Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Macron’s Paris Peace Forum to discuss ‘collective interests’

Macron’s Paris Peace Forum to discuss ‘collective interests’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
(From left) French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look up for a family photo ahead of the Paris Peace Forum at the Villette Conference Hall in Paris on Sunday. YOAN VALAT/AFP

Macron’s Paris Peace Forum to discuss ‘collective interests’

IT was billed as a “Davos for democracy”. But will the newly launched Paris Peace Forum, the latest addition to international conferencing, have an impact?

Conceived by French leader Emmanuel Macron, the Forum is intended to be part of the fightback against nationalism, with its format inspired by the annual business meeting in the Davos ski resort in Switzerland.

The event opened on Sunday, with speeches by Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN chief Antonio Guterres who warned in turn about the dangers of Trump-style populism.

The idea is that the Paris event, which began symbolically on the centenary of the end of World War I, becomes an annual gathering to discuss democracy and international cooperation.

“We have put on leaders’ agenda the fact that every year, we will talk about multilateralism and our collective interests here,” chief organiser Justin Vaisse said.

The remaining days – the Forum ran until Tuesday – featured round-table discussions on topics from gender inequality to the need for new global environmental accords.

One hundred and twenty projects, most of them run by NGOs, were given space in an exhibition area at the entrance to the former slaughterhouse where the Forum was held.

They included a project to provide Taekwondo lessons to refugees. Another was based on “leveraging global citizen solidarity to fight against chronic malnutrition.”

It gave the event an atmosphere that was somewhere between a trade fair and a think-tank conference.

“You can count on my support,” Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta told the Kumekucha association, which works to prevent violence in rural communities in Africa, as he visited their stand on Sunday.

Given the agenda, it’s little wonder that US President Donald Trump decided to snub the Forum after the memorial service on the Champs-Elysees to mark 100 years since the World War I Armistice on Sunday.

A host of other leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, opted to attend the opening session, but most of them left shortly afterwards.

‘Old demons’

An absence of nationalist viewpoints among the attendees meant most panel discussions subsequently veered towards consensus – that multilateralism, cooperation and peace were desirable.

But Florent Geel, from the International Federation of Human Rights, argued that the Forum could develop as an important place for networking among like-minded people.

“It makes sense to meet up, to discuss the challenges for the planet and connect worlds that don’t connect up very easily,” he said.

But he added that a peace forum should have allowed more space to discuss the wars underway worldwide, where the main international powers are at loggerheads.

“The difficult subjects – Yemen, Syria, Libya, big overlooked humanitarian crises – are not on the agenda,” he said.

So is the Peace Forum necessary and will it last?

Roberto Azevedo, the head of the World Trade Organisation, argued that the global system of international organisations like his own, which help produce norms and rules, needed to be celebrated.

The Paris Forum, which seeks to highlight their work, could be part of the answer.

Multilateralism was like oxygen in the way that it was generally overlooked, he argued during a panel discussion. “Take it away and you will start noticing immediately.”

The Forum’s ultimate fate might depend on the star-power of its French patron, Macron, who reinforced his reputation over the weekend as a counterforce to Trump-like nationalism.

“The old demons are rising again, ready to complete their task of chaos and of death,” Macron said during the WWI remembrance service with Trump sitting on the front row.

The problem, says Jeremy Shapiro from the European Council on Foreign Relations, is Macron’s falling popularity at home and increasing isolation abroad.

“He doesn’t look quite as shiny and new as he did a year ago,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon

  • Migrant workers set to return from Malaysia

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that 158 Cambodian students and migrant workers will fly home from Malaysia on Friday morning. This is the second flight to bring Cambodians home from Malaysia. A ministry notice said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH754 will

  • Cambodia to remain neutral on ASEAN-China territorial dispute

    Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn told an informal meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on Wednesday that Cambodia will stay neutral on the South China Sea. He appealed to all stakeholders to continue fostering a conducive environment that contributes to the end

  • Keeping it riel, Cambodia steps up de-dollarisation

    The economic downturn has supplied the National Bank of Cambodia with an opportunity to step up its agenda to return the shine on the riel while coping with Covid-19 challenges Late May, an instruction by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to financial institutions to

  • ANA finds ancient Sanskrit inscription

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has found a Sanskrit inscription carved on ancient stone. The inscription was discovered on the underside of a stone on Wednesday, in front of the Tonle Snguot temple which workers were cleaning. Archaeologist and Apsara Authority deputy-director Im Sok Rithy