Global Policy Forum

World Economic Forums in Davos


This page follows the debates and proceedings of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. These are annual meetings sponsored by The World Economic Forum, a group comprised of business, political, media, and academic elites. Each year a theme related to the current social, economic, cultural and political situation is discussed with the aim of "improving the state of the world." Critics see these meetings as one of the year's biggest networking and schmoozing events where world leaders and business magnates pay large sums to participate in determining the global agenda while skiing the Alps.

Articles and Documents | Links

Articles and Documents

Key Documents | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

Key Documents

The Global Divide, from Davos...(February 1, 2000)
"For many cultures, globalization is the West over the rest." It is clear that the forces, which determine the pre-requisite values and treatise of human rights for "a global community", must be culturally sensitive.(Boston Globe)

Rethinking Liberalization and Reshaping the WTO (January 28, 2000)
This speech by Martin Khor (Director, Third World Network )delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos is a comprehensive guide to hurdles faced by developing countries in the implementation of their WTO obligations. The brief overview of problems with key WTO agreements is followed by specific recommendations for overcoming the inequities of the multilateral trading system.



Marking a Major Non-Event (January 28, 2007)
This International Herald Tribune article argues that, rather than serving its intended purpose as a platform for open global communication, the World Economic Forum "has become a forum for grandstanding speeches and sound-bite quotes." An increasing Western bias and a "party oriented atmosphere" dominate the Forum and limit its actual productivity. Nevertheless, the WEF continues to claim extensive media coverage, while its potentially more effective counterparts—including the World Social Forum—go largely unnoticed.

World Economic Forum: G33 Pushes Trade Powers on Farm Issues (January 27, 2007)
The World Trade Organization Doha Development Round has been stalled since July 2006, when the US, despite demanding market liberalization in developing countries, refused to lower its own domestic farm subsidies. At the 2007 World Economic Forum, the G33 group of developing countries called for a formal resumption of negotiations, seeking a multilateral outcome that would offer "a level playing field in the global trading system." The US, however, insisted that the Doha Round not reconvene "until there is clear progress" in ongoing informal discussions, which largely exclude members of the G33. (Inter Press Service)

Economic Forum Confronts "Schizophrenic World" (January 24, 2007)
World Economic Forum founder and chief executive Klaus Schwab opened the 2007 gathering in Davos, Switzerland with an account of the "major threats to globalization," including climate change, income disparities, and political and economic instability. This Inter Press Service article reports that the meeting was quick to highlight these "global risks," but that it failed to present any serious discussion on solutions.



African Hunger Falls off Agenda (January 24, 2006)
The world's corporate leaders surely enjoyed their image-driven attempts to include development issues in previous years' World Economic Forums. However, their lack of expertise in the field and unwillingness to include representatives of poor countries' interests and development specialists in the talks resulted in gatherings that widely trespassed their legitimacy. In 2006, the world's rich and powerful once again focus on their corporate interests. (Edmonton Journal)

Partying at Davos (January 23, 2006)
Every year the World Economic Forum transforms Davos into a perfect reflection of a world that suffers from the absence of global democracy and equal opportunities. So far, the voices of the poor have not disturbed this exclusive club, where the world's rich and powerful take on global issues that affect billions of people worldwide. Nevertheless, this article argues that this may change in the future, as the movement for global justice grows stronger. (Common Dreams)

All Eyes Turn to the East (January 18, 2006)
The 2006 World Economic Forum mainly looks at the booming Asian economies, the primary focus for transnational corporations. Most NGOs consider the annual meeting highly illegitimate and point out that global forums like the UN represent the only legitimate way to address universal problems. In Davos the big companies set the agenda while politicians, international organizations and NGOs play a minor to non-existent role. (Inter Press Service)



CBI Chief Claims Davos Hijacked by NGOs (January 31, 2005)
As poverty reduction and climate change gained more attention at this year's World Economic Forum, Sir Digby Jones, the head of Britain's leading employers' organization, accuses NGOs of "hijacking" the venue. Instead of holding businesses accountable, he would prefer the forum to celebrate "risk takers and wealth creators." (Guardian)

Ethics, Poverty Take Center Stage at Davos (January 29, 2005)
In addition to the usual networking among business executives and leading politicians, discussion on poverty and HIV/AIDS dominated this year's World Economic Forum in Davos. However, the most influential player in world politics, the United States, was weakly represented; not one single senior US official attended the meeting. (Newsweek)

Chirac's Taxing Idea (January 28, 2005)
In his speech to the World Economic Forum 2005, French President Jacques Chirac suggested global taxes to raise funds for the fight against "silent tsunamis" of famine, disease and violence. One of Chirac's proposals involves a tax on cross-border financial transactions, but of such a low percentage that it would have negligible impact on global capital speculation. (Guardian)



Poor Prospects for Trade Talks Cloud Davos (January 25, 2004)
The annual World Economic Forum, bringing together 2,100 business people, politicians, artists, academics and campaigners in the Swiss mountain resort Davos, was little more than a networking exercise behind closed doors. (BBC)

Annan Calls for Development Push (January 23, 2004)
At the closing of the 2004 World Economic Forum, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan argued that stalled negotiations over trade have caused an imbalance in the international agenda, which now is dominated by discussions about security and weapons of mass destruction. (BBC)

Snail's Pace on Social Issues (January 17, 2004)
Since a 2002 confrontation with activists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, business leaders have opened up a direct dialogue with its critics to "improve the state of the world." Yet, studies suggest that most corporations still do not live up their promise of supporting a socially sustainable development rather than seeking economic profit. (Asia Times)



Davos Elitist Club Snubs Africa (January 27, 2003)
African officials and non governmental organizations claim that the World Economic Forum in Davos largely ignored the serious issues that African countries face today. Only three African presidents were invited to the invitation-only gathering. (Inter Press Service)

Presidents Call for Inclusive Globalization, Less Poverty (January 27, 2003)
At the World Economic Forum, heads of state from around the world called for more serious attention to the damaging social effects of globalization. Noting that poor economies are hurt most by reckless economic globalization, these leaders demanded that wealth and not poverty be globalized. (All Africa)

Davos and Porto Alegre Pursue Identical Aims, Says WEF Chief (January 25, 2003)
World Economic Forum President Klaus Schwab claims that activists at the World Social Forum lack the pragmatic solutions to make effective change. WSF representatives deny the accusation, pointing to a recent publication outlining concrete steps measures toward alternatives to economic globalization. Instead, they say, business leaders aren't listening. (Inter Press Service)

World Forum, Back in Davos, Confronts Slow Growth (January 23, 2003)
Business leaders at the World Economic Forum at Davos will focus on the flagging world economy and shaky US economic outlooks. High on the Forum's agenda will be the potential impact of a war against Iraq on the global economy, especially if "the war take[s] a course that scares the wits out of the American consumer." (Reuters)

Davos Braces for Anti-Capitalist War Protests (January 21, 2003)
Police have held talks with protest groups to ensure demonstrations at The World Economic Forum in Davos remain peaceful. This may have been unnecessary since anti-globalization advocates are flocking to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (BBC Online)



World Economic Forum Turns Into 'Open Season' On US (February 8, 2002)
A report from the US Department of State concerning overseas editorial reaction during the World Economic Forum reveals that post 9/11 European-US solidarity has subsided. In contrast, scathing criticism of US attitudes to the effects of globalization dominates European media reports.

World Forum Ends with a Warning from Annan (February 5, 2002)
During a speech at the World Economic Forum in New York, Kofi Annan asked companies to put money into health care and education in developing countries and urged governments to double their foreign aid. But some business representatives expressed worry that too much is asked of corporations. Businesses should make money and create jobs, they said. (Associated Press)




Links and Resources

Web Site of World Economic Forum
The official website of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 3,000 business elites and heads of governments, plus a few film stars, converge to discuss the global economy and mingle on the slopes.

Global Governance Initiative
Reacting to the confrontation with protesters at the World Economic Forum of 2002, the WEF launched this initiative to "monitor progress in the global effort to implement the ambitious social, economic and environmental goals set forth in the United Nations Millennium Declaration and other documents."

The Public Eye on Davos
Initiated by the Berne Declaration, a Swiss NGO, and dedicated to providing a well-grounded critique of the neoliberalism of the World Economic Forum, this international conference takes place over several days at the end of January at the same time as the WEF annual meetings in Davos.

World Social Forum
Since 2002, the World Social Forum presents an alternative to the Davos Summit. In the words of the organizers, the WSF is "a new international arena for the creation and exchange of social and economic projects that promote human rights, social justice and sustainable development."

The Other Davos
A one-day conference taking place in Zurich towards the end of January. Its web site contains various essays criticizing neoliberal globalization.



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