In light of the perilous and deeply worrying security situation developing in Ukraine, the SI Presidium convened for an online meeting on 19 February 2022, with participation from the global leadership of the Socialist International. This allowed all those present to hear diverse perspectives on the situation and benefit from the collective insight of the social democratic political family on the urgent and challenging scenario that is facing Europe and the world.
There was an overwhelming sentiment, expressed by all those who intervened, of the necessity to avoid war in Ukraine at all costs. Participants reflected on the fundamental commitment of the global social democratic movement to peace and conflict resolution, and the catastrophic human cost that a war would bring, urging all parties to find a way to resolve their differences through diplomatic means. Members of the Presidium reiterated their faith in the multilateral approach and the rules-based world order, underlining the need for the United Nations to have a central role in mediating in the crisis, with the concern that the UN was being marginalised at a crucial moment in a potential military conflict that could have profound implications for world peace.
Issues raised during the interventions of Presidium members included the importance of upholding the principles of national sovereignty with regard to Ukraine and the need for international law to be respected at all times. Also of paramount concern was the respect for human rights and the rights of minority populations. In the wider context of security, strong calls were made for progress on disarmament and for coordinated multilateral action to address the threats posed by new forms of weaponry and warfare.
Many of those participating underlined the role of the SI in communicating the concerns of the global social democratic movement on this issue, and also through initiatives building on the common principles of the organisation, working for a diplomatic solution in the spirit of the Socialist International.
The conclusions of the Presidium are presented in the following statement.
Statement of the SI Presidium on Ukraine
19 February 2022
The Socialist International Presidium, meeting on 19 February 2022, expresses its grave concern over the prevailing security situation in Ukraine and its wider implications. In line with the fundamental principles of the global social democratic family and the shared values and objectives of all SI member parties, the SI will continue to work for a peaceful solution to the current tensions and urges all parties to do their utmost to avoid the catastrophe of war.
The threat of war
A war in Ukraine would be disastrous on all levels, and inevitably lead to large numbers of casualties on both sides and severe and long-lasting damage to livelihoods and economic prosperity. The unquestionable priority at this time is therefore to avoid war at all costs, sparing no effort and exhausting all possibilities for de-escalation. This includes a commitment to end the hostilities in eastern Ukraine that have escalated in recent days and are further destabilising a precarious situation. The SI will continue to support any diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing war in Ukraine, recalling that all parties have expressed their determination and desire to avoid this devastating outcome.
The multilateral approach
The SI reiterates its firm conviction in the role of multilateralism to resolving disputes and conflicts between countries. The SI has always supported the rules-based order enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, which as the cornerstone of the multilateral world society, must be central to this process, acting as a mediator and guarantor in efforts to resolve tensions between Russia, Ukraine and other parties to the conflict. The OSCE also has an important role to play in promoting dialogue and monitoring the situation from the perspective of security and human rights.
Finding multilateral solutions to conflicts requires a commitment to diplomacy, and respect for international law. It also requires an end to violence, provocations and threats of aggression aimed at undermining and destabilising the situation and creating a pretext for war.
Sovereignty and human rights
In line with the UN Charter the right of all states to territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected, and the internationally recognised and sovereign borders of Ukraine are inviolable. Any invasion of Ukraine, or the use of external force to overthrow its democratically elected government would be in clear violation of international law and the principles of sovereignty and self-determination.
We also reiterate and emphasise the importance of defending human rights and minority rights in every context, and each government has a duty to ensure that the human rights of all those residing in its territory are respected, without discrimination on the basis of political beliefs or ethnic background. Reports of violations of human rights should be addressed as a matter of the highest priority, with the involvement of independent observers as necessary.
The fundamental democratic principles upon which our movement is founded enshrine the belief that all people have the right to freely elect their governments and leaders. Governments gain their legitimacy through the freely expressed will of their people and have in their turn a sovereign right to make their own decisions regarding the security and well-being of the country, on the condition that these actions do not diminish the sovereignty, security and well-being of others.
Working for disarmament
The SI continues to support efforts for disarmament, underlining the benefits of joint security through disarmament and cooperation. This is particularly relevant as a conflict in Ukraine has the potential to draw in the nuclear-armed states, with the possibility of catastrophic consequences for the entire world.
We welcome the recent joint statement issued by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races and support multilateral efforts aimed at hastening the process of nuclear disarmament, with the ultimate aim of a world free from nuclear weapons. We must also be vigilant to the changing threats emerging from recent technological developments, with specific focus on the dangers of unregulated use of drones and the rise of cyber warfare.
The role of the SI
The Socialist International continues to have a role as a unique forum in which parties united by their shared political and ideological beliefs from all continents can cooperate to advance their common values and where differences are discussed in a spirit of friendship and partnership. This has been a characteristic of the work of the SI and we will remain engaged on this issue and pursue initiatives for the advancement of de-escalation and the resolution of this conflict. In the tradition of the Socialist International, we will strive to advance the causes of peace and democracy, multilateralism and human rights through dialogue and collaboration with members of our global family on all sides.