LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, April 15 (IPS) – Russia’s war in Ukraine has exposed many communities to disaster. In a world already plagued by crises such as acute inequality and escalating climate change, this conflict is tearing communities apart.
Millions of people are directly affected. They are faced with fragile circumstances, with unrelenting sadness due to the death of a loved one, loss of livelihood, relocation, broken home, interrupted schooling, etc.
Conflict also places enormous new burdens on the multilateral system, jeopardizing progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, which have been hampered by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Civil society representatives from both Ukraine and Russia have expressed their deep concern about the unnecessary suffering caused by the war. In Ukraine, they are responding to the situation in important ways, from documenting war crimes and gathering information on missing people to urging international organizations to fulfill their responsibility for peace. peace and accountability.
In Russia, civil society has exposed media restrictions that have contributed to a disinformation nightmare while protesting the injustices of war.
The impact of this conflict is being felt far beyond the war zones. Disruptions in international trade are causing inflation and food insecurity around the world, disproportionately affecting the poor and excluded.
In this scenario, civil society groups across continents came together to support the five-point call to action put forth by the Action for Sustainable Development coalition.
The message sent to the international community is simple:
We call for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine, a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian forces, and the gradual lifting of sanctions by an agreed deadline. The destruction of many cities and the killing of innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure cannot be justified.
Furthermore, it is unacceptable and insufficient that to date only a small number of men – and obviously no women – appear to have participated in the peace negotiations.
We call for peace negotiations involving civil society and representatives of those directly affected, especially from Ukraine and Russia, and women in particular.
- 2. Respecting international human rights
We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Civilian rights must be respected. After more than a month of conflict, humanitarian impacts are leading to mass displacement, loss of lives and livelihoods. We are very concerned that this serious violation of international law will have an extremely negative impact on security and democracy in Europe and the world.
We also call for human rights to be respected in Russia. Many Russians have stood up to condemn the violence and their voices must be heard. Peaceful protest must be recognized as a legitimate form of expression.
We call for full respect for human rights in Ukraine and Russia, including international humanitarian rights and civil liberties.
- 3. Prevent militarism and aggression around the world
The rise of militarism and conflict is not limited to Russia. It is part of a growing category of armed conflict. Violence in all its forms – authoritarianism, corruption and indiscriminate repression – affects the lives of millions globally and violates the human rights of young and old in countries including: Afghanistan, Brazil, Central African Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Palestine, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, just to name a few.
These conflicts often affect communities already living with fragile infrastructure and the devastating effects of climate change. All conflicts should be handled with the same degree of care. The lives of all people affected by conflict are of equal value.
We call for the same level of support to end conflict and secure financial support for displaced persons and refugees from all conflicts.
- 4. Moving military funds to a fair and sustainable future
The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the world economy, especially on the global south. There is the potential for major disruptions and dramatic increases in energy and production costs, while also increasing food costs. At the same time, the budget is being redirected to military spending.
Russia’s militarism is fueled by fossil fuels and so it is important to stop investing in fossil fuels and switch immediately to renewable forms of energy. It is paramount that we reduce oil and gas consumption and rapidly scale up investments in renewable energy to combat the climate crisis, and we must do so immediately.
We call for a concrete commitment at the UN to reduce spending on military conflicts and reinvest this spending in social protection and clean energy.
- 5. Establishment of a global peace fund
We call on Member States to bear in mind the founding vision of the UN and its Security Council, which lays out the main reason it was created: to avoid war of any kind and the suffering of mankind.
The 2030 Agenda sets out the path towards a peaceful, just, sustainable and prosperous world. More ambitious steps and actions must be taken to ensure that its goals and objectives are realized.
We call on member states to establish a global peace fund to strengthen the role of international mediators and peacekeepers. UN must act!
The international community cannot be a bystander in Ukraine or any other conflict. We all have a responsibility to uphold human rights and global humanitarian principles by taking action against cruelty and injustice wherever we may be.
Oli Henman is the Global Coordinator of the Action for Sustainable Development coalition in London. Lysa John is the Secretary General of the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS in Johannesburg.
IPS UN Office
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