Based on research conducted by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute and contributions made by panellists and moderators during the 2017 Rhodes Forum, the DOC suggests the following policy recommendations for further development and proposal to the relevant entities.
Though not exhaustive in scope, we believe these suggestions provide a concrete starting point for future policy analysis and development.
The following policy recommendations are based on values rooted in the concept of a ‘dialogue of civilisations’, and will help guide key players in the international community towards more inclusive, equitable, and effective positions on a number of central issues.
1. Creation of civic councils
Assemble civic councils comprised of experts, scholars,and individuals with a background in governance, who can contribute their knowledge and experience to discussions of pressing global concern and create links between countries and with international organisations.
The goal of these councils is to develop practical policies which can be realistically implemented. Civic councils will be flexible enough to respond to fast-changing events because they will represent civil society, rather than being state organisations burdened by inefficient and bureaucratic processes.
At the same time, civic councils will still have the ability to propose solutions in highly sensitive areas. Such councils should be formed for limited terms only, with a clear and specific mandate to address a precise and particular issue or conflict. They should be invariably dissolved once a plausible solution has been identified.
2. Support for global infrastructure projects similar to the One Belt, One Road/Belt and Road model
Apply the OBOR/Belt and Road as a model for further trans-national, multi-stakeholder development initiatives in a number of crucial geographies. Frameworks like OBOR/Belt and Road provide the best opportunity for a ‘win-win’ development scenario for all stakeholders, as it is a model that does not feature a dominant country.
The most important challenge will be establishing coordination and collaboration between new institutions like the AIIB, and timeworn ones like the World Bank and the IMF.
Security and conflict
3. Creation of a ‘Helsinki Conference‘ for the Gulf region
Build a structure inspired by the OSCE that could help support, maintain, and extend stability in the region while also serving to reduce local powers’ engagement in proxy wars.
One key goal would be diffusing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is a central destabilising factor in the broader region.
We suggest establishing a structure inspired by the OSCE – a Helsinki Conference for the Gulf region – that would bring Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries together to discuss the best interests of all regional powers and how to ensure cooperate in actuality.
4. Implementing the North Korean freeze plan
Build momentum towards implementing concrete de-escalation measures for the Korean peninsula. These measures would see North Korea agree to freeze nuclear missile tests in exchange for comprehensive international economic aid, to help de-escalate the situation in the immediate term.
Negotiations would follow on from a common security architecture, between Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, the United States, and South Korea. The guiding principle of this initiative is to establish an alternative to war with North Korea, which is seeking lasting security guarantees.
5. Prioritising bilateral and multilateral initiatives which address the root causes of terrorist activity
Current approaches to preventing and fighting terrorism have proven to be inadequate responses to the changing tactics of terrorist groups, and much of this is due to lack of communication and coordination on the international, national, regional, and local levels. Initiatives require nimble response from counter-terrorism related personnel across borders and between all levels of government. Counterterrorism programs should train international groups of personnel dealing with terrorist threats, and focus on frequent and effective dialogue between these workers, and most importantly the sharing of intelligence so that coordination efforts are streamlined.
6. Introduce cybersecurity and data protection legislation
Legislation that provides the public and governments with cyber-defence and digital sovereignty technologies, so as to safeguard against cyber security risks, should be prioritised. This legislation would include data protection laws which ensure both net neutrality and freedom of information protection.
7. Establish an international code of ethics and common rules for the use of artificial intelligence
Draft a code of ethics, establishing it via signatories and then collectively work towards outlining measures for prosecuting violations.
8. Creation of a balanced credit-rating system
Because of the globalisation of banking systems, there needs to be a universal tool created to assess global financial risks in a standardised and impartial way. This would be an important step in diversifying approaches to international credit rating. This would also offer the opportunity for the elements of the ranking to be considered from multiple fresh perspectives.
9. Introduce reformed protections for intellectual property rights and technology transfers
The global system of protecting intellectual property could greatly inhibit industrial development and technological adaptation in the poorest countries, where lawmakers advocate for the local implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (1994).
10. Increase government support for the development of digital infrastructure
The market alone will not deliver the necessary investment in developing countries to create an adequate digital infrastructure.
In order to narrow the digital divide and bring access to poorer and middle-class communities, some public-sector spending is necessary. However, because government resources are limited, the public sector should seriously consider working with tech start-ups, as they have a more innovative capacity and ability to scale results faster.
11. Form a working group of international experts to bring together research into possible new scenarios for inclusive global development.
Research carried out under DOC auspices indicates growing global interest in new approaches to economic development, as communities and businesses look to new models to help reinforce those areas that work and identify ways of improving the economy’s resilience.
There are areas of our economies and societies that are underserved by existing models, and areas of untapped economic potential continue to be overlooked or ignored worldwide. A working group would help further work in the areas of development and economic modelling.
Migration and refugees
12. Managing the asylum process
European Union Member States’ asylum systems have been strained by the 2015-2016 influx of refugees and migrants, but so has the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) as a whole. Nations that are a part of supranational unions, such as the EU, and which voted for the adoption of common asylum rules, have to abide by them.
However, they should not be subject to pressure on behalf of other Member States, in cases where there is no established procedure to tackle refugee crises of today’s scale, stemming from the ongoing wars in the Middle East and North Africa.
The European Union should acknowledge that different member states have different interests and approaches in the field of migration and integration and should have the right to develop their own policies democratically, despite their legal obligations to respect EU treaties.
Society and culture
13. Incorporate spiritual and religious leaders in conflict resolution within communities
In cases where spiritual and religious issues are of particular importance, as in instances of inter-faith tensions or community isolation, there should be established mechanisms by which civil society organisations, governments, community leaders, and spiritual and religious leaders can work together to identify and implement solutions.
Much of this work is presently carried out in parallel, with little interaction between the key players or institutional pillars. By establishing a mechanism of cooperation, communities would be better able to come together in tackling these issues.
14. Promotion of SMARTE-based programs
Civil society organisations and members of the community, including private patrons, should fund initiatives that facilitate intercultural understanding and preserve cultural heritage based on Sports, Music, Art, Theatre, and Entertainment (SMARTE).
15. Further support for youth exchange programs
The EU, as well as civil society and community members should continue support for youth exchange programs and initiatives, such as Erasmus+, to boost the spirit of dialogue among young people around the world. This could be especially beneficial if there is a focus on EU countries and non-EU countries, such as Former Soviet Union.
16. Cultural education
State and local governments, local communities, education patrons, and faith leaders should work closely with one another to develop school curriculums for national and international use that include a set number of courses focusing on cultural education – which could include reading classic texts from different cultures – in order to increase cross-cultural understanding and awareness of shared values. This would help build social cohesion and understanding among communities in any one society. Due to its global nature, the course could be modular and developed along set lines – applicable in any geography.
17. Form an expert-level international working group looking at the position of families in the current economy and society
Research carried out to date by DOC has highlighted areas where supporting families as social and economic units can bring additional societal benefits – both economically and relieving pressure from state welfare systems. Families form both a central unit in our societies and a key element in any economy. As societies and views of the family evolve, this working group will bring together international insight into the role of the family.
The 2017 Rhodes Forum addressed many pressing issues, and the policy recommendations were developed combined with the DOC’s research over the past year. Clearly, current policies – at all levels of governance – are in need of reform and innovative solutions that will help the world move in a more equitable and inclusive direction. Within the dialogue of civilisations framework, and guided by further research and collaboration with experts, we will work to develop and refine comprehensive policies to do just that.