10th Forum 2000 Conference: “Special Session: Perception of Human Rights in the Developing World”

Prague, Czech Republic

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Forum 2000 conference. This year’s meeting has a special reason for celebration, being the 10th anniversary. It was in 1997 that President Havel, Dr. Wiesel and I initiated the first Forum 2000, a new framework of dialogue in Prague, a crossroads of diverse ideas and thoughts.

The theme of the first conference was “Concerns and Hopes for the New Millennium.” Various problems and threats that existed in the 20th century remained unsolved.

We gathered with a shared sense of concerns that we had done almost nothing to address the problems, yet with a shared sense of commitment that we should do something to create new paradigms.

Over the decade, thanks to President Havel’s leadership, prominent intellectuals such as Prince Hassan, as well as politicians, scholars, thinkers, novelists and religious leaders around the world have participated in this Forum.

The Forum has provided us with a platform for dialogue and learning.

We have debated many challenging issues to humanity from lights and shadows of modernization to benefits and harms of globalization.

There is one thing in particular that makes the Forum 2000 stand out from other frameworks for dialogue.
Instead of dealing with visible phenomena, we try to look into deep inner selves.
Instead of providing immediate remedies, we try to seek for fundamental causes.
At Forum 2000, we attempt to use collective wisdom.
At Forum 2000, we attempt to pursue shared commitment.

The world is still suffering from a number of problems challenging humanity.
We can provide solutions immediately to some problems, yet most problems are hardly solved overnight.
“Continuity and patience” are keys that I have learned from my thirty years of experiences, working at a foundation.

At Forum 2000, we have continued to exchange our knowledge, deepen our dialogue and confirm our commitment.
Out of these efforts have emerged new viewpoints and new ideas such as “Common Spiritual and Moral Minimum” and the “Shared Concern Initiative.”
Herein lies the significance of this conference.

The theme of the 10th Forum is “Coexistence.” We are focusing on how diverse civilizations and cultures can coexist.
I hope this Forum will be another opportunity for all of us gathered here with our different branches of knowledge and experience to discuss these issues and identify our future direction.