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Ukraine Crisis and the Security Council

On February 21, 2022 the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the evolving situation in Ukraine. Many voices repeated statements made in other fora by their Heads of State.

US Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, stated, ‘…clearly (this is) the basis for Russia’s attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.’ A clear echoing of President Biden’s previous statements that Russia was generating a ‘false flag’ scenario to support military intervention.

The French Ambassador, Nicolas De Riviere, called on Russia to, ‘match its words with deeds when it claims to be in favor of dialogue and to reverse the decision to recognize the separatist entities’. A reflection of President Macron’s efforts to broker a summit to find a diplomatic solution to the threat of war.

But the Security Council meeting brought forward another voice, one of the most powerful voices among a room of giants. The Kenyan Ambassador, Martin Kimani, reflected, ‘At independence, had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later.’ ‘We chose to follow the rules of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Charter. Not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater, forged in peace.’

The next day, on a briefing by the outgoing Security Council members (as of January 2022) to the members of the World Federation of United Nations Associations, of which the United Nations Association in Canada is a founding member, I heard Ambassador Kimani’s voice echoed, elevated and empowered by other Ambassadors.

The Security Council was established through the UN Charter to play a number of roles, including imposing sanctions and authorizing peacekeeping options. But it was also tasked with identifying and investigating security risks and finding pathways to peace.

While the world may focus on economics, trade and financial flows to correct and regulate the situation in Ukraine, Ambassador Kimani reminds us, through his platform on the Security Council, that unless a nation chooses to turn away from the ravages of war, unless a nation chooses to forge their future in peace, war can be delayed or diverted, but never eliminated as a threat.

All major conflicts can be traced back to a series of historical decisions or acts, but paths to peace struggle through the same types of historical circumstances. Kenya has its fair share of internal conflict, election violence and accusations of inequality. European colonialism handed Kenya messy borders and the foundations for strife. But Kenya continues to build a nation that strives for peace, not war.

One Member of the Security Council gave us another vision for the future. One in which conflict is not absent, but in which the determination to found a nation based on peace keeps the path through conflict focused on creating a safe and prosperous future.

It is unfortunately unlikely that this vision will resonate enough when nations clash over the current crisis in Ukraine. But the UN will continue to learn from its Members and the UN Association in Canada will continue to bring the voices and aspirations of the UN home to Canadians.

As a national civil society organization, UNA-Canada continues to raise awareness, concern and empathy on international issues that affect us all. A major focus of our programmes is to support youth as they gain empathy-based skills that enable them to live and serve as caring global citizens. For more information please visit our website at www.unac.org

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