Illia Fedin, a young lawyer based in Kharkiv, Ukraine, underlines the importance of moving beyond words to real action that will stop the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine...
On February 24, 2022, at about 6:00 AM, I woke up to a telephone call from my friend. I was at home in Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, located near the border with Russia. “The war has started” were the first words I heard that day. I just stayed in the middle of my room for half an hour trying to find some info. After about 30 minutes, I heard a powerful explosion from my window. The war has started.
Today is the 27th day of the war. There have been 2,246 civilian casualties in the context of Russia’s armed attack against Ukraine—847 killed, including 64 children, and 1,399 injured, including 78 children—mainly by shelling and airstrikes, said the United Nations Human Rights office, as of March 18 2022.
The 27th day of the war. All of us have already seen photos of Ukrainian schools, kindergartens, hospitals, theatres, markets, malls, and residential areas destroyed by Russian bombs, and many more creepy pictures of dead or hurt people.
One of the most awful incidents that we have seen in this war so far is the shameless and unacceptable bombing of Mariupol’s theatre, where many people were hidden. Around the building was written, in big Russian letters, the word “Children” for the Russian pilots who are shelling the city.
I am sure that every person who will read this clearly understands that my country has been facing horrifying crimes for all 27 days of the war. Also, I have no doubt that anyone who reads these words understands that this war must get over immediately.
But I am not sure if the world has any (peaceful) legal mechanisms to stop catastrophes like these.
The UN has to be the most influential international organization to prevent or stop any war. It isn’t necessary to describe its history, structure, functions, or mission because everyone knows about it well, including the people of Russia. So what could we expect from the UN?
On February 25, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution deploring, in the strongest terms, the Russian Federation’s aggression, as expected. Eleven countries voted in favor, while China, India, and the United Arab Emirates abstained. The UN Security Council voted to hold an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly to vote on a similar resolution, which convened on February 28.
On March 2, the UN General Assembly voted 141–5 to demand Russia stop the war and withdraw all of its military forces.
“Give peace a chance,” said the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Russia and Ukraine.
Only a few words and appeals were made by the most influential international organizations to stop this terrifying war. So what are we waiting for? These words cannot stop Russia from bombing my country and killing my people. We perceive this inaction with calm because we’ve gotten used to the social and political impotence of the UN. But this inaction has destroyed so many lives. People’s lives are the cost of these words. The cost of “blah, blah, blah.”
Obviously, we have to start a discussion to create legal instruments, including those provided by force, if needed, to stop illegal acts of violence like Russia is indulging in at present. This is a matter of life and death.
It is remarkable to note that 86.6% of Russians support a potential invasion of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania.
Speaking to the US Congress, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called for creating a new association of states, ‘U-24. United for Peace.’ He noted that “the institutions that should be protecting us from war… do not work.” So, he said, we need new institutions and unions.
“And we propose to create an association – U-24. United for Peace. A union of responsible states with the strength and conscience to stop conflicts. Immediately. Provide all the necessary assistance within 24 hours. If necessary, with weapons. If necessary, with sanctions, humanitarian support, political support, and money. Everything we need to keep the peace,” he said.
Of course, you can say these are just the emotions of a person who has seen only deaths and destruction for the last three weeks and give these words no importance. But who will be next? It doesn’t matter who, but I clearly understand what the UN will do. And you?
Illia Fedin is a young lawyer based in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Suggested citation: Illia Fedin, JURIST – Professional Commentary, March 23, 2022, https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2022/03/illia-fedin-cost-of-blah-blah-blah/.
This article was prepared for publication by Viraj Aditya, a JURIST staff editor. Please direct any questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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