On 24 February 2022, after “recognising” Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states, Russia sent its military forces into Ukraine, violating the UN Charter, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and peremptory rules of public international law. Serious breaches of international humanitarian law and war crimes have subsequently been reported. Amid death and destruction of civilian infrastructure, more than 3 million Ukrainians have fled the country. We reiterate our condemnation of these acts of aggression and the resulting violations of international law. We express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine in these tragic times.
At present, the war continues unabated. Mr Putin has ordered his military to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert, brandishing Russia’s nuclear arsenal in response to NATO´s support for Ukraine and defence of the country’s territorial integrity. He has also declared sanctions imposed by other states, including the U.S., the EU, the UK, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Switzerland, to be “…akin to an act of war”.
The reaction of the international community has been clear: On 2 March 2022, under the Uniting for Peace formula, the UN General Assembly, in its 11th Emergency Special Session, adopted A/RES/ES-11/1 with 141 votes in favour, 5 votes against, and 35 abstentions. The UN General Assembly reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine; deplored aggression by the Russian Federation in violation of Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter; and demanded that Russia cease its use of force and withdraw its military forces, calling on all parties to allow the safe passage of persons, and facilitate access to humanitarian assistance for those in need. It called on all parties to observe international humanitarian and human rights law; and for the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation, and other peaceful means.
The appeal by the UN General Assembly is of fundamental importance and is as urgent today as it was at the time of its pronouncement. The UN Human Rights Council and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court have since opened investigations into the growing number of allegations of breaches of humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity. International Humanitarian Law must be respected at all times and no effort spared to limit the loss of lives and protect civilians at all times; ensure safe passage for those fleeing violence; allow humanitarian aid where needed; protect civilian infrastructure; and treat prisoners of war and detainees with dignity.
We have also noted the 3 March 2022 proposal by the Russia – NATO Military Risk Reduction Dialogue on steps to address the crisis – nuclear restraint, a ceasefire, coordinated de-escalation, urgent humanitarian cooperation, and the avoidance of military incidents through direct contact between the military forces of Russia and Ukraine, en route to a political settlement.
We further welcome PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s statement on 7 March calling on all parties to settle disputes by peaceful means, through dialogue and negotiation, and to “…respect and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries”. Foreign Minister Wang Yi observed that the legitimate security concerns of all parties must be protected, and “…long-term peace and stability of the region [requires] a …balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture”. We welcome China’s offer to play a constructive role to facilitate dialogue for peace, and to work alongside the international community in achieving this.
We strongly endorse all these actions by the international community and express our support to all recent initiatives for the ceasefire and de-escalation, including the powerful voice of Pope Francis who has repeatedly pleaded for cessation of hostilities and an end to the bloodshed.
There is no military solution to this armed conflict and to its underlying political problems. We strongly urge all parties involved in the fighting to agree on an immediate ceasefire and to commit to the needed de-escalation. Only dialogue and diplomacy can lead to ending the suffering of the civilian population and to increasing global insecurity and political and economic instability.
We are encouraged by the early signs of progress in the direct communications between Russia and Ukraine and urge them to do their utmost to reach a sustainable and durable agreement.
The armed conflict in Ukraine will have a profound effect on the global peace and security. The world has found itself on the brink of global conflagration. As Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russel noted, this is a moment for everyone to “remember your humanity, and forget the rest.” This is a moment for mobilization of moral energies, political wisdom and global diplomacy. The UN, the OSCE, the EU and other international institutions have to prove their relevance by addressing the current crisis, reducing the risk of further military and even nuclear escalation and building an effective, inclusive, balanced and sustainable security architecture in Europe and at the global level.
We stand ready to help, using our individual experiences and collective conscience to demand a resolute reversal from the current ominous developments and actively pursue the most basic principles and values of democracy starting with respect for life, human rights, fundamental freedoms and peace. The time to build a sustainable architecture for peace and security in the world is now.
Danilo Türk – President of Slovenia (2007-2012) and President of Club de Madrid
Esko Aho – Prime Minister of Finland (1991-1995)
Ban Ki-moon – Secretary General of the United Nations (2007-2016)
Valdis Birkavs – Prime Minister of Latvia (1993-1994)
Kim Campbell – Prime Minister of Canada (1993)
Aníbal Cavaco Silva – Former Prime Minister (1985-1995) and President of Portugal (2006-2016)
Helen Clark – Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008)
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca – President of Malta (2014-2019)
Dalia Grybauskaité – President of Lithuania (2009-2019)
Han Seung-Soo – Prime Minister of the Rep. of Korea (2008-2009)
T. Anthony Jones – Vice-President and Executive Director of GFNA
Ivo Josipovic – President of Croatia (2010-2015)
Aleksander Kwaśniewski – President of Poland (1995-2005)
Hong Koo Lee – Prime Minister of the Rep. of Korea (1994-1995)
Rexhep Meidani – President of Albania (1997-2002)
Roza Otunbayeva – President of Kyrgyzstan (2010-2011)
Jorge Fernando Quiroga – President of Bolivia (2001-2002)
José Manuel Ramos-Horta – President of Timor Leste (2007-2012)
Jigmi Yoser Thinley – “Lyonchhen” Prime Minister of Buthan (2008-2013)
Cassam Uteem – President of the Republic of Mauritius (1992-1997, 1997- 2002)
Sean Cleary – Executive Vice-Chair, FutureWorld Foundation
Rut C. Diamint – Professor at the Torcuato di Tella University
Jerry Jones – VP and Chief Legal Officer, ACXIOM
Alexander Likhotal – Professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations
José Antonio Ocampo – Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University