The second annual Paris Peace Forum, which opened on the anniversary of the First World War Armistice, attracted 33 Heads of State and over 7,000 participants drawn from international organisations, NGOS, businesses and universities, including LSE IDEAS. Our UN Business and Human Security Initiative and its innovative model of Human Security Business Partnership was among the 100 plus projects selected to be showcased at the Forum.
LSE IDEAS presented its proposals which have been developed with the UN Human Security Unit, for ‘smart partnering’ between business, local communities and government to improve governance, development and social cohesion and as a means to achieve the UN’s Agenda 2030 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Some of the UN at LSE project team by the project stand at the Paris Peace Forum. From left to right: Dr Christina Bache, Dr Linda Benraïs, Dr Mary Martin, Alice Bryant, Margherita Parodi.
The rise of populism and global challenges such as climate change, cyber conflict and artificial intelligence were dominant themes in a forum which not only promoted overarching approaches such as multilateralism and regional co-operation, but also focused on bottom-up and practical solutions to conflict. The Forum seeks to help civil society, international organisations and governments to collaborate in mobilising local capacities to build peace through action on education, inclusive economic development, technology, security, the environment and justice.
The event was opened by French President Emmanuel Macron who called for a revived multilateralism to counter threats to world order and prosperity. His theme was echoed by other speakers who included the UN Secretary-General and China’s vice president. The president-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she would ask for a 30% increase in EU spending on external action to create what she called a truly “geopolitical Commission” as part of a more outward-looking Europe. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a planet divided in two by the growing schism between its two largest powers as they developed rival trading systems, currencies and even internet platforms. Although not naming the US and China, the Secretary-General called for multilateralism to be more agile and closer to people to counter the dangers of the new superpower rivalry. A notable absentee was the United States. Although Donald Trump attended the inaugural forum last year which marked 100 years since the end of the First World War, the US was not represented at the official opening which saw President Macron exchange friendly words with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, as well as leaders of African and Asian countries.