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Thursday, March 23, 2023
The writer is Senior Fellow, Hertie School, Berlin and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development (CGD), Washington DC.
BERLIN, Mar 4 2022 (IPS) - The majority of the world wants peace. This is clear by now. Just consider the many large-scale anti-war demonstrations taking place around the world; and the outpour of solidarity and support for the people in the Ukraine and the more than one million Ukrainians who fled from their country.
Or think of the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 2 March 2022, condemning not only the Russian Federation’s decision to launch a military offensive against Ukraine but also its decision to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.
These actions are in clear violation of the UN Charter; and, within only a few days’ time, they have shown once again that military interventions cause unconscionable pain and destructions on the side of the warrying parties themselves and, directly and indirectly, also for the world at large. Most importantly, in and by themselves, they fail to resolve the underlying causes of conflict.
Yes, the UNGA resolution of is of historic importance, given that 141 out of a total of 193 UN member states voted for it. However, what historic follow-up of is being planned?
To me, the operative paragraphs of the resolution sound too much like ‘business as usual’. For example, in its paragraph 7, the resolution calls “upon the Russian Federation to abide by the principles set forth in the Charter and the Declaration on Friendly Relations”; and in its paragraph 14, it “[u]rges the immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict … through political dialogue, negotiations, mediation and other peaceful means”.
Yet, who is to break the spiral of violence? The resolution is silent on that. A historic UNGA resolution deserves an equally historic follow-up.
Therefore, Mr. Secretary-General, please, do what you promised in your tweet following the General Assembly vote on the Ukraine. You said: “I will do everything in my power to contribute to an immediate cessation of hostilities and urgent negotiations for peace.”
In my view, you are the person who could bring the involved parties back to the table to dialogue and jointly search for ways to silence the guns and restore peace. You need to lead.
The reason is that peace is a global public good (GPG). Once it exists, even if it is only peace within a particular region, it is there for all, the whole world, because it is an important contribution to global peace.
As many other public goods, the GPG ‘peace’ is likely to suffer from collective action problems. Each of the concerned parties will wait for the other parties to step forward and initiate change.
Mr. Secretary-General, you could be the one to step forward first. I would even say, you must step forward. A core principle of the UN Charter has been violated; and a strong majority of UN Member States want military operations end.
The matter is too serious to wait and see whether one or the other Member State or a group of Member States may launch a ‘stop the war’ initiative. You are the most legitimate person to play this role.
Moreover, some time ago, you reminded the international community that, if there is a war to fight, then it is the war against global warming. One could add further global battles that all of us need to fight and win together, including that against COVID-19. We have no time to lose.
Therefore, Mr. Secretary-General, my request to you is to consider the following steps:
Mr. Secretary-General, irrespective of whether you take the aforementioned steps and/or others, but please, ensure that there will be a historic follow-up to the historic UNGA resolution of 2 March 2022.
The world is waiting for it.
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