The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The first edition of the Paris Peace Forum took place at La Grande Halle de La Villette in Paris from 11-13 November. The event brought together world leaders and stakeholders for a series of conversations on how to address the current challenges to multilateralism and how to create opportunities for global collective action to promote good governance and peace.
The opening ceremony of the Forum was led by speeches from French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who called for unity, reconciliation and multilateralism when addressing conflicts and governance crisis.
Space for non-governmental actors
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s founder and chair, Mo Ibrahim, was one of the panellists in the debate A Shrinking Space for Non-Governmental Actors, held on Tuesday, 13 November. He was joined by Patrick Gaspard, President of the Open Society Foundations; Tinni Sawhney, Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation in India; Antoine Sire, Director of Engagement, BNP Paribas; Leonard Stall, Executive Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Philanthropy Age Magazine; and Yenny Wahid, Director at The Wahid Institute.
The panel focussed on how civil society organisations and other non-governmental actors can fill the gaps where governments fail to function, and what is the way forward for effective partnerships in the sector.
Mo Ibrahim called for a more active role from civil society when holding governments to account:
Civil society is not there to criticise governments. If they do something well we're the first ones to congratulate them, but if they do something wrong it is our duty to point it out. Civil society should act as an ambulance in the time of war.
He also highlighted the need for data tools such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance to assess governments' performance in the delivery of public goods and services.
[su_highlight]We want the conversation between citizens and governments to be based on facts, and not on slogans.[/su_highlight]
The session is available to be re-watched here.
African projects working to promote good governance and peace
Another highlight from the event was the showcasing of 119 governance projects working in areas from climate change to inclusive economy. Nigeria, Togo, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Central African Republic were some of the countries represented in the Forum, with 14 projects from Africa in total.
The AU-EU Innovation Hub, a youth cooperative platform that aims to test innovative solutions to common challenges in Africa and Europe was one of the ten projects selected to be supported by the Paris Peace Forum in the next year. Another winner was Kumekucha ('It’s a new dawn' in Swahili), a community-based social healing program in Kenya led by the Green String Network Africa.