"World Without a Compass" Peace Report: Trending in the Wrong Direction – "More War and Violence, Armament, Conflict"

Paths leading to peace are almost not visible at all, says Schröder, Ursula Schröder, director of IFSH, reminding us of authoritarian and populist tendencies in the world. In order to change that, she advocates "long-term political strategies", and uses the example of the Middle East war to explain why she thinks this is necessary.

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Detail from Gaza, Photo: Reuters
Detail from Gaza, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The annual peace report published in Germany contains very little indication of an improvement in the global situation. Researchers at the institutes participating in the report are calling for more diplomatic efforts.

"The world has been staggering from one crisis to the next for years," says Ursula Schröder, director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) in Hamburg. This Monday in Berlin, she presented the 2024 Peace Report, which was published under the title "A World Without a Compass". According to Schroeder, key trends in peace policy indicate that the trend is moving in the wrong direction - "towards more war and violence, more armaments on all sides and more global conflict".

Such development began in 2022 with Russia's attack on Ukraine, which violated international law, and reached its peak after the Islamist Hamas terrorist attack on Israel in October 2023, according to Schroeder.

In Berlin, she spoke in detail about the "hot spots" in Europe and the Middle East, but she also drew attention to Africa: "We must not forget that a violent war has been raging in Sudan for more than a year, threatening millions of people and causing catastrophic humanitarian situation."

"Long-term political strategies" are needed

The roads leading to peace are almost not visible at all, says Schroeder, reminding us of the authoritarian and populist tendencies in the world. In order to change that, she advocates "long-term political strategies", and uses the example of the Middle East war to explain why she thinks this is necessary.

Hamas, he says, operates on a logic of destruction that denies Israel's right to exist. At the same time, she criticizes the actions of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip: "Israel goes beyond the legitimate exercise of its right to self-defense and violates international humanitarian law."

Requests to the German government

That war must end now, demand both Schroeder and researchers from three other institutes that have been publishing peace reports every year since 1987. They expect more diplomatic initiatives from Germany and say: "The German federal government should vigorously advocate for the interests of the Palestinian population, which in Gaza is highly exposed to destruction, displacement, death and hunger."

In addition, legal decisions must be respected, experts point out. At the end of May, as they state, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to stop the military offensive on the Rafah in view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation. That request, however, had no effect.

Criticism of arms exports to Israel

German research institutes also believe that the export of arms to Israel is problematic in the current situation and recommend that all deliveries of small arms and light weapons, as well as ammunition, be suspended until the end of the war in Gaza.

In April, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) went one step further in this regard. The human rights organization wants to file a lawsuit in Berlin's Administrative Court to stop arms exports to Israel approved by the German government.

Follow Biden's suggestions

In order to end the spiral of violence in the war in the Middle East, peace researchers recommend following the proposals of US President Joe Biden: "The immediate release of all Israeli hostages and the implementation of a humanitarian ceasefire are necessary first steps that both sides must take now."

The researchers also believe that it is essential that Germany follows the example of other European countries and recognizes Palestine as a state before the war between Israel and Hamas ends.

"Such a transition phase must be linked to a clear political process for a permanent end to the war and the development of a two-state solution," says Ursula Schroeder.

There is no contradiction: diplomacy and military support

As for the war between Russia and Ukraine, experts also rely on an international solution. At the same time, for them, the goal remains a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Ukraine that can successfully defend itself against possible further attacks. Schroeder emphasizes: "Diplomacy and military support are not incompatible."

On the road to a solution, he adds, a viable framework for a political process to end the war must be urgently explored. Researchers believe that the peace conference taking place on June 15 and 16 in Switzerland is an opportunity that should not be missed. According to them, one of the results that should be achieved there is "making negotiations conceivable in the future".

There is no readiness of Russia and Ukraine for negotiations

But it is clear to conflict researchers and their colleagues how far we are from that and they state: "At the moment, both sides in the conflict – especially Russia, but also Ukraine – show little willingness for serious negotiations."

The German government should therefore use its good diplomatic relations to strengthen the role of other countries in the future negotiation process. Specifically, it refers to the so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, India, China and the Republic of South Africa.

On behalf of the entire team, Schroeder additionally emphasized the following: "In order to increase the prospects for negotiations that have a chance of success, long-term and sustainable support for Ukraine must be ensured."

"We believe that it is necessary to maintain pressure on Russia, because as long as the Russian leadership estimates that it can win militarily, it will not engage in real negotiations," state German experts in the Peace Report.

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