The Paris Peace Forum—What’s Not to Like?

By Louise Riis Andersen

Published in The Global Observatory

At a time when multilateral and rules-based international cooperation is under intense pressure from growing nationalism and political short-sightedness, this week’s Paris Peace Forum came as a welcome attempt at countering the zeitgeist and galvanizing new faith in the simple idea that “international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace.”

Taking advantage of the mobilizing power of the centenary of the end of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurated the forum on November 11, 2018 together with more than 60 heads of state and government from across the globe as well as leaders from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and UNESCO.

Notably, US President Donald Trump was not among the participants. As pointed out by Celia Belin, virtually everything about the Paris Peace Forum runs against the current US administration’s sovereignty message, and its unilateralist and transactional approach to foreign policy. The opposition to these postures came through strongly, albeit diplomatically veiled, in the opening speeches by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Their unapologetic defense of binding, institutionalized, multilateral cooperation as the only way to address the challenges of our time does not sit easily with politicians—left, right and center—who are eager to “take back control” and place their own country “first.”

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