Forum 2000 Conference Attendees Addressed by Dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and Invited to Continue Discussions on the Rule of Law
Prague, October 10, 2011
The first day of Forum 2000 Conference brought a number of panel discussions and remarks at various venues in Prague. Among other topics, the main program run at the Žofín Palace covered the prospectives of the rule of law in 21st century, its influence over global economic performance or issues associated with development aid. The opening remark was given by Burmese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi via pre-recorded message.
„I would like to thank Forum 2000 for founding this tradition and opening this important debate. Thank you all for standing by our side as we continue our struggle for rights and basic democratic institutions,“ said Ms. Suu Kyi.
The first panel discussion hosted the editor-in-chief of the renowned Polish paper Gazeta Wyborzca, Mr. Adam Michnik, former President of Ghana Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor or the President of Carnegie Corporation, Mr. Vartan Gregorian. Mr. Michnik called attention to the issue of sovereign democracy, in which, “an individual is considered the property of the president of the country”. According to him, the rule of law derives its legitimacy from a government independent of political leanings, democratic media, and free and depoliticized expression of religion. Mr. Kufuor discussed the universal yearning for democracy and human rights, which he has experienced in Africa as well as through recent events in the Arab States. “We will not see sustainable economic growth without the rule of law. Undemocratic regimes are superficially stable,” said Mr. Kufuor.
The panel discussing issues associated with rule of law and global economic performance starred two highly influential personalities of today’s economic discourse: Mr. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic Sciences, and Mr. Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. Mr. Stiglitz stressed the importance of maintaining the rule of law for the right purposes. In his view, a broader perspective requires the recognition of three main objectives – promotion of growth, poverty reduction and access to credit. Mr. de Soto also indicated that transparency has been a major issue. According to him, the financial institutions have violated the rule of law by ignoring it.
The issue of power abuse acting against the rule of law and the roots of unethical behavior were analyzed by the renowned American psychologist and author of the “Stanford Prison Experiment” Mr. Philip Zimbardo. At an informal meeting he discussed the need for “strengthening our moral muscle” through private initiatives. “Today we have a rather clear understanding of what can turn a good person into an evil one. In my view, we should now focus on ways of reinforcing qualities, which can turn people into heroes,” stated Mr. Zimbardo, who is also the founder of the Heroic Imagination project.
The range of the day’s discussion topics included the ever-growing importance of social networks and the role they play in driving social change. Egyptian journalist, Ms. Shahira Amin, and Mr. Sultan Barakat, the Director of Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit of the University of York, saw that new forms of social media were not determining factors in bringing about the revolution in Egypt, however, they were seen to be catalysts providing momentum for change and the ability to network across the region in a way governments never expected.
The complete list of discussion topics and guest speakers can be found here: http://goo.gl/8XcOe.
The Conference will continue on Tuesday and its participants will have the opportunity to engage in debates regarding the relation between religion, ethics and law, the responsibility of the international community to protect and intervene during humanitarian crises. They will also take a closer look at legal systems in times of political transition or the fate of female political prisoners.