On February 24, 2022, the Russian military invaded Ukraine. Whether this conflict should be considered any more or less serious than other global conflicts may be a matter for historians to consider at some future date. Currently, however, this seems to be a very concerning situation as it is viewed by some as the largest military assault in Europe since the 1940’s. This attitude seems to ignore the Bosnian war of the early 1990’s, which was no small incident.
Setting aside comparisons, the conflict in Ukraine may well be a world-changing situation. So HumanistFreedoms.com is interested to know what humanists and humanist organizations have to say. Following is a sample of what we’ve found. Are you a humanist and have something to say? Do you know about a humanist position on this situation that we ought to cover? Let us know.
February 28, 2022: Humanists International Says “Human Rights Council must act in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”
Ahead of an urgent debate at the UN Human Rights Council on the Human Rights situation in Ukraine following the unprovoked and illegal invasion by Russia, Humanists International is calling for the creation of a UN mechanism to monitor and report on the situation in Ukraine and for Russia to be suspended as a member of the Human Rights Council.
During the opening of the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council – which began this morning – Ukraine called on the Council to approve the holding of an urgent debate following the Russian invasion on 24 February.
When requesting that the debate happen, the Ukrainian Ambassador, said, “The reason for this request is known to the whole world. Russia, a member of this Council, perpetrated an unprovoked and unified attack on Ukraine.” She noted that, “Russian aggression is accompanied by a massive flow of disinformation that aims to distort the truth and mislead the international community. Some of it we will hear today, as well as in other rooms of the [UN] Palais des Nations.”
Members of the Human Rights Council approved the request of an urgent debate to be held, with 29 out of 47 countries voted in favor. China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela and Eritrea voted against having the debate. Armenia, Cameroon, Gabon, India, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Namibia, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Uzbekistan abstained.
The debate is scheduled to happen on Thursday 3 March and Friday 4 March.
Ahead of the debate, Humanists International is calling for the debate to lead to the adoption of a resolution unequivocally condemning Russia’s violations of international law, including international criminal law, international human rights law and the UN Charter. It should recognise that Russia’s actions against Ukraine constitute an unprovoked and illegal invasion, and one which has, and will, result in massive human rights violations.
It is also calling for the resolution to:
- Call on the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia’s membership of the Human Rights Council (in line with GA Resolutions General Assembly Resolution 60/251);
- Create a Commission of Inquiry, to monitor and report on the situation in Ukraine and to promote accountability for all human rights violations;
- Mandate a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Russia itself. The oppressive human rights climate in the Russian Federation itself (including the severe restrictions on free expression, the widespread propagation of disinformation, the repression of civil society, and the intimidation, censoring and criminalisation of journalists) all contribute to the Russian government being able to wage a war of aggression without accountability at home.
March 1, 2022 on Pressenza: A Guide for Peace in Ukraine: A Humanist and Nonviolent Proposal
The Centre for Humanist Studies “Exemplary Actions”, the Portuguese branch of the World Centre for Humanist Studies, an organism of the Humanist Movement, is disseminating a non-violent proposal for the restoration of peace in Ukraine, inviting citizens and non-governmental organisations who identify with it to sign it and send it to the Russian, Ukrainian and American embassies, as well as to the United Nations (UN), the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of their respective countries, to sign it and send it to the Russian, Ukrainian and American embassies, as well as to the United Nations (UN), the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of their respective countries, in order to produce a popular outcry capable of influencing the course of events.
For your information, we transcribe here the humanist proposal in its entirety:
- A nation is defined by the mutual recognition established by people who identify themselves with similar values and who aspire to a common future – and this does not necessarily have to do with race or ethnicity, or with language, or with History understood as a long process that begins in a mythical past;
- This mutual recognition between people can lead to the formation of national or plurinational States, as well as the existence of nations spread over several States, without this implying the loss of the individual’s sense of belonging to their community or preventing the possibility of convergence in diversity;
- States do not have the potentiality to constitute, by themselves, nations and can, therefore, be transformed throughout history, since they are, for all intents and purposes, changeable social and political constructions, as models of governance of peoples ;
- National minorities have, in any case, the right to have their cultural specificity recognized, as well as the right to self-determination, within the framework of a democratic federative organization and respect for human rights.
And recognizing that,
- Peaceful conflict resolution requires each party to put itself in the other’s shoes, opening itself to a process of cooperative negotiation and reciprocal treatment;
- National interests must be reciprocally attended, as far as possible, but they do not justify everything, nor can they override the human being as a central value and concern;
- The freedom of choice of individuals and peoples only exists if it can be exercised without external pressure and interference, imposed in a violent way;
- Humanity’s progress is not made through the constitution of empires or supranational entities that alienate the power of the social base in favour of particular economic interests, but through the construction of a Universal Human Nation, diverse and inclusive, governed by freedom, equal rights and opportunities and non-violence;
We propose the following guide for peace, given the difficult situation currently experienced on Ukrainian territory, with a view to halting the unacceptable return to war on European soil, which has caused so much life and destruction in the recent past:
- Immediate ceasefire between the warring parties and opening of humanitarian corridors for assistance to civilian populations;
- Withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory and creation of a multinational peacekeeping force, constituted under the aegis of the United Nations (UN), for the Dombass region;
- Temporary demilitarization of Dombass by the belligerent forces and the possibility of the return of refugee civilian populations;
- Organization of a fair and free referendum on the self-determination of Dombass territory, under UN supervision, with a commitment to the acceptance of the respective results by the interested parties;
- Organization of a fair and free referendum on the self-determination of the territory of Crimea, under UN supervision, with a commitment to the acceptance of the respective results by the interested parties;
- Adoption of a status of political-military neutrality by Ukraine and recognition of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, depending on the results of the aforementioned referendums, by Russia;
- Lifting of all economic sanctions between the parties and resumption of international political and economic cooperation.
- Conducting international talks on nuclear and conventional disarmament at regional and global levels.
March 4, 2022 : The Ontario Humanist Society Condemns Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
OHS calls for Russia to cease its illegal and unprovoked actions, and to cease all challenges to Ukraine’s independence. Russia must terminate its violation of international law and of the UN Charter, and withdraw from Ukraine immediately. There is no justification for this aggression and the cost will be borne by innocent Ukrainians. As Humanists we can NOT turn away from this humanitarian crisis. We encourage OHS members to stand behind the Ukrainian people through the many opportunities available to us, some suggestions are listed below. Our Ethical Actions Committee will further examine steps we can take to continue to show our support for Ukraine.
If you would like to donate to support Ukraine, here are some charities that you might wish to consider:
Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal The Canadian Government will match all donations by Canadians dollar-for-dollar, to a maximum of $10 million.
United Nations High Commission on Refugees Canada
If you would like to provide input into Canada’s response to the situation in Ukraine:
Write to our Prime Minister https://pm.gc.ca/en/connect/contact
Or seek out an on-line petition that supports your point of view. Thank you for joining the OHS board in condemning this travesty that is unfolding before us.
Kerry J. Bowser President, OHS
March 14, 2022: The Gold Foundation’s Statement in Support of Ukraine and Humanism
These tumultuous and uncertain times demand of us the greatest possible expression of humanism. As Dr. George Thibault, Trustee of the Gold Foundation, has said in his defining essay on this topic, “It will be hard to have humanism in medicine if there is no humanism in the world around us.”
We are reminded of these words as the crisis continues to unfold in the Ukraine. Russia has attacked not only military targets and soldiers but civilians, schools, homes, and hospitals. More than 30 hospitals have been destroyed, including the horrific bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol.
These attacks are the essence of anti-humanism, sparing no human interests, values, and dignity. They are both direct attacks on humanism in healthcare, the sphere of our work, and on the wider humanism in our world, literally the foundation of freedom, compassion and science.
Still, through the scenes of rubble and destruction, we see humanity. Humanity in the healthcare heroes dodging artillery as they work tirelessly on the frontlines of the conflict. Humanity in those rising to defend their homes, their country, and democracy at large. Humanity in the charitable donations and mobilization here in the United States and around the globe. Humanity in a time where home can be everywhere and nowhere all at once, an unfortunate truth that tells the story of so many refugees from war and conflict throughout our world.
At the Gold Foundation, in thousands of ways, we’ve seen Gold community members apply compassion, collaboration, and scientific excellence in practical, real-life ways throughout their clinical work, teachings, talks, and relationships. The culture of humanism in healthcare is the bedrock of the Gold Foundation, influencing all of our work, creating the structure and draw of the Gold community and its Gold Humanism Honor Society, whose Advisory Council voted unanimously to publish a statement on the inhumanity of the tragedy in Ukraine. It is joined by the entirety of the Gold Foundation family in standing with the efforts of humanists around the world who rally together and further humanism in all its forms. The Ukrainian people and all people affected depend on the shared mission of humanism, in this crisis and in the years to come.
March 16, 2022: Humanists International says: Belgian Humanist convoy reaches Ukraine border with humanitarian aid
After a journey of 1,500km, employees from deMens.nu and Centre d’Action Laïque reached Medyka, a village on the Polish-Ukrainian border, on Monday night.
Four vans, packed with medical supplies and other necessities, were unloaded at the tent camp yesterday, then sorted and distributed to Ukrainian refugees .
“We are all very impressed by what we have seen. It is quiet in the car, words fail everyone . Despite the confrontation with a lot of human suffering, I am particularly proud of our humanist community, which has shown its full force,” says Yasmina El Boubkari.
deMens.nu is still collecting funds to help Ukrainian refugees. You can donate to BE 55 9734 2242 6344.
With this money, deMens.nu and CAL are buying bandages, syringes, infusions,, paracetamol, ibuprofen, isobetadine, styptic drugs, antibiotics, haemostatic agents, but also baby food, milk powder, wet wipes, sanitary towels, candles, diapers, thermal blankets, gloves, hats, stockings, backpacks, thermal clothing, ski clothes, sleeping bags, food preserves and ready meals.
Citations, References And Other Reading
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