On the 5th and 6th February, UNITED for Intercultural Action, in partnership with Prague Spring 2 against Right Wing Extremism and Populism, organized the online conference European Spring 2022 – Universal Disarmament for the Creation of a Culture of Peace and Socio-ecological Transition towards the 2022 World Social Forum in Mexico.
The discussion lasted for 4 thematic sessions over two days, which gave the audience the opportunity to deepen the topic of disarmament from different points of view and methodological approaches.
The first session called Global Disarmament and Way Out from the New Cold War was a general introduction on the main topic, focusing on the tense situation in Eastern Europe, where NATO and Russia are confronting in a geopolitical conflict that risks becoming a war. (At the time of publishing, we sadly know how real that risk was.)
We reflected on why a disarmament process seems so far to be started, in particular relating to the nuclear weapons, underlying that capitalist societies are willing to maintain a tense climate and imperialist policies in order to continually increase the production in some economic sectors, such as military and technological ones.
Moreover, also the media and propaganda play a fundamental role in increasing and maintaining a high level of tension in both camps.
Finally, we agreed that peace-building has to be seen as a political practice in order to influence governments and international organizations to decrease their economic resources spent in the military sector and use it for more useful and peaceful goals.
The session Stop Repression in the West and in the East deal with the criminalization of political opponents of the mainstream thought and political positions which happened similarly in the Western and in the Eastern blocs. Various politicians and scholars have been treated as foreign agents just because they have criticized the external policies of their own countries.
In the journalistic field, few people have been able in the last years to describe the geopolitical situation in an impartial manner, while most of the journalists criticize and put in evidence only the violations of human rights of one side.
A good example of these mechanisms is how the ongoing conflict in Kazakhstan has been narrated by Western and Russian media.
In the third session, Environmental Peace-building was centered on the ecological consequences that the conflict in Eastern Europe has on the natural environment through high levels of pollution and destruction of biodiversity.
Indeed, the massive rearmament and imperialism have led to climatic catastrophe in different areas of the region, such as Ukraine and Arctic coasts, which has been generally ignored by the mainstream media of Eastern Europe.
Also, The European Union has not been able to concretely deal with these environmental issues, which threatens the future of our planet. In fact, measures like the European Green Deal are worthless if not accompanied by the struggle for long-lasting peace.
However, international ecologist networks, created mainly by young activists, are arising everywhere in the world, making possible an intercultural dialogue between people, even if states and supranational organizations have been unable to act towards these goals.
The last session was called Migration Issues in a Critical Socio-ecological Context and discussed the migration flows of Eastern Europe and how the migrants’ life is used as a piece in the geopolitical chess-board.
We reflected on the role that capitalism has in shaping the international migration flows, seeing migrants just as cheap labor force and not as human beings and we analyzed the actions of the European Union, which was not able to deal with this phenomenon in an adequate manner. Indeed, the EU has proved to be unable to force the member states to respect the non-refoulement principle stated by the international law, to help the less developed countries to stabilize in order to diminish the incentives to migrate for their people, to integrate the migrants into the European societies through a path of acceptance and multiculturality and to welcome decently the asylum-seekers escaping from war zones, which imperialist governments have contributed to creating.