our co-founder, the Indian humanist and futurist J.C. Kapur, who guided our work with his thoughts, summarized in the following quote:
“The political structure of the future will be substantially different from that of today. It will be more decentralized, multi-cultural and multi-faith, which has been frequently mentioned during our forum for 9 years. The main conflict is emerging and will keep emerging in the field of religion. The path of humanism, self-realization and religious faith based on millennia-old revelations, confront the technocratic paradigm and the progress of human thinking. This will be the essential conflict of this century”.
The ninth session of the World Public Forum was dedicated to the following questions of global development: the modern economy, the role of international political institutions, the values of education, the preservation of family in the 21st century as a key to resolving the main problems of humankind and as the natural source for human revival, the role of mass media in today’s world and youth movements.
The discussion also focused on such burning issues as the recent changes in the Arab world, the role of civil society in overcoming the consequences of the crisis, the prospects of various integration projects, cultural aspects of the inter-civilization dialogue with the example of such civilizations as the nomads of Central Asia, the African continent and the Russian world.
We reaffirm our commitment to the previous Rhodes declarations and confirm our quest for maintaining plurality for mankind, mutual respect for diversity and fruitful cooperation among equals in dignity.
The current crisis highlights the limits of the neo-liberal model of “globalization”. A sustainable and prosperous global economy needs to pursue common good, in which profit making is compatible with a fair society and sustainable environment, in particular on the national and regional level.
The Rhodes community can raise and address new questions that are to be discussed internationally. In this dialogical manner, it is ready to serve as a public laboratory of ideas and good practices for shaping the future. In this light, the WPF makes the following concrete proposals:
- It commemorates the memory of the prominent Indian public thinker J.C. Kapur and supports the annual Kapur international lecture on the most important issues of the dialogical community
- It calls on UNESCO and other leading international organizations to continue their support for international programs in the field of dialogue among civilizations and cultures
- It appeals to the people and the authorities of Syria to organize a open public dialogue between the representatives of different groups of society without the use of force, extremism and undue external interference
- It suggests that the lack of responsible global strategic thinking and comprehensive research in the social and political sciences as well as the degradation of education systems everywhere requires a larger scale of research and expertise in the process of modeling and constructing the future
- It emphasizes the role of the media to foster the dialogical culture and to refrain from any manipulation.
Rhodes Forum 2012 Declaration
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 civilisations 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 civilisations 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 civilisations. 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 civilisations 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 civilisational 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 civilisations 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-civilisational 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 civilisational 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 civilisations, 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-civilisational 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.
Rhodes Forum 2013 Declaration
The contemporary world is dominated by various forces that threaten humanist principles and a plurality of ways of life. A pervasive hegemony is imposing unilateral standards masquerading as global values irrespective of cultural diversity. Persistent injustice exacerbates both poverty and inequality within and between peoples and nations. Mankind faces the spectre of regional escalation that could lead to global confrontation. The continual domination of financial capital poses a growing menace to democratic life. Populists and extremists are on the rise. An impoverished materialism is undermining cultures, societies and spiritual traditions around the globe. All these threats derive from a lack of genuine dialogue that prevents all the civilizations of the world from contributing to the common good.
The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations reaffirms its fundamental commitment to the concept of “Dialogue of Civilizations” for solving today’s pressing problems and for developing sustainable strategies towards a more humane world. 450 participants from 60 countries gathered for the 11th time in Rhodes (October, 2-6, 2013) to debate fresh ideas to fix the world.
We are committed to a peaceful resolution of conflict and critical engagement on the contentious issues of our time.
We support international efforts to uphold and extend the conventions on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
We condemn any attempt to instrumentalise religious division for violent, geopolitical ends and we call in particular for constructive Sunni-Shia dialogue.
We call for urgent action to end the persecution of minorities across the world, including Christians in the wider Middle East.
We emphasize the role of ethical principles in organizing both businesses and the global economy.
We affirm the importance of the voice of civil society in domestic and international affairs.
We propose the adoption of the platform of ‘Trans-Eurasian belt Razvitie’, an open partnership involving different stakeholders with the aim of generating an infrastructure revolution for social development.
We promote the contribution of marriage and the family to society and the economy, including family businesses and small- and medium-size enterprise.
We encourage inter-generational dialogue and the participation of young people in public life.
We strive for a more environmentally stable future that preserves biodiversity for the sake of future generations.
We believe in the enduring importance of education and lifelong training, notably vocational skills.
The World Public Forum as a public movement calls on movements of good will to join the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” in the pursuit of these goals.
12th Rhodes Forum. Concluding Remarks
Concluding remarks of the Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” on the occasion of the 12th Annual Rhodes Forum (Rhodes, Greece, 25-29 September 2014)
The Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” is deeply concerned about the recent deterioration in global affairs and about structural trends that jeopardise both humanity and nature. Of even greater concern is the unprecedented and utterly irresponsible reaction to this development by the global financial oligarchy, which seems to be the only beneficiary of the crisis and the current onslaught.
The Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” strongly opposes the aggression against sovereign nations and peoples, the mass killing of innocent civilians, indiscriminate sanctions against the citizens of other countries, the intellectual and moral suppression of natural forms of human behaviour, mass surveillance programmes as well as the wholesale destruction of humanity’s social ecology, which has been elevated into the new norm.
In our view:
– the systemic crisis that proves that even the analytical value of the neo-liberal globalization paradigm has exhausted itself, not to mention its predictive power. The rise of inequality above any reasonable limits in so many developed and developing countries is a compelling example of its inadequacy;
– the extreme increase in the scope and intensity of injustice in the world, which is especially evident on such diverse continents as Europe and Africa;
– the contradictions on the Eurasian continent remain unresolved in the current global crisis. They have contributed significantly to dramatic events in recent years, most tragically in Ukraine where the disruptive effects for the wider Europe and the world are most evident;
– the global financial oligarchy is trying to establish a new transnational class to secure its own geo-economic and geo-political domination within the framework of a New World Order, which is portrayed as necessary, normative and inevitable.
Faced with this situation, the Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” sees no other alternative than to use all its powers and resources more pro-actively in order to support public efforts against the threat of global confrontation or even war and to work out new, sustainable socio-economic models. These models, which put the interests of humanity centre-stage, will inform the emerging theories and practices aimed at transforming the world.
We think that the “dialogue of civilizations”, underpinned by a rigorous conceptual basis, is the only way to achieve the goal we set 15 years ago, namely to enable us to assess the risks and threats to human civilization and thereby to establish a world order that will ensure the survival of society, mankind and future generations.
As an international Non-Governmental Organisation, we will set up several WPF programmes and initiatives, and encourage by all possible means the practical and responsible participation of the members of the Rhodes Forum and the Dialogue Family in the following activities.
1. The project on the Schools of Intercultural Dialogue developed by the WPF should become a visible reality for more countries and nations. The WPF will support its expansion both geographically and generationally, and it seeks to apply the project’s principles and standards to existing educational systems.
2. The WPF – sharing the view that adult responsibility exists in any civilized social system – will work out its policy towards the youth in order to ensure their right to access to education and best practices of “dialogue of civilizations”. The existing programme of digital courses of dialogue of civilizations that has been implemented for three consecutive years will get significant support from the WPF in order to foster cooperation with leading universities.
3. The WPF will seek to translate the concept of “dialogue of civilizations” into plausible public policies by instituting a dedicated WPF Dialogue of Civilizations think-tank, which could also serve as a global hub for the theory of dialogue. Its main task will be to ensure intellectually that the dialogue of civilizations is not hijacked by manipulative forces.
4. The WPF will support all responsible efforts to oppose the violation of humanity’s social ecology as well as to defend traditional practices and ways of life.
13th Rhodes Forum. Concluding Remarks
Concluding remarks of the Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” on the occasion of the 13th Annual Rhodes Forum, October 11, 2015
The World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations (WPF-DoC) has always defended the irreducible diversity of civilizations and supported pluralistic ideas at the service of inter-cultural and inter-civilizational dialogue. Based on a fifteen-year tradition, the Rhodes Forum seeks to offer a rich and rigorous analysis of the world as it is – outside of conventional categories that fail to capture the lived experience and reality that confronts people across the globe.
After 1945, the creation of the United Nations was at a heart of a concerted effort to provide for all nations a future without war. 70 years later we are deeply concerned by the persistence of old conflicts and the occurrence of new wars. Amid a shift from more tangible threats to more nebulous risks, there is a growing fusion of physical force (including new instruments such as drones and robots) with subversive tactics (like disinformation, “cyber warfare,” irregular forces, deception). This evolution towards hybrid warfare has the effect of blurring the lines between the military and civilian spheres, state- and non-state actors as well as regular and irregular tactics. Hybrid warfare represents the contemporary version of ‘total war’, which aims not only to achieve military victory but also to undo the political and social systems of states. As such, it precludes efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement through dialogue between the warring parties and destroys the very fabric of a world order based on the co-existence of sovereign nations.
During the 2015 Rhodes Forum Special attention was paid to West Asia and North Africa (WANA). Wars are raging in at least four countries in the region, tens of thousands of people have been killed, and millions more have left their homes in fear for their life. The rise of terrorist outfits such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Jabhat al-Nusra – targeting Muslims and non-Muslims alike – suggests that the world is facing a battle against barbarism, not a clash of civilizations. Fighting the barbarians who slaughter innocent men, women and children is a battle for civilisation – for ancient ways of life, ancestral homeland, millennia-old traditions and different faith communities such as Oriental Christians and the Yazidi who confront an impossible choice: forced conversion, expulsion or death. We are convinced that such and similar conflicts cannot be solved by military means alone but require political settlements that reflect cultural realities. We echo Pope Francis’ recent words that “war only brings destruction and multiplies suffering, while hope and progress can only come from peace. The concerned parties should broaden their horizons beyond the immediate interests and use international law and diplomacy to resolve current conflicts”.
This spirit also extends to other spheres such as the economy, society, and nature where a neo-colonialist system and mindset underpin the practices of exploitation that we are seeing around the world. What is required are new models of inclusive and equitable development that can lead to prosperous future – individual fulfillment and mutual flourishing. Therefore the objective of economic, financial and developmental policy should be shared prosperity for all – not just small global and national elites. This was the aim of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the underlying holistic strategy, which now also includes a greater emphasis on ecological resilience. Unfortunately, international organization that should play a key role in this process too often fail to foster sustainable economic growth or to create sufficient jobs. We call upon them to lend to the real economy, particularly to micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and to individuals who either live in abject poverty or struggle to make ends meet.
We are also concerned about a policy of creating a society of individuals who focus only on satisfying their selfish desires and ignore the needs of others or the fate of the planet at large. We stand in solidarity with all those who consider the family to be a fundamental social and cultural institution that is the basis for human flourishing and civilization – as set out in the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitutions of more than 100 countries as well as reflected in the holy scriptures of various religious traditions.
In the course of six plenary sessions and five workshops, the Rhodes Forum debated both current affairs such as the migration crisis and long-term issues such as European security, the importance of digital media, the network of schools of dialogue, as well as the cultures, history and future of China and Russia.