Conférence: Humaniser la paix, quels acteurs?
Opening Conference
2019 Normandy World Peace Forum
Date: June 4, 2019


  • Speech by Denis Mukwege, Nobel Prize for peace 2018 

Opening of the World Forum by Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Region followed by a speech by Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize 2018.

In the presence of: Hervé Morin et Denis Mukwege

  • Humanize peace: What actors? 

The evolution of forms of conflicts in the world, less interstate and more diffuse, leads a multitude of actors to intervene to solve, avoid or mitigate their traces. International organizations, diplomatic corps, military forces, NGOs involved in the field, religious orders or emanations of civil society: who are the peacemakers? What are their strategies and what means do they have to build peace?

In the presence of: Bertrand Badie, Ruby Bridges, Eamon Gilmore, Hubert Védrinen, l'archevêque de Canterbury Justin Welby et Nathalie Renoux.

  • Presentation of the Normandy Manifesto for peace

The Normandy World Peace Forum 2019 will launch a public call for awareness of the need for lasting peace, in partnership with the Strategic Foresight Group of India. Written and presented at the forum by Nobel Laureates Jody Williams, Mohamed El Baradei, Leymah Gbowee and civil society figures committed to peace as Anthony Grayling, philosopher and Sundeep Waslekar, president of Strategic Foresight Group. This Manifesto will be proposed to the signature of all the participants of the forum.

In the presence of: Jody Williams, Mohamed El Baradei, Leymah Gbowee, Denis Mukwege, Anthiony Grayling et Sundeep Waslekar.

Sequence presented by Frédérique Bedos and François-Xavier Priollaud.



Synthesis of the conference

Contemporary conflicts take very different forms from traditional inter-state wars: they are more diffuse, more fragmented, more complex to understand. Conflict resolution must therefore evolve as well. However, it would be dangerous to ignore confrontations between powers which are likely to degenerate into destructive conflicts.


New conflicts, new peacemakers 

There is a contradiction between the nature of current conflicts and their perception by various stakeholders. In Bertrand Badie’s view, modern wars are no longer caused by a clash of state powers, “but rather the decay of societies, institutions, states or elementary forms of sociability.” Contemporary conflicts are also characterised by diffuse violence caused by a failure to meet a population’s basic social needs.

In this context, traditional methods of conflict resolution, based on the use of powerful weapons, are no longer effective. The last few decades have been characterised by an inability to win a war, whether in Afghanistan, the Middle East or the Sahel. Indeed, such operations encourage a military one-upmanship which can worsen conflicts rather than contain them. That is why Bertrand Badie believes that making peace now requires a focus on “a social approach to conflict”, to create or to mend the social fabric. The problem is that this can only be a long-term approach.

Of course, the use of force remains necessary in order to “put out fires” (preventing a conflict from degenerating) but this conflict will only end in an armistice, not in genuine peace. This legitimate use of force by “selfless police officers” calls for action within a multilateral framework, in which stakeholders should not be major world powers. Indeed, it is preferable when these peacemakers are small states (Norway, Uruguay, etc.), which cannot be suspected of acting with ulterior motives. We should focus on an approach within a framework of regional multilateralism. We can mention the example of the African Union, which has already resolved some of the continent’s inter-state conflicts. We must also encourage the involvement of new stakeholders, including individual mediators, local figures, non-governmental organisations, religious representatives and experts in preventive diplomacy.

Rejecting an approach based exclusively on “good conscience”

Hubert Védrine believes that the rule of force is not over and that the international community is still to be built. In his view, the speech made following the collapse of the Soviet Union with regards to the advent of a new international order was not based on reality. A German Social Democrat minister thought that this reasoning led to Europe becoming a “geopolitical herbivore in a world of geopolitical carnivores”. He sees an approach based solely on acting in “good conscience” as being doomed to failure. The example of the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944 shows that Hitler was not defeated by good conscience but by military forces which were superior to him.

Yet the current era has been characterised by a clash between a dominant power, the United States, and a rising power, China, which aspires to replace the former. This friction could lead to a military confrontation which would not be resolved by relying on selfless stakeholders promoting peace. However, external peacemakers will play a useful role in ongoing conflicts which feature various protagonists who are seeking a way out of the crisis. Lastly, we ust pursue the intervention of preventative missions to deal with a very specific type of conflict, when early indications of violence can be seen among threatened minorities or populations who want to take revenge for the past.

Tapping into peacemakers’ experience

Eamon Gilmore considers that the conflicts observed in recent decades in Ireland and Colombia had some features in common, including the state’s inability to cope with an armed rebellion. The processes leading to the resolution of these two conflicts are also comparable in some ways. In both cases, discussions to reach a peace agreement were long and failed at several points. Moreover, official discussions were preceded by lengthy informal discussions involving mediators and figures from civil society. Both processes also benefited from the involvement of the international community.

Lessons can also be learned from recent peace processes in South Sudan, where conflict led to dramatic human consequences (over 400,000 deaths, 2.5 million refugees, widespread rape, etc.). This example demonstrates that working for peace involves action at all levels, by building strong partnerships on political and military levels, naturally, but also by acting at grassroots level. We must also work to ensure better collaboration between armies engaged in peace operations and other stakeholders, such as non-governmental organisations.