The history of the World Public Forum dates back to 2002 when civil society representatives from Russia, India and Greece organized the International Program "Dialogue of Civilizations".
WPF "Dialogue of Civilizations" has become a practical realization of the UNGA resolution "Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations" accepted on November 9th, 2001, on the initiative of former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami.
The "Dialogue of Civilizations" program started on May 19th, 2002, at the Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin. In July of the same year the "Kronstadt Initiative" was adopted at a conference in St. Petersburg and the Anchor Square of Kronstadt. The initiative calls the Russian and international community to create and regularly convene the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" with the aim of strengthening peace and international security.
"We, the participants of the International Program „Dialogue of Civilizations“, initiate the creation and support of regular meeting of the World Public Forum, which could become a deliberative and consultative body uniting various social organizations authorized by the heads of their states to represent public interests of their respective countries in this social process" — the Kronstadt Initiative, 2002.
The first annual session of the Forum took place in September 2003 on the Greek island of Rhodes. It was held amid a complicated international situation and thus confirmed the necessity for a broad international discussion devoted to reaching mutual understanding among representatives of different civilizations. In 2003 the Rhodes Forum became the most representative among public forums, and since then it is held annually.
At the first session of the Forum the delegates accepted the Rhodes declaration "Dialogue of civilizations for a humane order." The Declaration called for continued discussion on the destiny of mankind and declared the goal to make the Forum a dynamic force in the international arena: "So much damage has already been done to the human system, and it is being backed by so much military power that this state of affairs cannot be transformed instantly. We have first to mediate, seek peaceful, non-violent and orderly solutions, which will fire the imaginations of vast society of people worldwide, to direct a trend towards a humane future for all."
Joint efforts of the dialogue advocates allowed the first session of the World Public Forum "Dialogue of civilizations" to become a high-profile event in the international community. The "Rhodes declaration" accepted by the participants of the conference has become a milestone in organizing an international network of those who support the dialogue of civilizations and laid the foundation for their further cooperation.
"The twenty-first century world inherited a civilization built on blood, tears, and hunger. At its portal stood two gate-keepers — Destiny and Death. Destiny for those who controlled the levers of power and wealth and domination and death for others. If this century has to escape the consequences of differential destinies, there has to be an understanding of the cosmic reality of the interconnectedness of all phenomenon. And that the creation of two separate paths and modes of existence for the benefit of a few, under threats of weapons of mass bankruptcy and acts of terrorism for others, will boomerang by many orders of magnitude," — pinpointed the WPF Co-chair Jagdish Kapur (1920-2010) in his publication "Towards a Humane Civilization."