On October 16-20, the DOC Research Institute co-hosted the Global Forum of Young Diplomats, in Sochi, Russia. Held within the framework of the World Festival of Youth and Students, 150 young diplomats from 70 diplomatic services attended the Forum.

The event was opened by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey V. Lavrov. During his welcoming speech, Lavrov noted that the role of diplomacy in finding effective answers to big challenges is increasing. Problems can only be solved on the basis of collective efforts, by ensuring security and stability, and observing international law, he said.

The minister pointed out that the main principle of Russian foreign policy is to improve the international situation. Lavrov stated that Russia will work hand in hand with all those who are ready for dialogue on the basis of mutual respect.

Russia’s top diplomat concluded by saying that a more fair, democratic and diverse world order is emerging and that the time is ripe for a revival of diplomacy.

Among the speakers that followed Lavrov were Dialogue of Civilizations researchers Dr Hans Köchler, Professor Alexey Malashenko and Dr Walter Schwimmer.

In his keynote speech, the aptly-titled ‘Formation of a Multipolar World and the Potential for United Nations Reform,’ Hans Köchler called for a revitalised policy of collective security at the global level. Dr Köchler explained that due to the absence of a balance of power in the two decades since the end of the Cold War, unilateral uses of force have profoundly destabilised geopolitically sensitive regions, with the United Nations being sidelined and its credibility undermined.

Describing the difficulties of adapting the procedures and decision-making rules of the United Nations Security Council to the twenty-first century, Köchler emphasised the need to redefine the principle of “sovereign equality” of states on the basis of mutuality and a shared responsibility for the common good. Reflecting the power balance of an earlier era, the Council will have to be reformed so as to be able to tackle the ever more complex challenges of collective security.

Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia must be better represented, and the formation of regional groupings – such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – and of new structures of global cooperation – such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) – has underlined the importance of this adjustment, the president of the International Progress Organization (IPO) explained.

Referring to the growing threat of nuclear proliferation, Köchler said that statutory reform of the UN must be integrated into a revitalised disarmament regime. In a climate of increasing mistrust, one of the main difficulties will be how to obtain consensus among the five permanent members of the Security Council whose agreement is needed not only to the Council’s coercive decisions on peace and security but also to any amendments to the UN Charter.

For the organisation to remain relevant under totally different geopolitical circumstances, administrative reforms will not be enough. Even the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly, a measure supported by an increasing number of United Nations members and non-governmental organisations, can if implemented, only be a first step.

What is required is no less than a “reinvention” of the world organisation as an inclusive and democratic community of states that is truly representative of the aspirations of all the peoples of the world, as solemnly stated in the Charter’s preamble. What has been proclaimed by the organisation’s founders in the middle of the twentieth century must stand the test of time under a profoundly changed balance of power, Dr Köchler concluded.

Professor Alexey Malashenko, the DOC institute’s chief researcher, highlighted the most important challenges of modernity during the panel discussion dedicated to terrorism and information security.  Malashenko began the discussion by posing an acute question: “Against whom or against what do we want to fight: Terrorists or terrorism?”

Terrorism continues to exist in spite of victories against it, he explained. The primary challenge is to understand it without any kind of ideology. Invoking terrorism’s links to Islam, Malashenko cited three versions: moderate Islamism (when an Islamic party respects constitutions, wants to have seats in parliament, and fights for an Islamic state legally); radicals (Muslims who want to build a religious state as quickly as possible using a variety of tools to reorganise society); and terrorists (those who want to establish an Islamic state immediately, using all means).

Malashenko said that even if Islamic State is destroyed in Syria and Iraq, this is no guarantee that it will not reappear in Africa or Central Asia. Terrorists and extremists are gaining in experience and it is getting increasingly difficult to fight them.  He also expressed concern over whether they would attempt to use chemical and nuclear weaponry.

The DOC researcher also drew attention to the advent of ‘autonomous’ terrorism – when groups composed of two-three individuals are located everywhere, and pose one of the main the challenges of terror – its unpredictability. Terrorists are trying to manipulate world politics, targeting Russia, the US, and Europe by leveraging national crises in their own interests.

Dr Walter Schwimmer, the deputy chairman of the DOC Research Institute and former secretary general of the Council of Europe (1999-2004), closed with a keynote speech entitled ‘The State of Europe and New Paradigms of International Relations.’

Schwimmer stated that the Council of Europe was created in 1949 with the aim of furthering human rights and fundamental freedoms. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia, wanted to join the European family and get their seal of approval for sharing in its values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Russia joined the Council in 1992, helping set the tone.

However, unsolved conflicts from pre-membership times remain, such as the state of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and between Serbia and Kosovo, and what was thought to be unthinkable, a new violent conflict between member countries Russia and Ukraine. Dr Schwimmer underlined that the Council of Europe should, therefore, play a more active role in resolving the crises in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Schwimmer concluded his speech by stating that we live in a globalised, multipolar, and multicultural world, where international relations are mainly multilateral. The United Nations may urgently require reform, but as long we have nothing better, the UN remains indispensable. We also need informal multilateral instruments like the G8, G20, or the BRICS, and many regional organisations like the African Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he reminded the audience, too.

Pointing to the conflicts in Yemen, Ukraine, and Syria, Schwimmer helped underscore the need for such institutions. “Don’t be afraid of the challenges,” he said, addressing the young diplomats attending the forum in Sochi. “Be prepared to be the heroes of the future.”