The Global Citizen

Dennis Snower is President of the Institute for World Economy in Kiel. He is founder of the Global Economic Symposium which he describes as follows: “The GES is about creating a neutral open space in which we can understand that we are a global community; in which we are prepared to take on global responsibilities and understand that as the world has become interconnected and globalized, we have become interdependent in various important ways. Because we are creating global problems like climate change, like the financial crisis, that no country can address on its own. So these problems are orphan problems that remain unaddressed even by many international organizations which are arenas for pushing national interests. The GES grew out of the realization that we must come together as a global community – that we are increasingly a global economy, but not a global society. Every one of us living on this planet has many identities. We have an identity within our family, an identity within larger social groups. Now, perhaps for the first time in human history it’s vital for our very survival as a species that we also forge a global identity. The GES is an attempt to establish such a global identity.”

The conference will take place early October 2011 in Kiel. This years topic is “New Forces in Global Governance!”. I am currently working on a magazine which will be published for the GES covering various fields in politics. economy, society and education in which these “New Forces” became really strong.

By Virtue Of The Current Situation In Algeria …

… I re-post an interview with Arslan CHIKHAOUI, CEO and chairman of Nord-Sud Ventures in Algier. He is also a senior consultant to Algerian Government bodies and senior analyst on international affairs for national and international media. I’ve met Arslan last November and we’ve had a long conversation on what’s going on in Algeria. I think these videos give some insights on daily life in Algeria and help to understand why Algeria is different from Egypt and Tunisia.

Even though I do hope for the people that they will have the power to stand up!

Here you find a transcript of parts of the interview.

Part 1 of 5 deals with:
Introduction of himself
Overview -politics and economy – of what has happened in Algeria from 1960 – 2002

Part 2 of 5 deals with:
2002 first “weak” reforms started
times of terror, 1996 was the peak of terrorism in Algeria political and social system up until today

Part 3 of 5 deals with:
Algeria within Africa
Relation between private sector and government
Freedom of Speech, Media
Looking for new forms of government

Part 4 of 5 deals with:
Need for a Vision / Lack of Leadership
Algeria needs first of all stabilization, decent life for everybody
Drivers for transformation
Role of Internet / Mobile

Part 5 of 5 deals with:
Social Society
Autocratic systems are in times of crises “better” for transformation than democracies
His personal role within the existing system

Talking about a Revolution: Tunisia

Netizens are deeply concerned about repressive measures used by Tunisian authorities in response to the current protests and political unrest in the country. It urges the government to refrain from the unnecessary use of force against peaceful protesters and to respect the fundamental rights of its people, including the right to freely express dissenting opinions.

The unrest began nearly two weeks ago when a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the country’s high unemployment rate. The incident, which took place in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, became the catalyst that sparked widespread protest and riots that have become a referendum on the government of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Protesters are calling for an end to corruption, nepotism, and restrictions on basic freedoms. There have been reports of Tunisian security forces opening fire on protesters as well as large scale arrests and torture of prisoners. Although traditional media in Tunisia is heavily restricted and authorities have sophisticated methods for repressing internet freedom, reports of the protests have spread through non-traditional forms of media as bloggers and regular citizens have been tracking the events.

And – this is what strikes me most – hardly any news on this in “western” media.

So I felt very happy yesterday, when I got the chance to interview Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian Teacher Assisstant of linguistics at Tunis University and a blogger. Thanks again to Hisham who connected us. Lina is mainly blogging about freedom of speech, human rights (especially women rights and students rights), social problems, and organ donation awareness . She likes photography, reading, writing, watching movies. Lina is also an athlete but within a special team: The Tunisian National Organ Transplant Team.

Here is the mp3 file is here , the sound quality is not really good, but it is O.K.
A transcript will be available next week as part of the latest issue of we-magazine.

Michael Moore argues that Wikileaks is pro Democracy

I think these are great statements by Michael Moore, an Amercian Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author. He posted bail money for Julian Assange, the founder and head of Wikileaks. Here are some arguments why he posted the money:

“We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

– Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks “has violated the Espionage Act.”

– Sarah Palin claims he’s “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” whom we should pursue “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”
– Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: “A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”
– Republican Mary Matalin says “he’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist.”

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won’t be so easy because the tables have been turned — and now it’s Big Brother who’s being watched … by us!”

I was in London yesterday (and I am still there) – and it was only by coincidence (some of you asked me) that this day Julian Assange walked with a smile and a short statement of quiet defiance, free from custody and into the kind of media scrum more commonly seen after a decades-long prison sentence, rather than nine days on remand.

Nobody knows right now about the impacts wikileaks will have on our governments, on our society. It is a brand new situation for all of us. For us as citizens and for our governments. Are we people able to deal with these kind of information and are we capable to handle it? To make judgements based upon it? We don’t know yet.
Are our governments ready to deal successfully with this new kind of transparency? Aren’t they tempted to see more the threats than the changes? Indeed, wikileaks is challenging their fundamental ideas how they govern. At the moments it seems that they rather use it to restrict our civil rights such as freedom of speech, that they tend to control the Web even stronger than to accept the new terms of communication and transparency. We really don’t know where we are heading to. Nevertheless I do strongly support the ideas going along with wikileaks because I do think that transparency is a not a nice-to-have but a must-have in a lively democracy.

I have the feeling they we’ve reached for the very first time since the rise of the Internet a very critical and crucial moment for our societies as a whole, the Internet has heavily concussed the walls of our established systems – if governments and companies are continuing to control and restrict it, WE will fall way behind of what a great democracy could be.

And I only hope for the good that then a new Web will come into existence …

How Climate Change Correlates with Democracy

Peter Burnell attended last weeks Transformation Thinker Conference hosted by GTZ and Bertelsmann Foundation. He is a Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. He is one of the first scientist bringing together an agenda including issues iof climate change, political regime and leadership. Just in time for the present summit in Cancun.

Here are the 3 key questions Burnell focused on during his impulse statement:

  1.  How do different leadership styles affect climate politics on the national level (and vice versa?)
  2. When dealing with the specific challenges of climate change, how does the political regime of a country influence policy-making?
  3. Is democracy more “climate-proof” when it comes to multisectoral collaboration or collective leadership?

In this specific interview we (Jocelyne Sambira form United Nations and me) talked about the correlations between democracy and climate change. Do "developed" democracies perform better in responding to climate change challenges than non-democrcies?

Parts of the interview are also published on UNRadio. Thanks to Jocelyne!


About Peter Burnell:

He was educated at the University of Bristol and University of Warwick. His long established research interests are in democratization and the political economy of foreign aid. He is a founding editor of the international journal Democratization.

A present research focus is a critical examination of how standard conceptions of democracy are being diffused globally through networks of democracy promotion actors based mainly in the West. Another examines the political drivers of international assistance to developing regions against a backdrop of competing, sometimes contradictory policy objectives and theories of economic, social and political change.

World Vote Now

World Vote Now is a movie project by Joel Marsden. It was shot in 26 countries, in every region of the planet, and deals with the construction of the first global democratic system.

I personally like this idea very much, even though it needs a lot of work to be done regarding the fact what democracy itsself means to the initiators and to all those who participated. To me democracy is much more than voting … But this still can be done as the projects proceeds … and its future sounds promising …
Click here for online class discussions about global democracy.

Listen to what Joel has to say:

Getting the YES!

Last week I spent at Castle Steinhöfel, 60 km east of Berlin close to the border to Poland.

Somehow the end of the world, hence very relaxing and inspiring. The Bertelsmann Stiftung and GTZ invited 21 so called Transformation Thinkers for a six-day program which is targeted at the rising generation of young leaders from developing and transition countries. It is conceived as a forum for strategic reflection and the international exchange of experience. These meetings serve to enhance the strategic orientation and problem-solving capacities of young experts likely to take on positions of leadership in their country. Knowledge and skills are conveyed by both experienced practitioners and leading scholars engaged in comprehensive political and economic reform. My role in this setting was related in my experience with the Internt. We produced a couple of videos you can find here.

One of the most inspiring sessions to me was Jamil Mahuad‘s one. He took us on a 5 h negotiation journey – how to get the YES. WOW! Jamil is former President of the Republic of Ecuador and co-founder & Senior Advisor for the Harvard International Negotiation Program in Cambridge.

During his presidency, a historical peace agreement with the neighboring country of Peru was signed, resolving the countries’ longstanding border dispute. Under the agreement, Ecuador renounced its claims to sovereignty of the disputed territory under the Rio de Janeiro Protocol; Peru deeded ownership of a square kilometer of the territory to Ecuador. In his lecture he explained us this very process. Everybody was drwan into it. We felt like being an active part in these negotiations.

Jamil strechted the GETTING TO YES grid where the x-axis showed the 5 elements of relationship and y the “substance”, the 5 elements of negotiations.

5 Elements of negotiations (= substance)
Interest – what is the story behind the story?
Reconcile interest, not position
Options – invent before decide!
we are driven by our past
problems can only be solved on the level of causes
Legitimacy – use fair criteria
Batna – know your/their limit
Commitment – I’ll be better off >>>YES!

5 Elements of Relationship
Appreciation – understand, find, express merit
Affiliation – find, share common ground
Autonomy – free to make, influence decision
Status – position in hierarchy
Role – Meaningful, fulfilling

Using various combinations within this grid during the negotiation process, Jumil explained vividly “his way” to succeed – highly complex and dynamic. Having inhaled and understood this grid in its depth you are ready to get any YES you want.

How short distance becomes long distance …

This week I’ve met Ohood Enaia. Ohood, a very brave and adorable woman, is Manager at the Municipal Development & Lending Fund in Ramallah, West Bank. Each and every weekend she is visiting her parent’s house in Nablus, a trip of 35 minutes if you could go straight by car. But these days – depending on the check points restrictions – it might take up to 5 hours on a bad day. One way! Each day has its own life! And each check point might run its own rules!

In this video she explains why it is so complicated … Palestinian people have different ID cards and this is why easy things like e.g. going from one part of the West Bank to another can become difficult …

… and to complete the video area C, a designation from the era of the Oslo Accords,means Israel has full military and administrative control. And area C strikes fear into the heart of Palestinians …

David Weinberger on Reboot_D – Digital Democracy

In preparation for Reboot_D – Digital Democracy – I had a brief interview with David Weinberger yesterday. David will be SKYPED in at Reboot_D to continue the discussion …

Our topics – thanks to Martin Lindner have been:

“Transparency is the new Objectivity”

(1) You have coined the slogan “Transparency is the new Objectivity”, and added that the digital media are enabling us to lay open not only “objective results” but instead give us insight into a whole rich process that is leading to certain results, or political standpoints.
Could you explain that further?

(2) Your transparency-quote has been aimed at the claim for objectivity of the media. Beyond the media, what would be the consequences for a new web-driven “digital democracy” if we would try to design an ecosystem of web applications in that spirit?

(3) “Information Overload”
– But at the same time this principle of transparency seems to lead to a kind of “Information Overload”, as the never-ending RSS reader crisis of the web avant-gardists is constantly reminding us …

How do you think can a web-driven “Digital Democracy” save that problem? And not only for digitalliterates, but for the mainstream too?

– You once said something like: “The solution to Information Overload? More Information! (But in different forms and different channels.” How would that work? What would be the consequences for “citizen experience design” in Democracy 2.0-applications?

(4) Conversation, Voices, and the Crisis of Representation
– In Germany, we seem to have a crisis of representation. Citizens are not really feeling represented by politicians anymore. They don’t really know how to communicate. Can you envision new, technology-enabled forms of a “political conversation”?

(5) Third Places
– It has been said that the “Third Places” have been dying out, that is, all the places where would people would gather and informally meet between the workplace and the private home.

– Can the Web in some way take the function of these “Third Places”? Does it privide a space for the “Big Murmur” of the crowds that is a precondition of more specific democratic discourse and discussions?