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14 Jan, 2004

World Economic Forum vs World Social Forum: Two Worlds, Two Ways

Both the World Economic Forum and World Social Forum convened for their annual pow-wows in January 2004. The outcomes of both events will have a major impact on the future of travel & tourism.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which claims to be “the foremost global community of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society committed to improving the state of the world,” is to hold its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21, 2004.

Another grouping, which the New York Times calls “second superpower” after the US, the global civil society movement, is to meet for a World Social Forum (WSF) in Mumbai, India, on January 17, 2004. This movement claims to be “the main force for peace, democracy, fair trade, justice, human rights, and sustainable development.”

What transpires at both these events will have a major impact on the future of travel & tourism, an industry well-exposed to pressure from both sides. Unable to cover both events, Travel Impact Newswire has opted for the World Social Forum. This dispatch reproduces two of the latest announcements from both movements:

1. SECURITY PLUS PROSPERITY EQUALS PEACE: WEF Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab says global leaders know that there can be sustained economic growth without security, but there can be security without prosperity. “This is the Davos equation: Security plus prosperity equals peace.” (Scroll down to read the story).

2. GLOBAL CIVIL SOCIETY MEETS AMIDST CRISIS OF EMPIRE: Warns Prof Walden Bello, executive director of the Asia-Pacific research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South: “A decreased US capacity to control global events, the rise of regional economic blocks as the multilateral system declines, rising assertiveness among developing countries, and the emergence of global civil society as an increasingly powerful check on states and corporations — these trends are likely to accelerate in the next few years.” (Scroll down to read the story).

3. GEOFFREY LIPMAN RESPONDS: World Tourism Organization Special Advisor Geoffrey Lipman took exception to an earlier commentary in Travel Impact Newswire about whose agenda the WTO-OMT is pursuing. (Scroll down to read the story).



GENEVA, Switzerland, 13 January – The World Economic Forum today released details on this year’s annual meeting in Davos, including the key participants, themes and goals. The Meeting, taking place from 21 to 25 January, is being held under the theme “Partnering for Security and Prosperity”.

Speaking at the press conference at the World Economic Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab said, “We live in a world which is uncertain and fragile. At the annual meeting in Davos, global leaders from all walks of life will confront one basic fact: we will not have strong sustained economic growth across the world unless we have security, but we will not have security in unstable parts of the world without the prospect of prosperity. To have both security and prosperity we must have peace. This is the Davos equation: security plus prosperity equals peace.”

Over the course of the five-day Meeting, more than 2,100 participants from 94 countries will convene in Davos. More than 30 heads of state or government, 75 cabinet ministers, 28 religious leaders, 18 union leaders and more than 50 heads of non-governmental organizations. Slightly more than 50% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum’s members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

“This year’s attendance is of particularly high quality with a strong representation from the ‘new’ Europe, and with the US, Asia and Africa represented by key business leaders and statesmen,” said World Economic Forum Co-Chief Executive Officer Jose Maria Figueres. “And as is the case each year we still have one or two ‘surprise’ top level participants still to announce. The World Economic Forum’s unique convening power, its ability to draw leaders from every sector of society means that this year’s annual meeting will be fully equipped to forge partnerships to tackle the problems on the global agenda. We have the people who matter,” he added.

The Meeting programme will draw on this year’s theme of “Partnering for Security and Prosperity”, particularly focusing on seven key ‘threads’: – Ensuring Global Security – Promoting Global Growth – Managing New Risks – Building Corporate Resilience – Spurring Innovation – Harnessing the Diversity of Values – Reducing Inequity

The co-chairs of the annual meeting 2004 will be John Chambers, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco Systems Inc.; Carlos Ghosn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd; Walter Kielholz, Chairman of the Board, Cr?dit Suisse Group; and Marilyn C. Nelson, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Carlson Companies Inc.

Among the heads of state and public figures participating in this year’s Annual Meeting: Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; the new Secretary-General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer; President of the European Parliament Pat Cox; Mario Monti, Competition Commissioner for the EU; Javier Solana Madariaga, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy for the European Commission; H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan; President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski; President of Argentina Nestor Kirchner; President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo; Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan; the new Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin; Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey; Deputy Israeli Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom; President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.

The United States will be represented by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans and US Attorney-General John Ashcroft will participate. L. Paul Bremer, Administrator, Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq, and former US President Bill Clinton will also be at the Annual Meeting.

Other policy-makers include: UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, French Finance and Industry Minister Francis Mer, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, South African Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin and Minister of Finance of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad.

From the world of business: Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank, Germany; Kurt Alig, Chairman, Arcadia Treuhand, Switzerland; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nestl?, Switzerland; Victor L. L. Chu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong; Douglas Daft, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, USA; Michael S. Dell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dell Computer Corporation, USA; Carly Fiorina, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, HP, USA; Niall FitzGerald, Chairman, Unilever, United Kingdom; Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA; Rajat Gupta, Senior Director, McKinsey & Company, USA; Philip Knight, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nike, USA; Henry A. McKinnell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer, USA; Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sony Corporation, Japan; David J, O’Reilly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Texaco Corporation, USA; Heinrich von Pierer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens, Germany; Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman, Goldman Sachs International, United Kingdom; George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management, USA; William I. M. Turner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exsultate, Canada.

Commenting on the strong business participation this year, Philippe Bourguignon, Co-Chief Executive Officer of the WEF said, “With more than 800 Chairmen and CEOs from the world’s leading companies participating this year, the annual meeting shows its strong business component. Underlining this, the annual meeting boasts 24 of the 50 Fortune 50 companies actively taking part. The global agenda over the past few years has been more geopolitical and security related than economic, but as growth and a sustainable prosperity based on security seem now to be in prospect, economic issues are once more coming to the fore. The themes and sessions at Davos reflect the global agenda, and business will play its key role.”

Among the 54 non-governmental organizations represented are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, The World Wide Fund for Nature, Save the Children, CARE, World Vision International and International Aids Vaccine Initiative. Personalities from the cultural world coming to Davos include Youssou N’Dour, singer and chairman of Youth Network for Development, Senegal; film director and producer Luc Besson, musician Peter Gabriel, and singer and record producer Quincy Jones.

The WEF claims to be the foremost global community of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society committed to improving the state of the world. Incorporated as a foundation, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the WEF is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. (http://www.weforum.org).



By Walden Bello

(Walden Bello is professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines and executive director of the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South. He is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award — better known as the Alternative Nobel Prize — for 2003.)

For the thousands of representatives of global civil society who will be gathering in Mumbai for the World Social Forum on January 16- 22, Washington is the world’s number one problem. Yet what a difference a year makes! The US they confront today is not quite the same cocksure superpower of yesterday.

When George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast on May 1st last year to mark the end of the war in Iraq, Washington seemed to be at the zenith of its power, with many commentators calling it, with a mixture of awe and disgust, the “New Rome.” But fortune is fickle, particularly in wartime.

Less than six months later, in mid-September, the US, along with the European Union, lost the “Battle of Cancun,” as the fifth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization collapsed in that Mexican tourist town. A key architect of the successful effort to thwart Washington and Brussels’ plan to impose their agenda on the developing world was the newly formed Group of 20, led by Brazil, India, South Africa, and China.

Power is partly a function of perception, and the inflation of US power right after the Iraq invasion was followed by an even more rapid deflation in the next few months. Washington was not unaware of the rapid erosion, in the eyes of the world, of its capacity to coerce. By the time of the Cancun ministerial, the message coming out of Washington was: “We want to get out of Iraq, but not with our tail between our legs. We need UN cover, some semblance of a multinational security force to leave behind, and some semblance of a functioning government.”

The capture of Saddam Hussein in mid-December simply served to confirm that Saddam was not in control of what was clearly a people’s resistance since guerrilla attacks continued unabated. And as 2004 commences, the question is no longer whether the Iraqi resistance would stage their equivalent of a Tet Offensive but when.


The Iraq quagmire and the collapse of the Cancun ministerial of the WTO were just two manifestations of that fatal disease of empires: over-extension. There were other critical indicators, among them: a) the failure to consolidate a dependent regime in Afghanistan; b) the utter failure to stabilize the Palestine situation, with Washington increasingly held hostage by the Sharon government’s lack of any interest in serious negotiations to bring about a viable Palestinian state; c) the paradoxical boost given to Islamic extremism not only in its Middle Eastern birthplace but in South Asia and Southeast Asia by US-led invasions-that of Iraq and Afghanistan-that had been justified to snuff out terrorism; d) the unraveling of the Atlantic Alliance that won the Cold War; e) the emergence in Washington’s own backyard of anti-US, anti-free-market regimes exemplified by those led by Luis Inacio da Silva in Brazil and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela while the US was focused on the Middle East; f) the rise of a massive transborder civil society movement that has led the increasingly successful drive to delegitimize the US presence in Iraq and contributed decisively to the collapse of the WTO ministerials in Seattle and Cancun.


The problem is that the Bush people have unlearned a vital lesson of imperial management: that, as Bacevich puts it, “Governing any empire is a political, economic, and military undertaking; but it is a moral one as well.” If the Roman Empire lasted 700 years, says UCLA’s Michael Mann, it is because the Romans figured out that the solution to the problem of overextension was not the deployment of more and more legions but the extension of citizenship first to local elites, then to all freemen.

For much of the post-World War II period, in fact, the dominant bipartisan faction of the US political elite exhibited the Roman realization that a “moral vision” was central to imperial management. That was a world forged mainly by alliance-building, undergirded by multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, and resting on the belief that, as Frances Fitzgerald put it, “electoral democracy combined with private ownership and civil liberties, was what the United States had to offer the Third World.”

National Security Memorandum 68, the defining document of the Cold War, was not simply a national security strategy; it was an ideological vision that spoke of a “long twilight struggle” against communism for the loyalties of the peoples and countries throughout the world. This cannot be said of the current administration’s National Security Strategy document which speaks in narrow terms of the American mission mainly as one of defending the American way of life from its enemies abroad and arrogates the right to strike against even potential threats in pursuit of American interests.


Can a more sophisticated administration undo the damage to US imperial management wrought by the Bush presidency by bringing back mutilateralism and a “moral” dimension to empire?

Perhaps, but even this approach may be anachronistic. For history does not stand still. It will be difficult for a reinvigorated US-led coalition politics to douse the wildfire of Islamic fundamentalist reaction that will eventually bring down or seriously erode the staying power of US allies like the Saudi and Gulf elites. Going back to the Cold War era promise of extending democracy is unlikely to work with disenchanted people who have seen US-supported elite-controlled democracies in places like Pakistan and the Philippines become obstacles to economic and social equality. To revert to the Clinton era of promising prosperity via accelerated globalization won’t work either since the overwhelming evidence is that, as even the World Bank admits, poverty and inequality increased globally in the 1990s — the decade of accelerated globalization.

As for economic multilateralism, financier George Soros’ appeal for a reform of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO to promote a more equitable form of globalization may seem sound, but it is unlikely to draw the support of the dominant US business interests à with their aggressive protectionist posture on agriculture, intellectual property rights, and steel tariffs, and their gangbuster attitudes towards other economies in the areas of investment rights, capital mobility, and the export of genetically modified products. Armed with the ideological smokescreen of free trade, the US corporate establishment is, in fact, likely to become even more protectionist and mercantilist in the era of global stagnation, deflation, and diminishing profits that the world has entered.


And the future? Militarily, there is no doubt that Washington will retain absolute superiority in military might but the ability to transform military power into effective intervention will decline as the “Iraq syndrome” takes hold. In terms of economic strength, the US will remain the dominant power over the next two decades, but it is likely to slip as the source of its hegemony–the global framework for transnational capitalist cooperation to which the WTO is central–is eroded. Bilateral or regional trade arrangements are likely to proliferate, but the most dynamic ones may not be those integrating weak economies with one superpower like the US or EU but regional economic arrangements among developing countries-or, in the parlance of development economics, “South-South cooperation.”

Formations, such as Mercosur in Latin America, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN ), and the G20, will increasingly reflect the key lessons that developing countries have learned over the last 25 years of destabilizing globalization: that trade policy must be subordinated to development, that technology must be liberated from stringent intellectual property rules, that capital controls are necessary, that development demands not less but more state intervention. And, above all, that the weak must hang together, or they will hang separately.

Among the developing countries, China is, of course, in a category by itself. As the US has become ensnared in wars without end, China has deftly maneuvered to stay free of entangling commitments to pursue rapid economic growth, technological deepening, and political stability. Democratization, of course, remains an urgent need, but the unraveling of China owing to its slow progress–which many China watchers love to predict to sell their books–is not likely to happen.

The other big winner of the last few years is what the New York Times called the world’s “second superpower” after the US. This is global civil society, a force whose most dynamic expression is the World Social Forum that is meeting in Mumbai. This rapidly expanding trans-border network that spans the South and the North is the main force for peace, democracy, fair trade, justice, human rights, and sustainable development. Governments as disparate as Beijing and Washington deride its claims. Corporations hate it. And multilateral agencies find themselves compelled to adopt its language of “rights.” But its increasing ability to delegitimize power and cut into corporate bottom lines is a fact of international relations that they will have to live with.

A decreased US capacity to control global events, the rise of regional economic blocks as the multilateral system declines, rising assertiveness among developing countries, and the emergence of global civil society as an increasingly powerful check on states and corporations — these trends are likely to accelerate in the next few years.

History is cunning and mischievous, often playing an outrageous game of bringing about precisely the opposite than what its actors intend. “Full spectrum dominance” by the United States in the 21st century has been the a vowed objective of the neoconservatives that came to power with George Bush. Paradoxically, pursuit of this objective by the current administration has accelerated the erosion of US hegemony — a process that might have been slowed down by a more skilled imperial elite. The crowds in Mumbai will undoubtedly continue to regard the US as a mortal threat to global peace and justice, but they will also be cheered by the increasing difficulties of an arrogant empire that fails to see that decline is inevitable and that the challenge is not to resist the process but to manage it deftly.



I am writing more in sorrow than in anger at your self indulgent article of 1st January linking the recent ESCAP Trade Report with the World Tourism Organization’s Trade in Services Activity. Sorrow because as an old friend I again see you playing the role of “counsel for the prosecution” rather than objective commentator, and selectively taking material to advance your particular brand of global evolution.

Attacking my commitment to “Liberalization with a Human Face” is of no matter — we have argued as friends in the past and will do so in the future. Wrongly imputing actions to the World Tourism Organization is important, because WTO and its Secretary General are working incredibly hard to advance the interests of the industry you claim to impartially serve. You imply, without any support whatsoever, that WTO-OMT’s trade policy is amongst other things:

  • In favour of continuing agricultural subsidies û this is not so
  • Insensitive to the importance of agriculture û this is not so
  • Against “stable and equitable” growth û this is not so
  • Parroting multinational company positions û this is not so
  • Developed without regional consideration û this is not so
  • Capitulating to globalization û this is not so

Your readers at least need to know what is the real essence of our policy of Liberalization with a Human Face; in a nutshell it seeks:

  • Higher priority in Trade Agreements for Developing Nations Interests in the Tourism Sector & outcomes which reduce poverty.
  • Assurances that Trade Agreements will advance sustainability in the tourism sector
  • Recognition by Trade Negotiators of the socio-economic value of Tourism
  • Recognition by Tourism decision makers of the impact of trade negotiations on their sector.
  • Freer but Fairer Trade Outcomes in the tourism sector
  • Realization by all policymakers that International tourism is an export and that this has special value to the world’s poorest countries because it is the one service sector export they all share.
  • Coverage of all of tourism in the negotiations – in a holistic sense rather than the sub sectors currently reflected.
  • Fair competition outcomes which reflect the need for special consideration for developing states and their SME’s.
  • Reduction of “leakages” whereby the financial and employment benefits of tourism trade are disproportionately kept in industrialised markets. At the same time increase in “linkages” of mainstream tourism flows to the supply chains inside developing countries.
  • Special support to ensure more reasonably priced air services to developing countries
  • Equitable action on Travel Advisories in the context of rules to prevent trade distortion and non tariff barriers.
  • Capacity building for both tourism and trade officials in developing states, to ensure they can adequately negotiate their tourism services issues.

There is a lot more ..and there are countless meetings and discussions attended by WTO staff to advance the interests of the sector inside and outside the broader trade negotiations. And yes Imtiaz, regional considerations are constantly factored into this process through our Regional Commissions, direct discussions with stakeholders and ultimately our representative Executive Council and General Assembly. In Beijing, there was a full discussion on the trade issue as outlined above and the strongest possible endorsement for our Liberalization with a Human Face approach.

Finally Imtiaz, while informing your readers about the importance of the ESCAP report, perhaps you should also tell them of the many inputs you have provided that excellent organization as a consultant.

— Best regards, still your old friend. Geoffrey Lipman


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