The international guests of honor this year will include some current Heads of State and Government. The Forum will also feature other distinguished opinion leaders, eminent political thinkers, decision – makers and members of parliament, renowned businessmen, academics, media figures and international organizations. These participants will contribute to a free, learned and stimulating debate on each of the many topics on the Forum's agenda, with a focus on the Arab Spring, the global financial and economic crisis, International Cooperation, Global Economy, Development, Human Rights and Digital Media.
The 13th Doha Forum will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the State of Qatar from 20-22 May, 2013. It will be attended by more than 600 participants representing over 80 countries and organizations.
Doha, 21 May 2013: The international financial crisis that erupted in 2008 has increased conflicts around the world and demonstrated the need to put human rights at the heart of a new global economic system, participants in the Doha Forum said on Tuesday.
“Globalisation has had its impact. Despite its benefits in terms of information exchange and access to new markets, it is also the source of major disturbances we have had and societies’ capacity to cope with tensions and crises,” said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), suggesting that the crisis likely played some role in provoking Arabs to protest during the uprisings of 2011.
“The financial crisis spilt over and has bad effects… No society is immune from violence but there are established solutions to contain its consequences. Each humanitarian and human rights law violation has individual and collective repercussions that could be so far reaching as to be detrimental to the economy, stability and reconciliation.”
Paolo Lembo, U.N. Resident Coordinator and UNDP representative in Abu Dhabi, put it in starker terms.
“Five years after the most dramatic and systemic financial crisis the world has ever known, (we can say) the principle cause has simply been a political system that has allowed the pursuit of short-term economic interest driven bythe greed of limited economic groups, supported by corrupted elites or incapable governments,” he said. “This phenomenon has caused enormous waves of political processes... ultimately being one of the drivers of the Arab Spring; deepening the divide between rich and poor, it has contributed to the people’s revolt here and rightly so.”
Lembo said it was now necessary to rethink the “social contract”.
“If we want to understand what weneed to do to tackle the fundamental cause of this process, we start by recognising that this is the result of economic actions – we are not suffering an obscure merciless force of destiny, so we can’t say market forces are not predictable, or it’s an upturn and then a downturn, that is wrong,” he said.
“We need to rethink our social contract… to understand that we have to rebuild our international system of global economic governance to define clearly what is the role of the state and its responsibility, the policy actions that government must assume responsibility for in order to redress the current crisis. We don't want to limit freedom of markets. ... nevertheless the state is also responsible to regulate these forces… We must recognize that the state has responsibility to protect the right of the citizen here.”
Lembo said United Nations bodies would play their part by making sure that upcoming discussions of its “millennium goals” – eight international development goals established following the U.N. Millennium Summit in 2000 – would make sure that “fundamental rights” were clearer. He said the U.N. would be careful to make sure that the opinion of Gulf states was taken into consideration but – echoing speakers in Doha Forum sessions earlier on Monday and Tuesday – he said the U.N. may hope for extra funding to help with its new sustainable development goals.
In a similar vein, Michel Veuthey, president of University College Henry Dunant, said more efforts were needed to make sure globalisation was a positive process for all. “How can we ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for everyone, how can we ensure inclusiveness and equity, how can we find protection and remedies against the negative effects of globalisation?” the head of the Geneva human rights institution said.
He said countries should take more action to legislate against human trafficking and forced labour, proposing some practical means to improve rights in this field without a hefty cost, such as setting up online training and databases, providing migrant workers with USB sticks carrying basic information on their rights and where to get help, train opinion-makers to push the message further, encourage research on historical migration issues, and involve refugees and migrants in the programmes devised for their assistance and protection.
KhaledAl Qadi, head of the Arab Center for Law Awareness in Cairo, criticized Arab states though for failing to take migrant labour issues seriously, saying many had not signed up to the international agreement on migrant labour rights, a U.N. convention signed in 1990 that went into force in 2003. “Why have Arab states not signed the agreement? Because it imposes measures that cannot be achieved in Arab states,” he said. “I call on the Arab League to adopt the agreement.” Some Arab states are host to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of refugees, while affluent Gulf countries host large expatriate communities that took part in building and administering modern states.
But ZidaneZeraoui, dean of research at ITESM in Mexico, also faulted the United States over migrant rights because of its policies to stem the flow of people from Mexico. “Under President Obama 1.5 million migrants have been deported, and between 60 to 70 percent of those deported in recent years had no criminal record. In addition to deportation, the other drama is crossing the desert: in recent months 93 bodies have been found dead,” he said.