Open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations
SECT. GUTERRES, WHY ARE YOU NOT IN MOSCOW AND IN KYIV?
The suffering and horrors of war are weighing us all down. Not only are people dying and infrastructure devastated, we are becoming less and less able to counter broad existential problems such as poverty, starvation, inequality, the nuclear threat and the climate and environmental crisis. Additionally, the multilateral system seems to be failing humanity and the vision of a world without war.
Military means presently prevail over conflict-resolution through peaceful means. People in the West turn to NATO, more than to the UN. That is not a good sign for our common future. As you repeatedly have said, without disarmament we will not get development, not reach the Sustainable Development Goals. We will, in fact, be getting weapons for bread.
Whilst there are all reasons to appreciate highly the work of the UN in its different fields of competence, including the role of the UN in humanitarian rescue operations, the ability to solve conflicts in acute situations, has been failing. Being fully aware of the difficulties inherited already from the League of Nations, the Security Council, with its five permanent major powers with the right to veto and in charge of the worlds biggest military machineries, hampers more than facilitates the realisation of the supreme goal of the UN to create peace by peaceful means.
The Security Council has not used its many diplomatic tools to solve the conflicts and end the war in Ukraine, but has been more preoccupied by blaming and shaming. Conflict resolution discussions involving one of the Permanent Fives (P5s), China, England, France, Russia and USA, should be moved from the Security Council to the General Assembly, making it possible, under certain rules, for the broad membership of the General Assembly to make binding resolutions, not only recommendations.
The very existence of weapons of mass destruction makes the risks of this confrontation particularly high. No diplomatic and peace-making initiatives should be untried.
Nobody is in a better position than you, Secretary General of the UN, to take initiatives based solely on the Charter of the UN. Disregarding the interests of the P5s might of course cause you your position. Sentiments are running high in this period of war-frenzy. Yet, you owe it to the world to try, with all your energy, knowledge, courage and diplomatic skills and with all the tools meticulously and creatively developed by peace-loving people over decades.
Peace activists call upon you, António Guterres, to immediately use your position and “good office” to obtain a cease-fire in Ukraine. It is important for the people of Ukraine, the people of Russia, for Europe and the rest of the world. And it is important for the future trust we can put in the UN system when it comes to international relations.
Mr. Guterres, please go URGENTLY to Moscow and to Kyiv to negotiate a cease-fire in the immediate, and thereby, hopefully, also open doors to solving the conflict by peaceful means.
Since there has so far been too few women involved in official attempts to get the war in Ukraine to an end, you might want to call upon e.g. the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to accompany you. They are both experienced UN leaders and their respective mandates would be an asset to the negotiations.
Ingeborg Breines, Oslo 24.03.22
Consultant and former co-president International Peace Bureau
former director UNESCO
Ingeborg Breines served as Secretary-General of the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO before joining UNESCO Headquarters, where she first held the position as Special Adviser to the Director-General on Women and Gender, then as Director of the Women and the Culture of Peace Program. Subsequently, she was appointed Director of the UNESCO Office in Islamabad and the UNESCO Liaison Office in Geneva. She served as co-president of the International Peace Bureau from 2009 to 2016.