PAX Position on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Image: Olena Hantsyak-Kaskiv

PAX’s core values are human dignity and solidarity. Therefore, our work revolves around three central objectives: protecting civilians from the impact of war, ending armed conflicts and contributing to peaceful and just societies. Driven by these goals and values, PAX works with a central focus on civilians in conflict areas top of mind. 

In the context of the current war in Ukraine, these principles translate into the following

  • We strive for a just peace that upholds freedom, democracy, and human rights, guided by international law and humanitarian law. 
  • Ensuring broad security for civilians (human security) is of utmost importance. 
  • We support individuals and groups endorsing these values, prioritizing local empowerment. 

Based on these principles, PAX holds the following vision 

  1. Russia’s war violates international law and, through numerous breaches of the laws of war, infringes upon the human rights of millions of Ukrainians. The Russian military, as well as private military companies like Wagner, must cease their aggression and withdraw from Ukraine. 
  1. To help achieve the withdrawal of Russian troops, we suggest the following actions:  weakening Russia’s wartime economy through sanctions, increasing diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin, providing assistance to Ukraine, supporting Russian anti-war and democratization activists, and countering Russian propaganda. 
  1. Ukraine has the right (and the duty) to defend and protect its citizens on its territory. In the current context, providing weapons support is necessary for this purpose. The alternative – further Russian occupation – would result in more Ukrainian citizens falling victim to terror, torture, extrajudicial executions, and forced assimilation. 
  1. International standards apply to arms deliveries. Therefore, these deliveries should consider how much the weaponry enhances civilian protection and explicitly exclude illicit arms, such as cluster munitions or landmines. Ukraine should refrain from deploying systems capable of delivering explosive weaponry within populated regions. 
  1. The current situation doesn’t mean the EU should view everything from a military perspective. Inclusive democracy, respect for human rights and freedom, and investing in conflict resolution skills offer the greatest chance for sustainable peace. A dictatorial regime will never provide true protection and security for its citizens in the long run, both domestically and in neighboring countries. 
  1. As long as weapon manufacturers supply arms to both democratic nations and authoritarian regimes and keep on producing banned weapons – such as nuclear weapons – financial institutions should refrain from investing in these companies. 
  1. Ukraine determines if, when, and what it is willing to negotiate. Ukraine bears the violence and devastation of this war. For sustainable, inclusive peace, it is crucial that the Ukrainian population, in all its diversity, can exert influence. This includes women, youth, minorities, those in hiding, fleeing, or residing in occupied areas. 
  1. Efforts to minimize the damage of the war should include: 
  • Focusing on the protection and safety of civilians. 
  • Monitoring (war) crimes is crucial. To inform the civilian population and (local) governance about the situation, enabling measures where possible, and for truth-finding and justice in the medium to long term. 
  • Preserving and restoring social cohesion, mental resilience, countering polarization, and addressing war trauma, including through psychosocial support, dialogue skills, and inclusive, trauma-informed processing, also as part of judicial processes. 
  • Maintaining progress in democracy and human rights, such as vigilance against the militarization of governance and society, the prompt repeal of emergency laws enacted due to the war, and ensuring that the war does not lead to a regression in conservative (gender) stereotypes. 
  • Support for reconstruction driven by local governments, civil society, and citizens. 
  • Humanitarian aid, supportive of or in addition to robust Ukrainian volunteer organizations, should be conflict-sensitive, aligned with current local needs, and focused on self-reliance. Ensuring the safety of local staff and Ukrainian organizations is also essential. 
  1. PAX welcomes Ukraine’s candidacy for European Union membership. PAX advocates for changes in this accession process with a stronger emphasis on inclusive citizenship, internal accountability, and democratization. Additionally, PAX calls for exploring ways to reduce the gap between EU membership and non-membership. 
  1. Looking to the future, a new security architecture in Europe is necessary. Russia must be involved in this process. A sustainable security architecture on the European continent must develop in parallel with a process of reckoning with the past, involving Russia and Ukraine. Fundamental changes in how the Russian government treats its citizens and neighboring countries are prerequisites. 
  1. PAX has never believed in the idea that possessing nuclear weapons ensures mutual deterrence and less war. It is now evident that nuclear weapons are being used as a pretext to violate international and humanitarian law and to oppress and kill people. Ultimately, a world without nuclear weapons offers a greater chance for truly sustainable peace. 
  1. This war proves the need for a value-driven foreign and trade policy. Peace is only sustainable when democratic countries consistently stand in solidarity with those who lack access to democracy and whose human rights and human dignity are violated. 
photo: Olena Hantsyak-Kaskiv

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