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 multilateralismâ€”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.”