World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday to lead global commemorations marking 100 years since the end of World War I, at a time of growing nationalism and diplomatic tensions.
Over 70 heads of state and government, including US and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, were taking part in a solemn ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the mute and powerful symbol of sacrifice to the millions who died from 1914-18, marking the centenary of the 1918 Armstice.
The Paris weather — grey and damp — seemed aptly fitting when remembering a war fought in mud and relentless horror.
Ceremonies in New Zealand, Australia, India, Hong Kong and Myanmar marked the start of the memorial events worldwide for a conflict that involved millions of troops from colonised countries in Asia and Africa.
The Paris commemorations, centred on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, are set to feature warnings about the modern-day danger of nationalism.
"This day is not just about remembering, but should be about a call to action," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday after visiting the forest clearing in northeastern France where the Armistice was signed.
Merkel will give the opening address alongside UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at a conference called the Paris Peace Forum which will take place after a memorial service on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday morning.
"The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system – states, NGOs, foundations, intellectuals, companies – who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world," he said.
About 70 current-day nations were involved in the conflict that had six empires and colonial powers at its heart: Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.