Wednesday

25th May 2022

Letter

The will and courage to stand up to a modern-day threat

  • UN secretary general António Guterres (Photo: COP26)
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Dear UN secretary general António Guterres,

We, the undersigned former leaders and civil society representatives of countries of the European Union, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North America wish to express our grave concern about the rapidly growing threat of large-scale armed conflict that is threatening Ukraine's sovereignty, political independence, unity, and territorial integrity.

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The ongoing, almost eight-year-long interstate conflict — which has resulted in the illegal occupation and attempted annexation of vast parts of Ukraine's territory — poses a serious challenge to the international security order.

The conflict's humanitarian cost has also been distressing. The military hostilities alone took the lives of 14,000, injured over 25,000, and displaced more than 1.4 million persons from their homes. Massive and systemic human rights violations hurt the lives of Ukrainians remaining in the occupied territories.

Regretfully, until now, the international community has not been able to resolve this conflict through the available mechanisms of international law. It is especially worrying that the international organisations entrusted with maintaining world peace have not been able to enforce the rules-based international order essential to peace, security, and prosperity.

As a result, we observe further destabilisation in the region, growing security risks for the entire European continent, and new threats to world peace.

We are sounding the alarm to prevent an irreversible destructive scenario from unfolding. We must take lessons from the bitter experiences of the 20th century and dedicate all our efforts to reversing a march towards conflict, and support a rules-based international multilateralism that reinforces human rights and national sovereignty and territorial integrity as stated in the UN charter.

Today, the world is not blind. We can discern the truth from lies. We have the wisdom to see the catastrophic consequences of the path of destruction for our future. And we must be determined to remove modern-day threats to world peace.

Ukraine, a founding member of the United Nations, and one of the greatest contributors to world peace as a country that voluntarily gave up the world's third-biggest nuclear arsenal, must receive full support from the international community.

To demonstrate their commitment to peace, security, and justice, our governments must take determined and timely action to restore peace and security in Ukraine and defend a rules-based international order based on the principle of equality of sovereign nations, denouncing spheres of influence, and upholding human rights as a foundation of peace and stability.

Our governments must promote conditions under which the fundamental principles of the international order are maintained. We have the tools, and we must use them. Assertive enforcement of international law can be a formidable deterrent to any aggressive actors pursuing malicious agendas in an effort to reshape our world.

We encourage the leaders of the United States, the European Union, G20 countries to form a united front at a time of an unprecedented challenge to global peace and security.

We also call on the international community to provide material, financial, and military assistance to the government of Ukraine to help it to adequately defend itself.

All our nations stand to lose from any dismantling or weakening of the international order. If we want the world to prosper, and to enjoy global security, we must reject any policies undermining the very foundation of modern rules based international order. We must find the will and courage to stand up against any violations of international law. By ensuring Ukraine's peace and stability and defending its territorial integrity our governments would also be protecting the peace security of the entire European continent and beyond. It would help to make the world safer for everyone.

SIGNATORIES

Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland, 1997-2008

Abdulaziz Altwaijri, former Director General of ISESCO

Ana Birchall, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for the Implementation of Strategic Partnerships of Romania, 2018-2019

Jan Fisher, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, 2009-2010

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, 2006-2016

Mats Karlsson, former Director of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, and former World Bank Vice President of External Affairs and United Nations Affairs

Kerry Kennedy, President Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Aleksandr Kwasniewski, President of Poland, 1995-2005

Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine, 1994-2005

Zlatko Lagumdzija, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2001-2002, deputy Prime Minister, 2012-2015

Igor Luksic, Prime Minister of Montenegro, 2010-2012

Rexhep Meidani, President of Albania, 1997-2002

Amre Moussa, Secretary General Arab League, 2001-2011

Rovshan Muradov, Secretary General NGIC

Francis O'Donnel, Ambassador, Member Institute of International and European Affairs, Ireland

Rosen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria, 2012-2017

Paul Revay, former Director Trilateral Europe

Petre Roman, Prime Minister of Romania, 1989-1991

Rosalia Arteago Serrano, President of Ecuador, 1997

Shuvaloy Majumdar, Foreign Policy Program Director & Munk Senior Fellow, Macdonald Laurier Institute, Canada

Petar Stoyanov, President of Bulgaria, 1997-2002

Laimdota Straujuma, Prime Minister of Latvia, 2014-2016

Ismail Serageldin, Vice-President of the World Bank, 1992-2000

Eka Tkeshelashvili, Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia, 2010-2012

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia, 1999-2007

Kateryna Yushchenko, First Lady of Ukraine, 2005-2010

Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine, 2005-2010

Valdis Zatlers, President of Latvia, 2007-2011

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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