The irrefutable meta-crisis: challenges and opportunities after COVID-19
Madrid, Spain | November 2020
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2020 is a turning point in modern history. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, we were already experiencing profound social, political and geopolitical tensions. Now, in an unprecedented way, we live in a world as mired in uncertainty as it is eager for change. Essentially, it is urgent to find a way to reimagine and build the future, together. For this reason, in exceptional circumstances, OCTAGON 2020 takes place this year as an open, virtual meeting. It gathers, as always, members and guests of CAF, and this time their reflections will be shared publicly.
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The COVID-19 pandemic goes far beyond a mere health crisis: its causal relationship with environmental destruction, economic shock, amplified social inequalities, and multiple (geo)political consequences demonstrate that we are, in fact, confronting the metacrisis of civilizations.
The return of nationalism, rise in xenophobia or neo-fascism, and the peak of technological revolution, scientific denialism or the so-called «post-truth» are some of the phenomena that threaten our democracies during this troubled year. They reveal how the hegemonic model is more questioned than ever before. However, the exceptionality of the current situation suggests that the changes arising from this period may also take on an unparalleled magnitude.
The possibility of moving towards a new social contract, redefining our institutions and way of relating to each other, seems impending. These times of transition are conducive to considerable transformations, in which we envision the hopeful emergence of a global citizenship, prepared to embrace a new narrative of civilization.
Alfonso Zegbe currently heads the Strategy and Public Diplomacy Unit at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is an expert in Environmental Law and International Relations, and has worked on energy and environmental diplomatic agendas for Mexico City, Washington DC, Ottawa, Paris, Brussels and the OECD. Between 2017 and 2019 he was Mexican Ambassador to Iran as well as served as ambassador in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Andrés Lomeña holds degrees in Journalism and Literary Theory, as well as a PhD in Sociology. He is a philosophy professor whose publications include Ficcionologia (2016), El Periodista de partículas (2017), Rescoldos Mentales (2018) and the script of the awarded short-movie Psicopolis. He is also a regular contributor at Huffington Post.
Arlene Clemesha is a renowned academic, TV commentator and professor at the Centre of Arab Studies at São Paulo University. She has written several books on the Middle East and is a member of the Coordination Committee of the UN International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP-UN).
Ayo Obe is a legal practitioner and Co-Vice Chair of the International Crisis Group. She was President of the Civil Liberties Organisation and Chair of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy.
Bilaal Hoosein is current Director of Programmes for Al Jazeera English. With a background in political science, he has nearly two decades of experience as a journalist, producer and an international broadcast market sales and acquisitions expert.
Celso Amorim was Minister of Defense (2011-2014) and Foreign Relations Minister (2003-2010) of Brazil. A career diplomat, he was also a member of the Group of Experts of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. In 2009, the journal Foreign Policy recognized him as the «Best Foreign Relations Minister.»
Colleen Boland holds a PhD in Sociology of Migration at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. She formerly worked as a Managing Editor of an international public health quarterly at Johns Hopkins University, USA. She obtained her MA in Middle East Politics from SOAS, University of London.
Cristiano Zanin is a Brazilian lawyer who currently serves on President Lula’s legal defence. He specializes in civil procedural law and has taught as a professor on the subject. He is co-founder and Executive Committee member of the Lawfare Institute and a member of the Brazilian and International Bar Associations.
Eduardo Santos Itoiz is the current Regional Minister for Migration Policies and Justice of the Autonomous Community of Navarre in Spain. A lawyer by trade, he has taught Criminal Law at the University of Navarra and has been a member of the Navarre Parliament and the national Congress of Deputies.
Eduardo Barcesat is an Argentinian jurist, UNESCO expert on human rights and Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He is also a founding member of the American Association of Jurists.
Emad Shahin is Dean of the College of Islamic Studies (CIS), Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation and a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University. He formerly served as Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics.
Fernanda Ribeiro is a Chevening Fellow and currently works for the United Nations in Genève. She holds an MA in International Peace and Security from King’s College London and an MA in International Public Law and Administration from the École Nationale d’Administration.
Franck Pupunat is a French politician, advisor on Freedom of Expression and Media Development at the French National Commission for UNESCO. Co-founder and former member of the Parti de Gauche, he is also one of the instigators of the association Mouvement Utopia, a sustainable social transformation project that cuts across political parties.
Gaspard Estrada is Director of the Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean at Sciences Po, France. His research focuses on political communication, electoral campaigns and French foreign policy in Latin America.
Guillaume Long is a French-Ecuatorian politician and academic, who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, as well as Minister of Culture and Heritage and Coordinating Minister of Knowledge and Human Talent under the Correa government.
Herta Däubler-Gmelin is a German lawyer, academic and Social Democratic politician who served as Germany’s Minister of Justice and as a member of the Bundestag. She continues to practice law, as well as teaches political science at the Free University of Berlin.
Irene López has a degree in International Relations and a Master’s in Human Rights. She has worked as chief of staff, analyst and consultant for political parties in both Spain and Ecuador. She served as an international aid worker in refugee camps and headed political advocacy at various organizations.
Javier Solana is a Spanish physicist and former Secretary General of NATO. Solana currently serves as Chairman of the Aspen Institute in Spain, and has held a number of positions in the Spanish government, including Minister of Culture and Minister of Education and Science.
John Ralston Saul
John Ralston Saul is a Canadian award-winning philosopher, novelist and essayist, and author of The Collapse of Globalism, which predicted the 2008 economic crisis. He is Co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and President Emeritus of PEN International.
PhD in Physics, Maysoun Douas is an innovation and entrepreneurship expert. An ecosystem builder for the innovation Hub LaNave in Madrid (2017-19) and European Commission Evaluator for the H2020 program, she currently serves as councilwoman at the Madrid City Council.
Mi You is a curator and academic staff at Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Germany), where she lectures on media theory with a social-political perspective. PhD in Art and Media Studies, she is Fellow of Zentrum Paul Klee (Switzerland) and Independent Curators International (New York). Mi is also a member of the Academy of Arts of the World.
Patricio Cabello is Researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Education at the University of Chile. He holds his PhD and MAs in Anthropology and Social Research Methods. Leading several projects, he has consulted for UNESCO and UNICEF.
Pedro Brieger is an Argentinian journalist and sociologist, and Professor of the Sociology of the Middle East at the University of Buenos Aires. He directs Nodal, an online media resource focused on socio-political and cultural news in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Rafael Heiber is the Co-Founder and Deputy-Chairman of the Common Action Forum. Geographer and Climatologist with a MSc in Territorial Planning and a PhD in Sociology, his expertise includes the political links between technology, space and citizenship. He participates in academic activities and publishes in the international media.
Rafaela Rodrigues is a political scientist and a researcher. She holds an MA in International Politics and her research focuses on global health, international cooperation and public policy. She formerly worked for the United Nations as well as for other institutions on south-south cooperation initiatives.
Ramzy Baroud is an US-Arab journalist, writer, internationally-syndicated columnist, Editor of Palestine Chronicle and former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera. He is the author of «These Chains Will Be Broken» and other three books.
Renata Ávila is an international lawyer, expert in human rights and technology. Member of the legal team that advocates for the freedom of Julian Assange and Wikileaks as well as member of DiEM25, she serves on several boards, including Progressive International, Article 19, Creative Commons and CAF. She is currently the Executive Director of Fundación Ciudadanía Inteligente in Latin America.
Rodolfo Pastor de María y Campos is a Honduran-Mexican political scientist, diplomat and politician. Former Minister of Political Affairs and Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Honduras in Washington, D.C.; he currently works as Information and Strategic Analysis Director in the Executive Directorate of Strategy and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) of Mexico.
Thembisa Fakude is a Researcher at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies as well as a contributor and analyst for several newspapers. He is former Bureau Chief of the Channel’s Media Network in Southern Africa and former Chairperson of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa (FCSA).
Tristán Torrejón has a degree in Literary Theory from the Complutense University of Madrid and a master’s degree in Cultural Management from the Carlos III University. With extensive experience in the organization of forums and high-level conferences, he was a program assistant at the diplomatic cultural center Casa de América.
Sami Zeidan is an award-winning Senior Presenter with Al Jazeera English. He has worked with a number of the largest broadcasters in the world, interviewing several legendary world leaders, including Nelson Mandela, as well as reporting high-profile events.
Valeska Teixeira serves on Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s legal defence team. Co-founder and Executive Committee member of the Lawfare Institute, she is also a member of the Brazilian and International Bar Associations.
Wadah Khanfar is the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Common Action Forum. Former Director-General of the Al Jazeera Network, he was named one of the «Young Global Leaders» in the 2008’s World Economic Forum and was first in Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011.