The Global South and the War in Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dashed our hopes that the pandemic showed us a new way to coexist. War once more. Putin’s decisions must be unequivocally condemned, and NATO must also be held responsible for the fact that we are facing war once more. This time around, it is taking place on the streets of Ukraine and on screens around the world. From our perspective here in the South of the planet that we all inhabit, we fervently condemn the war and express our utmost solidarity for the millions of people in Ukraine that are suffering its consequences. We are no strangers to the suffering caused by the violence that is simultaneously ongoing in Iraq, Ethiopia, Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Latin America, and even within Russia itself. To pay special attention to Ukraine is not to turn a blind eye toward these other victims of violence. Instead, it is a way of shining a light on the enormous challenges faced by humankind and on the role that the global South plays in preserving peace and democracy. 

For this conflict is not confined to Europe. It is a war with global impact that is exacerbating inequality and threatening democracy everywhere. The price of food is rising rapidly and worsening inequality worldwide. The arms race has been revived, as mistrust and fear are the greatest drivers of authoritarian regimes. 

Global governance institutions and spaces are proving to be insufficient. War is being pursued once again as a means for territorial expansion. Legitimizing acts of war to expand one country’s borders can feed the flames and escalate existing conflicts in other countries. In a context such as this, the decision of some countries to choose silence, appeasement, or complicity is extremely disappointing. 

If the North suffers and falters, greater becomes the South’s responsibility to take on a more central role in maintaining democracy, human rights, and care for our single shared home, the Earth. This is the ethical endeavor that unites all of humankind.  Even though ending the war is up to government leaders, a lasting peace will be up to society. As members of this society, we reaffirm our commitment to peace and humankind’s ethical endeavor by taking action on behalf of the climate, democracy, and justice and by demanding that governments safeguard these through legal frameworks and engagement with global institutions. 

This entails: 

  • Demanding clear statements from governments regarding their positions vis-à-vis establishing peace and strengthening global institutions. 
  • Ensuring that the voices of indigenous people, women, small producers, young people, and poor people from the South are front and center in the building of a new national order. 
  • Opening arms and doors to all the displaced people and migrants around the world and spreading the global South’s culture of hospitality throughout the world. For we are the descendants—and in many cases, the survivors—of multiple diasporas, and we understand the value of welcoming neighbors as well as strangers.