Fifth Global Baku Forum

Fifth Global Baku Forum

Baku: On 16–17 March, over 44 for­mer and act­ing glob­al lead­ers con­vened to dis­cuss the provoca­tive sub­ject of the “New Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions: Pow­er and inter­ests”. A remark­able pres­ence of 6 elect­ed PMs and 15 for­mer pres­i­dents, next to experts and diplo­mats, dis­cussed pri­mar­i­ly the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

  • Are cur­rent inter­na­tion­al rela­tions in a cri­sis?
  • What are the future alliances in Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions?
  • What is the future of Europe?
  • Are we back in Realpoli­tik?
  • What is the role of Chi­na in Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions?
  • How does mod­ern ter­ror­ism man­i­fest itself?
  • How to work with extrem­ism and pop­ulism in new Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions?

Cur­rent times have put the present world order in dis­ar­ray; the struc­ture of inter­na­tion­al rela­tions that seemed to have con­sol­i­dat­ed by the end of the Cold War in 1989–1991 is chang­ing; in which direc­tion, we are yet to expe­ri­ence.

The Forum recog­nis­es that glob­al­i­sa­tion has brought about polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic impact, expe­ri­enc­ing a back­lash. Democ­ra­cy is in a grow­ing cri­sis, where cit­i­zens have lost the appre­ci­a­tion of Euro­pean and West­ern val­ues of inte­gra­tion, both eco­nom­i­cal­ly and polit­i­cal­ly. Brex­it and the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions have revealed the alien­ation of the pub­lic from the polit­i­cal elite.

The old World Order, pro­duced by the vic­tors of the Sec­ond World War, sup­port­ed pri­mar­i­ly by the US and the Euro­peans, was acqui­esced into the rest of the world, who did not par­tic­i­pate in its cre­ation. A New World Order, par­tic­i­pants affirmed, will have to involve all the par­ties in its con­struc­tion, a tan­ta­mount task, as agreed by the Forum.

Rus­sia, draw­ing on its his­to­ry, its size, and its mil­i­tary, seeks to reaf­firm its glob­al role.

Chi­na, already the sec­ond largest econ­o­my in the world, and grow­ing, is now a prime par­tic­i­pant in the design of the emerg­ing world order.  How Chi­na express­es its inter­est in the inter­na­tion­al sys­tem will be deci­sive, as it is fill­ing a void left by a Unit­ed States which is retract­ing from for­eign pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties and revert­ing to a more defen­sive, America-first pol­i­cy. Com­mon moral­i­ty and prin­ci­ples, not nation­al self-interests should be the foun­da­tions of the new sys­tem, as expressed by the par­tic­i­pants of the V Glob­al Baku Forum.

In build­ing this new sys­tem, a com­pre­hen­sive respon­se to the chal­lenge of ter­ror­ism must be sought. For one, a pol­i­cy of exclu­sion fuels rather than elim­i­nates ter­ror; pol­i­tics of inclu­sion, as demon­strat­ed by the case of Libya, brings also its chal­lenges. Par­tic­i­pants of the Glob­al Baku Forum do not exclude the option of mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion to com­bat ter­ror­ism in the­atres where they have a pres­ence. Many con­cur on the need for a secu­ri­ty respon­se with­in soci­eties, as well as for the need for a cul­tur­al respon­se, with edu­ca­tion being a prime force. The reju­ve­na­tion of Islam could very well prove instru­men­tal in this glob­al effort to fight ter­ror­ism.

In the last 50 years, inter­na­tion­al rela­tions have expe­ri­enced the con­struc­tion of a rich tapes­try of inter­na­tion­al and mul­ti­lat­er­al alliances, and selec­tive part­ner­ships have begun to pro­lif­er­ate, pos­si­bly again­st the inter­est of region­al arrange­ments. It is clear, as in the pre­vi­ous Baku Forums, that a blue­print for reform for the Unit­ed Nations has to be urgent­ly found and defined as a foun­da­tion for rein­vig­o­rat­ed multilateralism—a mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism that might very well be affect­ed by domes­tic pol­i­tics.

The most press­ing polit­i­cal chal­lenge for the next 5–15 years are issues of pop­ulism and immi­gra­tion, which are well inter­re­lat­ed. The­se chal­lenges require not only deft polit­i­cal han­dling, but vision and lead­er­ship that goes beyond domes­tic nation­al inter­ests.

The demo­graph­ic real­i­ties of an aging Europe and declin­ing pop­u­la­tions in many coun­tries of the West, and the con­tin­u­ing demo­graph­ic rise in the devel­op­ing coun­tries, espe­cial­ly in Africa (a con­ti­nent expect­ed to expand its pop­u­la­tion in 1.4 bil­lion in only three decades, as reflect­ed by the UN World Pop­u­la­tion Prospects of 2015), will make the inflow of migrants into Europe a need­ed real­i­ty. Clear­ly what is need­ed is to improve the liv­ing con­di­tions in the south to avoid the uncon­trol­lable influx of migrants. The­se trends con­firm that a new sys­tem of inter­na­tion­al rela­tions ori­ent­ed towards a peace­ful and equi­table world must recog­nise the dif­fer­ences between soci­eties, and to make room for them.

As NGIC co-chairman Ismail Ser­ageld­in points out in his clos­ing remarks: “We learned again what in our hearts we already knew.” In all the dis­cus­sions, the voice for a value-based defense again­st igno­rance and power-driven ego­cen­tric pol­i­tics is dom­i­nant. There are calls for civil­i­ty and plu­ral­ism, human­ism and lib­er­ty, secu­ri­ty and free­dom for the ben­e­fit of all, and again­st the threats from extrem­ists and pop­ulists’ val­ues that are close to the spir­it of the name patron poet and human­ist Niza­mi Gan­javi. The chal­lenge of world lead­er­ship is to take col­lec­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty of the new emerg­ing world order to avoid the emer­gen­cy of anar­chy and vac­u­um.

In all of the Pan­els, the role of the media has been addressed, a role that is chang­ing beyond com­pre­hen­sion. As argued by many, it is to be used wise­ly to pro­mote uni­ver­sal val­ues espoused by respon­si­ble polit­i­cal lead­ers. We can­not ignore that the new tech­nolo­gies and the evo­lu­tion of ICTs have opened new avenues for both the pro­mo­tion of ter­ror­ism and for the fight again­st it. Find­ing a bal­ance between expres­sion and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion or ‘demo­c­ra­t­ic secu­ri­ty’ is a sub­stan­tial chal­lenge to be addressed.

Hence, this moment in world his­to­ry is one at a cross­roads of demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues. The role of lead­ers, and that of Glob­al Baku Forum par­tic­i­pants, accord­ing to Ismail Ser­ageld­in, is to be able to design a new world order

where the rich and the poor, the weak and the pow­er­ful, all work hand in hand to design the instru­ments of the future for the ben­e­fit of all; so let us each go back to our soci­eties and as we return to our reg­u­lar lives, let us think of the unborn, remem­ber the for­got­ten, give hope to the for­lorn, include the exclud­ed, reach out to the unreached, and by our actions from this day onwards lay the foun­da­tion for bet­ter tomor­rows.”

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