A hun­dred years af­ter: ideas for a world pre­served from war

Gulf Times - - AMIR ATTENDS PARIS PEACE FORUM - By Franck Gel­let

The ar­mistice signed on No­vem­ber 11, 1918, ended four years of a con­flict that was the first truly global con­flict, reach­ing all con­ti­nents and in­volv­ing 74 coun­tries. It had re­sulted in mil­lions of deaths - 1.7mn for France alone and had caused an over­all dev­as­ta­tion never seen be­fore in his­tory. The treaty of Ver­sailles that fol­lowed the Ar­mistice led to a flawed peace that hardly lasted 20 years. The League of Na­tions, an­ces­tor of our United Na­tions, failed to pre­vent the rep­e­ti­tion of the same drama.

If we are not re­liv­ing the same times, yet res­o­nances from the 1930s to­day can be dis­turb­ing, an ob­ser­va­tion sup­ported by the Pres­i­dent of the French Repub­lic that has just cre­ated a pub­lic de­bate on how to make sure that we never fall back into the dys­func­tions that brought the world, a sec­ond time, in 1939, to an­other in­fer­nal me­chan­ics.

For this year 2018, which marks the centenary of the ar­mistice, Pres­i­dent Macron has in­vited to a col­lec­tive com­mem­o­ra­tion of un­prece­dented scale more than 120 for­eign dig­ni­taries rep­re­sent­ing the war­ring par­ties, in or­der to dif­fuse the duty of mem­ory as far as pos­si­ble, not only to pay trib­ute to those who fought and fell, but in or­der not to com­mit the same mis­takes as those of the past. It is that shared aware­ness that for­get­ful­ness would be haz­ardous that ex­plains why many heads of State and Govern­ment, some 60, and many rep­re­sen­ta­tives of in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions re­sponded to his call and are com­ing on No­vem­ber 11, to Paris, not only to re­mem­ber but to take an ac­tive part to a new for­mat for re­flec­tion on our com­mon fu­ture, the Paris Peace Fo­rum.

z An in­no­va­tive for­mat to pre­vent threats against peace

This new cir­cle, which will be held on the same day at the level of the heads of State and Govern­ment, then for the next two days at the level of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ma­jor in­sti­tu­tions from their coun­tries, will of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties to dis­cuss con­crete pro­jects, call­ing for a meet­ing ded­i­cat­ing to the gov­er­nance of our planet. 2018 will be its first ses­sion. It will then be held ev­ery year.

It will aim at high­light­ing our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity. Its ob­jec­tive will be to move the cause for peace through a bet­ter global gov­er­nance and to pro­mote el­e­ments that con­trib­ute to help lower in­ter­na­tional ten­sions through five the­matic ar­eas of work: peace and se­cu­rity, en­vi­ron­ment, de­vel­op­ment, dig­i­tal and new tech­nolo­gies, in­clu­sive econ­omy. It will be a space for the elab­o­ra­tion of pro­pos­als for so­lu­tions, where the con­crete pro­jects of which I spoke above - 120 were re­tained com­ing from all over the world - will be de­bated by 10,000 ac­tors of the world gov­er­nance. Ex­changes will be open to civil so­ci­ety, which will have the pos­si­bil­ity to of­fer in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions out­side of tra­di­tional de­ci­sion­mak­ing schemes. The idea will be to dis­sem­i­nate and to bring to a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion any ini­tia­tive use­ful for peace.

z The con­tri­bu­tion of Qatar

Qatar could not be kept out from the Paris Peace Fo­rum. It is, there­fore, log­i­cal that Pres­i­dent Macron in­tended to in­vite His High­ness the Amir. The in­vi­ta­tion was first in the name of the very close and friendly re­la­tion­ship that binds our two coun­tries; se­condly, be­cause of Qatar’s ded­i­ca­tion to in­ter­na­tional law, mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism, di­a­logue and me­di­a­tion; and last but not least, given the ac­tive role of Qatar on the in­ter­na­tional scene in sup­port of de­vel­op­ment. We are very hon­oured that the Amir re­sponded pos­i­tively to the in­vi­ta­tion. We also wel­come the ex­cel­lent level of par­tic­i­pa­tion of Qatar, with the pres­ence of the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Supreme Com­mit­tee for the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the 2022 foot­ball World Cup (sport is also a means for peace), as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Qatar Foun­da­tion, of Ed­u­ca­tion Above All and of the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mit­tee.

Twenty years ago, in the eu­pho­ria of glob­al­i­sa­tion, such a gath­er­ing would have been in­au­gu­rated with op­ti­mism. The state of mind is to­day rather cir­cum­spect. That is why this fo­rum has been de­signed to en­sure that all good wills, ev­ery­where in the world — States or pri­vate ac­tors — will likely take a col­lec­tive ac­tion pre­ven­tively and ac­tively for com­mon ob­jec­tives.

z Com­mon faith in the virtues of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism

At a time of ex­ac­er­ba­tion of re­gional ten­sions, we must de­fine an agenda which makes it pos­si­ble to treat all con­cerns through di­a­logue and in the re­spect of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism. France, for her part, has al­ways been com­mit­ted to re­spect­ing signed agree­ments and com­mit­ments. France there­fore strongly be­lieves that the United Na­tions re­mains the best tool for ad­vanc­ing the cause of peace, far from uni­lat­eral ini­tia­tives.

Hence the de­fence of ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions as one of her pri­or­i­ties, es­pe­cially when their im­por­tance be­comes even more ev­i­dent when they are weak­ened. When the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is blocked by the con­stant use of the veto power of some, when some launch of­fen­sives to un­der­mine in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, when oth­ers act alone, in dis­re­gard of in­ter­na­tional law and of the sovereignty of States, one can feel an af­ter­taste of a time when the world was riven by the com­pe­ti­tion of pow­ers, with no limit, when some States in­tended to reg­u­late by force the fate of all. The UN has to re­main at the cen­ter of our gov­er­nance sys­tem. This is why the French pres­i­dent has in­vited the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the United Na­tions, An­to­nio Guter­res, to open the Paris Peace Fo­rum. All main mul­ti­lat­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions will be present at the fo­rum at the high­est level.

In this re­gard, I would like to high­light the im­por­tant role Qatar plays in sup­port­ing ef­fec­tively and ac­tively the United Na­tions sys­tem. Her con­tri­bu­tion pro­motes and de­fends mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism in par­tic­u­lar through UN aid pro­grammes — such as Unicef when com­ing to the aid of the Ye­meni peo­ple or as UNRWA when in sup­port to the Pales­tinian peo­ple in Gaza.

An­other pri­or­ity is to re­form mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions. Coun­tries from the South say they are at­tached to mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism but ques­tion in­sti­tu­tions that were orig­i­nally cre­ated with­out them. This is also true as non-state ac­tors are con­cerned. Is­sues such as global warm­ing, In­ter­net gov­er­nance or ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, but also de­vel­op­ment, can not be ad­dressed only by States.

z In­ter­net gov­er­nance

In this re­gard, In­ter­net gov­er­nance and cy­ber­se­cu­rity are among other con­cerns in a world where cy­ber threats and at­tacks are more than ever present. This is why, along­side the Paris Peace Fo­rum, the 13th edi­tion of the In­ter­net Gov­er­nance Fo­rum will also be held in Paris next week. Pres­i­dent Macron will on No­vem­ber 12th ap­peal a “Call for Trust and Se­cu­rity in Cy­berspace”. France wel­comes the pres­ence of Qatar at this event.

zWork­ing to­gether

The visit of His High­ness the Amir to Paris on Sun­day, just a few months af­ter his visit in July, which fol­lowed the visit of the French Pres­i­dent to Doha last De­cem­ber, also re­calls, if need be, our com­mon com­mit­ment to our part­ner­ship, which will soon be raised at the strate­gic level. In this re­gard, high­level vis­its of French of­fi­cials to Qatar are fore­seen in the com­ing year. And I would like to re­mind that our co-op­er­a­tion ex­tends to all ar­eas. Our trade has in­creased by 30% be­tween 2016 and 2017; our cul­tural ex­changes are more in­tense than ever with the per­spec­tive of our cul­tural year in 2020. More than ever, our two coun­tries feel the need to work to­gether, not only for them­selves, but also to imag­ine so­lu­tions that will ad­dress the global chal­lenges of to­day’s world.

Franck Gel­let

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