First published in the autumn of 1988, Inforum was the Fourth Freedom Forum’s newsletter, circulated by regular mail two or three times a year. We have decided to bring it up to date and give it a new lease on life in cyberspace as a blog entitled Inforum online.
The first edition featured an article titled “Where Hope Begins” by John Gilligan, the former governor of Ohio and administrator of the United States Agency of International Development. Gilligan wrote about the founder of the Fourth Freedom Forum, Howard S. Brembeck, who had just developed the Civilized Defense Plan. The Plan envisioned a world made safer and more civilized by applying the rule of law and strengthening international cooperation. There is evidence of some progress toward realizing Howard’s goal. Over the last thirty years the number of lives lost in war has steadily declined, but Howard, who passed away at age 100 in 2010, would not be satisfied. Intrastate armed conflict is still raging across Africa and the Middle East and beyond. Large numbers of people are still suffering. A staggering seven million people, most of whom are women and children, have been displaced by the conflict in Syria alone. And while the number of nuclear weapons that Howard wanted to eliminate has been reduced, the threat of nuclear war, by decision or by accident, still looms to this day.
Terrorism is also receiving more attention than it did thirty years ago. According to the Global Terrorism Index, “since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been over a nine-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism.” Yet it is clear that terrorism is the symptom of a larger, more persistent underlying problem. Poor governance—which is fueled by corruption, violations of human rights, the lack of democratic processes and institutions, and a failure to uphold the rule of law—is the fundamental source of threats to international peace and security, just as it was in 1988.
In my work for the Fourth Freedom Forum over the last nineteen years I have had the opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world and meet with leaders, experts, and practitioners as they grapple with security problems. In forthcoming editions of Inforum online I will share my insights and ideas about how to take the message from the original Inforum forward into the future.
Upcoming editions will discuss topics including:
- Keeping money away from terrorists, while promoting financial inclusion for law-abiding people who need access to global markets;
- Updating sanctions so that citizens benefit from incentives while despotic dictators are penalized for corruption; and
- Developing and implementing whole-of-society based security strategies that promote resilience rather than disproportionate military force.
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Hope continues, online….
President, Fourth Freedom Forum