At the Paris Peace Forum, Europe Makes the Case for Multilateralism

At the Paris Peace Forum, Europe Makes the Case for Multilateralism
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen delivers her speech at the start of the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, Nov. 12, 2019 (pool photo by Ludovic Marin of AFP via AP Images).

Last week, I attended the second Paris Peace Forum, of which I am a member of the Steering Committee and the Selection Committee. The brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, the forum was less glitzy this year than the inaugural version in 2018, which coincided with the centennial of Armistice Day and attracted more than 60 heads of state and government. But what this edition lacked in flash, it compensated for in substance.

Beyond showcasing dozens of proposals for improving global governance, its opening sessions featured thoughtful speeches on the parlous state of world order from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Macron himself. The trio of leaders warned that the world is fracturing, imperiling international cooperation and leaving the planet adrift in the face of daunting security, political, economic and ecological challenges. All three underscored Europe’s critical role in holding the line against these centrifugal forces.

Guterres described a world riven by five fissures. The first is a “fault line” between the United States and China, whose economic, technological and geopolitical rivalry threatens to split the planet into “two separate and competing worlds”—each with its own trade and financial systems, internet and artificial intelligence platforms, and military alliances and strategies. “We must do everything possible to avert this great fracture,” he declared. To prevent the world’s division into two blocs, “a strong and united Europe” must defend “a multilateral order based on the rule of law.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.