Unity on Ukraine Is Unity on Peace and Justice
To live in a world where disputes between states are resolved without force, all countries must recognize that Russia’s challenge to the post-1945 international order affects them, regardless of their political system or alliance. With core principles of sovereignty and independence at stake, neutrality is not an option.
SEOUL – Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – a blatant attempt to destroy an independent, sovereign state living peacefully within recognized borders – has raised profound questions about the world we want to live in and how international relations should be managed in the future. One year on, the search for answers is even more urgent, and it must involve countries near and far from the war.
Failure to defend the core principles of sovereignty and independence anywhere risks opening the door to autocratic and aggressive regimes everywhere. To live in a world where disputes between states are resolved through negotiations rather than force, we must recognize that the war’s challenge to the post-1945 international order affects every country, regardless of political system or alliance. In fact, it is smaller, less powerful countries that will suffer most if the world divides into competing blocs, as it did during the Cold War.
As a former secretary-general of the United Nations and a former president of Colombia, we do not view the war in Ukraine with a European or Western perspective. When we visited Kyiv in August 2022 at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s invitation, we did so as members of The Elders, the group of independent leaders that Nelson Mandela founded to advocate for peace, justice, human rights, and a sustainable future on this planet. As Elders, we are interested in ending wars, not winning them, and we believe it is never too soon to start preparing for future dialogue to achieve a just and sustainable peace in line with the UN Charter.
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