A commitment to the hard work of tackling global challenges explains the purpose and success of the Paris Peace Forum, Founder Justin Vaïsse tells the Brunswick Review.
The Wikipedia entry for the Paris Peace Forum runs to 12 pages. A tiny portion of one page is devoted to “Criticisms.”
A careful reading of those criticisms elicits from Justin Vaïsse—Founder and Director General of the Paris Peace Forum—a response that is the opposite of defensive. “I kind of agree with them,” he says.
On November 11, the Paris Peace Forum will hold its fifth annual forum for leaders of governments, international organizations, businesses, development banks and NGOs from around the world. The theme this year is “Riding out the Multicrisis”—a reference to climate change, successive waves of COVID-19, deepening global inequality and war.
The focus this year, says a Paris Peace Forum press release, is “preventing a destructive world polarization that would jeopardize the collective efforts on many challenges for humanity.”
It is in the spirit of consensus-seeking that Vaïsse searches for common ground with critics of the Paris Peace Forum, even when their complaints are essentially contradictory. Some have called the Paris Peace Forum a club of the elite while others have called it too inclusive, questioning the wisdom of inviting autocracies to the table. Inclusion, says Vaïsse, is a basic tenet of the Paris Peace Forum.
“For example, we work closely with Reporters Without Borders, and at last year’s Forum a fund was established for public interest media,” says Vaïsse. “But we don’t make freedom of the press such an issue that autocracies would not come.”
The success of the Paris Peace Forum speaks for itself. In only five years, the Paris Peace Forum, increasingly akin to Davos and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), has become a must-attend conference for many leaders of government, NGOs, and business from all over the world. Focusing on global governance issues, the Paris Peace Forum seeks to identify and pursue solutions to problems facing the planet and humanity. A question posed to this year’s participants: “How can global stakeholders jointly work to prevent and mitigate the impact, and manage the consequences of compounded crises on populations, especially with regards to food security, health systems and refugee protection?”
Neither politician nor business executive, Vaïsse is an academic, historian and one-time private advisor to French President Emmanuel Macron. For six years, he served as Director of Policy Planning for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and before that he served as a Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution in the US. He has taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other universities.