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Frames No Frame



By Joan M. Veon

The World Economic Forum 2002 is a watershed meeting bringing together 1100 corporate chief executives, world leaders, United Nations and other international organizations, non-governmental leaders, almost two dozen U. S. senators, congressmen and cabinet members as well as leading think tanks to discuss the “state of the world.” Unlike other years in which participants sat in workshops listening and then asking questions, this year’s format is designed to be an interactive dialogue leading to consensus on the part of all participants.As a result of the tearing down of political and economic barriers between countries that began in 1945 with the birth of the United Nations, these are the actors on the global level who are now basically making decisions and framing the response that affects you and I on the local level.


Prompting a change of scenery from Davos Switzerland, where the Forum has been held since its inception thirty-two years ago, to New York City was the Attack on America on September 11 2001. Furthermore, the combination of business, government and non-governmental organizations coming together is a new global governance (government) structure called public-private partnership. Here it appears to also refer to “multi-lateralism” where every level and segment of society participates, in order to solve the problems of the world.It has been recognized that in order to solve the world’s problems, the religious aspects as well must be addressed.This year over forty different religious leaders will participate. Unlike past years, most reporters will not be able to sit in on workshops but will be relegated to a separate building. Therefore while a small percentage of workshops are being transmitted, most remain secret.


President and Founder, Klaus Schwab said, “The challenges to the global economy, many of which preceded tragic events, present historic opportunities for new thinking for business leaders.Political leaders have responded to this opportunity by forging new alliances and charting new directions on public policy.The challenges before us demand creative new approaches and the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in society.The slate has been swept clean.It is time for all of us—business and political leaders, civil society, academics and the media—to examine the problems of the new century with fresh eyes and to work together to create a shared vision for our future.”


As a result, global security and the role of the chief executive officer are being closely examined in light of the mandates of the United Nations and its Millennium Declaration.Workshops which participants can chose from include “Bridging the Digital Divide,” “Rethinking Safety and Security in Business and Government, “The Paradigm for the Future and the CEO as “Statesman.”


While the title, “Bridging the Digital Divide,” may sound ambiguous, it will discuss one of the key goals of the United Nations, “To ensure that the Organization is provided on a timely and predictable basis with the resources it needs to carry out its mandates.”The workshop composition, like most of the workshops this year, is comprised offive representatives from government, four non-governmental organizations, one from the United Nations and World Bank, six from corporations and one from a university. Those who Senator Hilllary Rodham Clinton will interact with include President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the Philippines, James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank,Taizo Nishimuro, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation, John Gage from Sun Microsystems and Nicholas Negroponte, Co-Founder and Chairman of The MIT Media Lab.


The workshop, “Rethinking Safety and Security in Business and Government” will examine new challenges to ensuring the safety and security of personnel, assets and infrastructure, and how to manage them.Participants include special guest, Director of the Office of Homeland Security Thomas J. Ridge, Chicago Mayro Richard Daley, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, economist David Hale from Zurich Financial Services, Sergei Karaganov, Chairman of the Board, Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Institute of Europe, Russian Federation; Martin C. Libicki, Senior Policy Analyst, The RAND Graduate School, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, co-Chairman and CEO, Nuclear Threat Initiative, Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission Harvey Pitt and Senator Charles Schumer.


In short, this meeting represents a new forum for global change. They say that as a result of September 11 and the threat of global terrorism that affects us all.They say we need to work as one since we are one, which is the end result of globalization.In a question I posed to Niall W. A. FitzGerald, Chairman of Unilever Plc, United Kingdom about the increased and growing role of public-private partnerships, he responded, “It is hard to measure how September 11 affected the trend towards public-private partnership but there is a greater sense of urgency on the part of all of us who are engaged in public private partnerships.As you observed, we are doing things in a totally different way than we did from a few years ago as you have observed.September 11 increased the urgency to make the [partnerships] successful.Certainly we feel that as we move forward with them, we will see the benefits of them.”


Lastly, in order to come together, we need a convergence of beliefs.For that reason, Senator Orrin hatch will interact with a number of others from business, philosophy, history and writers on “Understanding Fundamentalism in Its Modern Context.”Another workshop entitled, “The Diabolical Mind” will concentrate, “What happens when Genius Mixes with Evil?” while another will discuss “What is Sacred in Today’s World?”.This workshop will bring together a growing number of religious leaders from many faiths such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Archbishop of Washington, D. C., the World Council of Churches and the President of the Muslim College in United Kingdom.They say that in order to be one, we must think as one.But I look at the past 226 years the United States has managed without all of the above new structures and thinking.So, what exactly will we have when these new unelected actors are finished?