“Let us look at all those civilians whose killing was considered ‘collateral damage.’ Let us ask the
victims themselves. Let us think of the refugees and displaced… the mothers who lost their children, and the
boys and girls maimed or deprived of their childhood. Let us hear the true stories…look at reality through
their eyes…In this way, we will be able to grasp the abyss of evil at the heart of war. Nor will it trouble us
to be deemed naive for choosing peace.” – Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 2020, par. 261.
One year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pax Christi International expresses our deep
concern for countless victims of a war that has led to death, injury, displacement, trauma, and
ecological harm. This war has generated almost 6 million internally displaced persons and 8
million refugees; killed more than 7,200 civilians including over 400 children and hundreds of
thousands of soldiers; and caused generational trauma.
The war of aggression against Ukraine has clearly demonstrated that no international authority
exists with sufficient wisdom to effectively address the root causes or with adequate means to
have prevented Russia’s brutal invasion. International law provides every sovereign nation with
the right to self-defense. In a world of highly destructive weapons, armed self-defense may
trigger an escalation to extremes that can even lead to a nuclear war.
For this reason, Pax Christi International urgently calls on the international community to
immediately facilitate diplomatic initiatives to restore the international order and the territorial
integrity of Ukraine. We plead with Russia and Ukraine to enter negotiations directly, on neutral
ground, and with a mutually agreeable mediator.
Insufficient investment in developing and scaling up proven effective nonviolent strategies for
defense, including civilian based defense, has created the impression that self-defense is always
armed. Many Ukrainians are demonstrating clearly and with great courage, however, that
nonviolent defense can be very effective and could be much more readily available with
significant investment in resources, training, and research.
Pax Christi International calls on the international community to invest in developing
nonviolent strategies for defense and just peace.
As a human rights and peace movement, Pax Christi International advocates for the right of
conscientious objection for soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict. We call for
sufficient independence for media, political opposition parties, and civil society in Russia; we
highly value the many forms of nonviolent resistance to the war by Russian society; and we
support all Russians who protest against the war, risking arrest and imprisonment.
This war also shows the immorality of the possession of nuclear weapons and the urgent need
for nuclear abolition. President Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine reminded the
world that a single nuclear bomb detonated could create a humanitarian disaster of unparalleled
proportions. A full-scale nuclear war would spell the end of human civilization as we know it.
Pax Christi International calls on all States to delegitimize these weapons and strengthen the
legal norm against their use by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear
Pax Christi International also urges a Human Security approach in Europe and in the world.
Russia should be included, as well as Belarus and Ukraine, in a broader security concept based
on trust building and collective security, oriented by a just peace framework. A Human Security
approach also recognizes with UN SCR1325 that peace and security efforts will be more
sustainable if women take part in the prevention of violence, the delivery of relief, trauma
healing, and recovery efforts for lasting peace.
The need for people-to-people peace processes that involve dialogue between the Ukrainian
and Russian peoples, including women and youth, are important to the prevention and
transformation of violent conflict. Pax Christi International supports initiatives that allow
contact, cooperation, and healing.
Pax Christi International is a movement for reconciliation and active nonviolence, founded at
the end of the Second World War with a deep belief in the possibility of just peace. We are
painfully aware that war is not limited to Ukraine; that violence is endemic in many corners of
the world; that a new logic of peace and nonviolence is urgently needed.
We call Pax Christi members and all people of good will to pray and to mobilize for peace,
urging States to address the relationship between human security, care for creation, human
dignity, and sustainable peace and to advocate urgently for dialogue.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound
global implications. The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and
bloodshed keep growing. I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war.
I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Gutérrez (6 February 2023)
If we want to reap the harvest of peace and justice in the future,
we will have to sow seeds of nonviolence here and now, in the present.”
Mairead Maguire | Irish Peace Activist and Nobel Peace Laureate