World Public Forum Announces “Draft Agenda” for 2011 Conference

The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” has announced the “draft agenda” for its 2011 meeting in Rhodes: plenary sessions and panels range from “The Future and Identity of Civilizations” and “Maintaining Family Values in the 21st Century” through to “Prospect and Possibilities of Dialogue in Russian-Ukrainian Economic Cooperation”, and, as in previous years, there’s a curious mix of international academics, officials, and religious  figures.

The WPF was co-founded by Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russia’s railways and a man described by the Moscow Times as “the Kremlin’s model ‘Orthodox businessman'”; his wife, billed as chair of the “‘Sanctity of Motherhood’ Program”, is among those discussing “Preserving traditional values in (re)constructing social development”. Several of the topics to be discussed in Rhodes touch on Russia’s wider international role: these include “Russian civilizational alternative as ? practice of intercultural dialogue” and “‘Russian World’ as a civilizational project”. It should be recalled that back in March Yakunin presented a WFP award to Nursultan Nazarbayev ahead of elections in Kazakhstan; by happy co-incidence, this accorded with the interests of Russian diplomacy.

One intriguing aspect previous forums has been the presence of US Christian Right figures, despite the event’s generally mainline and inter-faith character. One of the WFP’s other co-founders is a businessman named Nicholas Papanicolaou, who is also involved with Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative; Papanicolaou brought Joyner and some other neo-Pentecostal Christian Right activists to a WFP event in 2009. However, Papanicolaou is not listed as involved this year, and the only US Christian Right activist who may be attending (he’s currently “TBC”) is professional prude and WorldNetDaily columnist Theodore Baehr (var “Ted Baehr”), of Movieguide fame – Baehr’s humbug pronouncements on the evils of Hollywood is a subject I’ve visited more than once (e.g. here and here).

I previously blogged on the 2006 forum, with some further background, here.