Ukraine: practical proposals for Peace

For 30 years, the volunteers of Operazione Colomba and the White Helmets have been experiencing direct sharing and have been promoting nonviolent actions to support the victims of wars and structural violence. We have learnt to look at war from the point of view of those who suffer it and we have understood that the civilian population always suffers the greatest consequences.

The Association “Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII” has joined Pope Francis' request to pray for Peace and is asking insistently for the cessation of hostilities and for a truce in the fighting. The Association has also sent a delegation of three members to Ukraine in order to monitor the situation and understand how to be close to the civilian population, which kind of nonviolent intervention to enact, and how to welcome the Ukrainian population in Italy.

The Association supports the requests of the “Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo” (Italian Network for Peace and Disarmament), to which it adheres, and of the pacifist movement, both asking to end the war immediately. In particular, our requests to the Italian government are the following:

1) Revoke the decision to supply arms to Ukraine and put pressure on other European countries to do the same. Pope Francis is tirelessly warning us: we cannot say no to war (as our Constitution clearly states) while feeding it, nor can we say that it is wrong to kill and at the same time arm one of the two fighting parties. In fact, it has already happened in other international scenarios that arming one of the fighting parties has led to unpredictable consequences, generating an escalation of violence with no return. Arming civilians may mean opening the way to the creation of paramilitary and mercenary militias which can get out of control and which - once created - are difficult to dismantle. Indeed, this could pave the way to the wars of the following decades.
Furthermore, this conflict makes us realize firsthand the failure of policies based on the continuous growth of military spending (in 2022, almost 26 billion have been spent in Italy, and 233 billion in Europe), which have not worked as a deterrent to date.

2) Collaborate with other European states to ensure the safe passage of international agencies and non-governmental organizations which can provide humanitarian assistance to the civilian population. The civilian population is always the most affected by the consequences of wars, that is why they need to be protected. The first act is to ask for an immediate ceasefire, it is to ask Russia to withdraw its military forces from all Ukrainian territories and then to bring Russia and Ukraine to a negotiating table using all the peaceful and nonviolent means that international diplomacy offers.

3) Favour the intervention of the United Nations, and promote the creation of an independent, international and nonviolent interposition force: an unarmed and nonviolent European Civil Peace Corps willing to go to Ukraine.
There is a wide range of nonviolent defense experiences, starting from the Second World War, which unfortunately do not usually enter the media narrative. It is therefore essential to build viable and effective nonviolent alternatives such as, for example, a march to stop violence, recalling those promoted by the Italian pacifist movement in Sarajevo, Bukavu, Pristina...

4) Commit - together with the other states of the European Union- to build an "active neutrality". It is necessary to act to prevent future armed conflicts and threats of nuclear war, building a common and demilitarized security strategy, aiming at cooperation and collective satisfaction of the needs of people and the planet in all policies and actions.
We share the position of the “Rete Italiana Pace e Disarmo” on the crisis in Ukraine: "How is it possible to build a Europe with “shared security” among and for all States and peoples, if we continue with a policy of military opposition which is perceived by the other side as an encirclement, a threat to its own security?”.

5) Italy must adhere as soon as possible to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force on January 22, 2021. The Government must work urgently to eliminate all nuclear weapons, as required by the "Italia ripensaci” (Italy, think again) campaign and by the appeal of last June 2nd, signed by 40 Catholic associations. Eliminating nuclear weapons would help establish a new international order and free up resources to tackle the climate crisis.

6) Establish a Ministry of Peace as soon as possible. This Ministry should coordinate actions to promote peace policies which support disarmament, unarmed and nonviolent civilian protection, the promotion of Human Rights, and the prevention of violence.