Stop the war: trade for justice, climate and peace

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  • Opinion by Lysa John, Oli Henman (london / johannesburg
  • Inter Press Service

Millions of people are directly affected. They face fragile conditions, with immeasurable grief caused by the death of loved ones, loss of livelihood, displacement, destruction of homes, interruption of education and more.

The conflict has also placed enormous new burdens on the multilateral system, further disrupting progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which has already been delayed by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Civil society representatives from both Ukraine and Russia have expressed deep concern about the unnecessary suffering caused by the war. In Ukraine, they are responding to the situation in crucial ways, from documenting war crimes and gathering information about missing persons to urging international institutions to fulfill their responsibilities for peace and accountability.

In Russia, civil society has exposed media restrictions that have helped create a misinformation nightmare as they protest the injustice of war.

The consequences of this conflict are felt far beyond the war zones. Disruptions in international trade are fueling inflation and food insecurity around the world, disproportionately impacting the impoverished and excluded.

In this scenario, civil society organizations on all continents have come together to support a five-point call to action of the Action for Sustainable Development coalition.

The message to the international community is simple:

We call for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine, a ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops, and the phased lifting of all sanctions according to an agreed timetable. The destruction of many cities and the killing of innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure is unjustifiable.

Moreover, it is unacceptable and insufficient that so far only a handful of men – and visibly no women – have been shown to be involved in the peace negotiations.

We call for the involvement of civil society and representatives of those directly affected, especially from Ukraine and Russia, and especially women, in the peace negotiations.

    2. Respect International Human Rights

We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Citizens’ rights must be respected. After more than a month of conflict, the humanitarian consequences are leading to mass displacement of people, loss of life and livelihoods. We are deeply concerned that this grave violation of international law will have a profoundly detrimental effect on security and democracy in Europe and the world.

We also call for respect for human rights in Russia. Many Russians have stood up to condemn 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. Stop militarism and aggression around the world

The rise of militarism and conflict is not limited to Russia. It is part of a growing catalog of armed conflict. Violence in all its forms – authoritarianism, corruption and arbitrary repression – affects the lives of millions of people around the world and violates the human rights of people 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 treated with the same care. The life of everyone affected by conflict is of equal value.

We call for the same level of support to end conflicts and to provide financial support to displaced peoples and refugees from all conflicts.

    4. Shift military funds to a just and sustainable future

The war in Ukraine has already had a devastating impact on the global economy, especially on the southern countries. There are likely to be major disruptions and significant increases in energy and production costs, and higher food costs. At the same time, budgets are redirected towards military expenditure.

Russia’s militarism is fueled by fossil fuels and it is therefore crucial to stop investing in fossil fuels and immediately switch to renewable forms of energy. It is critical that we reduce oil and gas consumption and rapidly scale investments in renewable energy to combat the climate crisis, and do so immediately.

We call for a specific commitment at the UN to reduce spending on military conflicts and reinvest it in social protection and clean energy.

    5. Creation of a Global Peace Fund

We call on Member States to keep in mind the founding vision of the UN and its Security Council, in order to fulfill the main reason for its establishment: to avoid any form of war and the suffering of humanity.

The 2030 Agenda sets out the path to a peaceful, just, sustainable and prosperous world. much more ambitious steps and actions need to be taken to ensure that the objectives and targets are met.

We call on member states to establish a global peace fund to strengthen the role of international mediators and peacekeepers. The UN must act!

The international community should not be a spectator in Ukraine or any other conflict. We all have a responsibility to defend universal human rights and humanitarian principles by taking action against cruelty and injustice wherever it may be.

Link to full statement here: https://action4sd.org/2022/04/04/statement-of-solidarity-with-civilian-populations-and-a-call-for-a-negotiated-end-to-the – war-in-ukraine/

Oli Henman is the Global Coordinator of the Action for Sustainable Development coalition in London. Lysa John is the Secretary General of the Johannesburg Global Civil Society Alliance, CIVICUS.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service





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