December 10, 2019

The Paris Peace Forum’s opening ceremony: multilateralism and cooperation

By Guido Lanfranchi.

Paris, November 12th, 2019

On November 12th, 2019, the second edition of the Paris Peace Forum kicked off. During the opening ceremony, political leaders from across the world made clear that multilateralism and international cooperation are strongly needed in order to face the many challenges of today’s world.

Our world faces several complex challenges, from environmental degradation to poverty, from war to inequalities. Several of these challenges transcend national borders – and so do their potential solutions. This is the basic premise underlying the Paris Peace Forum, whose 2019 edition is dedicated to “promoting global governance for sustainable peace”. 

The Forum kicked off in the morning of November 12thwith a crowded opening ceremony. The ceremony started with the intervention of Trisha Shetty, Indian activist in the domain of gender equity and President of the Paris Peace Forum’s Steering Committee. Addressing the world leaders gathered around the main stage, Ms. Sherry boldly dedicated a thought to all the engaged activists who are currently paying a price for their action – as in the case of imprisoned climate activists. In a heartfelt pledge, the founder of SheSays suggested to all the presents to ask themselves “what is the impact of all of us gathering here on the very real world outside these highly sanitized walls?”.

The ceremony continued with the speech of Ursula von der Leyen, President Elect of the European Commission, who focused her attention on the European Union’s potential to address global challenges. Having praised the EU’s role in achieving peace on the continent, Ms. von der Leyen advocated for “a more outwork-looking, geopolitical Europe”, with a common strategic approach and stronger capacities. She stressed that the EU “can and should contribute” to address the many challenges faced by our world – notably with a view on turning them into opportunities, as Europe did in the wake of World War II.

The focus of the ceremony then shifted to Asia, with the intervention of Wang Qishan, Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China. Defining peace as “the common aspiration of mankind”, Mr. Wang reiterated his country’s willingness to address international challenges through a “win-win strategy of opening-up”. No one can deal with today’s challenges on their own – he stressed, calling for “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in global governance”.

Mr. Wang was followed by Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who brought on the stage the African perspective. The African continent – he noted – remains marred by conflicts and terrorism, which prevent the African people to enjoy peace. Calling for joint efforts in solving these issues, Mr. Tshisekedi advocated for a holistic response, involving not only military means, but also and especially political solution to the needs of the population, notably the youth. 

The ceremony’s last speech finally went to the Forum’s host – Emmanuel Macron. The French President outlined his vision of the “unprecedented crisis” faced by the global system, featuring overlapping challenges such as economic inequalities, re-emerging unilateralism, significant demographic shifts and migration waves, the advent of new technologies, and the overarching climate challenge.

Addressing these issues will require cooperation – Mr. Macron stressed, noting that while the Forum is a valuable avenue for mutual listening, new forms of cooperation among different actors and at different levels will be needed. Hopefully, the Paris Peace Forum will become a framework to address this need.

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Credit photo : Stephane Sby Balmy / Auditoire
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