We, the participants of the 7th Rhodes Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” from October 8 to 12, 2009
Recalling the results of the previous six annual conferences of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations on the Greek Island of Rhodes,
Reaffirming the firm commitment to the “Dialogue of Civilizations” concept for the solution of today’s pressing issues,
Underlining the rich heritage of mankind through cultural and religious diversity,
Emphasizing that mutual understanding and respect is not only the guarantee of an open society at national, but also at regional and global level,
Bearing in mind that respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, is a prerequisite for international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character,
Underlining that human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, gender, language or religion, are based on the principle of equality among all human beings and all nations,
Noting that globalization brings greater interrelatedness among people and increased interaction among cultures and civilizations,
Underscoring that globalization is not only an economic, financial and technological process but that it also presents the challenge of preserving and celebrating the rich intellectual and cultural diversity of humankind and of civilization,
But also recognizing that global threats, like terrorism, climate change, financial and economic imbalances, migration flows, and the poverty gap between and within nations are still waiting for global responses,
And last but not least being concerned, that in international politics abrupt setbacks towards traditional and conservative models of confrontation can be seen,
Rhodes Declaration 2009:
1. New Developments in International Relations
1.1. Unable to find solutions for international and regional conflicts some players in international relations turn back to confrontational behaviours of the past. But these models would lead just deeper into the crisis.
1.2. We therefore reiterate our appeal to the leaders of the world to refrain from any cold war rhetoric and to return to a climate of constructive dialogue which shows humane responsibility and brings together all available forces to meet the global challenges and to find common solutions for the greatest threats to mankind.
1.3. International relations and international co-operation must take into account that main impulses of international development are not anymore coming from the traditional centers but have been gradually shifting to emerging economies.
1.4. States and International Organizations should commit themselves to co-operation based on mutual trust in order to overcome the global crisis which is by far not only an economic and financial one but to a large extent a crisis of a society which lacks of values and well understood responsibility.
1.5. Civil society, non-governmental organizations, non-profit institutions, international, regional and national foundations should play a bigger role in the establishment of the “Dialogue of Civilizations” culture in international relations. We therefore welcome the gradually enhanced participation of NGOs in international organizations like United Nations, UNESCO, ISESCO, Council of Europe, League of Arab States, Asia – Europe Foundation, Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation and others.
1.6. Civil society and its organizations have to contribute to confidence building among nations, religions and civilizations by promoting und supporting peaceful solutions of international conflicts and emphasizing the desire of the people for peace, stability and security.
1.7. Discussing the situation in the Middle East we urge the parties concerned to use the windows of opportunity for establishing peace. There is no military solution to the conflict; it may only be resolved on the basis of historic compromise providing for mutual recognition and respect for each other’s legitimate rights and interests. Israelis and Palestinians should get together in Moscow for an international conference under the auspices of the Quarter. This may open the road to peace.
1.8. In Iraq and Afghanistan, one the homeland, the other the crossroads of ancient civilizations, dialogue between the different ethnic, religious and social groups should lead to the ownership of the two nations of the own affairs and in particular of their own future in peace, stability and self-determination.
1.9. We also emphasize that the debate on Iran’s Nuclear Program should be carried out in the spirit of dialogue of equals and with the aim not only of non-proliferation but of global reduction of nuclear arms.
1.10. Territorial integrity and safeguarded national independence shall be the guide lines for the solution of the above mentioned conflicts as well as for strengthening democratic stability in Lebanon and for the solution of the Darfur crisis.
2. Post-Crisis Architecture of the Global Economic System
2.1. The global economic and financial crisis has not ended yet. It is obvious that this crisis cannot be fought with the traditional economic and financial tools only.
2.2. In particular protectionism does not work; on the contrary it is worsening the consequences of the crisis. The way different nations structure their economies within the globalised market probably matters less than we like to think. Therefore we need more, not less international economic cooperation
2.3. International economic cooperation must be based on mutual interests instead of raw national egoism and shift from global domination to the balanced multi-polarity including the new emerging economies.
2.4. The ultimate target of all economic activities should be the common good of human beings and not the agglomeration of capital. The focus of economics should be on the benefit and the bounty that the economy produces, on how to let this bounty increase, and how to share the benefits justly among the people for the common good.
2.5. We need new ethics in economy instead of prevailing consumerism on the one hand and unbridled free-market capitalism which culminates in so-called share holders values on the other.
2.6. Managers have to responsibly safeguard the interests of shareholders, co-workers, customers and the society in which they operate and to manage their enterprises in good faith, guarding against decisions and behaviour that advance any own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
2.7. A new economy will need managers who run their enterprises in good faith, guarding against decisions and behaviour that advance their own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves. Special attention should be paid to corporate ethics.
2.8. We welcome the call of many religious leaders for ethics in economy and in particular that of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical letter “Caritas in veritate” for a civil economy re-embedded in civil society that transcends the old secular dichotomies of state versus market and left versus right.
2.9. We also express our appreciation for new forms of financial business like social business, ethic funds, environmental funds and all kind of ethic banking such as Islamic banking and others.
3. Education and Innovations – Foundation for Sustainable Development
3.1. Education is the main and essential mechanism of social development by means of nurturing and formation of a personality aimed at achievement of unanimity and civilizational dialogue. However, the growth of civilizational tension and destruction of the global public order formed after the World War II give evidence of the crisis in the dominating educational model and the necessity to search for the possible “way out”.
3.2. We are in the middle of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and urge all nations to intensify their efforts in the frame of this programm.
3.3. The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations is an active partner of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and has reaffirmed its agreement of cooperation with the organisation. We support the global dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – helping all civilizations to build their human and institutional capacities for the sake of a better and peaceful future.
3.4. We affirm that education should be made available to everybody regardless of class, religion, gender, race and cultural origin. This education should empower the students to achieve responsible citizenship. Special attention should also be given to open-mindedness, an important prerequisite for entering a dialogue.
3.5. The present crisis leads to more discrimination, xenophobia and racism, both within and between societies. These problems should be addressed in an education aiming at empowering the young generations to identify and challenge instances of these phenomena.
3.6. It should be our responsibility to make the moral aspects of life clear for the youth; we should urge the young generation to cooperation and mutual interchange of spiritual values, to a constructive dialogue, founded on the grounds of common to all people moral, unacceptance of the destructive informational influence and violence propaganda and rejection of any forms of discrimination.
4. World Religions Facing Tradition and Modernization
4.1. Particularly in times of a global crisis the world religions can play an important role in stressing spiritual and humane values, reminding people of their responsibility for the common good and counteracting a way of life which is only determined by more profit and more consumption.
4.2. Religions can play this important role even better when they engage themselves in a fruitful dialogue with each other and demonstrate that the spiritual values are their common legacy and therefore common values of mankind.
4.3. All world religions are confronted with a tension but also an interdependence of tradition and modernization. Religions can help people to stick to valuable traditions on the one hand and to accept modernization on the other by underlining that not the form but the substance and the spirit are important.
4.4. We encourage leaders and believers of all religions to continue their dialogue and cooperation, to work for mutual knowledge and respect and contribute hereby to the development of a better and more peaceful world without conflicts and crisis.
4.5. We appeal to believers as well as to non-believers to learn more about religions and in particular about the beliefs, customs and traditions of believers of other religions who live next to them in order to better understand and to respect them.
5. The Contribution of the Youth to Dialogue for Peace and Justice
5.1. The young generations in many countries grew up not only with all means of modern technology unknown for their parents and grandparents but also without the dividing lines of the cold war. Therefore they are technically as well as politically prepared for dialogue beyond traditional borders and for networking with young people all over the world.
5.2. But we shall not forget also millions of young people who have not yet access to modern communication tools and are therefore excluded from the global information community.
5.3. Opportunity should be offered to young people to cross boundaries and to break barriers (not only geographical ones, but also social, cultural etc.) and to be educated to a spirit of openness.
5.4. Dialogue cannot start but early enough. International youth exchange is one of the best practices for mutual understanding and respect. We encourage governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations and institutions to promote and to organize youth exchange.
5.5. Material incentives may be not good tools to promote immaterial values. Young people need examples and best practices how to live guided by the eternal values and ideas for a better world. The consumerist paradigm should be overcome.
5.6. Service to community is such an opportunity to experience values and ideals. Local projects can reinforce identity and serving the community will offer satisfaction through the social impact.
5.7. Sharing the experience from serving the community through World Wide Web will enhance dialogue and encounter of young people.
5.8. Young people from conflict areas should be offered places to meet and to discuss their common interest in peace and reconciliation.
6. Global Mobility
6.1. Migrants and foreign communities are not to blame for the current economic crisis, indeed they can help work us out of it.
6.2. Civil society, the private sector, associations, religious entities and local governments have a crucial role to play in mobility policy and practice, alongside with central governments.
6.3. In order to optimize the advantages of international human mobility and to deal appropriately with increasing pressures and challenges, governments should take steps to facilitate international human mobility in legal and orderly channels, whether temporary or permanent, according to their national needs.
6.4. In addition to central governments and international organizations, civil society, the private sector, associations, religious entities and local governments play a crucial role in encouraging better understanding of human mobility as a positive factor and in working together to improve conditions for Diaspora communities through public debate, advocacy and the provision of services; the role of these institutions should be encouraged.
6.5. The international community should devise credible mechanisms to monitor the impact of the economic and social crisis on mobile populations, especially during the recovery and reconstruction phase.
6.6. The international community as a whole should work to expand the application of information technology to international human mobility in order to assist Diaspora communities and those who provide services to them.
6.7. The private sector and large corporations in their long term plans should seek improved symmetry between the emerging demand for skills and orderly arrangements for the supply of workers and professionals.
6.8. New tools should be created and mobilized to catalyze private sector activity and foster meaningful public-private partnerships. The Association for International Mobility is an essential and constructive instrument. Other civil society institutions could equally make positive contributions.
6.9. The World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations is well on the way to institutionalizing the debate on human mobility and should continue to provide a platform for discussion on human mobility and should foster the adoption of constructive measures by states and societies. It should cooperate more closely with bodies such as UNESCO, ISESCO, ALESCO, and others.
6.10. We must never forget that the foreigners among us are “messengers of civilization”.
7. Culture and Arts – Fertile Soil for Dialogue of Civilizations
7.1. Recognition of national and cultural particularities is the most effective and human way of resolution of ethnic conflicts, one of the main elements of inter-civilizational interaction practices.
7.2. Literature, music, architecture, fine arts as well as theatre and film are valuable tools of dialogue and artists are excellent messengers between civilizations.
7.3. Interaction between artists and cultural institutions of different civilizations contributes to better mutual understanding. Such interactions like cross-border exhibitions and guest performances are fostering the dialogue of civilizations.
7.4. We highly value the freedom of expression and the role of the media in developing a better society. At the same time we want to remind the media of their responsibility to contribute to better mutual understanding through fair and unbiased reporting and not to fan the flames of confrontation. We appeal therefore to the mass media, to refrain from provocation and direct or implied insults of other civilizations and religions.
7.5. We welcome the founding of the “WPF DoC Media Award” which will honour outstanding promotion of dialogue among cultures and civilizations and mutual understanding in the media.
7.6. An expert group in the framework of World Public Forum – Dialogue of civilizations should gather renowned cultural workers and mass-media representatives in order to develop intercultural dialogue practice.
7.7. The diversity of writing systems as well as richness and diversity of human speech is an important heritage of world cultures. In spite of the differences all civilizations look upon writing as a divine gift, a road towards some higher spiritual occupation and transformation.
7.8. At the same time the problem of literacy for millions of people still exists.
7.9. We need new cultural policies, coordination of efforts, information, preparation and realization of programs and decisions in order to secure in the future the integral civilization diversity of writing.
8. Conclusions: Dialogue of Civilizations as a Platform for Global Development
8.1. Like the participants of the previous six conferences “Dialogue of Civilizations” on the Greek Island of Rhodes we are convinced that all civilizations, nations, peoples, religions have much more in common than what may divide them. Therefore dialogue will prevail over confrontation.
8.2. Convinced that the current global crisis emerged in particular because many of the decision makers forgot their responsibility for the common good we call upon the leaders in politics, business, culture, education and religion to work together in creating a common humane responsibility for sustainable social stability.
8.3. We commit ourselves to the spirit of Rhodes which is the spirit of equality of all human beings and of mutual respect which should be reflected in good neighbourly relations at local level as well as in international relations and cooperation.