Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, Berlin, 10 October 2018 – The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s Rhodes Forum 2018, ‘Making Multilateralism Work: Enhancing Dialogue on Peace, Security, and Development’, which was held 5-6 October, brought together policy-makers from across the world in a spirit of open dialogue and enquiry, to consider current challenges, promote innovative ideas, and identify new approaches and new trends.
This flagship event is rooted in Dialogue of Civilizations’ work carried out over the past 16 years. Over this time, the forum has built a well-deserved reputation for being the place that identifies future challenges before they emerge, and for bringing together different perspectives with the aim of achieving real breakthroughs on ongoing issues.
Climate change, resource and infrastructure inequality, the rise of radicalism, digitalisation, migration, humanity’s future, and economic crises – these are all themes that the Rhodes Forum has focused on.
During this year’s Rhodes Forum, the focus was firmly on emergent trends and future challenges, as seen in the sessions on the future of humanity and the media session on ‘fake news’. Importantly, the Rhodes Forum is more than a flagship event run by a key think tank in Europe. It is part of a broader process of research and the development of policy advice that seeks to address the problems we face through impactful recommendations that can be enacted by national and international organisations.
Located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, throughout its time the Rhodes Forum has focused on North-South relations as the key to sustainable global development. This year that focus was further strengthened by a separate Africa summit, a leaders’ panel devoted solely to the future of Africa. Providing a platform for enhancing exchange, equally free of paternalism and accusations, between representatives from the Western and the non-Western world is a key element of the mission of DOC Research Institute.
The people who participate in the Rhodes Forum come from very different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Everyone brings their own perspective, their own experience. But everyone who attends Rhodes shares one very important characteristic: they are motivated to change our world for the better through dialogue between cultures and civilisations.
Jean-Christophe Bas stressed in his closing address that the guiding principle for the DOC is “to acknowledge that globalisation is not just about setting standards, it is not just about a technical process to regulate flows of exchange of goods and finance, it is first and foremost also a cultural and a human phenomenon. That is something about which there has been a tendency to forget and deny. There is an imperative to accompany the economic process with a cultural dimension.”
The DOC will publish the key results of the sessions that took place during the Forum, and the research initiatives that were developed at the Forum will continue to be pursued at decision-maker and policy-maker level.
One prime example of this, Jean-Christophe Bas gave, was the policy recommendation that our team produced on cross-border infrastructure for sustainable development; this project has been fully incorporated in the G20 agenda ahead of its meeting in two months’ time in Argentina.
The forum opened with a welcome address by Vice-Governor of the South Aegean Region Ioannis Flevaris and DOC Research Institute Co-founder and Chairman Dr. Vladimir Yakunin. The opening plenary session was moderated by well-known French author and journalist Renaud Girard, and included high-profile speakers such as Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, prime minister of the Republic of Guinea and Joschka Fischer, foreign minister and vice chancellor of Germany (1998-2005).
Other well-known and respected participants included Ehud Olmert – prime minister of Israel 2006-2009, journalist and broadcaster Mary Dejevsky, Justin Yifu Lin from Peking University, Samia Nkrumah who is the president of The Kwame Nkrumah Pan-African Centre (KNAC), and James K Galbraith, who holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a professorship in Government at The University of Texas at Austin.
Speaking at the Rhodes Forum 2018, Joschka Fischer underlined the necessity of the United States of America remaining part of the multilateral world, saying “the Trumps will come and go” and reminding the audience that “we had the same experience in other cases.”
More detail on this and other outcomes of the Rhodes Forum 2018 can be found on our website.
The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute is an independent research institute whose mission is to promote mutual understanding, inclusive development, and equitable dialogue. It seeks to develop policy proposals based on scientific research that addresses key challenges faced by the international community, from infrastructure underdevelopment and economic inequality to civilizational and religious tensions and conflicts.
About the Rhodes Forum
The Rhodes Forum has been running for 16 years as a platform to facilitate meaningful dialogue across cultures, uniting senior government officials, policymakers, international business, academics, and philanthropists to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the world today, from the political to the economic to the social.
The Forum is unique in that it seeks to give an equal platform to all voices from developed as well as emerging economies, from different cultures, ethnicities, and faiths, from the traditional mainstream to new and often under-represented schools of thinking. Despite the diversity of the programme, our participants are at least united in one area – a shared drive to help make the world a more sustainable, inclusive, and fairer place for all humankind.
The Forum has convened each year since 2003, gathering 300 to 600 participants annually from over 70 countries to consider key issues. Over this time, it has built a solid reputation for both correctly identifying future areas of tension and conflict and developing practical policy recommendations to address these issues. In 2017, over 3 million people followed the Forum’s activities on social media, an estimated 150,000 watched the opening panel’s live transmission, and the event resulted in over 400 media mentions.