Category Archives: Europe

Women’s Peace Leadership Programme: Bojana Mumin, Bosnia and Herzegovina


An article from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Bojana Mumin is one of the 12 mentees from around the OSCE area and Afghanistan, participating in the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme. The Programme aims to strengthen the ability of women to meaningfully engage and influence peace processes at all levels. It is a part of the OSCE’s flagship WIN for Women and Men  project, which covers the Networking platform for Women Leaders including Peacebuilders and Mediators. The WIN project works with OSCE-supported networks and gives rise to new networks, fostering women’s participation and leadership, as well as broader men’s engagement in achieving gender equality.

Bojana Mumin (left), during the kick-off week of the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme with Irma Pidtepa, a Mediator and participant from Ukraine. (OSCE/ Vera Djemelinskaia)

An experienced peacebuilder, Bojana has been supporting peacebuilding organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) through her advocacy work at the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, which promotes women’s rights in conflict-affected areas. The work of the Foundation’s 140 local partners span the Middle East and North African region, sub-Saharan Africa, the South Caucasus, and Europe. Bojana is focusing on achieving lasting peace in her own country through the implementation of the Western Balkans EU Advocacy Strategy.

The necessity of continuous learning

I am experiencing the repercussions of what happened 30 years ago on a daily basis. Peacebuilding is more than a profession; it is something to which I am personally connected.

As someone who has been supporting local peacebuilding initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than 16 years, I know that this work, above all, requires motivation. This is not an easy process and very often we feel exhausted. There is a lot of divisive political language, and even hate speech, dominating the public spaces, with peace rhetoric mostly missing from the political agenda. This complicates the work of the peacebuilders and, honestly, it is simply tiring.

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Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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I also constantly need to learn how peacebuilding is approached in different contexts: what are the good practices, and what didn’t work. Unsuccessful stories are especially valuable. I am grateful to be able to pass on these lessons and learn others’ challenges and perspectives within the OSCE Women’s Peace Leadership Programme (WPLP). We worked through real-life and hypothetical scenarios, sharing how we would approach the challenge and reflecting on the different solutions. It is a win-win because I see how others find my experience helpful too.

What brings peace that lasts

‘Peacebuilding’ as a word is worn-out in our context. Over the years, there have been different peace initiatives, programmes, and actors coming to do the peacebuilding work and contributing to some extent to creating a better society, but we still live in very divided communities. There are three different narratives in Bosnia and Herzegovina based on ethnicity. Now when I have kids and I realise that if we were not doing this work, one of these narratives would become a part of their education. But now we have actors who offer alternative narratives. I am proud that there is a civil society working on peacebuilding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that I am part of it.

Through a feminist lens

Being a feminist and a peacebuilding activist is an important part of my identity Being a peacebuilder is not popular, so taking on this identity is quite an achievement for me.

In our country, it is usually seen as something that women work on. During the 90s and early 2000s, peacebuilding was receiving a lot of support from international donors and many men were engaged. However, when donors shifted their focus to other areas, women were the ones who actually stayed in the field. Women were the first peacebuilding actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina: they were the pioneers and now they are the seniors.

Being part of Women’s Peace Leadership Programme

I now have ‘sisters’ from different regions I can reach out to for assistance, but above all, for information – sometimes this is all that is needed. It gives you a different perspective when you read reports and when you hear directly from the people who were there.

Let me give you an example. I tried to understand better the situation in Afghanistan, so I wanted to speak to a local woman who was in the conflict and could share how this experience influenced her and the community. And here I am, speaking in person to one of the WPLP participants from Afghanistan, Elham Kohistani, and other women peacebuilders from so many different regions about their experiences in mediation, leadership and peacebuilding efforts. This is one of the key benefits of being part of this programme: knowing that I can tap into the expertise of this incredible network of women leaders and also offer my support should anyone need it.

Big Peace Rally in Germany: Despair and Joy


An article by Victor Grossman in World Beyond War

Despair and joy can be so close together!

In conflicts, I know, neither side can be trusted. Both sides twist and distort, magnify and minimize in support of their cause. But the daily, almost hourly pictures from Ukraine – of hardship, suffering, of death, destruction and flight, all too genuine, cause me the despair I have always felt on hearing – and worse seeing, if only on a screen – any pain inflicted on my fellow human beings, no matter what insignia they wear or flag they honor.

But I must also recoil at the hypocrisy and dishonesty which so often go unnoticed. The propaganda producers who feign despair but seek more conflict, more medals, more billions, always praise a noble cause: freedom, democracy, rule of order, and always warn of despicable enemies; Bolsheviks, anarchists, Stalinists, communist aggressors and, when these are eliminated, terrorism. When that, too, erodes, authoritarianism must serve, or “imperialism” turned upside down. A nasty “villain” is always effective, justly or not, an Iago: Lenin, Stalin, Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Putin.

Is hypocrisy involved? Double standards? Chinese sources, like all others, must be met with caution. But can all the charges in their Foreign Affairs Department memorandum be completely denied?

“The history of the USA is characterized by violence and expansion… After World War II, the wars either provoked or launched by the United States included the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the Libyan War and the Syrian War… In recent years, the U.S. average annual military budget has exceeded 700 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s total, more than the 15 countries behind it combined. The United States has about 800 overseas military bases, with 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries…The United States has also adopted appalling methods in war… massive quantities of chemical and biological weapons as well as cluster bombs, fuel-air bombs, graphite bombs and depleted uranium bombs, causing enormous damage on civilian facilities, countless civilian casualties and lasting environmental pollution… Since 2001, the wars and military operations launched by the USA in the name of fighting terrorism have claimed over 900,000 lives with some 335,000 of them civilians, injured millions and displaced tens of millions.”

Did none of this deserve the opprobrium now directed at Putin? Were any flags of sympathy displayed when the people of Serbia, Iraq or Afghanistan were bombed? When drones exploded on hospitals and wedding processions – were there also calls for tribunals against Bush – or Obama?

My despair grew far more intense when I felt the menace of escalating demands, after Leopard tanks, for powerful artillery, fighter planes and boats, and not just to win back Crimea; when I read the editorials insisting on “fighting on to victory,” no matter what it costs, above all to the people of Ukraine. Or when I read the following:

“This Ukraine crisis that we’re in right now, this is just the warmup,” said Navy Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of US Strategic Command. “The big one is coming. And it isn’t going to be very long before we’re going to get tested in ways that we haven’t been tested [in] a long time.”

Adm. Richard’s threat came after the US released its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which reaffirms the US doctrine on first use of nuclear weapons. The review says that the purpose of the US nuclear arsenal is to “deter strategic attacks, assure allies and partners, and achieve US objectives if deterrence fails.” What are then the US objectives in Europe, Asia – or Africa and Latin America?

Only a few lonely voices questioned them and their likely cost, but were quickly muzzled. Peace rallies, rarely attracting more than 2-3000 faithful leftists even in Berlin, were mentioned, if at all, superciliously and dismissed as ragged little remnants of the huge rallies of the 1980’s. The media kept up its routine of repeated scenes of death, flight and destruction in Ukraine (not in Yemen), combined with rousing calls for more and deadlier instruments of war – until Ukraine was fully restored and Putin defeated, humbled, possibly deposed and preferably tried and sentenced.

How then, could I find any cause for joy, any reason to smile?

Almost surprisingly, two of the best-known women in Germany overcame past differences and joined hands. Alice Schwarzer, now 80, had once, with her magazine “Emma,” been the main founder and expounder of the women’s rights movement in West Germany, including abortion rights, but had later drifted politically rightwards. Sahra Wagenknecht, 52, with an East German background, was alongside party founder Gregor Gysi the most prominent, media-wise and popular spokesperson of the LINKE, the Left, a truly brilliant orator, but who has been disavowed by most of the present reformist leaders of her party, with some of them even demanding her ouster.

This unusual duo joined to publish a manifesto calling for a cease-fire in Ukraine and urging – not tanks and armaments for the Zelenskiy government in Kyiv but pressure on both sides for peace negotiations. It warned of the consequences of more weapons – and more active participation by Germany, basically in the wake of Washington.

But what could these two women achieve against such high tidal waves? Their position, in today’s Germany, was considered purest heresy, which must quickly be exorcized.

Suddenly, the witch-doctors found this far tougher than expected – after 69 prominent Germans signed the manifesto, people originally from all the parties, popular, respected people: a former female church leader, singers, actors, the son of one-time Chancellor Willy Brandt. And then the numbers of signers grew, and grew, and grew! 50,000, 100,000 – by Saturday it had topped 650,000 and was aiming at a million!

The alarm bells rose to a deafening cacophony! The media, the politicians, sadly including many of the LINKE, they all joined in a wild attack against the manifesto and especially against Sahra.

Their attempts to disprove its arguments were less and less convincing. Could more weapons really bring Russia to its knees, forcing it to give up claims it deemed necessary to its independence – if not its survival, like keeping NATO missiles at least a minimal distance from Moscow’s doorsteps and preserving safe, unmonitored warm-water Black Sea routes to the world’s oceans? Or might bigger attacks by Ukraine-USA lead instead to desperation? All such questions are publicly taboo – like questions about who really blasted the German-Russian underwater gas pipelines, who was really throwing dangerous missiles at atomic energy plants controlled by Russian troops, or what the USA-Ukrainian biological laboratories were really researching. There were too many such questions to permit discussion; it was like opening Pandora’s box. The lid must be kept sealed!

Common lid sealers were the usual accusations of Putin-endearment, of blindness to death and destruction, denial of Kyiv’s right to territorial sovereignty and free choice of its alignments, awarding Putin territorial seizures without a fight. But none of this applied; the Manifesto made no demands on anyone – except to sit down and end the slaughter before it exploded further and irreparably.

When Sahra and Alice called for a big rally in Berlin on February 25th the fears multiplied. A counter-demonstration was organized for the 24th, the anniversary of open warfare, mostly with Ukrainians (66,000 now live in Berlin) but aimed at convincing Germans who sympathize with Ukraine and its suffering to reject any blame on the preceding NATO provocation and blame Putin alone. One effort was to transport a wrecked Russian tank to a spot next to the Russian embassy, with its big gun aimed directly at its entrance.

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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But the main argument against Sahra and Alice stressed the support by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose anti-European Union, pro-Russian positioning led its leaders to add their names to the manifesto and announce their intention to join the peace rally. Sahra answered: “We can have nothing to do with fascists or racists, we must not permit them to raise their banners or posters. But we simply do not wish, nor or we able to exclude anyone from singly signing or attending whose heart is honestly devoted toward ending further bloodshed – or worse.”

Many in eastern Germany vote for the AfD because of anger and disappointment at hardships caused by unification and their treatment as second-class citizens. Too many are fooled into blaming “privileged foreigners.” Many are just against “those on top,” somewhat like many simpler Trump voters, they want (affordable) butter not guns, therefore distrust further involvement in the Ukraine war. Since some LINKE leaders gratefully joined in state governments they were seen, not always falsely, as “part of the Establishment,” so many LINKE voters switched to the AfD or didn’t vote at all. Such support is certainly embarrassing to Sahra and Alice, but they hope a Manifesto for Peace movement can become a healthy antidote to fascists and their deceitful initiatives.

Yet it was this issue which was played upon by both media and politicians – trying to depict the Manifesto movement as a unity: right-wing nationalists with leftist “Putin-lovers”. This method of attack has been utilized in the past to split and wreck attempts at building a broad peace movement. One might suspect that powerful groups grasp this function of the far right all too well and apply it whenever required.

Would such constant media hammering succeed? Would this peace rally end up as a pathetic flop, with a meager crowd like the Zelenskiy-friendly Ukrainian rally the evening before? Waiting for the subway, I feared to find, once again, that same small bunch of the faithful, many of them old friends.

And what did I find? On this icy-cold Saturday afternoon, with snowflakes beginning to flutter down, the subway was jammed! There was hardly room to even stand properly! And at the next station more tried to push into the car! Where were they all going?

There was no doubt about it! When I arrived at the station near the Brandenburg Gate, the site of the rally, thousands and thousands climbed out of the jammed cars, ascended and merged into the crowded streets, all headed in one direction! I too moved through the famous arch towards the big speakers’ stage – but never got to a place where I could see them. I had just barely enough room to squeeze in to a free spot. And only later did I learn from my sons that the crowd had been huge on all sides, jammed, chilly, but friendly, polite, in wonderfully high spirits at the giant turn-out, and determined in their applause, cheers, occasional boos (when war-hungry politicians were named), with occasional shouts like “No Weapons! Negotiations!”- “Make Peace not War”.

Many, perhaps most of those present, on or below the speakers’ stage, deplored and condemned the Russian invasion. But many also insisted that Kyiv’s big planned attack on the Donbas, the numerous maneuvers all around Russian ports and borders, a secret CIA intensive training program in 2015 for elite Ukrainian special operations forces, had made it unavoidable, that these were part of a trap – which Russia either fell into or was forced to fall into, as in Afghanistan in 1979.

I, too, knew of an MSNBC report on March 4, saying: “Russia’s Ukraine invasion may have been preventable: The U.S. refused to reconsider Ukraine’s NATO status as Putin threatened war. Experts say that was a huge mistake…The abundance of evidence that NATO was a sustained source of anxiety for Moscow raises the question of whether the United States’ strategic posture was not just imprudent but negligent…Senator Joe Biden knew as far back as 1997 that NATO expansion, which he supported, could eventually lead to a hostile Russian reaction.” Views on the war were far distant from those in the media!

People discussed and debated, but all I spoke to agreed that further conflict would only continue the terrible afflictions for the Ukrainians, could achieve no victories but only create giant dangers – also atomic dangers threatening the entire world.

And the neo-fascists? In media reports afterwards they were very much present, with an interview with one of their leaders somewhere on the periphery. We heard later that a few known far-rightists had indeed shown up with a banner, but a “left-wing Linke” group, at the ready, had quickly covered it over with a bigger anti-war banner and pushed the rightists – non-violently – away from the rally. I saw a few Russian and pro-Russian flags, carried, I think, by Russian-speakers, perhaps adult children of the many Russians who have moved here in recent decades. One of my sons did see a small group with nationalist flags, which could not easily be banned in that giant but always peaceful crowd, but can hardly have reached anywhere near 1%. And as for me, in all the time I spent there, or getting there and back, I saw not one rightist sign, but rather many hundreds carrying peace dove depictions or self-made anti-war slogans, happily ignoring the organizers’ request to carry no signs at all.

As Sahra and Alice commented: the Manifesto, now being signed by additional tens of thousands, and especially the rally, have frightened all those who want to continue the war, who want no negotiations, who are determined, as some say openly, “to ruin Russia” and unseat anyone like Putin who, love him or hate him, refuses, unlike Yeltsin, to take orders from abroad. Policy-makers in the American seats of power clearly want to prevent even the weak but potentially growing cooperation between Germany with its European allies and Russia or China, which had been supported by some sectors in Germany – but had now been suffocated, with the current near-total domination by those German Herren, now in modern dress, but who recall all too frighteningly the stiffly monocled, heel-clicking warriors of past generations.

Of course, détente between Western Europe, Russia and China could mean fewer billions for US frackers and fuel providers, could cut profits for weapon-makers and other hungry expanders, from Amazon, Coca-Cola and Disney to Facebook, Unilever and the other queen bees in the honeyed hives of the pharmaceutical, movie, herbicide, food and other empires. Above all, the CEOs at Lockheed, Northrup, Raytheon, at Rheinmetall, Exxon Mobil and Chevron could then no longer rub their hands quite so gleefully or buy quite so many yachts, jets or mansions.

In her speech, Sahra reiterated: “We want no German tanks firing at those Russian women and men whose great-grandparents, in millions, were inhumanly slaughtered by the German Wehrmacht.” She condemned as cynical the signing of agreements to provide armaments for years in advance and said that true solidarity meant getting engaged for peace, not war.

Of course Vladimir Putin must also be willing to make compromises, she said, Ukraine must not be turned into a Russian protectorate. But as we have since learned, negotiations were not stymied by the Russian side. Several speakers recalled that Blinken, like his predecessors, had continued to push eastward, rejecting Russian appeals and offers and a final red-line warning in December 2021 to agree on security guarantees for all sides. New revelations by Naftali Bennett, the former prime minister of Israel, indicate that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine were moving ahead in March until Boris Johnson from London and his prompters in Washington made clear that an agreement was not desired. Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, though he succeeded in achieving grain shipments, prisoner exchanges and even a safe travel guarantee for Biden’s trip to Kyiv, felt the same outside pressure against further agreement.

Sahra and Alice got cheers when they stressed that agreements are not impossible, but must be fought for – and must be wanted! There is no need for tanks but rather for diplomacy, for a readiness to find compromises. A broad new peace movement is urgently necessary – and this rally must provide an impetus.

The media and the politicians, now more frightened than ever, were unsurprisingly quick, later, to dig up a solitary rightist they could use as Exhibit A, and then to lie about the figures. After the pro-Zelenskiy rally the night before, with about 7,000, they estimated 10,000; in our peace rally they could only count up to the same 10,000 figure, when everyone else saw 30,000, 50,000, perhaps even more. Since too many had taken part who would not swallow such a nonsense figure, TV reporters shame-facedly revised it to 13,000 or, vaguely, “thousands.” These were the least nasty, distorting even insulting examples of the immense efforts – even within a fracturing LINKE – to strangle this baby in its cradle before it emulates Hercules’ swift growth in muscle!

It was in fact the biggest peace rally in many, many years, good cause for them to fear – and for me and so many I have spoken to a source of great, unaccustomed joy! So close can despair and joy occupy one’s heart!

Yurii Sheliazhenko: Peace in Ukraine: Humanity Is at Stake


A speech by Yurii Sheliazhenko published by World Beyond War

Yurii Sheliazhenko, a Board Member of World BEYOND War, gave this speech at the webinar of the International Peace Bureau “365 Days of War in Ukraine: Prospects Towards Peace in 2023” (24 February 2023)

Dear friends, greetings from Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.

We meet today on the disgusting anniversary of the beginning of a full scale Russian invasion, which brought to my country enormous killing, suffering and destruction.

All these 365 days I lived in Kyiv, under Russian bombing, sometimes without electricity, sometimes without water, as many other Ukrainians who were lucky to survive.

I heard explosions behind my windows, my home shaked from pounding of artillery in distant combat.

I was disappointed by the failures of Minsk agreements, of peace talks in Belarus and Türkiye.

I saw how Ukrainian media and public spaces became more obsessed with hatred and militarism. Even more obsessed, than previous 9 years of armed conflict, when Donetsk and Luhansk were bombed by the Ukrainian army, like Kyiv was bombed by the Russian army during last year.

I called for peace openly despite threats and insults.

I demanded ceasefire and serious peace talks, and especially insisted on the right to refuse to kill, in online spaces, in letters to Ukrainian and Russian officials, calls to civil societies, in nonviolent actions.

My friends and colleagues from the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement did the same.

Because of closed borders and cruel hunting for draftees at the streets, in transport, in hotels and even in churches — we, Ukrainian pacifists, had no choice but to call for peace directly from the battlefield! And it is not an exaggeration.

One of our members, Andrii Vyshnevetsky, was conscripted against his will and sent to the frontline. He asks for discharge on the grounds of conscience in vain because the Armed Forces of Ukraine refused to respect human right to conscientious objection to military service. It is penalized, and we already have prisoners of conscience such as Vitalii Alexeienko who said, before the police took him to prison for his refusal to kill: “I will read New Testament in Ukrainian and I will pray for God’s mercy, peace and justice for my country.”

Vitaliy is a very brave man, he so courageously went to suffer for his faith without any attempts to escape or evade prison, because clear conscience gives him a feeling of security. But such sort of believers are rare, most people think about security in pragmatic terms, and they are right.`

To feel secure, your life, health and wealth must not be in danger, and there must be no worries for family, friends and your whole habitat.

People used to think that national sovereignty with all might of armed forces protects their safety from violent intruders.

Today we hear a lot of loud words about sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are key words in the rhetoric of Kyiv and Moscow, Washington and Beijing, other capitals of Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania.

President Putin wages his war of aggression to protect the sovereignty of Russia from NATO on the doorstep, the tool of U.S. hegemony.

President Zelensky asks and receives from NATO countries all sorts of deadly weapons to defeat Russia which, if not defeated, is perceived as a threat for Ukrainian sovereignty.

Mainstream media wing of military industrial complexes convince people that the enemy is non-negotiable if not crushed before negotiations.

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Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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And people believe that sovereignty protects them from war of all against all, in the words of Thomas Hobbes.

But the world of today is different from the world of Westphalian peace, and the feudal notion of sovereignty and territorial integrity don’t address brazen human rights violations committed by all sorts of sovereigns by war, by fake democratic warmongering, and by open tyranny.

How many times have you heard about sovereignty and how many times you heard about human rights?

Where we lost human rights, repeating the mantra about sovereignty and territorial integrity?

And where did we lost common sense? Because the more powerful army you have, the more fear and resentment it causes, turning friends and neutrals into enemies. And no army can avoid battle for a long time, it is eager to shed blood.

People must understand that they need nonviolent public governance, not belligerent sovereignty.

People need social and environmental harmony, not autarchic territorial integrity with militarized borders, barbed wire and gunned men waging war on migrants.

Today the blood is shedding in Ukraine. But current plans to wage the war for years and years, for decades, may turn the whole planet into a battlefield.

If Putin or Biden feel secure sitting on their nuclear stockpiles, I am scared of their security and millions of sane people are scared too.

In a rapidly polarizing world, the West decided to see security in war profiteering and fueling the war machine by arms deliveries, and the East chose to take by force what he sees as its historical territories.

Both sides have so-called peace plans to secure all they want in an extremely violent manner and then make the other side accept new power balance.

But it is not a peace plan to defeat the enemy.

It is not a peace plan to take contested land, or remove representatives of other cultures from your political life, and negotiate on conditions of acceptance of this.

Both sides apologize their warmongering behavior claiming that sovereignty is at stake.

But what I must say today: a more important thing than sovereignty is at stake today.

Our humanity is at stake.

Ability of humankind to live in peace and resolve conflicts without violence is at stake.

Peace is not eradication of the enemy, it is making friends from enemies, it is remembering of universal human brotherhood and sisterhood and universal human rights.

And we must admit that governments and rulers of the East and West are corrupted by military industrial complexes and by great power ambitions.

When governments are unable to build peace, it is on us. It is our duty, as civil societies, as peace movements.

We must advocate ceasefire and peace talks. Not only in Ukraine, but everywhere, in all endless wars.

We must uphold our right to refuse to kill, because if all people refuse to kill there will be no wars.

We must learn and teach practical methods of peaceful life, nonviolent governance and conflict management.

On examples of restorative justice and widespread replacement of litigation with mediation we see progress of nonviolent approaches to justice.

We can achieve justice without violence, as Martin Luther King said.

We must build an ecosystem of peacebuilding in all spheres of life, alternative to toxic militarized economy and politics.

This world is sick with endless wars; let’s say this truth.

This world must be healed with love, knowledge and wisdom, by rigorous planning and peace action.

Let’s heal the world together.

Vatican: Women raise their voices for peace


An article by Linda Bordoni from Vatican News

Pope’s powerful appeal for peace in Ukraine resounded at the weekly General Audience on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion. Participating in the audience were three young women who felt particularly encouraged and comforted by his continuing closeness and prayers. The women from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus told Vatican Radio about their own dreams for peace and of their continuing pacifist commitment.

From left to right: Olga Karach, Linda Bordoni, Kateryna Lanko and Darya Berg

Darya from Russia, Olga from Belarus and Katya from Ukraine are in Italy bringing the voices of millions of their countrymen who oppose the ongoing war in Ukraine and the increasing militarization of the world.

They have been invited by the Italian Non-Violent Movement (Movimento Nonviolento) which promotes demilitarization and peace-making activities.

Speaking to Vatican Radio after having participated in Pope Francis’ General Audience on Wednesday morning, the three women reiterated their commitment to work for peace. They expressed gratitude and admiration for the Pope’s tireless condemnation of the absurdity of war, for his appeals to world leaders to pursue negotiations and peace-making, and for his spiritual and concrete closeness to those who are suffering.

“It is my aim,” Darya Berg explained, “to find a way for Russian people to live without blood on their hands.”

‘Go by the forest’

Representing the “Go by the forest” project, she explained it is a nonviolent civil resistance project working “to help Russian people avoid this awful war that Russia started in Ukraine.”

Darya, who has had to flee her country in order to be able to pursue her pacifist ideals and commitment, said she would be in jail today in Russia for her words and actions.

She is here, she added, to represent them and to tell Europe and the whole world that there are “a lot of Russian people who are against the war, who don’t want to kill anybody who wants peace.”

It is important to hear the voices, she said, even if they are silent.

Darya explained that “Go by the Forest” has a double meaning in Russia: it means “We don’t care about what you think,” and that, she explained, “is what we say to the government in our country.” It is also an invitation to “go by the forest” to find ways to cross the border and escape military conscription.

That’s what we do, she said, to help “people who don’t want to kill anybody in this bloody war,” helping them understand their rights, helping them by providing legal information, psychological support and hiding places in Russian territory as well as crossing the borders.

(Article continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Article continued from left column)

It is still legal, Darya explained, to exit the country; however, it is very difficult for people, especially from villages and small towns who do not have passports and who have never been out of Russia.

They are threatened, she said, “by the government, by the military, by the army. They don’t know what they can do, what they cannot do.”

‘Our House’

Belorussian Olga Karach heads an organisation called “Our House”. She said it is currently running a campaign to help Belarussian men avoid enrolment in the Belarussian army and the war in Ukraine.

She noted that just this week the Belorussian president passed a law approving the death penalty for army deserters.

Like Darya she is campaigning to raise the voice of those men “who don’t want to go to the army, who don’t want to take up weapons and who are now in a very marginalised space.”

Olga said that although media attention shifted following the peaceful revolution in 2020 in which thousands of anti-Lukashenko citizens were jailed or exiled, “still, we have a lot of terror and operations in our country.”

Today, she said the people of Belarus “need much more solidarity and much more support because now Lukashenko is under unbelievable pressure by Vladimir Putin to send the Belarussian army to Ukraine.”
She is in Italy now, Olga added, because she wants “block and prevent a second front in Ukraine from the Belarussian side.”

“We need the attention of Europe for the Belarussian situation,” she said, “, especially for Belarussian men who are trying to avoid participation in the army.”

The closeness of Pope Francis

Completing the trio is Kateryna Lanko from Kyiv in Ukraine, whose aim, she said, is “to make peace in Ukraine, to stop the war, to make a stronger peaceful movement in Ukraine and help our conscientious objectors.”

Commenting on Pope Francis’ powerful appeal for peace during the General Audience and on his words regarding the fact that “Whatever is built on rubble can never be a true victory,” she said she felt encouraged and warmed by them.

The strength of unity

The three women reaffirmed their common commitment stemming, they said, from common problems and the belief that together there is much they can do.

Their Italian tour aims to raise funds for their work, but more than that, to be heard. Olga recalled with gratitude the solidarity shown by so many Italians for Belarussian children in Chernobyl who were orphaned or affected by the nuclear disaster in 1986.

She hopes Europe will take notice of the fact that Lukashenko is currently organizing military training camps for children as young as six “to teach them to shoot, to use military equipment” and to be prepared as child soldiers.

“All three of us really need your help, Darya concluded, “and we really need to be heard. I believe that together we can end the war and that it’s very important for our countries to save as many people as possible.”

“We are here to say that there are people who don’t want to fight, who don’t want weapons in their hands who don’t want to kill and to die.”

France: Mouvement de la Paix for peace in Ukraine 24-25 February


Excerpts from the website of Mouvement de la Paix (translation by CPNN)

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, let us show that there are peaceful alternatives to war. The International Peace Bureau (IPB), of which the Peace Movement is a member, calls on its members around the world to demonstrate on February 24 to 26, 2023 in favor of peace in Ukraine and in the world. .

The war has already claimed more than two hundred thousand lives (by conservative estimates). It has forced millions to flee their homes, caused widespread destruction of Ukrainian cities and strained already fragile supply chains that have made life more difficult for people around the world. .

We know that this war is unsustainable, and even worse, that it risks escalating that would threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. Russia’s nuclear rhetoric in particular is irresponsible and demonstrates the vulnerability of this moment.

Furthermore, the direct and indirect impact of the war on the climate hinders the urgent need for a green transition. There is no easy solution to this war in Ukraine, but the current situation is unsustainable. Through global peace protests, we seek to pressure all parties involved in the conflict to act decisively for a ceasefire and to take steps to negotiate a long-term peace. .

Our calls for peace are not limited to Ukraine. For all conflicts in the world, we call on governments to refuse the logic of confrontation and war, to oppose nuclear danger and to commit to disarmament by signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TIAN).

We call on governments and states to act in favor of diplomacy, negotiation, conflict prevention and the establishment of common security systems.

We call on your support and your voices for peace. We invite you to join any existing event during this weekend of action, or plan your own initiative.

Together we are stronger and we can show that there is a global movement for alternatives to war and militarization.

Local actions on February 24 and 25, 2023

Moulins (03): Assemble Friday February 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the prefecture
Cannes (06): Assemble Friday February 24 at 6:30 p.m. in front of the SNCF station
Nice (06): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 2 p.m. Place Garibaldi
Carcassonne (11): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 11 a.m. at the Porte des Jacobins
Marseille (13): “Together for peace” rally, meeting at the Old Port at the foot of La Canebière, Saturday February 25 at 10:30 a.m. – speech before a march to the prefecture
La Rochelle (17): Assemble on February 25 at 10:30 a.m. in front of the prefecture with the CGT, the Libre Pensée, the AFPS and the Mouvement de la paix
Bourges, Vierzon (18): Saturday February 25, 2023 in Vierzon from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday market in the city center Circle of silence and peace: Saturday February 25, 2023 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., place Gordène in Bourges
Brive (19): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 10:30 a.m. in the Guierle gardens, in front of the tree of peace

(Continued in right column)

(Click here for the French original of this article.)

Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

Ajaccio (20): Assemble on February 24 Place Abbatucci at 6 p.m.
Dijon (21): Assemble in front of the prefecture Friday February 24 at 6 p.m., with an appointment with the prefect. And Sunday 26, in Marsannay la cote near Dijon at 6 p.m. in front of the war memorial in tribute to Lucien Dupont, resistance fighter shot on February 26, 1942, and at the request of his daughter, Christiane Dupont-Lauthelier, member of the Mouvement de la Paix , to repeat here too, our refusal of any war
Guéret (23): Assemble on February 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the town hall of Guéret
Besançon (25): Assemble on February 25, 2023 at 2 p.m. on the Place du 8 Septembre. Saint Esprit (30): Assemble Saturday, February 25 from 9:30 a.m. at the weekly market (near the Universe bar) – Pax Rhona Committee
Toulouse (31): Assemble Friday, February 24 at 5:30 p.m., Square du Capitole, in front of the Jean Jaurès stele at the call of the CGT, Solidaires, the Mouvement de la Paix, the MRAP, France Cuba, Libre Pensée, of “Stop Fueling War”, the Left Party, the PCF and the Center of the Kurdish Democratic Community of Toulouse
Libourne (33): Assemble on February 24 from 6 p.m. central square
Biganos (33): Assemble of the Gironde committee on February 24 at 6 p.m. Market Hall
Béziers (34): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 11 a.m. on Place Jean Jaurès
Rennes (35): Assemble and united march Saturday February 25 at 5 p.m. RDV Bd du Mail François Mitterrand. And Friday, February 24, meet at Place de la République at 5 p.m. with Bretagne Solidarité Ukraine. Distribution of Peace Movement and BIP calls at Rennes 2 University on Wednesday noon 22/01. Rennes 1 University Thursday noon 23/02. Market of the lices Saturday 25 in the morning 10h to 13h.
Saint Malo (35): Assemble on the forecourt of the station at 5:30 p.m. on Friday February 24
Tours (37): Assemble on February 24 from 4 p.m. in front of the Town Hall, Place Jean Jaurès
Grenoble (38): Assemble rue Félix Poulat (opposite the Church of St Louis) on Saturday February 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Saint-Etienne (42): symbolic “Piquet de Paix” with torches around the statue of Jean Jaurès Friday February 24 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Comité-Loire du Mouvement de la paix
Nantes (44): Assemble on Saturday February 25, 2023 at 4 p.m., rue de la paix on the square in front of Decré
Angers (49): Assemble Friday, February 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the prefecture Place Michel Debré, for the filing of a motion
Cherbourg (50): Assemble Friday, February 24, 2023 Place du theater at 6 p.m. at the call of the CGT, FSU, CNT, Mouvement de la Paix, PCF, GENERATION.S, France Insoumise
Lorient (56): Friday February 24 at 5:30 p.m., place Aristide Briand, Rally followed by a Peace March at the call of: Mouvement de la Paix, Association France Palestine Solidarité, ATTAC, UD CGT 56, FSU 56, CFDT 56, PCF 56, PS Lorient
Nevers (58): Assemble Friday February 24 at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Prefecture. At the initiative of the Nièvre Committee
Pau (64): Assemble in front of the prefecture Friday 24 at 6 p.m. at the call of 11 organizations
Vaulx-en-velin (69): Assemble Friday 24 at 6.30 p.m. at the Garden of Peace and Freedoms, rue Condorcet
Vesoul (70): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 11 a.m., 1 rue la Préfecture
Annecy (74): Rally for Peace Friday 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the Prefecture
Paris (75): Assemble Saturday February 25 at 3 p.m. Place Edmond Michelet (right next to the Center Pompidou and not far from the Forum des Halles)
Le Havre (76): Assemble on Saturday February 25 at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Volcano – Rue de Paris, at the initiative of the Urgence Ukraine Le Havre collective, in which the Le Havre section of the Mouvement de la Paix participates
Castres (81): Assemble Saturday 25 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., rue Sabatier in front of Monoprix
Avignon (84): Assemble in front of the town hall on February 24 at 6:00 p.m. Vaucluse Committee of the Peace Movement
Epinal (88): Assemble at the call of the Mouvement de la Paix and the member organizations of the collective “En marche pour la Paix”, Friday February 24, 6 p.m. in front of the Vosges prefecture
Nanterre (92): Assemble Friday, February 24 at 4 p.m. at the bottom of the stairs of the Grande Arche de la Défense and at 5 p.m., gathering in front of the Hauts de Seine Prefecture to deliver a letter to the Prefect
Saint-Denis (93): Rally Friday, February 24 from 6 p.m. in front of the town hall

Europe needs peace education – peace education needs Europe


An article from the European Commission

People can be taught how to deal with conflict in a constructive way, to lessen instances of violence. By involving everyone, a more peaceful future can be ensured. Those who endorse education for peace have undertaken to support any helpful and necessary learning processes that underpin its aims. In this article, Professor Uli Jäger and Dr. Nicole Rieber of the Berghof Foundation tell us more about peace education in Europe.

Photo: Adobe Stock / Halfpoint

Peace education as a European effort

The war in Ukraine highlights the need for the systematic promotion of peace education in European schools. In order to cope with the current and ongoing horrors and consequences of war, young people need help: help to be able to deal with the accompanying, often polarising debate that will inevitably be conducted in their various countries. Young people are also exposed to social media, or they may hear personal accounts and impressions of what happens during wars. This is why guidance and direction are needed from the adults they know, whether these are parents or teachers. It is especially important that schools offer young refugees a safe, respectful environment.

Young people are entitled to a climate in which they can safely express their ideas on how they want to live together in the future. Every day provides an opportunity for schools to teach peace (respect, appreciation and tolerance). These tenets can be imparted; it is also important to ensure that they are put into practice.

(This article is continued in the column on the right.)

Question for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

(Article continued from left column)

Peer Mediation is a constructive way of resolving a disagreement in the classroom. During lessons it is possible to address questions relating to the causes of violence and war, which can include discussions addressing the violent past of one’s own country. In Germany, this would encompass the period of National Socialism, for instance. Peace itself can be made a topic: young people enjoy engaging with role models advocating peace. This may be through the biographies of people who have either campaigned in the past and/or those who continue to promote peace today.

It would be desirable for schools to be able to enter a discussion, at European level, on the way peace education is promoted. The Erasmus+ project, ‘Schools joining up for Communities of Peace ’ (SchoolCoPe) has paved the way.

In focus: digital peace education 

Peace education in general makes use of procedures and activities based on scientific findings and draws on years of practical experience. Learning processes that promote peace are often part of our everyday life; however, they are particularly pertinent throughout all areas of formal education. Schools and colleges have always played an excellent role in peace education. Related to the context of the region, peace education is both necessary and possible in all phases of a conflict.

Today peace education through digital means is gaining ground. This has less to do with the traditional competence in using media (whether digital devices can be usefully deployed). It is about a peace-oriented, critical ability to use media – including ways in which digital methods can contribute to the aims of peace education. In digital realms too, people encounter violence and conflict. Often such altercations can escalate more easily there, spilling over into the analogue world. Disinformation spreads like wildfire; deep fakes make it harder and harder to establish what is fact and what is fiction. For this reason, it is more essential than ever to make people aware of such phenomena, so that they can take a stand on hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Digital peace education is not limited to the teaching of a critical view when engaging with media. Rather it aims to encourage people  to perceive the digital space as a positive one: in other words, to embrace it (see for example the projects #vrschwrng  and Culture of conflict 3.0). How can a desire for change, and the courage to change develop online? Because a digital civil society requires both: critical media literacy and efforts by individuals to create a more peaceful online network. 

Vicenç Fisas on the Ukraine War: A Year of Mistakes and Horrors


An article by Vicenç Fisas in Other News (Creative Commons: Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional (CC BY-NC 4.0)) – (translation by CPNN)

The truth, however, is that this war in the Ukraine cannot be won by anyone, however it ends, because the harm that has been done transcends any possibility of resolution. The accumulated hatred is of such magnitude, proportional to the level of destruction and loss of human lives, that any reconciliation project will not be possible in the medium term.

Ukrainian soldiers fire an anti-aircraft gun near Bajmut on February 4.

One year after the start of the war in Ukraine, it is good to reflect on what has happened and what has not been done. The balance is sinister and not at all hopeful, since there is no end in sight in the short term. In my opinion, several points should be taken into consideration to reflect on the past, present and future.

Decisions that are irreversible or difficult to reverse have been made, such as increasing military spending, ending the status of neutral countries and expanding NATO. These decisions jeopardize the future of European security, and have ruined any possibility of resuming a shared security policy that could one day incorporate Russia. Many years will pass before this possibility can occur. Even if it is very costly, it is our obligation to think about future scenarios where we all fit into European security.

We have returned to the mentality of the cold war, of friend-foe and good and bad, increasing the warmongering and arms culture, not only in Europe, but throughout the world. We are facing a brutal setback in terms of prospects for peace and conflict resolution, and in the old continent a fatal blow has been dealt to the OSCE, which was the body that could have acted promptly and effectively in the moments of tension prior to the war. However, it was completely rendered useless, turning it into an already useless and discredited body in the face of the warmongering rage. Moreover, peace diplomacy, that of States with the capacity to influence and that of regional or international organizations, was hijacked and then annulled from the start, leaving us orphaned with actors willing to play this necessary role.

(Continued in right column)

(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:
Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

The decisions, from the first moment, have been on the military route, to the delight of the arms manufacturers, which has given rise to a continuous escalation on the war front, with the conviction of both parties that they could win the war, and in the case of Ukraine, thanks to a continuous supply of weapons by third countries. Russia, for its part, has also resorted to buying weapons abroad. The truth, however, is that this war cannot be won by anyone, however it ends, because the harm that has been done transcends any possibility of resolution. The accumulated hatred is of such magnitude, proportional to the level of destruction and loss of human life, that any reconciliation project will not be possible in the medium term. Hopefully and if things change, perhaps the next generation may be able to mend the wounds. For the moment, what can be affirmed is that everyone loses, and it is delusional to think that destruction will one day lead us to glory, when it only leads us to misery.

It is not often that, in the face of an armed conflict, people bet so much on war and put aside the negotiating path to carry out a peace process. In the last half century, 90% of wars have ended at a negotiating table and a final peace agreement. Ukraine is one of the exceptions, and we should ask ourselves if this is a merit or a very serious mistake that we are committing.

I don’t know when, but I am convinced that one day the two parties will have to sit down to negotiate the status of eastern Ukraine, with the terrible paradox that any agreement that can be reached will hopefully not be very different from what that should have been done after the Minsk agreements were signed in 2015. Failure to do so is what has led us to where we are today, so it will be terrible to think of the price that will be paid for not having acted diligently when it was appropriate. In this sense, responsibilities are shared, although no one seems capable of recognizing their own mistakes or negligence.

– – – –

* Vicenç Fisas is a Spanish analyst of conflicts, international politics and peace processes. He has directed the School for the Culture of Peace of the Autonomous University of Barcelona from its foundation in 1999 until 2016, and he was the holder of the UNESCO Chair on Peace and Human Rights at the university. He received the National Human Rights Award in 1988.

(Thank you to Other News for having sent this to CPNN.)

Boaventura de Sousa Santos: The beginning of the end of eurocentrism


An article by Boaventura de Sousa Santos* in MEER

One hundred years after World War I, Europe’s leaders are sleepwalking toward a new, all-out war. As in 1914, they believe that the war in Ukraine will be limited and short-lived. In 1914, the word in Europe’s chancelleries was that the war would last three weeks. It lasted four years and resulted in more than 20 million deaths. As was the case in 1918, the dominant view today holds that it is necessary to inflict exemplary punishment on the aggressor, so as to leave it broken and humbled for a long time.  

Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) brought peace to Europe until 1914

In 1918, the defeated power was Germany (and the Ottoman Empire). There were dissenting voices (John Maynard Keynes and a few others) for whom the complete humbling of Germany would be disastrous in terms of the reconstruction of Europe and of a lasting peace on the continent and in the world. Their warnings were not heeded, and twenty-one years later Europe was again at war. There followed five years of destruction that left more than 70 million people dead. History does not repeat itself, nor does it seem to teach us anything, but it does illustrate and highlight similarities and differences. Let me offer two illustrations.

By 1914, Europe had been experiencing relative peace for a hundred years, a period during which there had been many wars, but of a limited and short-lived nature. The secret of this peace lay in the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815). Held with the purpose of putting an end to the cycle of change, turmoil and war that had been set in motion by the French Revolution and made worse by the Napoleonic wars, it led to a treaty that was signed nine days before Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo. The whole conference was dominated by conservative forces, and the period that followed came to be known as the Restoration (of the old European order). The reason that meeting in Vienna comes to mind at this time has to do with another of its aspects. It was chaired by Klemens von Metternich, a great Austrian statesman whose main concern was to bring together all the European powers, the victors and the vanquished, in order to ensure lasting peace. It was clear that the defeated power (France) would have to suffer the consequences (territorial losses), but it signed the treaty along with all the other powers (Austria, England, Russia and Prussia), with conditions being imposed on all so as to ensure lasting peace across Europe. And so it came to be.

When compared to the present situation, there are numerous differences. The main difference is that, although this time the war is also taking place in Europe, the warring parties are a European and a non-European power (Russia and the US, respectively). The conflict has all the characteristics of a proxy war, one in which the two sides use a third country – ‘the country of sacrifice’ (in the present case, Ukraine) – to achieve geostrategic goals that go well beyond the country in question and even the region to which it belongs (Europe). In fact, the only reason Russia is at war with Ukraine is because it is at war with NATO, an organization whose Supreme Allied Commander for Europe “is traditionally a US commander.”

As an organization, NATO has been at the service of US geostrategic interests, especially since the end of the first Cold War. Once a steadfast champion, in other geopolitical contexts, of the self-determination of peoples, Russia is now illegally sacrificing these same principles to assert its own security concerns, after failing to have them recognized through peaceful means, and out of an undisguised imperial nostalgia. For its part, since the end of the first Cold War the US has striven to deepen Russia’s defeat, a defeat which in fact was probably more self-inflicted than brought about by any superiority on the part of its opponent. For a brief period, the diplomatic debate in Washington was between ‘partnership for peace’ and ‘the expansion of NATO to ensure the security of the emerging countries of the Soviet bloc’. Under President Clinton, the latter policy prevailed. Albeit for different reasons, the US, too, sees Ukraine as the ‘country of sacrifice’. In this light, the ultimate goal of the war in Ukraine is to inflict an unconditional defeat on Russia, preferably one that leads to regime change in Moscow. The duration of the war depends on that goal.

(Continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:
Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

Where is Russia’s incentive to end the war when the British Prime Minister permits himself to say that sanctions against Russia will continue, no matter what Russia’s position is at the present moment? Is it enough that Putin be ousted (as was the case with Napoleon in 1815), or is it Russia that needs to be ousted so that China’s expansion can be halted? There was also regime change in the 1918 humbling of Germany, but it all ended up leading to Hitler and an even more devastating war. President Zelensky’s political greatness could be construed as being either in recognition of the brave patriot who defends his country from the invader to the last drop of blood, or in recognition of the brave patriot who, faced with the imminence of so many innocent deaths and the asymmetry in military strength, successfully enlists the support of his allies to negotiate fiercely in order to secure a dignified peace. The fact that the former construction is now the prevalent one has probably little to do with President Zelensky’s personal preferences.

My second illustration of similarities and differences vis-à-vis the recent past concerns Europe’s geopolitical position. During the two world wars of the 20th century, Europe was the self-proclaimed center of the world. That is why we call them world wars. About four million of ‘Europe’s’ troops were in fact African and Asian, and many thousands of non-European deaths were the price paid by the inhabitants of remote colonies of the countries involved, sacrificed in a war that did not concern them. Now, however, Europe is but a small corner of the world, which the war in Ukraine will render even smaller. For centuries it was the farthest tip of Eurasia, the huge land mass that stretched from China to the Iberian Peninsula and witnessed the exchange of knowledge, products, scientific innovations and cultures. Much of what was later attributed to European exceptionalism (from the scientific revolution of the 16th century to the industrial revolution in the 19th century) cannot be understood, nor would it have been possible, without those centuries-old exchanges.

The war in Ukraine – especially if it goes on for too long – runs the risk not only of amputating one of Europe’s historic powers (Russia), but also of isolating it from the rest of the world, notably from China. The world is far bigger than what we get to see through European lenses. Seeing through these lenses, Europeans have never felt so strong, so close to their larger partner, so sure of standing on the right side of history, with the whole planet being run by the world of the ‘liberal order,’ a world finally feeling strong enough to go forth sometime soon and conquer – or at least neutralize – China, after having destroyed China’s main partner, Russia. Seeing through non-European lenses, on the other hand, Europe and the US stand haughtily all but alone, probably capable of winning one battle, but on their way to certain defeat in the war of history.

More than half of the world’s population lives in countries that have decided not to join the sanctions against Russia. Many of the UN countries that voted (rightly) against the illegal invasion of Ukraine did so based on their historical experience, which consisted in being invaded, not by Russia, but rather by the US, England, France or Israel. Their decision was not dictated by ignorance, but by precaution. How can they trust countries that created SWIFT – a financial transfer system aimed at protecting economic transactions against political interference – only to end up removing from that system a country on political grounds? Countries that arrogate to themselves the power to confiscate the financial and gold reserves of sovereign nations like Afghanistan, Venezuela and now Russia? Countries that trumpet freedom of expression as a sacrosanct universal value, but resort to censorship the moment they are exposed by it? Countries that are supposed to cherish democracy and yet have no qualms about staging a coup whenever an election goes against their interests? Countries in whose eyes the ‘dictator’ Nicolas Maduro becomes a trading partner overnight, because the circumstances have changed?

The world is no longer a place of innocence – if it ever was.

– – – –

* Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the School of Economics, University of Coimbra (Portugal), Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and Global Legal Scholar at the University of Warwick. He is Director of the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra and Scientific Coordinator of the Permanent Observatory for Portuguese Justice..

UK National Demonstration: Peace Talks Now – Stop the War in Ukraine


Received by email from

President Zelensky’s visit to parliament took us a big step closer to open war with Russia. The UK stop on Zelensky’s whirlwind European tour was the first and most important. He used it to push for more tanks and crucially for fighter jets. Boris Johnson demanded Typhoons be shipped out immediately. Sunak responded by saying planes would likely be sent.

If NATO planes confront Russian fighters over Ukraine we would be on the brink of a great power confrontation. If the demand for jets is agreed, we can be sure it will be followed by calls for ground troops.

The anti-war movement needs to respond and respond decisively. We are calling for all Stop the War groups and all our members and supporters to spend the next two weeks mobilising urgently for the Peace Talks Now – Stop the War in Ukraine demonstration on 25 February.

Assemble at BBC, Portland Place, W1A 1AA at 12 Noon. Marching to Trafalgar Square.

Yes, I’ll Join the March!

We ask you to publicise the demonstration in every way possible; join our twitter storm this evening (February 10) using hashtags #NoToWar & #PeaceNow; organise stalls and leafleting sessions in your area; get in touch with your local sympathetic organisations and activists including trade unions; distribute and display leaflets at your workplace or college.

(Continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Continued from left column)

If you live in London please join one or more of the leafletting sessions already organised.

You can download flyers for the demo here. If you need to order leaflets or any other material drop us a line at

Peace Now – Stop the War in Ukraine! International Online Rally

To make the call for peace, Stop the War Coalition is hosting an online international rally on Mon 13 Feb. We’ll be joined by some great speakers from around the world to discuss what we can do to de-escalate the war in Ukraine and end the devastation that’s taking place there.

Speakers: Tariq Ali (Writer & Activist), Clare Daly MEP, Lindsey German (StWC), Kate Hudson (CND), Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK) and more.

Sign Up Here

20 Year anniversary of Iraq Demo

February 15 marks the 20th anniversary of the largest political demonstration ever in the UK. Well over a million people joined us on the streets to oppose the war.

We are asking all our supporters who took part to email in your photos from the day, tweet and share on social media using the hashtag #Iraq20Years so that we can re-share them.

On 20 March we are holding an anniversary event marking the date the war broke out (19th) at the Swiss Church in Central London. Hold the date!

We are also participating in the International Peace Bureau’s online event to mark the global nature of the protests. Further information and link to join here.

Peace Talks Now! Demonstration Fundraiser

Putting on a demonstration in Central London costs a lot of money. Please help us cover the cost of the demonstration by donating to our fundraiser...

Donate to Our Demo Fundraiser

What Do Ukrainians Want? Not an Uncompromising Battle That Puts Them in Grave Danger


An article by Richard Miller in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

(Editor’s note: We recently published an article in CPNN with polls showing that a majority of Russians no longer desire the war with Ukraine despite the dictatorial suppression of opposition to the war by the Putin regime. Now here is an article with polls showing similar results in Ukraine despite the dictatorial suppression of opposition to the war by the Zelensky regime.

Since negotiations with Russia ended in late March, the president of Ukraine has proclaimed a goal of uncompromising victory: “Free our entire territory. Drive the occupiers out of all our regions.” The battle to achieve this victory has relied on a vast surge of military equipment, of steeply increasing sophistication, destructiveness and reach, provided by the United States, in military aid in excess of $15 billion . How well does the uncompromising battle fit Ukrainians’ desires? Not well enough to justify the U.S. government’s encouragement and support.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of Ukrainians want Russia to leave the territory it controls. Even in eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, only a minority wanted to be part of Russia, pre-invasion. And, of course, there is no doubt that the consequences of battles to drive Russia out of Ukrainian territory are, to put it mildly, undesired. In the estimate of the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, well over 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers and as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have already been killed or wounded. Seven million people have fled abroad , from a country where forty one million had lived outside of Crimea before the war, and six and a half million are internally displaced by the war’s devastation. But the moral justification of U.S. support and encouragement for an uncompromising battle depends on a more difficult question, “To what extent do people where the carnage of an uncompromising battle would be concentrated support it despite its toll?” The most defensible answer is an important reason why the U.S. should change course.

Polls of Ukrainian opinion exclude some areas where the toll of an uncompromising battle to expel Russia would be especially severe. A large majority of people living in Crimea identify as ethnically Russian. There is no reason to suppose that they would willingly endure the brutal mayhem required to restore Ukrainian sovereignty. Russian-controlled areas in the east that included extensive separatist-controlled territory pre-invasion are not surveyed now. In the 2019 poll of people in separatist-controlled regions that I cited, conducted by a Berlin-based think tank, 45 percent supported integration with Russia and 31 percent supported special autonomy status within Ukraine. The only news story in U.S. media that I am aware of that is based on extensive on-the-ground interviews in contested separatist regions was published in the New York Times on January 16 this year; it reported widespread support for separatism, substantial opposition, and the longing of most people for the end of the grave burdens of conflict that they had already endured.

(Continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

In polls of the remaining territory, responses favoring an uncompromising battle are much less common where its carnage would be concentrated. For example, in a May 19-24 telephone poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 61% supported continuing “opposing Russian aggression until all of Ukraine, including Crimea, is under Kyiv control,” but in the east, where dangers of carnage are greatest, this was the response of a minority, 45%. This tepid response is already disturbing, given the geographic limitation. KIIS’s comment on a May survey points to another, non-geographic factor: “In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness may have [been] either a lower willingness to participate in polls of citizens with ‘pro-Russian’ moods, or the insincerity of those who still took part in the poll (given the obvious facts and prevailing views in the media about the Russian invasion, some citizens ‘publicly’ do not want to say what they really think).”

A long history of political repression contributes to that reluctance. Since well before the current invasion, Zelensky has vigorously repressed potential sources of support for concessive negotiations.

One dual target has been the second-largest party in parliament, the Opposition Platform for Life, which is inclined to accommodation of Russia and led Zelensky’s party in some polls when the repression began, and Viktor Medvedchuk, its chairperson and major financier. On February 3, 2021, three television stations owned by Medvedchuk were banned . Though it lacked the constitutional authority to do so, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council seized Medvedchuk’s assets on February 19, 2021 and put him under house arrest in May. These measures were followed by imprisonment shortly after Russia’s invasion. By the start of 2022, the government had banned most of the main opposition media. On March 20, 2022, Zelensky banned eleven parties, including the Opposition Platform, and signed a decree merging all national TV channels into a single platform.

These actions, along with many other restrictive measures, help to explain why Freedom House’s “democracy score” for Ukraine throughout Zelensky’s presidency has been substantially lower than Hungary’s under Viktor Orban. Prior to these constraints, a June 2017 poll of people outside the separatist regions and Crimea asked about compromise with Russia and separatists for the sake of peace in the eastern provinces. 52 percent responded that “it is necessary to accept compromises, but not all of them.” 18 percent (25 percent in the east) endorsed the option, “Peace ‘at any price,’ it is necessary to make any compromise – with anyone and on anything.”

Faced with challenges to U.S. support for an uncompromising battle, its defenders claim that it reflects the will of the people of Ukraine. If most of those who are in most danger do not willingly accept the price of what the U.S. sustains and encourages, this is a powerful reason why the U.S. should change course.

After nine months of war, carnage and surging armament, concessive peace is still feasible, a peace that the U.S. could promote by moderating its acceleration of military provision, moderating the tone and content of its public calls for Ukrainian victory, and engaging in quiet diplomacy with both sides. It would consist of ceasefire around lines of control not recognized as sovereign borders by Ukraine or Russia, lines including Russia’s control of Crimea and of significant gains since its invasion: substantial expansion in Luhansk and Donetsk beyond the eastern regions that separatists had controlled and a wide southern corridor from there to Crimea, removing pre-war obstacles to supplies and water. Respect for the desires of people in Ukraine is no excuse for rejecting this change in the U.S. response to the Ukraine war.