10th edition of the World Policy Conference
Marrakech, November 3rd – 5th 2017
Introcucion to the program of the conference
The World Policy Conference (WPC) is back to Marrakesh for its 10th meeting. The first decade is a crucial milestone in any institution’s development, especially in today’s world, when the pace of change is accelerating.
The WPC has its roots in a reaction to the globalist ideology which dominated the earliest years of the 21st century. I like to sum it up as a kind of chemical equation: it was the idea that combining democracy and market economy would lead to peace and prosperity. In accordance with that ideology, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes were overthrown. The outcome was chaos. Attempts to erase borders and differences between peoples fuelled nationalism and populism. Instead of peace, deadly, destructive and barbaric conflicts broke out. Refugee and migrant flows have increased. International terrorism has thrived. Worldwide arms sales are back to Cold War levels. Defence budgets are rising everywhere. The trend is toward rebuilding borders, repatriating economic activities and curtailing movements of people and capital. Instead of evenly spreading prosperity, the recklessness of international finance nearly caused a meltdown comparable to the depression of the 1930s. Today’s world is marked by inequality and unemployment which appear everywhere, although in various guises. Even in places where there is no war, an undertone of violence can be sensed. The ideological pendulum may now be swinging in the opposite direction from that of the century’s early years.
The WPC takes a realistic but humanistic and constructive view of changes taking place in the international system, which is heterogeneous, global, multipolar and complex. The heterogeneity comes first of all from cultures or ideologies and the political regimes they have spawned. For the world to remain reasonably open, states must cultivate cooperative solutions between themselves and hold back from interfering in the internal affairs of others as much as possible. The world will tendentially stay open as a necessary consequence of the development of science and technology. Tomorrow’s world will not be built with walls and barbed wire. The goal is to continue learning to manage interdependence better in the short, medium, long and even very long term (climate and the environment are the first examples that come to mind). Multipolarity means nothing more than this: geography and history have made some states more capable than others to shape their environments, near or far. Good governance requires them to think of their national interests in broad terms, and therefore within the framework of international law. That is not a natural attitude for the great powers, which means that even more responsibility rests on the middle powers’ shoulders. The closer the ties between them, the more influential they may become. Lastly, complexity shows in the multiplication of “Butterfly Effects” in the economic and financial order (the subprime crisis and its aftermath) as well as in the political realm (the so-called “Arab Spring”).
The WPC continuously aims to contribute, both in terms of principles and methods, to a useful and therefore constructive reflection on a more pragmatic and flexible global governance. To that end, we must first open up to every continent, especially Africa, whose future will impact that of the planet as a whole. The Kingdom of Morocco, hosting us so generously and elegantly for the third time, is open to the four cardinal points and I believe it shares the WPC’s vision. Its return to the African Union has great geopolitical significance.
I am deeply grateful to Morocco, as well as to all those who have been aspiring to the same common goal for ten years, which is to enable the human genius to keep producing the most promising ideas for humanity as a whole through the diversity of cultures and civilisations.