Ismail Serageldin


Closing Remarks

 29/04/2015 | Building Trust in the Emerging/New World Order, Baku – Global Forum


Building Trust in the Emerging/New World Order

BAKU – Global Forum

28-29 April 2015

1445 words


Closing Remarks


Ismail Serageldin


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


We have just completed two days of intensive and enriching debates on a wide range of topics that fall under the broad heading of “Building Trust in the emerging/new world Order”… and I have been asked to try to pull the threads together into a meaningful whole.



The First Day:


We have ranged far and wide:


From the opening session where the speech of HE the president launched us on our way

To the introductory review of the Key challenges for the emerging order

To a topical discussion of Russia-west relations

To an exploration of radicalization, and reconciliation.


We also discussed extremism… and remain convinced that beyond necessary military and police actions, there is still the question of the spread of these extreme ideas that beget violence and terrorism.  That is a subject where the Library of Alexandria has led the way with a bold exploration on how to fight ideas with ideas… we started by thinking the unthinkable:


“If certain acts against humanity appear to place their perpetrators beyond dialogue, we must still embrace interrogation – that is, self-interrogation. In what way, in turn, have we contributed to the making of such a moment? Failure to thus examine ourselves limits the long term effectiveness of response, and brackets us with the mentality of the fanatic who, literally, never seeks to recover, indeed is incapable of recovering, a long-since receded moment of doubt, the zone of possible choices, the potential of the routes not taken”..  

--       Wole Soyinka[1],

It is clear from such arguments that we should all put a premium on a cultural framework that promotes pluralism and multi-faceted identities within the national entity, or even the supra-national entity, as in Europe.    Such a cultural framework should also facilitate orderly change through discussion and debate and peaceful participatory means of citizen engagement.  All of these qualities gives legitimacy to the existing social and political order and encourage its responsiveness to the views and needs of the citizens.  In turn, all these qualities will diffuse the potential tensions and make it difficult for extremism to take root, for dissidence to turn to anger, and for anger to turn into rage and violence.


The Second Day:


Today we continued with a focus on Ukraine, and a hard look at the reality of the situation, recognizing that it is not a local issue, but one that concerns all of us, that is really about stability and peace between Russia and the world.   We also looked at the EU and its neighborhood policy.  We also explored the issues of energy security, and the role of regional organizations as enablers of security and the role of women in peace leadership, reflecting on the still unacceptably low participation of women despite the UNSCR 1325 of 2000.  A strong debate led to the a broad ranging exploration of the continuing discrimination against women in many aspects of society and the need to redress the gender balance in all fields of human endeavor.


We also discussed the interfaith dialogue and it potential role to promote peace and understanding instead of religion being used by extremists as the cover for their political agendas.


And now we try to sum up the meaning of all these discussion, how can we build trust in an emerging or new world order?






The emerging new world order has to take into account the enormous differences that exist between people and cultures.  We must build a system that rejects the “one-size-fits-all” approach and that adapts to the enormous and enriching variety of the human experience and its invaluable cultural diversity.


We must remain open to all the cultures of the world.  As Gandhi said:


“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.  I refuse to live in other people's houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.”

                                      -- Mahatma Gandhi


A new world order must be built on principles

Principles must be formulated as rules

Breaking such rules must have predictable consequences.


 “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

-- Martin Luther King


Trust in people can be based on character, but trust in a system and the institutions that bring the system to life, must be based on:


  • < >: Derived from the voluntary participation of all the members, or the overwhelming majority of them;< > : actions have consequences in a system that is based on the interest of the members and that is seen as fair< >: these rules apply to all the members

    Global in scope -- It is far-reaching

  • It should help resolve conflicts, even the long-term frozen conflicts

  • It should create the framework platform where the parties can come in confidence to work out their differences and to arbitrate them on their merits.


We do not want a system that is designed to make exceptional persons shine.

We want a system that ordinary persons cannot break.


It will take time and will probably come to full fruition at the hands of our children.  For:


There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

-- Niccolo Machiavelli


But There is the ICT revolution


But difficult as we now believe it to be, our views are still shaped by the experience of our lives.  Yet these experiences are rapidly moving into obsolescence, because we are living a revolution so profound, that we can barely conceive of the extent of its transformative potential. It is the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) revolution.  It is the revolution of our children and grandchildren.


The ICT revolution means that children who are 5 to 10 years old now, will lead us into a world which we, their elders, cannot even comprehend…


  • Their hand-held devices have become precious extensions of their own senses.

  • They take connectivity for granted.They abhor any break in connectivity.

  • They interact with their peers halfway around the world.

  • They take access to knowledge as a given, as much as we take access to air for breathing as a given…


I fear that many who are now hoping to design the future are underestimating the scale of the changes taking place


Coping with the ICT revolution and all it brings, and especially the enormous deluge of information that we are now subjected to on a daily basis, we can echo the profound questions that were posed by T.S. Eliot a century ago when he asked:


Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?


Yes, many of us find these developments troubling or at least disconcerting.   But I find these developments exhilarating.  They open new vistas that younger people take for granted, and which – along with the ever more terrible weapons that are being created every day – will inform their world view and the world order they will construct.   I feel like Robert Frost who said:


Now I am old my teachers are the young.

What can’t be molded must be cracked and sprung.

I strain at lessons fit to start a suture.

I go to school to youth to learn the future.


Because of the very youthful structure of the global populations, these youth will be the ones to address the twin phenomena of extremism and violence.  They will build the new world order.  We their elders, can only help lay the groundwork, establish some parameters and help define the compass direction

A compass direction to move away

  • Away from our past mistakes

  • Away from war and totalitarianism

  • Away from the blind pursuit of greed

  • Away from the acceptance of injustice and inequality


So armed with these thoughts.. I bid you all Godspeed and happy returns to your countries.


Thank you.



[1] Wole Soyinka, Climate of Fear: The Quest for Dignity in a Dehumanized World, (the Reith Lectures of 2004), Random House, NY 2005,  p.141.


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