WEF reportedly seeks new home in New York

The alpine resort of Davos was turned into a fortress for last year's WEF summit Keystone Archive

Speculation is mounting that the World Economic Forum (WEF) is to abandon the Swiss resort of Davos for New York.

This content was published on November 6, 2001 - 11:30

Domestic and overseas media on Tuesday were speculating that the WEF "was being exiled" to New York following a meeting between forum bosses and the Swiss government on Monday.

Many newspapers said New York had emerged as a likely contender because of the symbolism of holding the WEF's annual meeting in a city attacked by terrorists. The summit is the world's most high-profile gathering of business and political leaders.

The Swiss government said an official announcement on the future location of the conference would be made in Bern on Wednesday.

WEF bosses are known to have been considering locations other than the Graubünden resort of Davos, both for security reasons and because of growing opposition to the summit because of the protests that invariably follow it.

The New York Times said on Tuesday that WEF boss and founder, Klaus Schwab, was due to meet on Wednesday with New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, and the state governor, George Pataki, to discuss holding the forum in the city from January 31 to February 5.

Davos turned into a fortress

Last year, Davos was turned into a fortress as security personnel tried to keep anti-globalisation protesters at bay.

Protesters unable to reach the resort instead vented their anger on the city of Zurich, smashing windows, damaging cars and starting fires.

Television images of police firing water cannon to disperse crowds prompted allegations that the authorities were stifling debate and brutally suppressing freedom of movement and expression.

The head and founder of the Geneva-based WEF, Klaus Schwab, was reportedly to have discussed holding the meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York with the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan.

The French-speaking newspaper, "Le Temps", quoted Schwab as saying that he hoped to bring the forum back to Switzerland, but stressed that security issues needed to be resolved.

Speculation has also focused on other locations, including the Canadian ski resort of Whistler in British Columbia.

Whistler information officer, Diana Waltmann, said the town, the province and WEF organisers have been holding discussions on the possibility on relocation "some time down the line", but that it would not happen for another three to four years, if at all.

Whistler lies about 125 kilometres north of Vancouver, and is easily sealed off since there is only one major highway leading to it and it is surrounded by mountains.

On Monday evening, around one hundred anti-globalisation demonstrators gathered in the Swiss capital, Bern, to protest against the business forum. They assembled outside the hotel where representatives of the Swiss government, canton Graubünden authorities and WEF bosses had met to discuss the summit's future.


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