ECPD International Conference
FUTURE OF THE WORLD
BETWEEN GLOBALIZATION AND REGIONALIZATION
(Belgrade, City Hall, 24-25 October, 2015)
Over the past decade, the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD), which was established by the United Nations University for Peace, has placed considerable effort and resources on systematic research into the general topic “Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans”. These efforts have received substantial support from the government of Japan.
Considerable knowledge has been gained through a series of scientific meetings, seminars, focused round tables and specialized lectures involving prominent scientists from all parts of the world. Ten international conferences have been organized, each devoted to some current aspect within the general thematic framework. The rich, relevant and lasting results of the work undertaken have been published in comprehensive and notable proceedings, which provide a valuable basis for further research, a useful tool of projection of the future of the Balkans, as well as a means for perceiving international political, economic, cultural and spiritual dynamics and developmental trends in a broader regional and global context.
The outcome is a broad understanding with deep insight into the status of the contemporary problems of the contemporary Balkans and an emphasis on the fact region is still not integrated into the European Union.
Under the prevailing conditions of regional instability and a set of multiple challenges of transition, the consistent support of the numerous individuals, national and international organizations has been of immeasurable importance. The generosity shown has been motivated by an overall intention to help find the best and most reliable solutions for surmounting the difficulties faced. The experience of the Balkans over the past decades, especially in the post-conflict period, coupled with the varying extra-regional factors and attitudes towards the present status and perspectives of this complex region of South East Europe, suggests that a special emphasis must be placed on the efforts to prevent the topicality of the other extremely important factors of the political, economic, cultural and spiritual phenomena from clouding the essential dimension of human security. Human security should be held in close focus and receive scientific support and social attention.
Developments and trends that have indelibly marked recent decades of Balkan history show that, real, practical and legally guaranteed measures are necessary for human security. Otherwise, it will be impossible for any political, economic or cultural model of social organization and intergovernmental cooperation to withstand the regional pressures and the test of time.
It has become increasingly evident that success achieved in the implementation of scientific research and international cooperation under the project “Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans“ that ECPD international conferences are both an enabling force and the emergent and urgent call to broaden the horizons of the ECPD together with its partners and friends. Consequently, the next envisioned stage must be conceived in a way that will enable a more comprehensive evaluation of the so far hitherto attained results, on the one hand, propelled forward in step with the observed trends in comprehensively perceived international relations, on the other. Thus, previous experience will ensure the organic analytical linkages of individual, regional and global plans for perceiving and responding to global processes.
It is anticipated that this approach will enable a better understanding of tendencies at the level of individual states, the Balkan region as a whole and within the context of European integration, as well as the phenomenology being characteristic of global processes, with potentially productive typological generalizations.
Generalizations will be derived from the scrupulous and objective monitoring and study of reality not by applying a given theoretical or ideological matrix to reality, as is often the case. This we argue will make them the basis and a strong starting point for more concrete programmes and for resolving the accumulated contradictions and problems faced by humanity.
Special attention should be devoted in an innovative way to the economic factor in international relations, since its impact on the direction of trends in these relations and the overall global balance has been provided substantive.
Bearing in mind that after a decade of effort there is a need to initiate the new cycle of ECPD activities and research, based on our positive experiences and accumulated knowledge gained from our hitherto cooperation with Japan and other countries.
With our background of results and lessons learned from international conferences, and after considerable deliberations we have chosen a new thematic framework with the topic: Future of the World between Globalization and Regionalization. We believe that this topic can provide the conceptual space within which it would be possible to define narrower thematic entities and specialist areas of research to be addressed and discussed at the ECPD international conferences in the future.
In explaining contemporaneity, indisputably the process of globalization became commonplace in all social sciences a long time ago, because its strong actualization in the fields of technological development, economy, financial flows, communication networks and specified lifestyle and value systems cannot be disputed. In some very important dimensions the world has really become a “global village”, as was said a long time ago. On the other hand, it has also become clear – through the study of regional development and regional specifics – that the configuration of political trends in the world does not follow globalization. The world will not become unipolar, as it was believed momentarily; instead, apart from integrative tendencies there appear reactively the deepening disintegrative tendencies, through the affirmation of different forms of particular identities, from political and national to cultural and religious.
The emerging view that is currently affirming itself is that the creation of a multipolar world order is underway. This can also explain the rising tensions and increasingly frequent conflicts in some parts of the world. At present, however, there is no clear idea or single opinion concerning the morphology that will be adopted by the emerging multipolar world of the future.
One process that points to the possible new paradigm is macro-regionalization, which has also been addressed at ECPD international conferences. Considering the events and processes in the Balkans which are, due to their regional characteristics, a typical mid-region, exposed to the contradictory influences of the most influential agents of international relations, it has been concluded that the recomposition of the international order tends towards the creation of a specified number of macro-regions. Several pivotal states on the world stage aim to become the centres of gravity for a certain number of medium and small countries and thus create their own macro-regions. One result is inevitable friction and the clash of overlapping interests. In this scheme of things, the EU constitutes a single macro-region in which Germany emerges as a pivotal state, to which the Western Balkan countries wish to accede. On the other hand, the existence of NATO and US pretensions to maintain control over all most important events in the world, relativize the macro-regional potential and independence of the EU. Russia is increasingly decisively working on the creation of its sphere of influence and is expanding the area in which it appears as a world power.
China has its own vision of the international order in which it is already playing one of the most prominent roles. Then there is also India, while certain ambitions to become a (macro) regional power are also displayed by Turkey, Nigeria in Africa, Brazil in Latin America... The evident efficiency crisis and hardly surmountable blockades in the functioning of the United Nations, the only genuinely global organization, are the result and convincing indicator of the well-advanced process of polycentric political grouping of its members. The question that increasingly imposes itself is whether the geographical-regional criterion in the allocation of seats in some UN organs and bodies is sustainable, since regional affiliation often loses its geographical, historical and geocultural connotation, and becomes subordinate to the focal actor in the region.
The perspective of a multipolar world has been welcomed on many sides as being a more logical and a more viable one than a unipolar one. It is questionable whether macro-regionalization is the first or best alternative solution, especially for medium and small countries. For a mid-region, like the Balkans, which has been and still is a medium region, it is of utmost importance that the region finds its place in the newly forming international configuration, albeit accompanied by considerable shocks, even though many consider them an emerging entity as designated in the term the “new Balkans”, which results from numerous objective characteristics.
There is a place for ECPD, in this world caught between globalization and regionalization, to address the need to neutralize the forces of division that are trying to fragment the world along lines of separation, and to reinforce those working for its unity, not in the sense of encouraging hegemony, but in finding legitimate expressions of diversity at the national and regional levels that contribute richness to, rather than undermine, the essential need both for regional solidarity and for better global governance to address those problems that can only be tackled at the global level. This builds on its long-standing focus on human security, and its efforts to overcome the consequences of the recent fragmentation of the Balkans, by enlarging the scope to consider similar processes between the regional and global levels. The Balkans will be subject to increasing pulls from east and west, as well as likely spill-overs from the chaos in the Islamic world, that could feed its internal divisions if not actively neutralized. The ECPD should have an important role to play in this field.
At the same time that divisions seem to be increasing, the United Nations has overseen a new consultative process with wide participation to define the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, with their targets and indicators, to be adopted at a summit at the UN General Assembly on 25-27 September 2015. These represent a new set of aspirations for all countries for the next 15 years, and will define a constructive international agenda for the immediate future. These could help to set priorities in the western Balkans, as they will for all other countries, including goal 16 which focuses on peace and human security. The UN Secretary-General's has summarized this process in his synthesis report: "The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet". The breadth of this agenda will call for efforts beyond what governments themselves can undertake, and open many possibilities for research and collaboration to advance on many issues that are still not well defined or that lack practical ways forward, and for which experimentation and collective learning will be necessary. ECPD is well placed to contribute to this process in its region.
The thematic domain covered by the formulation Future of the World between Globalization and Regionalization, which we are initiating as our new research cycle, in cooperation with other competent and all interested partners offers the potential to make a significant and serious step forward in the understanding and the interpretation of contemporary processes on the global plane, with significant regional implications, through joint scientific and professional efforts. More closely defined research topics and the exchange of views at round tables, specialist seminars and international annual conferences will enable the presentation of new ideas and concrete proposals for the creation of the harmonious relations between the irreversible process of globalization in many areas and the need to preserve cultural diversity of the world and political macro-regionalization, with the potential multiplication of relations of domination and subordination in the international community.
International scientific cooperation of this nature should include as many young people as possible and be carried out in the spirit of the principles implicit of the mandate of the ECPD since its establishment. Its well established ideals will inspire its activities, and its efforts will strive to contribute towards averting the serious threats to peace and to strengthen the irreplaceable role of the United Nations. Therefore, our research efforts will be the continuation of the hereto mission of advocating for human security for everyone and everywhere.
Belgrade, October 25, 2015