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On the 11th - 13th November, the Paris Peace Forum was held in the Grande Halle of la Villette in Paris - quite a feat for France, third largest arms exporter in the world, to organise a forum on peace. Yet, for three days, guests from around the world gathered to rethink global governance. Heads of State, government officials, international organisations; members of non-governmental organisations, journalists, activists, all were present with the same desire to change the world for the better. Starting from the observation that a poorly governed world would quickly become a world at war, the aim was to review the foundations of global governance and multilateralism.

 

Various themes were discussed: new technologies, environment, peace and security, culture and education, inclusive economy and development. Stop Fuelling War went to the Paris Peace Forum to observe the place given to the issue of the arms trade in such an international gathering. This issue has received very little attention, yet it is an essential point to take into account when discussing peace and security in the world. It is true that a poorly governed world would quickly become a world at war, but a world in which arms control is not respected is destined to be a world destroyed.

On this subject, the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) presented their project on the effective management of weapons and ammunition in the context of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. The DPO helps member states of the UN and the Secretary General in their efforts to maintain peace and international security, while UNODA strives to promote global disarmament standards. This joint project is therefore a positive initiative on disarmament and arms control.

However, this UN stand on disarmament was the only space in the Forum dedicated to the role that weapons play in the world - which is a shame for a forum on the subject of peace and global governance. To what extent can peace be achieved without addressing the underlying problem: the arms trade? How is it even possible to bring together Heads of State and governments to present their vision of peace in the world when these same states are fuelling armed conflicts?

Until this issue is addressed publicly and openly by the actors of global governance, peace will be difficult to achieve. But as Cicero wrote, "In times of arms, the law falls silent".

In a year’s time, the third edition of the Paris Peace Forum will perhaps give a prominent place to this debate, which deserves to be public. Indeed, France cannot preach peace while contributing to war.
It must therefore ask itself the following question: what role does it want to play, peacebuilder or arms trader?

- Naima Soudani, Outreach Assistant at Stop Fuelling War

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