The three-day 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC) dropped the curtain on Feb. 19. Representatives from many countries expressed their opinions on hotspot issues such as how to cope with the Ukraine crisis and maintain stable international order.
However, the conference failed to nurture a favorable atmosphere for the political settlement to the Ukraine crisis though the crisis remained a major topic of it. Some Western countries called for solidarity, but were not showing enough determination to work for a more fair and equitable international order.
This indicates a big gap between nations in both understanding and promoting world peace and stability.
The MSC, in the past years, were themed “Westlessness” and “Unlearning Helplessness,” which revealed Western countries’ confusion and anxiety in how they should switch roles in the changing international landscape.
The report of the conference this year is titled “Re:vision,” which mirrored some Western countries’ intention to ‘revive’ themselves through the Ukraine crisis.
Be it the so-called “democracy versus authoritarianism” narrative sold in the Munich Security Report 2023, or the confrontational voices made during the conference, it reminded people that the “vision” some Western countries want to rebuild is indeed to recreate a Cold War pattern of bloc confrontation in the 21st century .
Under such circumstances, the number of U.S. representatives to the MSC this year hit a historical high and some so-called “opponents” were deprived of the right to join the conference.
The world is at a critical moment of history. The human society must never go back to the old path of division and block confrontation.
It is that potential for ice-breaking encounters that might be lost if the MSC fully reverts to its cold war roots, said the Financial Times, adding that the conference can’t just become an echo chamber.
Over the past year, the Ukraine crisis has not only shattered peace in Europe, but also made the world unstable, uncertain and unsafe. Only promoting peace and talks can make the world more peaceful. However, a few countries are adding fuel to the fire, making geopolitical tensions everywhere and forcing other countries to pick sides. Such practice that intends to copy the Cold War and divide the world goes against the trend of the times featuring peace, development and win-win cooperation.
The Munich Security Report 2023 had to admit that many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are reluctant to follow the West and isolate Russia. For many countries in the global south, the “Western-led order” has been characterized by “postcolonial domination, double standards, and neglect for developing countries’ concerns,” the report said.
Many international observers said that Western countries must stop their “black-or-white” rhetoric and be committed to promoting peace if they want to win trust from the global south.
However complex the issue is, dialogue and consultation should not be abandoned. However intense the dispute is, a political resolution should be pursued. However difficult the situation is, peace should be given a chance.
The pressing need now is for all to put the larger interest embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter above one’s own lesser interest. Unfortunately, as a few countries are addicted to making things worse and exerting maximum pressures, the prospects for peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis are still unreachable.
The negative spillover effect of the crisis has put greater risks on the world economy that’s already in sluggish recovery, while food and energy crises are making development challenges even more challenging for many countries.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently warned that UN’s sustainable development goals are “disappearing in the rearview mirror.”
A stable international order is a public product necessary for all countries. The chaos and conflicts plaguing our world today occur because the purposes and principles of the UN Charter have not been truly observed.
The international order shall not be dominated by a few countries, still less should it be used to maintain hegemony. It must be established on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, champion multilateralism, reflect fairness and justice and promote world peace and development. This is a common aspiration of all developing countries.
Trust between major countries is lacking; geopolitical rifts are widening; unilateralism is rampant; the Cold War mentality is back. The international community sees an urgent need to make the international order fairer and more equitable and needs to find ultimate solutions.
For a safer world, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected; disputes should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation; the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld; the key role of development must be fully harnessed.
Singaporean scholar Kishore Mahbubani said in an article that if Western countries refuse to accept that they will have to adapt and adjust to a new multi-polar and multi-civilizational world, countries are going to enter a more troubled world.
Peace and development remain the trend of history and the aspiration of the people. Humans belong to one community with a shared future. Making the world a safer place is the strong desire of all people, the common responsibility of all countries, and more importantly, the right direction for the advance of our times.
Only by observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, eyeing on the common interests of all parties, and addressing both short-term and long-term issues, can countries find the right path to build a safer world.
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