Les chemins de la paix erreurs et succès
Conference - Mistakes and successes on the path of peace
2019 Normandy World Peace Forum
Date: June 5, 2019


  • Fake News and Disinformation: what can the media do? 

Fake news, these false information published on the Internet, have become a real weapon of political and geopolitical destabilization. What to do to protect yourself? How are the media and governments responding to this new threat? 

  • Mistakes and successes on the path of peace

The processes leading to peace do not all have the same results. Aborted or ineffective peace agreements, reminiscences of decaedes-long conflictss or impossible mediations demonstrate that certain paths towards peace lead to dead ends. Unilateral use of force, lack of post-conflict support, lack of involvement of civil societies, do these errors call for the construction of new methods of conflict resolution? Conversely, is multilateralism always a guarantee of success and effectiveness? Between mistakes and success, how is peace made?

  • Presentation of Leaders for Peace's annual report

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, president of Leaders for Peace will present the annual report of his non-profit organisation.



Synthesis of the conference

Introduction by Nicole Gnesotto, Professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM)
Moderator: Marc Semo, Journalist, Le Monde
Speakers: General Henry Bentégeat, Former Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces; Pierre Buyoya, Former President of the Republic of Burundi, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel; Kabiné Komara, Former Prime Minister of Guinea; Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, United Nations; Rémy Rioux, Director of the French Development Agency

The paths to peace have always been labyrinthine and imperfect, according to Nicole Gnesotto. Alliances developed by states to ensure the balance of forces are temporary by definition, while collective security systems can clash with stakeholders’ different interests.
Paradoxically, if maintaining peace, “this suspended dream” of Kofi Annan, often requires military intervention, the latter is not an end in itself and must be part of a long and multifactorial process of intervention.

The political will to foster peace?

Given the divided nature of the international community, it is increasingly difficult to obtain a mandate from the UN Security Council to carry out peacekeeping operations. Jean-Pierre Lacroix mentions the striking examples of Syria and Libya which have been left to their fate because of a lack of consensus as to the legitimacy of intervention, at the risk of destabilising the Middle East.

In addition, globalisation has complicated the game of alliances: the economic partner of a country can also be its strategic enemy and the economic interests which prevailed the day before can be superseded the next day by political interests, shaking up longestablished power balances. Yet peace must be driven by political will, notes Jean-Pierre Lacroix, particularly because it is a long and costly process, as Nicole Gnesotto emphasises.

Outside the UN, other structures for intervention also exist, such as the African Union. The latter was created by African countries which wanted to further advance the collective security of their continent. In view of the way in which crises are often caused by the exclusion of minorities, it promoted a “charter for democracy, good governance and human rights”.

The African Union has also developed tools for mediation and crisis prevention: the Peace and Security Council, which handles day-today conflict management, and the Council of Elders, which is made up of people who are responsible for mediation missions across the continent. It participates in peacekeeping operations, such as the one in Mali, just like the UN, and also helps with peace-building.


Is military intervention still relevant?

Jean-Pierre Lacroix recalls that UN peacekeeping operations in recent years have helped to stabilise many countries, including the Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Angola and Cambodia. In contrast, many operations have failed to achieve lasting peace.

However, to the question “must we accept the unacceptable?”, General Henri Bentégeat responds in the negative and says that France must feel free to intervene. However, in his view, some preliminary questions must be answered: is intervention legitimate? What is its purpose? How can lasting peace be developed after military intervention? How can we avoid being driven by emotion and analyse the situation in detail, in terms of the motivation of the parties involved, the mode of operation and the potential ramifications of the crisis, before intervening? How can we take the time to ensure effective intervention in the face of media pressure? These questions for evaluation must provide the framework for legitimate and proportionate intervention.

In what way can we intervene, knowing that military action is not an end in itself?

Military intervention does not always achieve the desired result. Maintaining peace in Mali is an example of this: although it is necessary, it does not provide the country with a lasting solution, in Pierre Buyoya’s view. Conversely, Franco-German reconciliation at the end of the Second World War is a key example of an inclusive peace process which has enabled Europe to enjoy renewed stability and prosperity, because of the dialogue established between the two formerly warring countries and the massive investments which have been made.

While often used as an interposition force, UN peacekeepers are responsible for a number of multidimensional interventions, supporting state reconstruction, protecting civilians and developing or redeveloping national capabilities, defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as “the ability of individuals, organisations and the community as a whole to manage their affairs successfully”.

UN peacekeepers carry out their work in increasingly difficult conditions. Indeed, while the UN is currently overseeing fourteen peacekeeping operations and has deployed 100,000 people on the ground, including 80,000 soldiers, its peacekeepers have become priority targets for some warring parties which aim to wage a war in which civilians are the first victims.

Pierre Buyoya emphasises the limits of the interventionism of organisations such as the UN and the African Union, using the conflict between the Fulani and the Dogon in central Mali as an example. In his view, the bestplaced institution to intervene and to mediate is Mali itself. The Malian government must regain control of regions which have been left under corrupt control for too long, with the emergence of conflicts about access to natural resources fuelled by jihadists.

The economic, social and environmental dimensions to peace

As a man with considerable experience, Henri Bentégeat observes that lasting peace is reliant on continued security, good governance and development.

With this in mind, the French Development Agency aims to strengthen human reconciliation by means of economic development. In general, its expert network is able to provide solutions which include economic, social and environmental dimensions.

These issues are critically important when protecting and maintaining peace, as Kabiné Komara explains, pointing out the centurylong tensions between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia around the Nile, the concomitance of the scarcity of water on Lake Chad and the emergence of conflicts, along with the United States’ monopolisation of the water of the Arizona river to Mexico’s detriment. The situation in the Sahel is also a good example, because it is determined by phenomena including climate change, population explosion and growing conflicts between livestock breeders and farmers.

Peace, an approach based on partnerships

Given these observations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix advocates a comprehensive approach and integrated action, in collaboration with development agencies and humanitarian agencies, along with a search for potential coalitions.

This comprehensive approach gives credibility to the work of international partners with local populations, which are provided with basic services, and helps to foster long-term political stability. Rémy Rioux also confirms the efficacy of joint action by diplomats, the military and developers.

Any peace process is complex and multifactorial, which is why it must be part of a long-term approach which is inclusive and based on partnerships. These conditions are particularly difficult to fulfil in the current climate of increasing divisions within the international community but, as Jean-Pierre Lacroix points out, “it is always possible to take a side road towards peace!”