CAF 2015: Steps of Progress in Times of Crisis

Madrid, 5 & 6 December 2015   @CommonActionForum  #CAF2015


More than 50 intellectuals, experts, activists, journalist and politicians gathered for the launch of the Common Action Forum, aimed at providing a research and development platform for ideas and practical steps to make political and international systems fairer and more equal. Forum participants in the opening session noted the rapidly changing contemporary international order, observing how economic and political systems have failed to keep it up. The result has been an increased rate of poverty and marginalization worldwide, as well as a pervasive feeling of injustice and exclusion. In the Forum’s opening statement, Chairman Wadah Khanfar observed how “all of us acknowledge that the global economic systems and intellectual political systems have been unable to cope with the equitable sharing of resources and governance. In the last two decades alone, this unprecedented change has left so many behind. The time has come to move from criticism of these global systems toward practical steps to achieve real reforms. The Common Action Forum will be the platform for gathering intellectuals, experts, and politicians who believe in the necessity of this transition.” Also addressing the Forum’s opening session was Juan Luis Cebrián, Chairman of El Pais newspaper and Prisa Group. Cebrián regretted the fact that national regimes have proved incapable of providing solutions to local problems. According to Cebrián, the forces that most affect international politics are those involved in regulating economies. Cebrián also noted how modern technologies are allowing people around the world to communicate and interact in ways and at rates that far outpace the capabilities of the global political and economic order. Former Secretary General of NATO and Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana brought in his keynote speech the discussion of realpolitik and what he referred to as the current state of “competition” between the big global powers. In particular, Solana expressed his skepticism for the possibility of global consensus on foreign policy, and that the political fallout of the 2008 economic crisis has been to “elevate the G20 to the level of a formal state” and to exacerbate the gap between rich and poor worldwide.

Brazilian philosopher Vladimir Safatle opened the second session with a keynote speech addressing political subjectivity and political affection in today’s world, and especially on the necessity of transforming history from “a space of reproduction” into “a space of production”. In particular, Safatle highlighted the need for a new politics of hope and the fact that “the first condition for the opening of our horizons is the changing of our expectations, which involves changing the way we understand the present.” Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzón adressed the issues of universal jurisdiction and human rights along his keynote speech. Drawing on his illustrious career as a jurist, and his recent experience in heading the legal team responsible for Julian Assange’s defence, Garzón spoke passionately about the need for global accountability for human rights abuses. Commenting on the recent climate change talks, Garzón outlined his belief that “the destruction of ecosystems should be classified as a crime against humanity”, and advocated the need for a global system of accountability and jurisdiction to protect the long-term interests of humanity and the environment. Egyptian professor of political sciences in Georgetown and editor in chief ofThe Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics Emad Shahin, talked about the history of political marginalisation in the Middle East, and particularly the historical lack of functioning democratic states to give citizens a meaningful voice. In particular, Shahin pointed to what he called “the collapse of the current world order”, and of the need to focus on bringing the global South and regions such as the Middle East onto the world political stage. “For 60 years, the same formula has been applied and the same formula has failed in the Middle East,” he said. In addition to the keynote speeches, several speakers developed their ideas and participants richly contributed to a solid roundtable discussion about the deterioration of the current economic and political system and possible steps to be taken.



Saturday 10:00

Opening Session


Saturday 10:30

1st Session
The paradigms of international politics in a turbulent globalization


Saturday 15:30

2nd Session
To live without hope is to live without fear: time, politics and affection


Sunday 10:00

3rd Session
New principles of universal jurisdiction for economics and environment


Sunday 15:00

4th Session Post-political governance: Networks, cities, citizenship and micropolitics


Sunday 17:30

Closing Session

The forum adopted the format of roundtable conversations where 50 participants sat in one concentric table for deep discussions and collective exchange. Each session had a first half of keynote plus expert speeches, followed by a coffee break and a second half of debates.

Saturday & Sunday from 13:00 to 15:00

Saturday at 20:00


Wadah Khanfar

Opening and Closing Sessions

Wadah Khanfar is Co-founder and Chairman of the Common Action Forum. He previously served as the Director General of Al Jazeera, transforming it from a single channel to a media network.

Juan Luis Cebrián

Opening Session

Juan Luis Cebrián is a Spanish writer and journalist, who serves as the Executive Chairman of PRISA. He is also editor in chief of El País and a member of the board of French newspaper Le Monde.

Javier Solana

1st Session Keynote

Javier Solana is former EU High Representative for the Common Foreign & Security Policy, Secretary General of NATO and Foreign Minister of Spain.

Vladimir Safatle

2nd Session Keynote

Vladimir Safatle is a Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at University of São Paulo and a writer. Fellow of Stellenboch Institute for Advanced Studies (South Africa).

Baltasar Garzón

3rd Session Keynote

Baltasar Garzón is a Spanish jurist, expert on crimes against humanity. He formerly served on Spain’s central criminal court for 10 years. Currently, Head of Julian Assange’s legal team.

Emad Shahin

4th Session Keynote

Edam Shahin is a visiting Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the editor in chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics.

Sami Zeidan

1st Session Moderator

Sami Zeidan is a Senior Presenter with Al Jazeera English. He has covered conflict zones and several seats of power including the United Nations, the White House and the European Commission.

Clayton Swisher

2nd Session Moderator

Clayton Swisher is an American journalist and author, currently working as the Manager of Investigative Journalism for the Al Jazeera Media Network in Doha (Qatar).

Miguel Jiménez

3rd Session Moderator

Miguel Jiménez is Deputy Director of Information of the Spanish newspaper El País. He is specialised in Law and Economics, Business Administration, and Political Science.

Ramzy Baroud

4th Session Moderator

Ramzy Baroud is an US-Arab journalist, writer, internationally-syndicated columnist, Editor of Palestine Chronicle and former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera online.

Alberto Mayol

1st Session Speaker

Alberto Mayol is a Chilean author, sociologist, political analyst, Professor at the Santiago University. He is a researcher and wrote several works on Social Sciences, Politics and Culture.

Matias Bianchi

1st Session Speaker

Matías Bianchi is a political scientist with a PhD from the Institute d´Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He is the Founder and Director of the think tank Asuntos del Sur.

Taha Ozhan

1st Session Speaker

Taha Özhan Head of Foreign Relations Committee at Grand National Assembly of Turkey and former president of SETA Foundation at Ankara. He is an academic, writer and columnist for Daily Sabah, The Middle East Eye, among other international media.

Khalid Hajji

2nd Session Speaker

Khalid Hajji is an academic researcher, author and Professor in the Department of Anglo-American Studies at Mohamed Premier University in Morocco. He is also a founding member of Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

María Navarro

2nd Session Speaker

María Navarro is a philosopher, professor at the University of Madrid, and researcher at the CSIC-Spain. She has written several works on Philosophy, Hermeneutics and Argumentation theory.

Romualdo Días

2nd Session Speaker

Romualdo Días is a sociologist, philosopher, writer and professor at the São Paulo State University. He has experience in the area of Pedagogy, Political Philosophy and Psychoanalysis.

Eduardo Barcesat

3rd Session Speaker

Eduardo Barcesat is an Argentinian jurist, UNESCO expert on Human rights, Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He is also a founding member of the American Association of Jurists.

Fátima São Simão

3rd Session Speaker

Fátima São Simão is the public lead of Creative Commons in Portugal and Executive Coordinator for the Creative Industries Centre of the University of Porto’s Science and Technology Park.

Mehmet Asutay

3rd Session Speaker

Mehmet Assutay is a Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Political Economy & Finance, MSc Islamic Finance Programme Director in the Business School at Durham University.

Bernardo Gutiérrez

4th Session Speaker

Bernardo Gutierrez is a Brazilian-Spanish journalist, writer, and researcher on networked practices, hacker culture and tecnopolitics. He is the founder of

Intissar Kherigi

4th Session Speaker

Intissar Kerigi is a lawyer specialised in human rights. She has worked in the House of Lords, the United Nations in New York, and the European parliament in Brussels

Jamal Khashoggi

4th Session Speaker

Jamal Khashoggi is a journalist, political analyst, author, general manager and the editor in chief of Al Arab News Channel.

Martin Gegner

4th Session Speaker

Martin Gegner is an academic researcher at the WZB in Berlin and served in South America as director of the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD). He is expert on Politics and Sociology of Urban Heritage.

Rafael Heiber

Clossing session

Rafael Heiber is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Common Action Forum. He is a geographer and social scientist with academic expertise in organizational space and political implications of sociotechnical systems.


Find bellow the available content divided per sessions

1st Session: The paradigms of international politics in a turbulent globalization
2nd Session: To live without hope is to live without fear: time, politics and affection
3rd Session: New principles of universal jurisdiction for economics and environment
4th Session: Post-political governance: Networks, cities, citizenship and micropolitics

Keynote:  Emad Shahin |>Play
Moderator: Ramzy Baroud
Speakers:  Bernardo Gutiérrez |>Play
Intissar Kherigi |>Play
Jamal Khashoggi
Martín Gegner |Play>


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