The Role of the Global South in Ending the Ukraine Crisis

Chinese president Xi Jinping

Chinese president Xi Jinping

Published Mar 25, 2024


Yi Xin

Kiev used to be a transport hub with intricate rails and waterways criss-crossing the city. Now people are left with very few choices of transportation. There is a train from Warsaw everyday. It departs at sunset and arrives in Kiev the next day.

The whole journey takes about 18 hours. Even so, it’s still the most efficient way to get in and out of the country now. On the train, male Ukrainians can hardly be seen. It is because the Ukrainian government has ordered that no man should leave the country since the conflict broke out. This is a glimpse of the Ukraine crisis into its third year, with no sign of abating.

Peace seems to be far out of reach. A conflict, when prolonged, tends to deteriorate and escalate. The European security architecture has crumbled. More and more people begin to worry about a possible lose-lose outcome. To rebuild the European security order, lessons of history must be learned. Security is a two-way street. One can never feel safe while its neighbour is trembling in fear.

A new security architecture must accommodate the legitimate security concerns of all sides, and be built through reciprocal cooperation instead of hostility and threats. Nevertheless, there is no simple answer to a complex problem, nor is there a shortcut to peace. In resolving the crisis, outsourcing the responsibility to any third country serves no one’s interest.

Dialogues and negotiations are the only way forward. After all, all conflicts have to end at the negotiating table. The earlier the talks start, the sooner peace will arrive. As long as all parties abide by the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter, and their legitimate concerns are properly addressed, a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture can and will be established in Europe.

With this goal in mind, all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. Given their neutral position, countries from the Global South have a unique role to play in promoting peace talks.

In 2023, President of South Africa, Matamela Ramaphosa, led an African delegation to Ukraine and Russia with a ten-point peace formula. Indonesia and Brazil also contributed their own peace plans. China, a key member of the Global South, has also put forward its position paper on addressing this crisis politically, providing a comprehensive solution to the problem.

President Xi Jinping laid out four points about what must be done: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be observed, the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously, and all efforts conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported.

In early March, Ambassador Li Hui, the Chinese Special Representative on Eurasian Affairs, arrived in Moscow and Kiev for a second round of shuttle diplomacy seeking a negotiated peace. Russia and Ukraine were not the only destinations, Li also made stops at Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Paris to have extensive consultation with various stakeholders.

All these efforts point to one goal, that is, to pave the way for ending the conflict and starting peace talks. They represent the common aspiration of people from the developing world to bring peace back to the region and clear the world of a major source of instability.

Likewise, if all members of the international community could join this call for peace, create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiations, and help to open the door to a political settlement, then the end of the Ukraine crisis would no longer be a distant dream.

The author is a current affairs commentator based in Beijing