The defense of international law concerns everyone

South Africa, Saudi Arabia and India are just some of the participants who did not sign the final declaration. Many countries have the false belief that the war in Ukraine is none of their business and that they can stay out of it.

Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states should be a principle that all countries can support. One might also expect that the protection of children from abduction, the safety of nuclear facilities and the uninterrupted supply of food would be undisputed. Nevertheless, at the Ukraine summit in Switzerland, more than a dozen countries in the so-called global south refused to sign the final declaration that reaffirmed these principles.

In addition to the Asian regional power India, which had been particularly courted by Kiev and Bern in the run-up to the summit, regional heavyweights such as South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia also refused to sign. The absence of traditionally pro-Western states such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates is also striking. Brazil is also missing from the list, but the country was only represented as an observer at the Bürgenstock anyway.

Many other emerging countries did not even send a representative – starting with China, an important ally of Vladimir Putin. Some states, such as the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia, were probably afraid of angering Russia by coming. For others, the issue was simply not important enough. In many parts of the world, the idea persists that the conflict is none of their business and that it is better to stay out of it.

Glorified view of Russia

In fact, no country can remain unmoved when a country invades a neighbor, bombs its cities, and occupies parts of its territory. In large parts of the world, however, the war in Ukraine is seen as a conflict between Russia and the West. In many traditionally pro-Russian states, the view persists that Kiev itself was responsible for the war by turning to the West, and that Russia is only defending itself against NATO encroaching on its sphere of influence.

Many states still find it difficult to recognize Russia as the imperialist power that it is. This misunderstanding goes back a long way. Although Russia has pursued a clearly colonialist policy since the 19th century with the conquest of the Caucasus and Central Asia, it claimed not to be a colonial power. Many former colonies, which are otherwise quite sensitive to neo-colonial tendencies, now allow the Kremlin to get away with its imperial policy.

Deep-seated anti-Americanism makes it difficult for many to accept that in this case the aggression is not coming from the USA. Even countries like Egypt and Lebanon, which were directly affected by the blockade of grain deliveries and the price increases after the war began, do not want to position themselves clearly against Russia. In addition, there is often a certain opportunism: why spoil your relationship with the Kremlin if you don’t gain anything in the West?

The Gaza war has weakened the West’s position

However, the attitude of the Western states in the Gaza war may have damaged their position on Ukraine. In the Middle East in particular, many Arabs accuse them of double standards and hypocrisy because they do not want to clearly condemn Israel when they condemn Russia without reservation. Many commentators in the Arab states criticize the fact that the much-vaunted rules-based order only applies to the West when it is in its interest.

But none of this can justify not upholding the prohibition of violence and territorial integrity. The Ukraine conflict is not about choosing between Russia and the West. The focus is on respecting the elementary principles of international law, the defense of which is in the interest of all peace-loving states. It is regrettable that the Bürgenstock summit did not succeed in convincing India, Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and other states in the so-called global South of this.

By Editor

Leave a Reply