Shimon Peres started the session by saying that even though President Clinton had worked hard at bringing solutions to the Middle East conflict, unfortunately “we were more successful at bringing problems.” Another phrase of his was, quoting Ghandi, “When a cat is chasing a mouse there´s no sense if the mouse declares a ceasefire.” This he said to Nasser to ask the Palestinian Authority to stop Hamas, the cat in this picture. “Time has come to privatize peace” he also added in the sense that civil society has to play a huge role demanding peace.
I am attending the Clinton Global Initiative. It was this year in January, at Davos, that President Clinton announced that he liked Davos, so much so that he was going to start his own. Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum laughed nervously. It took a lot of guts to announce the conference that was going to be the most important Davos competitor…at Davos. But that´s Clinton. He saw a political void. He occupied it. There´s already a novelty here that I like. To attend this conference everyone has to write a pledge to help with money, effort or a combination in one of the four areas: fight against poverty, better governance, combat climate change, or conflict resolution. As Dennis Ross said “the Clinton Global Initiative is geared to problem solving”. Solving may be too ambitious, but alleviation is certainly achievable.
I have been attending Davos for 5 years. Tomorrow I will go to Clinton´s first Annual Conference. I am a trustee at President Clinton´s foundation. I don´t know if anyone else gave President Clinton the idea of creating his own “Davos” but I did in 2003. It´s great to see it happening. A Davos with a purpose!
This is what I tried to do at the March 11th conference on terrorism. Klaus Schwab, the entrepreneur founder of the World Economic Forum used to put together the most amazing conferences in the world. Davos 2000 was a truly remarkable experience. But, as opposed to advertising in the conference world repetition is not reputation, it´s boredom! Last year Davos was my last. The Davos format is becoming so predictable that the most important things happen at the pizzeria accross from the Congress Center. The sessions themselves are more an opportunity for self-promotion than debate and the role of the Fortune 1000 companies is too large. Not that I don´t believe that private entreprise should be part of the dialogue to improve the state of the world (WEF´s motto). But I also believe that there are too few people at Davos telling corporations that they are certainly partly to blame for the world´s status quo.
As I fly to NYC tomorrow I very much hope that the Clinton Foundation will put together a more hands on, challenging event. We will see.