UNESCO Director-General calls for more open multilateralism at the Paris Peace Forum


Director-General Audrey Azoulay joined more than 70 heads of state and government, representatives of international organizations and civil society actors at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum on 11 November.

The Director-General was a panelist on two roundtables, one addressing the free flow of information and freedom of expression and another on multilateralism.

Speaking during the debate organized by Reporters Without Borders, Ms. Azoulay explained that access to information is critical to free and open societies. "Freedom of information is indeed the beating heart of democracy. Information is a common good and our duty is to protect it. Defending freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information is a universal mission that requires the support of all, and political will at the highest level. Among those in attendance at the roundtable was Nadia Murad, one of this year’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners.

During the debate on multilateralism, led by Enrico Letta, Dean of the School of International Affairs at Sciences Po, the Director-General  called for a more open and transparent multilateral system. "Our responsibility for future generations is to reform the multilateral system by making our organizations more effective, open and transparent. Multilateralism is based on a community of values to which all Member States have freely subscribed. These values, and the humanism that underlies them, are more relevant today than ever because the challenges we face go far beyond national borders,” Ms. Azoulay said. .

During the opening ceremony, which included speeches by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, Secretary-General Guterres spoke to the important role of multilateralism in today’s world. “In the face of increasing conflict, climate change, inequality and trade confrontation, we need a reformed, strong and evolving multilateral system.”

The three-day Paris Peace Forum has brought together several thousand people. The purpose of the Forum is to explore existing solutions to improve global governance and foster international cooperation.