The World Economic Forum got its start yesterday morning in a whirl of plenaries, security checkpoints, handshakes, and global luminaries. As delegates continued to stream into their midtown hotels, hundreds who had already arrived began the circuit of panels and workshops. Among them: “A Safer World: How Do We Get There?” “Management Update: Making Hard Choices.” And “The Root Cause of Conflict” There was even a panel about artificial intelligence. Something, for everybody, as they say.
But the real WEF activities began in the evening. There was a welcome address by Governor George Pataki and WEF Founder and President, Klaus Schwab; there were speeches by Kofi Anan, King Hussein of Jordan, and President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines; and, of course, there were the parties — elaborate and exclusive affairs that included a private Elton John concert sponsored by Lehman Brothers and a Vivendi Universal event produced by Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone. Performers there allegedly included Lauryn Hill, Branton Marsalis, and the ubiquitous Bono.
Meanwhile, critics of globalization continued to organize throughout the city, with forums, puppet-making workshops, and peaceful protests. They have come from across the United States as well as Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. They are planning major demonstrations starting tomorrow: Reclaim the Streets, the Another World is Possible coalition, Students for Global Justice, the Anti Capitalist Convergence and other groups will be gathering for a peaceful “festival of resistance” in two marches that will end up outside the Waldorf Astoria.
- Van Jones, lawyer and organizer and founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which challenges human rights abuses within the U.S. criminal justice system, including programs like Books Not Bars and New York City PoliceWatch. Jones has a long history of protesting corporate summits like the WEF, but this time he is in New York to pick up an award.
- Jaggi Singh, organizer, Anti-Capitalist Convergence, Montreal.
- Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Minister, East Timor, and winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize
- Joseph Nye, Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he is also a Professor of Public Policy. He returned to Harvard in December of 1995 after serving as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration.
Dean Nye helped kick off the forum yesterday as a participant in a workshop called “Global Governance: What needs to Change?” Later this morning, he will be facilitating a workshop at the WEF later this morning. The workshop is called “New Priorities in US Foreign Policy,” and will feature politicians, like Senators Orrin Hatch and John Kerrey, business leaders like Philip Condit, who is the Chairman and CEO of the Boeing Company, and political analysts like George Stephanopolous.