2013 Themes

Session 1. The state of the world economy and governance

During this session, eminent international figures from both the public and private sectors will discuss the state of the global economy at the end of 2013, focusing on its weaknesses, the improvements needed in short-term and structural economic policies, and major ongoing projects such as the TTIP and the TPP. They will also be invited to talk about the changes in governance bodies like the G20.

Session 2 & 3. Middle East

While the civil war continues to rage in syria and political instability reigns in the arab spring countries, the most interesting development in the Middle East over the last few months has been the overtures made by Iran following the election of President Rohani in June 2013. During these two sessions, the possibility of Iran rejoining the “international community” and the chances of gradually achieving greater unity in the Middle East will be explored by some of the key stakeholders in the region, as well as from an external perspective.

Session 4. Asia’s strengths and weaknesses

Asia is still driving the global economy, but its security systems are extremely vulnerable. Numerous territorial conflicts have the potential to trigger a serious incident at any time, and the danger that these conflicts will degenerate is even greater because of ancestral hostility and resentment over events that happened in the 20th century. There are still many questions and a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Korean peninsula; the purpose of this session – which will be attended by people of various nationalities, representing the full range of political and economic issues at stake – is to better understand the challenges presented by this huge region, where much of 21st century history will be played out.

Session 5. The challenges of the cyberspace

This session will address the challenges of cyberspace from three perspectives:

  1. The technological aspects and their possible or probable impact on the economy, society and international competition (are we heading towards an american political-industrial monopoly or a balance of power between the United states and China, in what respect and with what consequences?);
  2. The american strategy in this area;
  3. Europe’s interests.

We will focus on one particularly important aspect of the current revolution: the future of the media, as seen by the head of a large press corporation in a middle power (Korea).

Session 6. Whither the ‘european social model’?”

People all over the old continent still see social protection as a fundamental part of european life, even if the old Welfare state concept and what it entails has been damaged by globalisation. In fact, there are several “social models” in europe and the Member states of the European Union (EU) have demonstrated unequal capacity for reform in this area. Under these circumstances, is it really possible, from a prospective point of view, to talk about a single european social model that would embody the EU’s identity over the long term, and without which the Union’s very existence would be at stake?

Lunch Debate on Saturday, 14th December: The future of diplomacy
The information and communication technology revolution is moving forward fast and while it has not naturally changed the fundamental role of human nature in negotiations, it has completely transformed the exercise and practice of diplomacy. Two people with a great deal of experience in this area – a former american Under-secretary of state who is now a Professor at Harvard and a former French Foreign Minister – will be discussing the future consequences of this.

Session 7. Destruction or metamorphosis of the legal order?

Globalisation has created such a high degree of interdependence that it seems to be affecting both the legitimacy and the efficiency of legal systems. Legitimacy is built upon the universalism of values, which is an integral part of instruments to protect human rights and combat crimes that threaten humanity (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide) and underlies the emergence of “global public goods”. As for the efficiency of legal systems, it is being undermined by the globalisation of flows (economic and financial flows, digital information flows), hazards (notably health and environmental hazards) and crime (terrorism, corruption and various types of trafficking, including human and organ trafficking).
In practice, interactions between legal systems are increasing. such interactions may be horizontal (distribution of standards, dialogue between judges) or vertical (internationalisation of standards, creation of supranational courts); they overturn traditional perspectives, which associate national legal systems with the state and the international legal system with an inter-state structure. Of course, the state is still a fundamental component of the legal system, but it seems to be subject to competition from non-state bodies such as international organisations, multinational companies, non-governmental organisations and, occasionally, scientific experts.
The effects of globalisation would be destructive if they were to:

  • · dilute responsibilities by increasing the number of judicial and quasi-judicial players and bodies with competing remits;
  • · challenge the principle of territoriality, bearing in mind that borders are sometimes transgressed by the extension of national jurisdiction (extraterritoriality), sometimes integrated into a complex system combining national and international jurisdictions (multi-territoriality) and sometimes neutralised by the dematerialisation of information;
  • · weaken the principle of sovereignty, the independence of which is under threat.

Unless globalisation is regarded as the start of a three-dimensional metamorphosis:

  • · from responsibility to “co-responsibility”, which would create a link between the exercise of global power by either state or non-state parties and the obligation to assume responsibility for the effects of this power;
  • · from territoriality to an area that is geographically diverse but governed by the same standards, which would call for coordination and, in some cases, a harmonisation of the rules of jurisdiction;
  • · from absolute sovereignty to “shared” sovereignty; perhaps a better term would be “inclusive” sovereignty, as it implies the inclusion of new powers rather than the exclusion of traditional powers, thus encompassing the solidarity generated by growing interdependence. In this case, the word “metamorphosis” reflects an evolutionary vision of the legal system and the hope that change will lead us from chaos to peace.

Session 8. Reports from parallel workshops

Session 9. Towards a european banking Union

The banking union project is a direct result of the eurozone crisis, which began in 2010 in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crash in the United states. Many believe that the banking union is vital to the long-term future of the euro, but the project could be compromised by the reticence of some of the stakeholders. This subject will be addressed in depth during the finance workshop. However, it is also a very political subject, since it concerns the viability of the European Union itself. Therefore, it will also be discussed at a plenary session.

Session 10. Africa

This session, which has now become a tradition at the WPC, will focus on three major issues: changes in the internal governance of african states; economic trends in africa; the great Lakes regional crisis. Some of the debates will also address China’s african policy.

Session 11. Politics and religions

The relationship between politics and religion lies at the heart of world history, since any religion is also a source of collective identity, culture and ideology and therefore a factor in power politics. With the transformation or the collapse of Communist systems and of the secular ideologies that prevailed in the “third world” for a third of a century after the second World War, the instrumentalisation of religions is playing an increasingly preeminent role in the geopolitics of conflict. This subject will be addressed by representatives of the three monotheisms, who will focus in particular on religious institutions as an instrument of better global governance.

Session 12. general debate

Like every year, the final session will include several people who currently occupy an eminent position or have held such a position in the recent past. They will endeavour not only to learn something from the conference, but also to explore new avenues.