‘Manila Declaration can halt tragedy for a while’

Globalization stitched together the economies of all countries in the world with its threads of intricate supply chains, global financial system that facilitates international flows of money, and countless other threads. Until last week, nobody knows how one country could be abruptly cut off from the larger world on multiple fronts. By ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin ignited the worst crisis in Europe since World War II and instantly made Russia an international outcast.

The global backlash against Russia came in the form of crippling economic sanctions and global condemnation. For example, the US locked Russia’s access to finance and technology for strategic sectors of its economy; the SWIFT international financial system, which enables billions of dollars in transactions for banks and other institutions around the world, restricted key Russian banks from its network; European nations, Canada and the US closed their airspace to Russian planes; semiconductor companies suspended chip supplies to Russia, among other sanctions.

“If Ukraine does not survive…international peace will not survive,” said Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UN assembly’s first emergency meeting since 1997. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the UN that what is at stake in Russia’s war in Ukraine is “the life or death of the Ukrainian people,” European security, and the Charter of the United Nations which calls for peaceful settlement of conflicts and maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all UN member nations. 

The Philippines joined other countries that voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion in Ukraine. “We especially condemn the use of separatism and secession as a weapon of diplomacy for inviting and inflicting terrible cruelties and indiscriminate killings far in excess of that of any other kind of conflict. We saw this in the Balkans and in Africa,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said (Read, “PHL condemns Russia invasion in Ukraine,” in the BusinessMirror, February 28, 2022).

The DFA cited UN Charter principles that it says needs to be upheld, especially at this crucial time in history: principle of sovereignty, sovereign equality of States, right to full sovereignty in all their areas of jurisdiction, and refraining from the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state. The DFA reiterated its appeal for parties to resort to the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes. “It will at least halt the ongoing tragedy for a while.”

The Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on November 15, 1982. It is the first important instrument of the work of the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations and on the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization. The Declaration builds upon and promotes general international law, the Charter of the United Nations, in particular Article 33, and other international instruments for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

The world knows what Putin wants, as he said so publicly: To reconstitute the USSR and pull back in his orbit all the countries that were in it before. He is facing an unexpected level of resistance in Ukraine, presenting doubts that he will succeed in his envisioned endgame. Meanwhile, the Russian people suffer in shame. “As a Russian, I don’t know how to live with the shame of Putin’s aggression,” an anonymous Russian wrote in The Guardian, a British daily newspaper. “Younger Russians condemn all violence against Ukraine. But protest is impossible: we feel like hostages in our own country.”

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