Diplomacy for peace in Ukraine urgently needed

11 Jun, 2024 | Ukraine, Vrede en oorlog

Saturday 15 June sees the start of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland. The summit is aimed at heads of state; NGOs are not invited. The aim is to contribute to fair and lasting peace in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky’s peace proposal and other peace proposals that comply with international law will be discussed there.

Main protagonist Russia has refused the Swiss invitation and China also announced it will not attend. Hopefully, they can still – or at a later stage – be involved in the peace process, which is essential. The outgoing prime minister recently visited the Chinese president. I wonder if he approached President Xi Jinping about China’s role regarding the peace process in relation to the Ukraine war. In my opinion, potential intermediaries like China should be actively encouraged to call on Russia for peace. As for the participation of the other BRICS countries in the peace summit in Switzerland, India has publicly indicated that it will come and Brazil and South Africa have not cancelled.

I pray that this peace summit and all other diplomatic efforts and calls for peace will contribute to lasting peace in Ukraine. This is of prime importance for the people of Ukraine and Russia. By 17 April, more than 50,000 Russian soldiers had been killed, according to the BBC. According to President Zelensky, more than 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed up till February, although US intelligence agencies come up with higher numbers. By February, 10,500 civilians had been killed, 587 of them children. According to the UNHCR, more than 14.6 million people are in need of assistance in Ukraine, including 3.6 million displaced people. According to February 2024 figures, more than six million people have fled to European countries.

As also indicated in the follow-up recommendation given the Advisory Council on International Affairs, countries in the Global South are also suffering as a result of the war in Ukraine. Before war broke out, Ukraine and Russia were relatively large exporters of energy, grain and fertilisers in particular. With the war and subsequent sanctions against Russia, these export flows dried up. The poorest sections of the population in import-dependent developing countries were hit hardest, as they spend a relatively very high percentage of disposable income on food and energy. In short, these countries’ calls for aid and peace initiatives should be appreciated and their voices heard.

Apart from the direct confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, there is also a second track. That of a proxy war between the West and Russia. This is a major reason why the symbolic doomsday clock is now set to 90 seconds before midnight. Midnight represents the end of life on earth, as a result of human actions. The deployment of nuclear weapons is feared. President Putin recently said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum that Russia does not need nuclear weapons to defeat Ukraine. That certainly does not reassure me. Besides, wars only produce losers, every human life counts.

Let there therefore soon be a lasting peace in Ukraine where every life is cherished. Taking into account Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Russia’s concerns regarding NATO expansion. As I indicated earlier, I strongly disapprove of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that took place on 24 February 2022. Active diplomacy should take place, encouraging possible intermediaries to intercede and supporting diplomatic initiatives. Let the UN secretary-general play a leading role here, perhaps Pope Francis can also contribute to the peace process. In doing so, grassroots peace organisations from Ukraine (such as Ukrainian pacifists) and Russia, among others, should also be given a prominent voice in the peace process, as well as women (in line with UN resolution 1325) and young people (in line with UN resolution 2250).

As adults, the first thing we should do together is to care for all children, and for each other and nature. Let’s turn back the doomsday clock and quickly move towards: A World Where All Children Can Play.


May-May Meijer

Photo: May-May, photo was taken by Gerard Meijer.

This article was published in Dutch Diplomatie voor vrede in Oekraine is hard nodig on the Joop BNNVARA website on 11 June 2024.