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"Council of 100" Meetings at the World Economic Forum, Davos

"Council of 100" Meetings at the World Economic Forum, Davos

The Executive Group of the Council of 100 met as part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos; the C100, briefly, is a WEF initiative (rather atypical among WEF activities) that aims to further dialogue and understanding between "the Islamic World" and "the West". At present the group includes some 86 people, and the intent is that they be drawn from both the Islamic world and western societies, and from five major sectors: business, politics, religion, media, and civil society. The C100 meetings are thus a rare place, perhaps unique, where such broad cross sector representation engages on the complex issues for West Islamic relations. The co-chairs are Lord Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury) and Princess Lolwah (Saudi Arabia) - who recently succeeded Prince Turki. I have been part of the group over the past three years, and am an Executive Group member, with specific responsibility for an education sub-group; I was at Davos in that capacity.

Meetings Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development; Geneva, Switzerland, and in Cairo, Egypt: Back to Office Report

Meetings Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development; Geneva, Switzerland, and in Cairo, Egypt: Back to Office Report

In accordance with the TORs dated Oct. 27, 2006, I participated on behalf of the Bank, as a panelist and speaker at two events in Geneva commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development (RTD). Both events were co-sponsored by the Frederich Ebert Foundation and the UN. The first was held as a parallel event to the third session of the UN Human Rights Council and included participants from country delegations and NGOs accredited to the Council (some 70 participants). The second was a closed experts meeting bringing together a number of speakers and senior representatives from several donor agencies, both bilateral and multilateral.

Netherlands Visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Oikocredit

Netherlands Visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Oikocredit

Responding to a long-standing invitation from the Institute of Social Studies, based in the Hague, I visited the Netherlands this week. The trip was essentially in my "new life" as a professor, but because the World Bank and its work, and the issues of religion and development were so very central, I summarize the discussions for both Bank and Georgetown colleagues.

Istanbul: World Economic Forum Meetings in Turkey, Council of 100 Meetings

Istanbul: World Economic Forum Meetings in Turkey, Council of 100 Meetings

The World Economic Forum's annual Europe regional meeting was held in Istanbul for two days earlier this week. It was (as appears to be traditional for WEF regional meetings) heavily focused on Turkey, the host country, though ostensibly it covered all Europe. I was there because the Core Group (now renamed Executive Committee) of the WEF's Council of 100 Leaders on West Islamic Dialogue met as part of the meeting. But I was also part of a panel on education challenges for Turkey, and then did a lengthy, live CNN Turkey interview (with the meeting's co-chair Guler Sabaci) on issues for education.

Observations of the "Spirit of the World" Conference on Pentacostalism

Observations of the "Spirit of the World" Conference on Pentacostalism

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Azusa Church, considered the first formally established Pentecostal Church, this conference brought together a fascinating blend of scholars and "practitioners", in this instance preachers and activists in the Pentecostal arena. Among luminaries at the meeting were Rev. Harold Caballeros (Guatemalan preacher and candidate for President), Peter Berger, David Martin, Luis Lugo, Eugene Rivers, and Jack Miles.

UN/New York: Tripartite High Level Interfaith Meeting

UN/New York: Tripartite High Level Interfaith Meeting

I was in New York September 19-21 for various missions, primarily to serve as moderator for a day-long launch meeting for a High Level interfaith Forum within the United Nations system. This note reports briefly on that meeting and its conclusions, with some background as the effort may not be widely known to you and other Bank colleagues. I will report separately, to those most directly concerned, on other New York meetings, which included inter alia a presentation for the UN Ethics Office staff on our work and approach to ethics, a meeting organized by the Cordoba Initiative with Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi, a Council on Foreign Relations meeting with Bolivia's President Evo Morales, meetings with Carnegie on the C-100 education initiative, and the annual Appeal of Conscience dinner which featured awards and speeches by inter alia President Lula. The latter was at the invitation of Count Auletta, benefactor of WFDD, and I was able to discuss WFDD strategy and prospects with him.

The Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation and Peace: Moderator's Concluding Summary

The Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation and Peace: Moderator's Concluding Summary

Today marked the formal launch of the Tripartite Interfaith Forum, and involved inspirational speeches and wise comments from global and UN leaders and the wide range of participants, from member states, from United Nations agencies, and from many Religious bodies and NGOs. My colleagues as moderators, Sister Joan Kirby and Stein Villumstad, have highlighted some key points. My summary briefly reviews what we have achieved, in the form of a stock-taking, starting from a set of fundamental questions about when, how much, why, where, who, what, and how.

UN Ethics Office Meetings

UN Ethics Office Meetings

At the April Oxford Ethics Forum, I met Tunku Aziz who I had worked with some years ago in the context of the Asia Anti-Corruption Advisory Group. He is currently serving at the United Nations as Ethics Officer, in an assignment reporting to the Secretary General, with the objective of launching a UN ethics office and recommending a future course of action to the SG (his assignment ends in December). Mr. Aziz invited me to give a presentation to his team. After some months of trying to coordinate schedules with INT I took advantage of being in New York to follow up.

Religion and Poverty in Guatemala

Religion and Poverty in Guatemala

Last week I traveled far off the beaten track in western Guatemala. The only news of the world that registered there was the path of hurricanes heading in our direction (the area is still recovering from Hurricane Stan two years ago) and the Peruvian earthquake (the area’s history is full of earthquakes and volcano eruptions) . But the central question on my mind was a global issue: what can religious communities do about the stark poverty that is so obvious there?