“Today the most important thing, in my view, is to study the reasons why humankind does nothing to avert the threats about which it knows so much.“
Václav Havel, Forum 2000 Conference, 1997
1st FORUM 2000 CONFERENCE
In 1997, President Václav Havel, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, and philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa invited world figures to Prague to discuss the challenges facing human civilization. The conference was held at the Prague Castle, on September 3 – 6, under the theme Concerns and Hopes on the Threshold of the New Millennium.
The Interfaith Dialogue project was established together with the Forum 2000 Conference. The aim was to promote dialogue between religious leaders and representatives of politics and science and to organize international meetings over important interreligious topics. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal, and His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I have participated in the meetings on several occasions.
Convinced that a healthy and strong civil society is a cornerstone of a functioning democracy, Václav Havel and the Forum 2000 Foundation have always tried to put this into practice by supporting a wide range of NGOs and associations. The NGO Market, a fair of non-governmental organizations, was created with this idea in mind. The first NGO Market was held on June 12-13, 2000, at the Prague Castle.
BILL CLINTON AND SHIMON PERES
The conference in 2001 was held a month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, at a time when the world was still shaken by this tragedy. The meeting, which focused on human rights and the pursuit of global responsibility, was attended by the former US President Bill Clinton and the future Israeli Presiden Shimon Peres, among others.
THE CONFERENCE MOVES TO ŽOFÍN
In relation to the conclusion of Václav Havel’s presidential mandate, the conferences moved from the Prague Castle - first to the Municipal House and, since 2005, they have been held regularly at the Žofín Palace on Slovanský ostrov.
RELEASE OF THE BOOK THE VIEW FROM PRAGUE
In the summer of 2007, a group of authors associated with the Forum 2000 published a book analyzing the conclusions of the previous conferences. The text, subtitled The Expectations of World Leaders at the Dawn of the 21st Century, is introduced by an essay by Václav Havel on the spiritual prconditions for the global survival of humanity.
VÁCLAV HAVEL PASSED AWAY
Václav Havel died on December 18, 2011. A week earlier, the Forum 2000 Foundation had held a public discussion on Democracy and Human Rights in Asia: One Year Since an Empty Chair in Oslo with the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. During this visit, the two friends met for the last time.
OLDŘICH ČERNÝ PASSED AWAY
Shortly after Václav Havel´s passing, Oldřich Černý, the Foundation´s long-time director, died in March 2012. "Olda" was a former dissident, a close collaborator of Václav Havel, and a quit, diligent, and hugely influential co-creator of democratic Czechia.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI
In 2013, the conference was attended by the Burmese democratic opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Throughout her long house arrest in the 1990s and in the early years of the millennium, Václav Havel had supported her and had symbolically – and repeatedly - invited her to the Forum 2000 Conferences.
During the conference in September 2013, a group of Cuban dissidents and representatives of the Venezuelan civil society reached an agreement on mutual support and cooperation. The agreement led to the creation of the Forum 2000 Democratic Solidarity project, which was eventually joined by representatives of most Latin American countries.
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA MEETS CZECH MINISTER OF CULTURE
During his participation at the Forum 2000 Conference in 2016, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with the Minister of Culture Daniel Herman. In response to the meeting, Czech President, the Prime Minister, and the Speakers of both Houses of the Parliament sent a humiliating letter of apology to the Chinese President. The “letter of four” was condemned by dozens of Czech MPs and senators at their subsequent meeting with the Dalai Lama, as well as by a large part of the public. The unequal relationship with Beijing, as advocated by the state leadership of the time, has since become a subject of a critical discussion.
INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR DEMOCRATIC RENEWAL
In May 2017, the Forum 2000 and the National Endowment for Democracy hosted a meeting of dozens of global intellectuals, politicians, and activists in Prague who adopted The Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal. The International Coalition for Democratic Renewal was subsequently launched during the annual conference. Its founding members include Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, political scientist Francis Fukuyama, and chess grandmaster and political activist Garry Kasparov.
FORUM 2000 AND THE PANDEMIC CHALLENGE
As a result of the pandemic, the 24th Forum 2000 Conference in October 2020 was held in a fully virtual format. The new format came with a number of limitations, but it also allowed the conference to welcome special guests, including the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen. A number of new initiatives, including the #Forum2000online Chats were created in the pandemic times.
25TH FORUM 2000 CONFERENCE
The 25th Forum 2000 Conference took place on October 10 – 12, 2021, searching for ways to rebuild society on democratic foundations in the post-pandemic era. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary, the Foundation established the annual Forum 2000 International Award for Courage and Responsibility. The inaugural recognition went to Carl Gershman, founding President of the National Endowment for Democracy and a living inspiration to generations of freedom fighters and civil rights activists around the world.