Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

22 Jan, 2008

Global Survey Highlights Lack Of Faith In World Leaders

The latest findings of a global survey carried out for the World Economic Forum show a lack of faith that the next generation will live in a safer world.

In this dispatch:







Geneva, Switzerland, 17 January 2008 − The latest findings of a global survey carried out for the World Economic Forum show a lack of faith that the next generation will live in a safer world. Respondents were asked about prospects for a safer and more economically prosperous world but the results show there is still lack of optimism on both counts, most notably in Western Europe and North America. The survey, now in its fifth year, also found that business leaders are widely held in better esteem than their political counterparts but significant proportions still criticize both sets of leaders, with dishonesty heavily associated with political leaders.

Gallup International questioned 61,600 people in 60 countries for the “Voice of the People (TM)” survey. The interviews, which were carried out between October and December 2007, represent the views of almost 1.5 billion global citizens. The survey comes ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 in Davos (23-27 January). This year’s theme is: The Power of Collaborative Innovation.

Commenting on the survey findings, Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum, said: “The Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos is the most comprehensive meeting in the world for tackling the increasingly complex problems that face us all. This survey shows that if we are to restore confidence in the future, we need to take concerted, global action. The Annual Meeting brings together a unique group of the world’s leading business and political leaders as well as the heads of the world’s most important NGOs and religious and cultural leaders. It is here that we can once again focus on the issues that face us all and make a positive contribution to improving the state of our world.”

“This survey is unmatched in its ability to gauge the views and the mood of the people of the whole world. No other poll can match the Voice of the People (TM) survey to capture what the world is really thinking, and what it demands of its leaders,” added Meril James, Secretary-General of Gallup International Association, which carried out the research.

The findings are remarkably consistent with last year’s results. Opinions about whether the next generation will live in a safer world show similar levels of pessimism compared to previous years – a quarter (25%) think the world will either be a lot or a little safer but they are outweighed by almost half of all respondents (48%) who feel that the next generation will live in a little or a lot less safe world.

Regionally, Western Europe is the most pessimistic region in the world about future prospects for safety – two-thirds (69%) in this region feel the next generation will live in a less safe world (either a lot less safe or a little less safe) while only one in ten (11%) feel the world will be a lot or a little safer for the next generation.

North America (USA and Canada) is the next most pessimistic region, with six out of ten (62%) also supporting the view that the world will be a less safe place for future generations, while only 13% felt that the world would be a safer place. It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the Americans interviewed (61%) also held the view that the world would be a less safe place for future generations with slightly more than one in ten (14%) maintaining the opposite view that the world would be either a lot or a little safer.

However, in the Middle East, an area of the world that has experienced many conflicts in recent times, the region’s population is still not upbeat about prospects for safety in the future. Almost a quarter of those interviewed (23%) feel it will be safer (a lot or a little), compared with more than half (51%) who feel the opposite.

Within the Middle East region, interviews were conducted in Iraq where there is slightly more optimism on the issue of safety. In Iraq, six in every ten (61%) interviewed at the end of 2005 thought the next generation would live in a safer world; in 2006 this proportion had declined to nearly half this figure with only a third (36%) believing it. In 2007 it has risen again slightly to four in ten (40%) who believe the next generation will live in a lot or a little safer world.

This question was first asked in 2003 and then again in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Voice of the People ™ surveys. This year’s results maintain the drop in optimism found last year compared to 2005 – showing similar opinions to those declared in 2003 and 2004.

Respondents were also asked whether they think the future generation will live in a world of greater or less economic prosperity. The results show that there has been a significant fall in optimism regarding this element.

Opinions are divided regarding this matter: a third of global respondents (33%) indicated that the next generation will live in a lot or little more economically prosperous world than now, a similar proportion (36%) felt it would be a lot or a little less prosperous for the future generation.

Once again, Western Europe is the most pessimistic region with less than one in five (19%) feeling the world will be more prosperous for the next generation, while more than half (54%) think it will be a lot or a little less prosperous. Although American citizens are also not overly optimistic about economic prospects − a quarter here (27%) think the next generation will have a lot or a little more prosperity − fewer US citizens (43%) than those in Western Europe feel that the next generation will be a lot or a little less prosperous economically than now.

Africans are very optimistic about prosperity for future generations with 71% overall in the five countries included in the survey stating that the next generation will live in a little or a lot more prosperity than now. This is particularly true of Nigerians (78%) and Kenyans (67%) although it should be noted that the survey was taken before the recent unrest in Kenya.

Again, results here reflect a trend, with a decline in the proportion of people believing that the next generation will live in a more prosperous world.

People were also asked to say what they think leaders should focus on in the coming year, another trend question since 2004. In previous years, economic objectives such as eliminating poverty, promoting economic growth and closing the gap between rich and poor scored marginally higher than the other priorities offered. This year, while these priorities are still present, they are joined by reducing wars, the war on terror and protecting the environment.

The Voice of the People (TM) also asked respondents to compare the characteristics of political leaders with those of business leaders.

As in previous years, business leaders are consistently rated more positively than political leaders, with criticisms of the latter group featuring heavily on their dishonesty – mentioned by six out of ten global citizens (60%) – a considerable increase from the 43% who mentioned this last year. Indeed, negative associations with politicians have all increased considerably since last year and while this is also true of business leaders, the increase is much less marked.

Latin Americans are the most critical of their politicians regarding honesty. In this region, more than three-quarters (77%) said political leaders are dishonest. But seven out of ten Africans (71%) and the same proportion of US citizens also think this is a characteristic of their political leaders. Perhaps surprisingly, it is in the Middle East (48%) and in Western Europe (50%) where citizens are least likely to level this criticism at their political leaders.

It is hardly surprising therefore that when asked which groups of people they trust, politicians are the least likely group with only 8% globally saying they trust them. Teachers are trusted by a third (34%) of the global population This is so in every region but Africa, where the vast majority, 70%, declared they trust religious leaders, and in the Middle East where the military/police leaders are the most trusted people (mentioned by 40%, duplicating the trust in religious leaders).

When asked to whom they would like to give more power, again teachers feature heavily with more than a quarter of all global citizens questioned (28%) saying they want to vest more power in this group. They are also joined by intellectuals (defined as writers and academics), to whom a quarter wishes to give more power in their country.



MADRID, January 16, 2008 – A 100 million dollar investment in a Global Youth Employment Initiative and a multi-million dollar Media Fund were among the key initiatives that were launched at the first Alliance of Civilizations Forum, which was hosted by the Spanish Government and concluded today in Madrid. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser-el-Missned announced a $100 million investment in Silatech, a global youth employment initiative aimed, she said at “connecting young people to each other, to capital, to industry, to opportunity.” She added, “By investing in our youth, we are investing in the security of our nations, and only secure and confident nations can build alliances based on mutual respect and common objectives.”

The Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund was launched by Jordan’s Queen Noor, who stated: “We are announcing a $100 million Fund to support the production and distribution of films that entertain as well as enlighten – films that will enhance the connections that already exist between different societies, but are seldom noted on screen and in popular culture.”

Hosted by the government of Spain, the Forum brought together an influential network of political leaders, media heads, youth and civil society leaders, corporate and film industry executives, and religious figures. Over the last two days, they explored ways of building partnerships to promote greater understanding and respect among cultures.

Other initiatives launched at the Forum include:

* Announcement of national and regional strategies for cross cultural dialogue by governments and multilateral organizations to advance AoC objectives in their respective countries and regions.

* Discussions at the policymaking level that highlight the importance to move the Alliance forward in 2008 such as: developing joint multi-stakeholders initiatives at the regional level aimed at promoting a better inter-cultural understanding, and preventing the mounting of tensions and the rise of extremism; contributing to the upgrade of the inter-cultural dialogue, namely among the two banks of the Mediterranean Sea; launching a number of activities within the framework of active and city diplomacy.

* Establishment of partnership agreements, with various multilateral agencies and organizations, which contain specific terms that will enable the AoC to leverage networks, contacts, and competitive advantages of partners in the implementation of its programs. We have signed 5 agreements – with UNESCO, the League of Arab States, ISESCO, ALECSO and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – and a letter of intent with the Council of Europe.

* Launch of the AoC Clearinghouse beginning with a theme of Media Literacy Education, which will catalogue media literacy programs and related government policies in different parts of the world; and announcements of partnerships with 18 universities that will serve as nodes to enliven this clearinghouse by initiating exchanges and posting materials on the latest development in media literacy education.

* Launch of a Rapid Response Media Mechanism beginning with an online resource that will feature a list of global experts in cross-cultural issues, who are available to comment or to talk to journalists, particularly in times of major cross-cultural crises.

* Establishment of a Youth Solidarity Fund aimed at providing grants to support youth-led programs in the areas of intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Moreover, a decision was made to strengthen the network of youth participants that attended the AoC Forum and broaden the network to include other youth.

* Creation of a global network of philanthropic foundations and private funders, which will share information; raise awareness of ongoing initiatives, identify mutual needs; and explore ways to leverage existing resources for greatest impact.

* Establishment of an Alliance network of goodwill ambassadors made up of prominent, high-profile, internationally recognized figures drawn form the worlds of politics, culture, sport, business and entertainment to help in promoting the work of the Alliance, highlighting priority issues and drawing attention to its activities.

* Commitment by the United Nations Global Compact to producing a publication aimed at raising the visibility of best practices in the corporate sector toward supporting cross-cultural relations.

* Adoption of an action-oriented statement of solidarity and joint commitment by diverse religious leaders toward providing youth with guidance to counter extremist influence, promoting a sense of shared security in their various constituencies, and elevating the role of women in future religious projects.

In his remarks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The Alliance of Civilizations is an important way to counter extremism and heal the divisions that threaten our world.”

The President of the Government of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero stated: “The Alliance of Civilizations aspires to build bridges that can help us to manage the differences existing in the world, particularly those linked to religious or cultural issues.” In his address, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan noted that Turkey was in itself “an answer to the clashes in the world between civilizations.”

President Sampaio, former President of Portugal and High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, said in concluding the forum: “So many responsibilities ahead of us show that the Alliance is the right initiative at the right moment. Urgent action is needed to stop further degradation of human atmosphere. Let’s keep united and firm in our certainty that we can change the world.”




JORDAN TIMES, 18 January 2008

The “Alliance of Civilisations Forum”, aimed to avert the much talked-about clash of civilisations, was launched with much fanfare and hope in Madrid a few days ago.

The idea was first proposed by Spain in the UN General Assembly in 2004, in the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings and the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, on the premise that more dialogue, understanding and cooperation among various civilisations, religions and cultures would go a long way to prevent them from clashing.

The idea has merit, no doubt, as it aims to identify, isolate and neutralise extremists who are bent on exploiting religion to commit acts of terrorism and who show intolerance or sow division between civilisations.

All campaigns promoting tolerance, understanding and dialogue among civilisations face the challenge of successfully transferring the convictions of the converted intelligentsia to the masses.

The Alliance of Civilisations Forum envisions adopting practical plans of action to convey to people across the world the convictions and beliefs of its promoters.

One suggestion was to resort to the film industry to promote tolerance and understanding between civilisations and avert the negative stereotyping of peoples on the basis of race, origin, religion or culture.

Most peoples of the world, including the poorest and least developed, are avid TV and film watchers. Television satellite stations disseminate films made in various parts of the world, especially in the US, and they often have an impact on society. The minds and feelings of many peoples are often influenced by what they see on their TV screens.

Another proposal was to deploy a “rapid response media mechanism” whenever there is pressing need to address tensions arising suddenly because of different dimensions of civilisations, especially religion.

These two mechanisms may indeed offer practical methods of preventing clashes between civilisations and deal with them when they erupt.

But the most effective way to avoid such conflicts is through a process of early education. Only by inculcating values and sane ideas in impressionable minds can humanity hope to progress in a harmonious way.


Arab News Editorial, 17 January 2008

IN the wake of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, Spain and Turkey founded The Alliance of Civilizations, an organization designed to foster dialogue between cultures and religions and, quite clearly, to head off any anti-Islamic furor triggered by the bombings. In the event the Spanish were commendably measured in their response to the carnage that had been visited on their capital. The Alliance, however, came to be criticized as being merely a talking shop.

This week this changed when, at a two-day meeting in Madrid, 350 delegates from 63 countries, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, agreed to set up a UN-backed $100-million fund to finance films which, while being entertaining, are also designed to foster understanding and peace between cultures. Unveiling the initiative, Queen Noor of Jordan said that an initial $10 million of financing was in place. It was also revealed that partnerships had already been established with Hollywood production and distribution companies. At the same meeting another project — the Rapid Response Media Mechanism — was launched which is meant to reduce tension in times of cross-cultural crises by, according to Ban, furnishing “voices of reason to reporters and producers around the world.”

A third project has been announced by Qatar which is putting $100 million into the “Silatech” (“Your connection”) scheme to combat the “alarming” number of unemployed youths in the Middle East and North Africa. It is not hard to imagine this last plan is likely to prove the most immediately effective. Qatar is to be congratulated on its initiative.

Those, however, who are tempted to dismiss the other two projects as noble but impractical should wait. Some may find it droll that Hollywood studios, which have consistently peddled the very racial and cultural stereotypes the new Film Fund wishes to combat, have come on board. But this may just prove a turning point for the US studios who may now stop churning out their often-poisonous racist rubbish in which anyone with an olive skin and a headdress is a ruthless terrorist. Nor is the Rapid Response Media Mechanism without merit. At times of tension it will be good to have the still small voices of peace and reason represented by individuals with international stature and understanding.

What perhaps The Alliance of Civilizations might also emphasize is the fundamental respect that all communities owe to each other, as close or distant neighbors, on a small and fragile planet. The world needs to celebrate its differences and recognize how every culture and religion, as always throughout history, contributes to one another. Ignorance and lack of respect for others are what breed murderous bigotry, whether Germany’s Nazis, Bosnia’s Serbs or Al-Qaeda’s killers. One of the greatest and most overlooked dangers to this all-important respect is the misunderstood concept of multiculturalism. Mix together any number of bright colors and what you get is gray.



Washington, DC, January 18, 2008, www.adc.org – Last weekend, as individuals, families and communities gathered to remember and celebrate the civil rights legacy and life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a leading, non-sectarian non-partisan, grassroots Arab-American civil rights organization, called on Americans to “take a moment and ask Congress to support legislation to end racial profiling.”

The ADC urged Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) this year and help continue Dr. King’s legacy. It said in a statement, “Passage of ERPA is one of ADC’s top legislative priorities for the second half of the 110th Congress. We urge our members and supporters to contact their members of Congress asking them to cosponsor, support and pass ERPA. Congressional members can be contacted directly using the following website: http://capwiz.com/adc/utr/1/MZAXHZVHLR/MEJMHZXHCD/1673521901/


At the end of last year, before Congress adjourned for its winter break, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the End Racial Profiling Act in both the House of Representatives and US Senate. To read text of both bills please click on their bill numbers S 2481 and HR 4611.

Racial profiling occurs when law enforcement relies on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in selecting which individuals to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities, except when relying on a specific suspect description. This practice violates our nation’s basic constitutional commitment to equality before the law. Racial profiling is also contrary to effective law enforcement — whether used as a tool in the war against drugs or the war against terrorism, profiling fuels the perception in minority communities that the criminal justice system is unfair and undermines the trust between the police and the communities they serve.

Additionally, according to counter-terrorism experts, racial and ethnic profiling does not make us safer. In October 2001, senior U.S. intelligence officials circulated to American law enforcement agents worldwide a memorandum entitled “Assessing Behaviors,” which emphasized that focusing on the racial characteristics of individuals wasted resources and might divert attention away from suspicious behavior by someone who did not fit a racial profile. Importantly, there has not been a single documented incident where racial profiling by law enforcement resulted in the capture or detention of any suspect related to terrorism.

The overwhelming majority of law enforcement agents discharge their duties with honorable intentions. Nevertheless, empirical evidence from around the nation reveals that profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies is widespread, and that, despite the efforts of some states and local law enforcement agencies to address this problem, federal legislation is necessary.

The End Racial Profiling Act builds on the guidance issued by the Department of Justice in June 2003, which bans federal law enforcement officials from engaging in racial profiling. ERPA would apply this prohibition to state and local law enforcement, close the loopholes to its application, include a mechanism for enforcement of the new policy, require data collection to monitor the government’s progress toward eliminating profiling, and provide best practice incentive grants to state and local law enforcement agencies that will enable agencies to use federal funds to bring their departments into compliance with the requirements of the bill. The DOJ guidance was a good first step, but ERPA is needed to “end racial profiling in America,” as President Bush pledged to do.

This bill, which is substantially similar to the bi-partisan bills introduced in prior congresses, represents a balanced and comprehensive solution to a problem that strikes at the heart of our basic constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law for all Americans. Contact Congress today asking them to pass the End Racial Profiling Act!

The ADC which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide with chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is an educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include: research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.

Comments are closed.