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HomepageProjectsForum 2000 Conferences1999TranscriptsMorning Session, Oct. 11

Morning Session, Oct. 11

Václav Havel
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me extend to you a most hea
Press under the name Global Public Goods , co-edited by my good friend Inge Kaul of Germany. Many people could study this book and see a whole new set of mechanisms for how we could actually work to create these public goods - our infrastructure, our health, our education - all the public goods and services that are not well provided by the marketplace.

Thank you.

El Hassan Bin Talal
Forgive me, ladies and gentlemen, for commenting on some of the things we heard earlier. I would like to say to Mr Sachs that in terms of the architecture of peace, or the architecture of development, there are some good new stories. Of course, I would agree with you entirely in terms of hard fact, and also about the current pattern of distribution of FDI - foreign direct investment - which is heavily biased in favour of a few countries. For a case in point, in 1998 about one-half of the USD 155 billion of the FDI that flowed to developing countries went to three countries.

In terms of the architectural development, I ask myself whether we can continue to talk about a United Nations system that is not more closely integrated with the Bretton Woods architecture. I know that this is asking a lot, but I was encouraged recently to be able to participate with the Archbishop of Canterbury in a conference on world faith development dialogue. I would just like to make you aware of the fact that the World Development report 2000-2001 has as its theme "Attacking Poverty".

As a Muslim involved in that dialogue, I stressed the message that the world ought not be directed only at questions of under-development and poverty, but rather at an equally important message to civil society in the affluent countries. regard the role of the global forum - to the President - as one of focusing on new initiatives emerging from a global civil society, and I hope that religion will not be misconstrued as the exclusive refuge of the poor and hungry in the less developed countries, nor indeed of the rising numbers of poor in the industrial democracies. The politics of despair, and the economics of despair notwithstanding, I think that religion can contribute to the development of a cultural peace based on shared values.

Once again, I would like to turn to the social safety net. As I understood the observation of our Chilean colleague, Osvaldo Sunkel, the concept of the social safety net is a concept that came out very clearly from this very debate on world development. I was rather interested to see the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development talking about ten thousand employees, one in six of whom will have not served, say, in an Intercontinental hotel, but have actually spent time in a slum somewhere in the world. I might suggest that an offshoot of the coming workshops might consider that form of interaction. think, with all due respect to President Havel, our standing in the world can help us to focus world attention on specific problems and cases of problem resolution, and to develop this concept of a social safety net, including some of the more daring ideas of activating the banking system more creatively in the form of micro-credit and societal credit.

The future of developing societies, Ashis Nandy, may not necessarily be the same as the present of the developed. May beg not to differ, but to add a ray of hope. Cultural dialogue, peace and participation mean a change in the role of culture. An evolution from agrarian civilisation to industrial society involves a change in the role of culture, indeed in the role of religion. In the current latemodern or post-historic times, many scholars remind us that in the future the economic edge may not necessarily lie with individualistic societies. Non-individualistic cultures may outperform others, and I would just like to leave you with the entertaining and alarming thought of the analysts who speak of advanced industrial feudalism in certain developing economies in Asia.

When we talk about the Amazonian rainforests, there is no reference to the 40 million people living under the trees. So, whereas I agree with Professor Sachs that we have to speak of environmental questions, and intellectual property, and protect ethnic botany - which is partly what we are concerned with in the agenda of the policy advisory commission of the Intellectual Property Organisation - I want to say that the human environment is equally, if not more, important. Maybe the GCS (the Global Civil Society)can witness a progression from civil society, civitas, to humanitas, to an overarching humanitarian ethic including, as our speaker from Kenya, Lydia Bosire, emphasised more than once, countering the exclusion from the right to education. In terms of exclusion, I would also like to just mention the deep concern have about the continuing absence of cultural participation.

Thank you very much.

Jacques Rupnik
Thank you, Your Royal Highness. I think that your concept of an advanced industrial feudalism is something that will probably be picked up. It certainly challenges the linear view of society or development that was suggested earlier. The next speaker is Serguey Kovalyov, a member of the Russian parliament, and a well-known human rights campaigner.

Serguey Kovalyov
Thank you, Mr Chairman.

If you allow me, shall make a very general type of intervention which might sound very emotional.

I have been meeting Mr. de Klerk very often in international conferences these days, and we usually oppose one another. Our differences, however, as I see them, are nothing in comparison with the admiration I want to express for the fact which - in my opinion - is beyond any doubt. It seems to me that what has happened before our very eyes in South Africa is an evident victory for a factor unprecedented in contemporary history. I would say it is an obvious demonstration of how useful a real, and elevated, pragmatism may be, or I would rather call it political idealism, political and legal idealism. In fact, complex problems used to be solved, one way or another, by the system of apartheid under which one could live. . . Now that system, in solving those problems, has been refused mainly because it is simply unjust. And that, in my view, is a victory for political idealism. It is the most important achievement of our times - a victory for political and legal idealism.

Now just a few words on the concept of collective rights that keeps re-emerging here and, at the same time, on the seemingly most doubtless (unfortunately held for doubtless)collective right to self-determination. I believe these concepts are, themselves, results of a regrettable misunderstanding. The entire historical experience shows that a collective right, any collective right, can automatically be derived from a concept of individual rights. But tr y to reverse the process and nothing will come out of it.

If I, as an individual person, have the right to follow any religion, to use any language, to bring up my children the way wish, then my rights as a member of a broader community are fulfilled automatically - on the condition, of course, that I live in a decent society where the supremacy of law is adhered to. You will get nothing of the kind if you tr y to derive my individual rights from those of a vast collective of people. All dictators invariably insist that the collective is large and an individual person is small and, therefore, the rights of the latter have to be put aside for the sake of those of the former.

When we speak of the "rights of Nations to self-determination", it is as regrettable a position as the one just mentioned. I shall not misuse your attention, the explanation would need more time, but I categorically insist that the self-determination "right" is evidently contradictory to the basic concept of individual rights. That is proved by the mere fact that as soon as a new sovereign state comes into being, based on that right, it is immediately found out that the indigenous ethnic group, which has won the right, forgets that human rights are independent on ethnicity, education, religion etc. It suddenly transpires - as Orwell put it:"that all are equal but some are more equal than others. "I could prove my reasoning strictly logically, but I do not want to take too much of your time and, therefore, just ask you to simply believe me for a while. At that moment, a new injustice appears - as those who already have a state of their own are dominating those who do not have one - and are only in the process of striving for it. The way out of this contradiction, in my view, cannot be found in restricting the attempt for sovereignty in ethnic groups who do not have their state now. It is the concept of state sovereignty itself that should be restricted in countries which command that privilege. It should be restricted so that rights, especially individual rights, could be enhanced.

Thank you for your attention.

Jacques Rupnik
Thank you very much, Serguey Kovalyov. Your point that socialist visions are sometimes more popular in western capitalist countries than in the coun- tries that actually practice socialism is, I think, well understood in this part of the world. The next speaker is Rabbi Albert Friedlander, Rabbi of the Westminster synagogue in London.

Rabbi Albert Friedlander
I appreciate what has been happening here last night and this morning, As His Royal Highness Prince Hassan, and Professors Sachs and Sunkel, have indicated, barriers have to be broken, and they exist in the field of religion as well as in others. If there is a vision, the point that it has to be shared has to be realised within the societies in which these religions are established.

I was also mindful of Ashis Nandy's comment about language, even the comment about "developing countries". This is, in its own way, a politically correct term:that is how it started, but it is like a first stop that stops right there and doesn't go beyond that, not realising - as he indicated - that the future dreams of those areas are stuck in the presence of the present tense of our richer societies. And yet, those societies will not have their future if it does not include the disfranchised poorer countries.

I think what Sunkel and Sachs have said is of prime importance, particularly in terms of eliminating the enormous debt burden that is placed on those areas. Jubilee 2000 is, in a way, a religious term rising out of the Bible itself, of the cancelling of debts, and unless we move closer to each other precisely as, I think, the speakers are doing here now, we cannot really hope for a future. Yes, the welfare state has to continue, and yes Soros's vision of the open rather than the closed framework has to be realised if we are to move ahead. am deeply appreciative of what I am learning here, which certainly informs and changes some of the concepts with which I have come to this conference.

Jacques Rupnik
Thank you very much. Mr Thomas Bata.

Thomas Bata
Mr Chairman, have been very inspired by what I have heard this morning from all the speakers, but I would like to add to the question of development - having worked in developing countries now for more than 50 years.

We employ a large number of people in our industrial and commercial activities - particularly in the developing world - not to produce products for low wages or for dumping in Europe and North America, but primarily for the development of local activities, local utilisation of materials and developing local markets. Indeed, we have a customer here from Kenya, sitting right here, who has an educational experience with one of my grandsons, so education is developing in many of these countries.

Many of the stated goals of development also require economic activity. They will not come into being without support and help for these countries to develop economic activity, and today there is the opportunity - through communication methods, educational methods and so on - to make sure that the wait will not be as long as our Indian friend here was saying from generation to generation. There is an enormous opportunity for leapfrogging from one technology and educational system to another and, in this session on developing countries, we might consider how developing countries could be helped to leapfrog.

I fully agree that no only economic activity is important, but also societal and educational development. The educational side has been exciting for me to see in our enterprises, where we rely on basic skills, where we have engaged people -and there are about 20, 000 of them in Africa alone - from the simplest environments, from the simplest, poor areas to come and work. It was with great pride that we saw them developing from position to position, and - what is more - that we saw their children then going to universities and becoming doctors, teachers, and professors and so on - and that, I think, does require some sort of economic activity.

I am sure others will be speaking on the subject, but I do hope that we spend some time on how to help those countries to get into economic activity on a wider scale. For example, in Africa there was a great deal of growth in economic activity 20 or 25 years ago. However, in recent years, because some of the principles of democracy and human rights and so on have been neglected, this activity has been threatened and diminishing. Let us find a way to stimulate that because those people certainly have the vision and desire to come along better in the world.

Thank you.

Jacques Rupnik
Thank you very much. We have four more speakers, the first of which is Hanan Ashrawi, who is a member of the Palestine Legislative Council, and was formerly the Minister of Education in Palestine.

Hanan Ashrawi
Thank you. I wish to steal a little bit of time, if I may. I know I will be speaking in the later session, but I would like to address some of the issues that were raised by our colleagues on this side of the table. They have managed to bring us down not to an alternative, but to an authentic view of things, by questioning first of all:who shapes the agenda? who decides the priorities? who shapes the vision? who articulates the discourse? and who decides that these are the priorities of globalisation in the coming century - as well as these other components of development?

I would like, first as a woman, to stress the gender component of our discussion, which has been glaringly absent this morning. I would like to state that there is a gender view of reality, and to state that women are not tokens or symbols:we are neither saints like Mother Teresa nor fairytale princesses like Princess Diana, which have been the two mythical components, approaching gender issues and women's realities.

I am very happy to see that my friend Lydia really addressed the human dimension of the system of ethics and the systems of theory that we are presenting today - in the sense that without the focus on the human agenda no amount of analysis is quite real.

The question raised by Ashis Nandy is, I believe, quite valid and non-linear. think that Jacques Rupnik's description of this presentation as linear is not very fair, because you presented how the "developed world"views the "developing world", so to speak:even the language itself is selective, and therefore highly denotative, not just connotative. I will be addressing this later, and I would like to use the approach of:who defines their realities, not just of culture but also of identity, and not only in terms of their priorities, but in terms of the directions of development and human reality?

To conclude, I would like to state that no amount of modern, global, ethical value systems can be effective if they do not have the institutions, the mechanisms, or the instruments - and if we, the disempowered, do not have recourse or access to these instruments and institutions, whether it is the United Nations, an international body of laws, humanitarian laws, or the new International Criminal Court which is, I believe, very important. But perhaps we should address these institutions and re-examine the instruments and discuss means of intervention, timing of intervention, and the body that decides to intervene. I will conclude with what Professor Sachs raised. I am glad that you addressed the issues of real poverty that seem to be absent. But, while we are discussing poverty of the spirit, I certainly think that we should be discussing concrete aspects of poverty and whose responsibility it is - and the nature of this collective responsibility, and the nature of the intervention that is needed.

Thank you.

Jacques Rupnik
The next speaker is Miklós Sükösd, a Hungarian sociologist from the Central European University in Budapest.

Miklós Sükösd
Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Professor Jeffrey Sachs mentioned that there are hundreds of millions of clinical cases of the most terrible diseases in the developing world every year, and at the same time that people in the West rarely, if ever, hear about these. I wonder why that is. What is wrong with the international flow of information, or the distribution of information?

Professor Sunkel and Hazel Henderson elaborated the idea of missing public goods at the global level. I would like to bring together their two ideas and point out that we lack public institutions of communication at the global level. In national mass media systems, we have three sectors: commercial sectors, public sectors, and community or direct access media. However, if we look at the global level, we see that the overwhelming majority of global communication is commercial. CNN, the major international mass medium, is a commercial channel and it very much defines its agendas and its programming through the composition of advertisers and corporate sponsors. So, the first point I would like to make is that we should think about how to develop the three sectors of the mass media in the global sector, and institute community media and public service media at the global level.

My second point is that we live in the bright era of media convergence, in which the internet, radio, TV, and computer networks merge into the same programming. However, most of this convergence is again taking place in the commercial area, so let me briefly conclude that there may be several institutional forms of developing a global public service media policy. The one I don't really have in mind is the bureaucratic outlet of the United Nations, a kind of institutional spokesperson in some highly controlled form. Yet, in the era of communicative abundance, we might easily envisage some particular global channels, a network of satellites and some special internet sites that are devoted exclusively to the discussion of global environmental matters, spiritual matters, and matters of religion. The kind of discussion we are continuing here for three days could go on for the whole year. One could also imagine the collaboration of national public service television and radio at the global level in some form - or the development of picture databases that could offer at the click of a computer mouse the kind of missing information that Professor Sachs talked about so eloquently.

Thank you very much.

Jacques Rupnik
To conclude, two of our panellists wanted to return to the floor -Professor Sachs and Ashis Nandy. First, Professor Sachs.

Jeffrey Sachs
Thank you very much. First, let me say that the opportunities for this communication that you talk about are great. Yesterday there was quite an excit- ing venture - so called NetAid, a concert around the world where at least tens of millions of people participated in a series of rock concerts, interspersed with messages about the state of world poverty. This was the initiative of artists from all over the world, and I think it was a very good example of international civil society. But, I think that it is also important to bring us down to earth and to try to consider some suggestions concretely.

There is little doubt that the world's problem-solving goes primarily where the money is. Paradoxically, we are starved of solutions that are available for some of the problems I had the opportunity to mention before, while at the same time living through the greatest technological boom that has ever occurred. wanted to give you a few numbers just to make this concrete, because I think that the numbers are startling and worth pondering. If you ask the question where does the wealth of the rich countries come from, almost all analysis would support the idea that a great deal of it comes from the underlying scientific and technological innovations that power these societies. Then, if you look at who is doing the innovating in the world right now it is truly astounding, because the gap between rich and poor is even wider in this area. I wanted to give you a couple of numbers for you to consider. In 1998, there were 242, 000 patent applications in the United States: 135, 000 of them originated from US inventors, and a 107, 000 originated from non-US inventors. Of the 107, 000 that originated from outside the United States, 45, 000 were from Japan, 13, 000 from Germany, 5, 000 from South Korea, 300 from Singapore, five from the whole of tropical sub-Saharan Africa (one from Kenya, one from Madagascar, two from Uganda, one from Zimbabwe). Two were from Jordan.

We live in a world of incredible disparity in the production of knowledge. When the developing countries produce wonderful scientists, they end up working on rich-country problems in rich-country academic centres. Thousands and thousands of the world's greatest scientists are contributing to the solutions of rich-country problems right now because the market forces are very deep. I am not going to propose a solution - we are ending this session - but I just want to bring these numbers to your attention, because find them absolutely startling in their implications.

Jacques Rupnik
Professor Ashis Nandy, please.

Ashis Nandy
I would like to respond to the issue Professor Kovalyov raised. In 1949, US President Harr y S. Truman used the term "development" in its present sense for the first time. I am told that the word "development" had other meanings in the different European languages before that, but he was the first to use it in its present sense in 1949. The odd fact is this - that all today's major developed societies except one developed before the concept of "development"developed. The only exception was Japan, which had its own principles of development and its own principles of development management. Japan then began to take seriously the textbook versions of development economics and development management, and some sceptics suggest that Japan's economic problems began with that in the 1980s, but you do not have to trust that part of the story.

The point I am tr ying to make is that at a conference convened by a writer we should not be afraid of acknowledging that in social affairs there are tacit theories and explicit theories, or manifest theories - and that these tacit theories can be as important and as influential as the explicit theories. Therefore, there are no laws in social knowledge corresponding to the laws of gravity. I refuse to believe that the Dalai Lama fights the cause of human rights in Tibet, basing his fight on the western discovery of the concept of human rights. I think he goes back to ancient Tibetan traditions to fortify himself. If there can be an iron social knowledge, it is that there can be no iron law of social knowledge.

Jacques Rupnik
Thank you very much. I think that provided a very fitting conclusion to our discussion this morning. There are no iron laws of social knowledge, there are no ready-made visions of the future that can be proposed or adopted with ease. In different parts of the world, they have to be reinvented. And the questions asked by Hanan Ashrawi - who decides the priorities? who defines the identities? - are thereby connected to the other side of our discussion. That is, the realities of development, or rather under-development, the ques- tion of poverty and responsibility, the global responsibility for it. And the major issue raised by Professor Kovalyov, by Hazel Henderson and others is about not just identifying the problems or the sources of the problems, but how to cope with them. Are existing institutions adequate to cope, or are we to look for new responses from what has been called here the emerging international civil society? Well, I think we had a very good start to our discussion. This is only the beginning:we will return to many of these themes later on. I would like to thank Prince El Hassan bin Talal for a really splendid introduction, and all the panellists and all the contributors to the discussion.


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