The other day a friend asked me “Can Russia be expelled from the General Assembly by a two-thirds majority?”
Almost impossible to do that, I responded.
A legendary quote attributed to Joseph Stalin most likely applies to the United Nations too. “How many divisions does the Pope have?” asked the Soviet leader, interrupting a speech by Winston Churchill in a bygone era.
With the economy in freefall and basics such as food and fuel in dangerously short supply, there is mounting public anger against a failing and desperate government in Sri Lanka.
It has been a month since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has now created one of the biggest refugee crises of modern times. More than 3.7 million people have left the country, in what has become the fastest exodus globally since World War II
Coral Bell, the great Australian political thought-leader had lucidly described in the 1970s how a “crisis-slide” could become unstoppable as it morphs into a catastrophe: “Gradually, imperceptibly but inevitably there is a build-up of events”, she writes, “rain falls in ever increasing volumes …becomes progressively more irresistible… until the dam breaks”. Ideally, the crisis management process should have been put in place as soon as the relevant observer notices the rains grow heavy, she argues; the disaster of the bursting dam was owed to the delay. A simple but profound metaphor, so apt for crises in international relations, also underscoring the challenge of the choice of appropriate timing for leaders.
In an opinion piece published in PassBlue on 15 March 2022, historian Stephen Schlesinger asked, "Where is the UN's Guterres?" as Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine has been dominating the world’s headline news.
LexisNexis Legal & Professional®
, a leading global provider of information and analytics, today released global data and public sentiments regarding the Ukrainian invasion. The ongoing feedback is being collected via the LexisNexis Rule of Law Monitor
, which continuously surveys the world’s population on issues related to the Rule of Law.
Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions.
Countless innocent people – including women and children – have been killed. After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins.
Finger pointing in the blame game over Russia’s Ukraine incursion obscures the damage it is doing on many fronts. Meanwhile, billions struggle to cope with worsening living standards, exacerbated by the pandemic and more.
Losing sight in the fog of war
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken insists
, “the Russian people will suffer the consequences of their leaders’ choices”. Western leaders and media seem to believe their unprecedented
” will have a “chilling effect
” on Russia.
Conventional arms have been a central, and at times controversial, component of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship since 2014. Indeed, former President Trump’s impeachment proceedings originated with an alleged quid-pro-quo related suspension of military aid to Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was certainly not a surprise and has unambiguously exposed the West’s weakness. The question is what lesson the United States and its allies should learn from it and what measures they must now undertake to prevent Putin or any future ruthless Russian autocrat from ever daring to invade another country.
Change is a uniquely predictable phenomenon in nature. Also, by logical extension, in politics. Ions ago the observation of Heraclitus of Ephesus that the world is in constant flux, and one never steps into the same river twice is an incontrovertible axiom. Hence the idea that any existing global order, or a political system on the international matrix with a certain hierarchical power arrangement can sustain perennially, would be an erroneous one. When I was a student of Cold War and Global strategy in the mid-seventies the concept of 'paradigm shift' propounded by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn in his tome "The structure of Scientific Revolutions" enormously interested me. Simply put, Kuhn argued that the shift occurs when any dominant paradigm under which science operates (his main concern was physics though this also applies to the social sciences) confronts new phenomena that renders it incompatible. To me the thesis remains relevant. A case in point is the place of the United States of America in the global scheme of things. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s , the existing bipolarity in the world order of US-Soviet dominance ended. The US emerged as the only 'hyperpower 'an expression used by the French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine in 1999,'and held absolute unchallenged sway in a unipolar world.
For decades now, world leaders have talked about ending hunger and poverty and building a new world order based on human rights and gender-equality.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has raised the question of expulsion or suspension of the Russian Federation from the United Nations. As is known, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, its UN seat was transferred to the Russian Federation.
Georg Hegel once stated: ”What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.” Nevertheless, self-taught historian Vladimir Putin has learned to interpret history in his own manner. During COVID he went down in Kremlin’s archives and after studying old maps and treaties he wrote a lengthy essay On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians
, while declaring that ”the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state is an aggression directed against Russia.”
The world is currently facing a devastating war with dire prospects for our global security. Men are waging this war while women seek peace and security for their families, communities and our global society. Women are give birth and nurture while some men actively seek death and destruction. This is one of the fundamental differences between the sexes which underpins patriarchy and generates inequality on many levels. Women and girls bear the brunt of this unbalanced approach to life.
The overwhelming condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine—which triggered a veto from Russia and an abstention from China last week – has raised a challenging question about the legitimacy of UN memberships of both countries which are permanent members of the Security Council.
This aphorism which dates back to the late 1940s points out that one’s position on issues (where you stand
) is shaped by your relationship with the events taking place (where you sit
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.
The world’s financial institutions, primarily in the US and Europe, have cut off links and economically ostracized Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and violation of the UN charter.
For decades women’s demands for political and economic inclusion have placed them centre-stage in mass struggles against dictatorships across the world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its indiscriminate attacks on civilians now put women’s movements firmly on the front line of war, autocrats and fossil fuels.