Global peace is under threat. It has been for a long time now. But recent developments, culminating with the crisis over Ukraine, have led to rapid deterioration of our human security, at levels reminiscent of those in 1914. The deployments and movement of troops, not just along the Ukrainian border but all around the globe; the current stand-of between Russia and NATO; the proxy-wars, the occupations and aggressions; the rise in fascist governments; the backlash against human rights, and in particular women’s rights; the race for economic hegemony; as well as the economic violence perpetrated against us through austerity policies and exploitation of our lives, labour, and planetary resources—all of this has been chipping away at global peace, and we have reached a point of no return.
We should not really be surprised, as violence, war and destruction are legitimate means to an end for the elites in power. The capitalist political economy, supported by a patriarchal, militarised, and racialised world order, is where they thrive the best.
The elites manufacture conflicts as if on a production line. Their political messages and “diplomacy” sound more like overexcited promotion of yet another war than anything else. They rattle their weapons, flex their muscles, and incite each other to ever more violence, – pulling us all into an endless cycle of destruction, death, and despair.
Instead of learning lessons from our not-so-distant past, this privileged group of white men feel entitled not only to repeat the mistakes of history, but to double down on them. Our history is littered with their war games and schemes. All that matters are the interests and needs of the privileged elites in power.
The so-called democratic leadership has failed us. So too have those supra-national bodies, like the United Nations, that we collectively have entrusted to build and safeguard global peace. Their failure to act on our behalf has brought the planet to its most dangerous moment.
Dear feminists, peace activists, human rights defenders, land and water protectors, antinuclear activists, those organising for demilitarisation—everyone who understands that peace is our only choice—the red line has been crossed, and we all need to rally around one common message.
It is time to face the fact that we no longer have the luxury to engage with each individual issue or conflict separately, as if they are not pieces of the same puzzle. If we allow militarism to triumph it will lead to the annihilation of all life.
The moment is now. And if we don’t find ways how to bring our different struggles into a coherent voice, – soon we will not have a voice at all. We no longer have the luxury to stand by and wait for reactions from those that have lost themselves to power and greed. We must act now. And we must do so in solidarity with all those who face an immediate threat to their lives. In Ukraine and elsewhere.
We can all see that something is terribly wrong. And people living in areas that are on the front lines of these destructive policies not only see it but also acutely feel it on their bodies. We are being told that the war in Ukraine is inevitable. That the invasion of Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban take-over, was necessary. That the Arab spring had no other direction but full-scale wars. We are being told that each time war was chosen over peace was an unavoidable path—the only choices we apparently ever had was between how “much” and what “kind” of violence would be used.
We have failed to collectively withstand this gaslighting tactic. It is time for us to face the fact that the strategies we as activists have used have not been effective enough and have all too often been co-opted into the dirty games of the elites, which ultimately have led this planet to its destruction. We have been too quiet, too divided. Too apolitical.
But what has been must not always be.
The most common-sense thing to do at this moment is also the most subversive to those in power. It is to start creating bridges over the artificial divides they have created between our struggles. It is to start channelling our individual voices into one collective, clear, loud and decisive voice that demands a stop to the madness, stop to war rhetoric, to militarisation.
The solution lies not in more militarised security and neoliberal peacebuilding, but in forging a new path for human security, based on environmental sustainability, solidarity, cooperation, non-violence, and a redistributive feminist political economy that is centered on equality, social justice, degrowth, and ecological sustainability.
Let us meet in our communities, across borders, in small and big groups, on social media and any other platforms available to create a new vision of global peace, grounded in the intersectional experiences of people and the needs of the entire planet.
Let us build mechanisms for true international solidarity.
Let us connect our various progressive movements—connecting the feminist, the environmental, the anti-austerity, the anti-militaristic, the anti-racist and the anti-capitalist struggles together into one new vision of what peace is – on a local, regional, and global level.
Let us reclaim human rights.
Let us use the activities we have planned in the coming days, weeks, and months to reiterate our message over and over again. Let us plan small and big actions. Let us call for a global march for peace, let us use one and every opportunity we have to send one simple but pivotal message: No more wars. Not in our names.
Let’s call upon the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council to either do what they have been given a mandate to do or move over and let us, the activists and organisers, build a new global peace infrastructure.
Let’s demand from the governments in our countries to denounce the militarised ways, or risk losing their positions of power.
Let us do this for the sake of all those at an immediate risk of military violence and destruction as well as for the sake of our planet and all of us.
Nela Porobić Isaković leads WILPF’s work on feminist political economy. This work involves researching and analysing the political economy of conflict and post-conflict reconstruction and recovery interventions; advancing WILPF’s work in this area; networking and advocacy; and participation in feminist knowledge sharing and dialogues.