“I believe that the Pope's sentence responds not only to the observation of reality. Right now, the UN is practically cut off from concrete action with respect to the conflict in Ukraine, which is different from all the other wars of recent times. At the same time, it is also a cry for a different concept of the UN from the current one. Because it is no longer possible to stick to the original one of 1945”. Interview with Buonomo
In your opinion, what should be this different conception of the UN?
In 1945, the UN was established as a result of the Second World War. This "also" is important. It was envisaged not only with the presence of some countries with a different status - the so-called permanent members - but also some responses or preventive actions to guarantee security and therefore peace, which today it is no longer possible to think and implement in the same way. Why? Because the way of making war has changed. The ideological and political sides have changed. More sophisticated are the weapons and the warfare techniques used: more and more often weapons are fought without the presence of the human person, entrusted as they are to technology and cybernetics. From a political point of view, the UN has paradoxically weakened with respect to its essential purpose, that is, not that of resolving conflicts but of preventing them by becoming a "center" for the States’ activities: from disarmament to arms control, to the prevention of the strongest law. The Pope wants the UN to be a true organ, an authority operating on a world level above the states and their interests, so as to maintain peace and justice. However, a world expenditure on armaments amounts to 2 trillion dollars while the ordinary UN budget hardly collects contributions of 2 billion: how can this be done? The Pope's idea recurs in various speeches, from the one he made on 26 September 2015 at the UN to those pronounced in other international contexts, to the one he made in Malta recently.
In your opinion, what would be the next step to take?
A debate at the Security Council has shown that, if the Ukrainian conflict returns within the UN, perhaps we could have a collegial, broader management. Instead, now, actions are limited to the opposition, not only of positions but also of interests: Countries that are rightfully supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression and countries that directly or indirectly support Russia's position and others that do not take any position. We are outside any reasoning and acting common context: The UN must become this common context. It must be not only a sounding board for the world’s problems, but a body within which common issues are addressed and common solutions are given. This is the necessary step. Crises should be managed at a global level. Moving them only to some organisms at the regional level does not give results, because the implications of this war directly or indirectly will fall on all states. Just think of the negative economic impact that this war is bringing to many countries, starting with those already in a precarious situation.
What is the role of small States in this context?
I believe that the small states’ contribution should be to make people understand how the largest states are posing problems in international relations. When in Europe during the Cold War, between 1967 and 1975, the so called Helsinki Process began, the small states managed to create the conditions for what was then the Final Act. This Act marked not only a formal solution of the Second World War but also laid the foundations for what would gradually be the change that took place above all in the Central and Eastern Europe’s countries. Small states have a capacity for maneuver and all should be heard.
How can we read Russia's role in the UN?
It is clear that Russia wants to make use of her position that is, blocking any decision that the Security Council can take with respect to the Ukraine conflict. At the same time, the UN itself cannot do without Russia. In the international context, in negotiations, in diplomatic activity, excluding someone means not only keeping them out, but also not being able to collaborate with them to resolve issues. No member can be excluded from the international community. It is not the solution. Even if that member is committing wrongdoing. This is what the exclusion of Germany from the League of Nations before the Second World War has taught. In all ways, even the state that violates the rules must be brought back, making it to understand its responsibility and leading it to collaborate so as to go further. In Ukraine, when the use of weapons ends, other conflicts would come up aiming at the reconstruction of peace, and so far meaning new borders or different divisions of territories, the return of displaced populations or refugees from abroad, justice for the crimes committed. All the protagonists will have to be present, to take on responsibilities and commitments.
There is talk of international crimes, of trials like the Nuremberg one, is it possible?
One thing is clear: there is no need to invoke the International Criminal Court; indeed, I would say that it is a way to avoid responsibilities. Paradoxically, the Court is called into question by those states -and there are many!- that do not accept its function and competence. Let us not forget that after Nuremberg there was the Tokyo Tribunal, the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, those for Rwanda, for Cambodia, for Sierra Leone, up to the Court. So why is it not clearly stated that legal civilization, which humanity has reached also through these courts, requires all states to judge those who commit international crimes? Even the states to which the accused of international crimes belong. It is called, "universal jurisdiction," and we still want to consider it a pure utopia, but only to evade responsibility and perhaps then to be able to say in the face of the crimes committed that the International Criminal Court is useless. The logic is the one that Pope Francis so often describes in the following way precisely speaking of war: "It is always the fault of others" and therefore "what does it matter to me?"
What prospects for peace can be opened for Ukraine?
There seem to be two possible paths. On the one hand, Ukraine must necessarily be guaranteed its territory and its sovereignty. This means not only guaranteeing that to that country but arguing that the principle of the inviolability of borders can never be violated: an aggression, an attack from the outside cannot change the borders of a state, its territorial, cultural and above all human integrity. The opposite would mean calling into question all the principles established by international rules: with what consequences?
The second path is the one of negotiations between the parties in conflict, but with the presence of effective guarantors. Ukraine has already made clear what the spaces it would grant to the negotiation, when it spoke of neutrality, of not wanting to become a NATO member, to act like other so-called "neutral" states. On the Russian side, there does not seem to be any openness, on the contrary Russia insists on a sort of “unredeemed lands” theory.
These two paths must necessarily be followed. However, it is evident that both require a multilateral context to avoid short-term solutions though pragmatism. At the same time, it will be possible integrating Ukraine gradually into the European economic area. Then, the most important imperative remains, that is the personal conviction of the people who have institutional and political responsibilities, and of all of us who give life and vitality to national and international institutions. We cannot remain spectators or even integrate the caravan of the indifferent. Because if the attitude of those who are responsible for the situations does not change, we could obtain a "ceasefire" but not the solution of the conflict roots.