My generation grew up in the shadow of World War II; we came of age and built our careers amid the all-pervasive tension and mutual suspicion of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall came down, it felt like a new era, with considerable new opportunities.

But looking at our fractured and economically vulnerable societies today, it seems we did not make as much progress as we had originally thought possible. Not only have we singularly failed to solve the traditional threats we inherited, we also face a plethora of new non-traditional threats, including many from non-state actors. The era of unipolarity seems to have become synonymous with the terrifying triumph of extremism.

In this environment, there is a clear and present need for us to put aside political rhetoric and focus on working together to bridge the divides that separate us – and seek to arrive at practical solutions to the truly complex and challenging problems we face.

Think-tanks have a critical role to play here. They are the sources of analysis and critical thinking that inform public opinion and influence indirectly so many of the vital decisions taken by governments around the world – decisions that have a direct impact on peace, security and sustainable development in the world.

This is what makes the establishment this year of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC RI) so relevant. In a world where think-tank and policy organisations are so heavily dominated by what one might describe as an “Anglo-American” viewpoint, which cannot help but be rooted in its own cultural and political traditions, there is a very real and urgent need for other perspectives to be involved in our common efforts to rise to solve the problems that we face.

DOC RI has no single political agenda. It is nobody’s “soft power” initiative. It has taken no money from any government. Our supervisory board and expert community are international, and bring together people from across the globe – from South America to China, from Russia to the United States, from Germany to India.  They hold differing views and bring to the table different perspectives. This is our strength – our ability to engage opposing views and bring them together in a spirit of objective, open, dialogue.

Born out of a United Nations-endorsed initiative, and building on the 15-year experience of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations, DOC RI is still at the early stage of an important journey.

If we are to be judged – and I believe we should be – we should be judged through the research that we produce, through our ideas, through our substantive contributions to global discourse, and through the practical research-based solutions and advice that we put forward, aimed at addressing some of the most complex problems we face in the world today. Problems that currently seem to have no viable solutions.

The road to Rhodes 

Our next major event will be to host the Rhodes Forum, which will take place at the end of September. It will bring together serving and former presidents and senior officials, members of the international academic community and business elite, representatives of international non-governmental organisations and diplomats. Our goal is to promote a new culture of dialogue that is so desperately needed, as we discuss issues of critical importance to the world today.

In short, the “you’re either with us or you’re our enemy” mentality is getting us nowhere. The world is more complex, and the problems we face require more complex solutions. At DOC RI, we are committed to finding ways in which we can contribute to those solutions.

Vladimir Yakunin is the Co-founder of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC), Head of the Department for State Governance at the Moscow State University and former head of Russian Railways. You can follow the institute on Twitter at @DOCResearchInst

Sourse: bne IntelliNews

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Vladimir Yakunin
Russian business leader, philanthropist and Doctor of Political Sciences. Former President of Russian Railways. Head of the Department of State Politics of the Faculty of Political Science of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Doctor of Political Sciences, Visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, visiting professor at the Peking University, Honorary Doctor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Member of the Russian Academy of Social Sciences. Vladimir Yakunin graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Mechanics as a Mechanical Engineer in 1972. After completing military service he worked with the Administration of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for Foreign Trade and as a department head at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute. In 1985-1991, Vladimir Yakunin was Second and then First Secretary of the USSR’s Permanent Representative Office at the United Nations. Vladimir Yakunin served as Chairman of the Board at the International Centre for Business Cooperation, and was then nominated head of the North-Western Federal District Inspectorate of the Senior Control Department of the President of the Russian Federation. Yakunin was appointed Deputy Minister of Transport in October 2000 and first Deputy Minister of Railways in February 2002. In October 2003 the Board of Russian Railways JSC appointed Vladimir Yakunin First Vice President. In June 2005 he was promoted to President of Russian Railways JSC, a position he held until August 2015. Vladimir Yakunin is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St Andrew the First-Called Foundation and Centre of National Glory, Founding President and Co-chairman of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and Co-president of the Franco-Russian dialogue Association. He is Head of the State Policy Department, Political Sciences Faculty, Lomonosov Moscow State University. In 2013 Vladimir Yakunin founded the Endowment for the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations aimed at supporting research in the sphere of political and social sciences, religion and culture, developing communication between countries on political and economic matters, and seeking compromise in cases of social unrest and international disputes. In 2016 together with the Former Secretary General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer and Professor Peter W. Schulze of the Georg-August University of Gőttingen, he founded the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute. Vladimir Yakunin was appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Institute. Vladimir Yakunin has received around 30 state awards, both Russian and foreign.