China’s Silk Geopolitics

By Johan Galtung, TRANSCEND Media Service, May 16, 2016

China is changing world geography, or at least trying to do so.

Not in the sense of land and water like the Netherlands, but in the sense of weaving new infrastructures on land, on water, in the air, and on the web.  It is not surprising that a country with some Marxist orientation would focus politics on infrastructure–but as means of transportation-communication, not as means of production. Nor is it surprising that a country with a Daoist worldview focuses politics on totalities, on holons and dialectics, forces and counter-forces, trying to tilt balances in China’s favor. How this will work depends on the background, and its implications.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

UNESCO, May 20, 2016

Held every year on 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development celebrates not only the richness of the world’s cultures, but also the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. The United Nations General Assembly first declared this World Day in 2002, following UNESCO’s adoption of the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, recognizing the need to “enhance the potential of culture as a means of achieving prosperity, sustainable development and global peaceful coexistence.”

With the adoption in September 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nations, and the Resolution A/C.2/70/L.59 on Culture and Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015, the message of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is more important than ever. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals can best be achieved by drawing upon the creative potential of the world’s diverse cultures, and engaging in continuous dialogue to ensure that all members of society benefit from sustainable development.

Why Syrian Peace Talks Remain a Bridge too far for Success

By M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, May 18, 2016

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart make a queer pair. Seldom does a day pass when they don’t have a word with each other on Syria. The best spin is what the Saudi analysts give – that presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin have a secret deal.

Neocons and Neolibs: How Dead Ideas Kill

By Robert Parry, Consortiumnews, May 11, 2016

For centuries hereditary monarchy was the dominant way to select national leaders, evolving into an intricate system that sustained itself through power and propaganda even as its ideological roots shriveled amid the Age of Reason. Yet, as monarchy became a dead idea, it still killed millions in its death throes.

Today, the dangerous “dead ideas” are neoconservatism and its close ally, neoliberalism. These are concepts that have organized American foreign policy and economics, respectively, over the past several decades – and they have failed miserably, at least from the perspective of average Americans and people of the nations on the receiving end of these ideologies.

Armenian, Azeri Leaders Agree on a Need for Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire

Reuters, May 16, 2016

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on Monday on the need for a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement to the conflict in breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, according to a joint statement by the United States, France and Russia.

The two leaders also agreed at a meeting in Vienna they would fix the time and place of their next meeting in June and that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would quickly finalize a plan to monitor the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, the statement said.

Qi Mingqiu Meets Delegation of the WPF’s Founding President

China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, May 12, 2016

Qi Mingqiu, Standing Vice Chairman of China Soong Ching Ling Foundation (CSCLF), met the delegation led by Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman and Founder of the World Public Forum on May 4, 2016. The two sides exchanged opinions and reached agreements on deepening extensive cooperation in many areas, especially in academic exchanges, think tank cooperation, communications between young people and women from the two countries in thinking, culture, education and art.

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Vladimir Yakunin Appointed International Adviser to SIIS

May 10, 2016

Founding President of the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin has been appointed International Adviser to the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

The Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) has appointed Vladimir Yakunin a member of its International Advisory Board.

The WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” and SIIS have a long history of cooperation that includes regular consultations on current issues in cooperation between Russia and China, the joint analysis of economic development models in the Eurasian region, and hosting expert special events including:

India in the SCO: Win-Win

By Ashok Sajjanhar, Gateway House, April 29, 2016

India’s forthcoming membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will benefit the SCO, Central Asia, Russia, China, as well as India itself. While India will be able to promote its own security, strategic, trade, economic, and energy interests in Central Asia, the SCO will benefit from India's rapid growing economy and its experience in counter-terrorism.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will witness its first expansion since its establishment 15 years ago, at the next Summit in Tashkent in June, 2016. It was decided at the 2015 Summit in Russia that India (and Pakistan) will be admitted into the Organisation. Since India became an Observer in 2005, it had subtly indicated its interest in playing a more substantive role in the development of the Organization. This will be a momentous occasion for India as well as for the Organization.

The Background of the Brazilian Crisis

By Beatriz Bissio, Professor of the Political Science Department of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), specially for

A broad vision about the present situation faced by this South American nation shows that the crisis is part of a political action aiming to curb the influence of BRICS.

It is impossible to understand the political and institutional crisis in which Brazil finds itself without addressing the theme in a much wider context.

Brazil, through its size, population and wealth of natural resources plays an extraordinarily influential part on the Latin American continent. Giant of South America, in the 21st century it has been indisputably the region’s leader.

At the beginning of this century a circle of progressive governments came to power on the continent, through a painful and sometimes bloody and prolonged process of political and social confrontations, replacing conservative governments or military dictatorships. These progressive governments, in particular the Brazilian ones, were decisive in giving a new direction to the neo-liberal policies that had been previously implemented. Those policies, as is now widely accepted, weakened the State thus empowering the financial elite to the detriment of the less privileged.

The privatization of state companies, that began to be, in great measure, controlled by foreign capital, the deregulation of the economy, including foreign trade, reduced the role of the State with negative consequences for national sovereignty  – and all this at the height of globalization! One of the most important governments in this struggle to implement change was that of Brazil, led since 2003 by the Workers’ Party, or Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), whose principal leader is Luís Inácio “Lula” da Silva.