Paris Peace Forum

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Paris Peace Forum
MottoAdvancing solutions to global problems
Formation9 March 2018
Legal statusNon-Profit Organization (Association Loi 1901)
  • Paris, France
Official language
English / French
Secretary General
Marc Reverdin
Director General
Justin Vaïsse
Pascal Lamy

Since 2018, the Paris Peace Forum has been the place where heads of State and international organizations meet civil society and the private sector to construct new forms of collective action. It gathers annually dozens of heads of States and Governments, heads of International Organizations, leaders from the civil society and the private sector, as well as thousands of individuals from all around the globe. The Paris Peace Forum complete the existing world agenda of multilateral gatherings by creating a specific event for global governance issues, as economic and financial issues are dealt at the World Economic Forum of Davos, and security issues at the Munich Security Conference.

The Forum's DNA is to be an inclusive, solution-oriented gathering : with this in mind, the Forum showcases each year more than 100 projects coming from all around the world which display concrete and efficient solutions to governance challenges.[1] It mostly focus on concrete initiatives and has been used as a platform for the launch of important, multi-actor initiatives, such as the B4IG coalition[2] or the Paris Call for Trust and Security in the Cyberspace.[3]

The Paris Peace Forum was founded in 2018 by Justin Vaïsse, as he was Director for Policy Planning at the French ministry for Europe and foreign Affairs, to tackle global problems and strengthen multilateral cooperation.[4] Soon after the first edition, Pascal Lamy was appointed President of the Paris Peace Forum, and Justin Vaïsse became its Director General.[5] On 11-13 November 2020, its third edition will be chiefly devoted to the multi-actor response to Coronavirus, with the conviction that all relevant actors can collectively overcome the enormous challenges faced by the international community and use the crisis as an opportunity to rebuild a more sustainable world.[6]


The Paris Peace Forum was born out of the principle that “a badly governed world would quickly become a world at war”,[7] as explained by Justin Vaïsse, then president of the Forum. At the Meeting of Ambassadors on 29 August 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of the fact that peace is not something to be taken for granted, mentioning the Syrian crisis and the Ukrainian crisis as examples.[8] In light of such developments, he called for the need to take concrete steps to strengthen multilateralism and preserve peace.[9] President Macron then announced the creation of the Paris Peace Forum on 4 January 2018.[10]

First edition : 2018[edit]

The first edition of the Paris Peace Forum took place on 11–13 November 2018, and was attended by 65 Heads of States and Governments.[11] It showcased 120 global governance projects and welcomed 6000 individuals over the 3 days. Among the attendees were Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, joined President Emmanuel Macron in each making an opening remark at the beginning of the Forum. UN Secetary General Guterres drew parallels between the political atmosphere then and the pre-World War I period and the ‘30s Interwar period.[12] Merkel made similar remarks, noting that nationalism and populism were threatening European peace.[13] What was noted was also US President's Donald Trump's absence at the Forum,[14] despite having been in Paris in the morning of 11 November for the commemoration ceremony on the Champs-Elysées.[15]

The commemoration of Armistice day was a recurring theme throughout the Forum. President Macron aimed for the Forum to bring about concrete proposals for multilateralism so that an outcome akin to WWI would not replicate again.[16] It was noted multiple times that the importance of remembering the Armistice stood in the comparisons that could be drawn between the 1930s and today. Similarly to the statements made by UN Secretary General Guterres, Justin Vaïsse also highlighted the similarities, including: an economic crisis, closing of borders, commercial wars, migration and refugees, and a resurgence of populist and nationalist movements.[17]

The three day event presented a variety of formats, including debates, panels, round tables, masterclasses, workshops, project pitches, as well as a hackathon during which developers worked on financial data transparency programs.[18] BrainDates from C2 Montreal was also present at the Forum to provide peer-to-peer learning sessions and small discussion groups for the attendees and the project leaders.[19] At the center of the Grande Halle de la Villette was the Peace Library, a tree-shaped shelf structure on which Heads of Governments and States each placed a book from their country that for them symbolised peace and international cooperation.[20]

The overarching theme of the event was multilateralism: its importance as well as its shortcomings.[21] President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou denounced the double standards of multilateralism, pointing out that African leaders do not have as strong a voice in the international scene despite multilateral decisions concerning Africa occupying a significant space in the agendas of international institutions.[22] Among the other themes that were tackled were social inequality, with speakers such as Guy Rider, Lise Kingo and Jeffrey Sachs; the role of cities in the fight against climate, with experts like Laurence Tubiana and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim who spoke of its effects in the Sahel and more.[23] The Forum also hosted the Declaration on Information and Democracy by Reporters Without Borders,[24] with the presence of the heads of states of Burkina Faso, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Senegal, Switzerland and Tunisia.[25]

The Paris Call : 51 countries, 130 companies and 90 universities and non-governmental groups signed the ‘Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace’, a non binding declaration initiated by President Macron, calling for protection from cyber attacks.[26] It aims to protect civilians, to keep external actors from interfering with elections, to preserve intellectual property etc. The US was one of the few Western nations who refused to sign the declaration.[27] The Paris Call has been likened to a digital version of the Geneva Convention and praised as an important step for democracy.[28] Brad Smith, president of Microsoft noted for the New York Times that “Most of the world’s democracies are rallying around the need to protect all democracies from cyberattacks”.[29]

Projects : 120 projects advancing concrete solutions were presented during the 3 day event in one of the following categories: environment, peace and security, development, new technologies and inclusive economy.[30] Out of them, 10 were selected by the jury to receive support for a one-year period.[31]

Notable Participants to the first edition[edit]

Ahmed Ouyahia - Former Prime Minister of Algeria Fayez al-Sarraj - Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré - President of Burkina Faso Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta - President of Mali
Faustin-Archange Touadéra - President of the Central African Republic Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz - President of Mauritania
Azali Assoumani - President of the Comoros Mahamadou Issoufou - President of Niger
Denis Sassou-Nguesso - President of the Congo Muhammadu Buhari - President of Nigeria
Alassane Ouattara - President of Ivory Coast Paul Kagame - President of Rwanda
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh - President of Djibouti Macky Sall - President of Senegal
Alpha Condé - President of Guinea Danny Faure - President of Seychelles
Uhuru Kenyatta - President of Kenya Idriss Déby - President of Chad
George Weah - President of Liberia Beji Caid Essebsi - Former President of Tunisia
Justin Trudeau - Prime Minister of Canada
Carlos Alvarado - President of Costa Rica
Iván Duque Márquez - President of Colombia
Donald Trump - President of United States
Nikol Pashinyan - Prime Minister of Armenia Rami Hamdallah - Former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority
Giorgi Margvelashvili - Former President of Georgia Cheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani - Emir of Qatar
Saad Hariri - President of Lebanon Shukurjon Zuhurov - Chairman of the Lower Chamber of Parliament of Tajikistan
Venkaiah Nadu - Vice President of India Prayut Chan-o-cha - Prime Minister of Thailand
Ilir Meta - President of Albania Gjorge Ivanov - Former President of North Macedonia
Alexander Van der Bellen - President of Austria Igor Dodon - President of Molodva
Bakir Izetbegović - Former Bosniak Member of the tripartite Presidency

of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Albert de Monaco - Prince of Monaco
Roumen Radev - President of Bulgaria Milo Đukanović - President of Montenegro
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović - President of Croatia Stef Blok - Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Andrej Babiš - Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Erna Solberg - Prime Minister of Norway
Lars Løkke Rasmussen - Prime Minister of Denmark Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa - President of Portugal
Kersti Kaljulaid - President of Estonia Klaus Iohannis - President of Romania
Sauli Niinistö - President of Finland Vladimir Putin - President of Russia
Emmanuel Macron - President of France Aleksandar Vučić - President of Serbia
Angela Merkel - Chancellor of Germany Andrej Kiska - Former President of Slovakia
Alexis Tsipras - Former Prime Minister of Greece Borut Pahor - President of Slovenia
Pietro Parolin - Cardinal Secretary of State of Holy SEE Pedro Sanchez - Prime Minister of Spain
Guðni Th. Jóhannesson - President of Iceland Stefan Löfven - Prime Minister of Sweden
Sergio Mattarella - President of Italy Alain Berset - Former President of the Swiss Federation
Hashim Thaçi - President of Kosovo Petro Poroshenko - Former President of Ukraine
Xavier Bettel - Prime Minister of Luxembourg
Sir Peter Cosgrove - Former Governor-General of Australia Tallis Obed Moses - President of Vanuatu
International Organisations
Moussa Faki - Chair of the African Union Commission António Guterres - Secretary General of the UN
Thorbjørn Jagland - Secretary General of Council of Europe María Fernanda Espinosa - President of the UN General Assembly
Guy Ryder - Director General of ILO Audrey Azoulay -Director of UNESCO
Christine Lagarde - Managing Director of IMF Paolo Artini - Representative of the UNHCR in France
Jens Stoltenberg - Secretary General of NATO Jim Kim - President of the World Bank
José Ángel Gurría - Secretary General of OECD Roberto Azevêdo - Director General of the World Trade Organisation

Second edition : 2019[edit]

The second edition of the Paris Peace Forum took place on 11–13 November at la Grande Halle de La Villette, under the presidency of Pascal Lamy, who was previously President of the Steering Committee, and with Justin Vaïsse as the Forum's Director General. The Paris Peace Forum 2019 was attended by 7,000 participants, representing 164 nationalities. 33 Heads of State and Government were present, with official delegations from 140 countries. 318 project leaders representing 114 governance solutions from around the world gathered in the Forum's Space for Solutions.

Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and President of the Paris Peace Forum, Pascal Lamy, spoke during the event's soft opening on 11 November. UN Secretary general Guterres evoked the main global challenges of our times, by distinguishing five global risks: an economic and geostrategic polarization, a crack of the social contract caused by rising inequalities and protests, the loss of solidarity between communities and the rise of hate as a political tool, environmental degradation and the climate crisis, and finally, the risk of unchecked technology. The official opening ceremony took place on 12 November. Opening remarks were made by President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the President-Elect of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi and the Vice-President of the People's Republic of China, Wang Qishan[32].

The second edition of the Paris Peace Forum saw a number of new activities and formats, such as the Peace Game, organized by Foreign Policy and Körber Stiftung[33]. A Peace Game brings together participants with the purpose of working out a crisis scenario through concrete solutions[34]. Among the other formats participants were invited to attend, the '20 Questions to the World'[35], and Braindates by e180[36], were particularly successful. For this second edition, last year's Peace Library, which gathered books gifted by high-level participants, took the form of a Peace Globe, where world leaders were given the opportunity to leave objects symbolizing peace in.

Nine initiatives were launched and developed at the second edition of the Paris Peace Forum. These included B4IG[37], which started out at the G7 Leaders' Summit in Biarritz, and which is driven by Emmanuel Macron, the OECD and Danone in order to unite companies for inclusive growth. The Alliance for Multilateralism, launched in April 2019 by French and German Foreign Ministers, held a session on the governance of the digital sphere[38], which was moderated by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Other initiatives included the inauguration of the Reporters Without Borders Forum on Information and Democracy, and the launch of the Indian Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, driven by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The purpose of the Forum would be to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, as well as to “reflect together, propose concrete initiatives, reinvent multilateralism and all forms of contemporary cooperation”.[39] President Macron and then-president Justin Vaïsse aimed at bringing together global governance actors, in an international and open space, in order to interact, discuss and generate concrete solutions. An important aspect of the Forum is the showcasing of 100+ projects from around the world. Each of these projects proposes an innovative solution to a specific issue. The projects present in 6 of the following categories:[40]

By the third day of the Forum, 10 projects are selected as Scale-Up projects to receive mentorship and support from the Paris Peace Forum for a one-year period.[41]

Although initiated by the French President, the Forum remains independent in its scope and funding. The event is financed by non-governmental partners, each of which cannot cover more than 10% of the costs.


The Paris Peace Forum is made up of 3 distinct governance bodies:

The activities of the Forum are also carried out by:

  • The Permanent Secretariat, based in Paris, carries out all operations related to the execution of the event. It is led by Justin Vaïsse as Director-General, and Marc Reverdin as Secretary-General.[44]
  • The Selection Committee is responsible for selecting the 100+ projects that are to present at the Forum in November. They select the projects based on their relevance to the issue they are aiming to resolve, how innovative they are, the potential to scale up etc.
  • The Scale-up Committee is responsible for accompanying the selected Scale-Up projects for the full year until the next Forum. Each member of the Scale-Up Committee is an expert in a particular field of global governance and thus serves as a point of reference for one of the ten projects.


The Paris Peace Forum faced criticism for having extended an invitation to Saudi Arabia, in light of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the continuing war in Yemen.[45] Due to similar such contradictions, such as France's involvement in weapons sales, and nuclear armament, questions were raised as to the extent to which the peace summit was truly substantial or just an instrument of communication.[46][47]

Criticism was also drawn to the event's funding, with contributions made, among others, by tech giants such as Google and Microsoft.[48]

Some also argued that the Forum was homogenous in its discussion, reserved for the elites who agreed with each other rather than including those who disagreed with multilateralism.[49]


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