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Frames No Frame



By Joan Veon


Davos, Switzerland While most people associate the United Nations with bringing world leaders to the table to discuss differences and come to agreement about how the world should proceed, most are not aware of another very influential convener of the world’s most powerful movers and shakers on a global level: the World Economic Forum.    


In contrast to the United Nations which began sixty years ago, the World Economic Forum is more than half its age at 34.  Over the years, through the vision of its founder, Professor Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum has expanded their influence into all the corners of the world, convening regional conferences and the very-famous Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.


What makes the World Economic Forum different from the United Nations is that they invited 1,000 of the world’s more foremost companies, public figures holding all levels of office from governments around the world, media, union leaders, religious leaders and those from academic institutions and think tanks.  After violent protests in 2000 and subsequent years, the Forum gave a seat to non-governmental organizations. Because of terrorism and other threats to world peace, religious leaders under the organization of the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton are working on how they can bridge the gap between religious differences.  In other words, the World Economic Forum transcends the United Nations by inviting all levels of stakeholders to the table, including them!  


The Forum discusses topics and events of importance to the world in the areas of economics, globalization, human rights, science, medicine, healthcare, pensions, energy, oil and gas and now natural disasters.


Those invited fit the yearly theme and are able to bring connectivity.  For example, in 2001 and 2003, there was an inner core of people present who were affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tri-lateral Commission, groups working to facilitate world government.  In 2004, there was an emphasis on experts affiliated with the UN and its various agencies such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO and the independent research group, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.   


Its agenda parallels the interests, concerns and needs of the United Nations:  poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, terrorism, the environment, public-private partnership, weapons of mass destruction, and the like. 


Yearly the Forum invites different corporations to participate.  In fact, they help sponsor the cost of the meeting.  You name the multinational corporation—they are here. This year there is an emphasis on China and India with numerous Chinese leaders in attendance.  Interestingly enough, many of them have been schooled in the United States at many of our schools, including the Ivy League as the preferred educational medium.


World leaders also vary.  In 1998, Hillary Clinton gave a keynote speech—the audience was speechless as she delivered a 45 minute speech without notes and not one flaw.  Not to be out-done then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did the same thing.  Several years later in 2000, President Clinton as well as many leaders from the developed world were present.  He joked that no one from his Cabinet was home as they were all in Davos. This year, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair will give the opening speech and outline his goals as president for the Group of Eight which meets in July. During the week, he will be followed by former President Clinton and the Executive Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Huang Ju.     


In 2002, the World Economic Forum moved its meeting to New York to support the U.S. and all those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 Attack on America.  At that meeting, security was the key topic.  Then Senator Bob Graham (R-FL) called for the “internationalization of our police force.”  This was supported in theory by an interview I had with the Secretary General of INTERPOL Ron Noble who said “[U]ltimately we do need to have more harmonization of laws” and called for the ability of the police from around the world to communicate with one another.  L. Paul Bremer III,  then Chairman and CEO of Marsh Crisis Consulting, declared that security “[I]s the organizing principle for American foreign policy in the first part of the 21st Century—much the same way as when the Cold War became the organizing principle in 1947.” 


Also in 2002, The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum-IBLF gave their first press briefing and announced how the Forum is working with the Prince to form public-private partnerships-PPP.  Public-private partnerships are basically the partnering on a business level of government and business.  This is a radical shift in the structure of government as it allows businesses to co-manage with them, be it a water facility, electricity, sewers, toll roads and the like.  Known in the old WWII days as fascism, this evolving shift in the structure of government was given a lift when U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan went to the World Economic Forum in 1999 and asked corporations to help the UN accomplish its goals of feeding the poor and alleviating poverty in poor countries.  This year, the IBLF has come up with a new study showing that CEO’s favor public-private partnerships as the way to develop third world countries.


The World Economic Forum also has its fair share of royalty.  Sheiks, kings, princes, dukes and princesses have all graced the podium or workshops, networking and rubbing shoulders with their counterparts on the corporate level. Bottom line:  it is all about money and power—who has it and who is going to get it. 


This years theme, “Taking Responsibility for Touch Choices” mirrors a post- 9/11 world as the emphasis is on global risks in a more fragile and turbulent world.  These risks include the economy,   climate warming, war, poverty, bio-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, extremism, disasters, terrorism, and failed states.  With the exception of the first two, the rest all fall into the need to reform the United Nations in order to fight terrorism in the 21st century. 


Although the World Economic Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, its major job is uniting the stakeholders of the world under a world governmental system through the United Nations.  For that reason, it welds more power because of the number of multi-national and trans-national corporations that listen to its message, thus helping to move the world into global governance and away from the pure form of sovereignty that the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is based on.