Paris attack and COP21


Two days after the murderous and unfathomable terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13 Nov, the city of light remains empty, except for those who want to show that they are alive and intend to continue living their lives as normally as possible.

Radio stations ceaselessly discuss the killings, first to recount the chronology of the events and then to try to understand the incomprehensible and share intense feelings. What is shocking is the apparent randomness of the shootings within Paris although everyone now agrees that what appears random was not. It is not only a breach of the peace as such attacks are but, more importantly, a strike against a certain life style – dining and drinking on the terrace of a cafe on a Friday night with friends, attending a soccer game with thousands of supporters -, the lifestyle of young people of different social and ethnic origins, the lifestyle of anyone who enjoys living, socializing or being entertained through sport or music. It is an attempt to separate, to create a breach between French people through their reactions to the events. A breach between those who want to respond aggressively, following the president who labels those attacks as acts of war and will be exploring energetic means of reprisals, and those who want to show that they stand together, unafraid and will continue their lives. The fear among intellectuals, politicians and many citizens is that the limitation of citizen rights from the sate of emergency and the calls for expulsion of fundamentalist imams and administrative detention of radical Islamist on french soil, as the prime minister suggested on television, will further amplify the societal division wanted by ISIS. On the other hand, there is a strong sense of needing and wanting to stand up to the attacks and maintain a spirit of solidarity built on the republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity. And fraternity was demonstrated on Friday when inhabitants of the Paris neighborhoods under attack (10th and 11th districts) opened their doors to those fleeing the carnage and those unable to go home for lack of public transportation, and when taxi drivers decided to offer free rides.

It is this fraternity and unity that will be needed from all the nations attending COP21. Will it come from the delegates representing and negotiating for their countries? Nothing is more unsure. The positioning that existed a few days ago before the shootings will remain, with countries such as the US already warning that they will not sign any legally binding agreement and developing nations dissatisfied with the pathetic offers made for the green fund, totaling about $10B, a very small step toward the $100B needed. World unity will more likely come from all those of civil society that will be gathering around the meeting place and in Paris. How will these planned demonstrations of unity be affected by the recent events is unclear at this time?

First of all, the President of France, Francois Hollande announced that COP21 will be maintained under major police protection. Plans that were already in place to reinstate French border controls ahead of the conference will be beefed up. How will the thousands of people converging to Paris be able to express their dissatisfaction about the negotiations, if such dissatisfaction emerges?  Will the ability to demonstrate as a group and voice a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and disagreement with, in this case, the content of an agreement, be another casualty of these attacks?

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