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Kenya's voice is important in efforts to restore peace in Ukraine

Europe
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. [AFP]

The war in Ukraine has worldwide ramifications. It has spread far beyond the continent of Europe, lighting a fuse before a powder keg capable of turning the whole world upside down.

Africa, for example, has suffered its immediate consequences with a steep increase in staple food prices. Whether the war results in food shortage, an attack on territorial sovereignty, a nuclear threat, an impediment to freedom of navigation or a violation of international humanitarian law the stakes are high, and the impact is deeply felt across the globe.

The war has been raging for almost 28 months. Thousands of people have died, entire families have been forced to leave their homes and their country.

Since February 24, 2022, the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter have been flouted in Ukraine. As the ‘people of the United Nations’, we cannot stand idly by.

But how can we proceed when cultural clashes and blockages in international institutions are a worrying sight? I am convinced that together, beyond our differences, we can find the necessary political will by drawing on the threshold of common humanity that we share as a culture.

Switzerland's DNA is one of dialogue. To those who will call us overly optimistic, I would remind you that my country is made up of four cultures and four official languages, and that our ability to speak together is the foundation of our unity in diversity.

Without dialogue, Switzerland would not exist. Even when voices are silenced and weapons take their place, we believe that dialogue has its place.

At a time when the documents on which we have built our international order - such as the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions - are being flouted, as Swiss Foreign Minister I am convinced that we must put this culture of dialogue to work for world peace.

This is why my country, at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has assumed its responsibilities and will organise the first High-Level Conference for Peace in Ukraine on June 15 and 16.

While it is too early to make peace, it is certainly time to prepare for it. This conference aims to establish a common framework and concrete steps towards a future peace process. In concrete terms, we are ready to conduct a courageous and necessary dialogue, to compare all points of view on the Ukrainian conflict with, as a common framework, respect for international law.

Firstly, we want to establish mutual understanding between as many States as possible on a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine. Discussions will focus in particular on the various peace plans already proposed.

Secondly, this platform of exchange will focus on subjects of global interest such as food safety, freedom of navigation, nuclear safety and humanitarian aspects, including prisoner exchanges.

Finally, this initiative to end the war in Ukraine can only be followed by concrete and effective action if there is discussion at the highest political level of how Russia can be involved in such a process.

Switzerland, as a neutral state with a humanitarian and diplomatic tradition, has always been able to listen to and understand the different interests involved. On the road to peace, we can get nowhere on our own.

Together, on the other hand, we can go a long way, but only if we move in the same direction. To do that, we need to pool our strengths, our ideas and our visions of the world, however different they may be. Kenya has an opportunity to shape this conference from its specific perspective and thus make important contributions to it to make its voice heard.

The Ukraine Peace Summit is a great opportunity for Kenya and for Africa to contribute to shaping a future peace order and to protecting its own interests.

Ignazio Cassis is Foreign Minister and Former President of Switzerland

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