A Tradition of Constructive Engagement…
The U.S.-Islamic World Forum is designed to bring together leaders in the realms of politics, business, media, academia and civil society from across the Islamic world (including Muslim communities in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East) and the United States. The forum seeks to serve as both a convening body and catalyst for positive action. Therefore, its focus is not on dialogue just for dialogue’s sake, but on developing actionable agendas for government, civil society and the private sector.
The forum consists of a variety of different platforms for dialogue and engagement including:
- Televised plenary sessions that will feature fast-paced, in-depth discussions among prominent international figures on broad thematic issues of global importance;
- Smaller, concurrent roundtable discussions led by experts and policymakers on a particular theme or set of countries;
- A set of working groups which bring together practitioners in a given field several times during the course of the Forum to develop practical partnerships and policy recommendations; and
- Action groups, introduced to the Forum in 2014, which will identify a major challenge and produce a plan for a new initiative to be assessed and analyzed by participants during their three days of meetings.
In the Wake of Tragedy, Understanding…
The forum was launched in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Its goal was the development of research and outreach programs designed to improve U.S. relations with Muslim states and communities. A particular challenge in that moment of tension and frustration was the virtual absence of dialogue between leaders of the United States and the Muslim world.
With the generous support of the Government of Qatar, the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World launched the first U.S.-Islamic World Forum in 2004. The purpose was to promote a better understanding of the problems involved in U.S. relations with the Islamic world, through the creation of an ongoing and collaborative dialogue between Muslim and American leaders. At that first session, 165 leaders from the United States and 37 Muslim states – from government ministers to news editors – gathered to discuss topics from the Middle East peace process to private-sector entrepreneurship and new Internet media.
The Forum’s renown has grown in the intervening years. Today it is recognized as the premier annual conference of its kind. Past participants have included President Bill Clinton; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan; Commander of the U.S. Central Command David Petraeus; the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina Dr. Mustafa Cerić; Secretary General of ASEAN Surin Pitsuwan; and Secretary General of the OIC Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.