“With no end in sight to the war (in Ukraine), we must stand firm on our solidarity. This unwanted anniversary represents an occasion to take stock and reflect.
The past year has shown us the remarkable strength of a nation determined to hang on its freedom and sovereignty. It has also shown us the importance of remaining united, as an international community and as a major economic sector, and of remaining faithful at any cost to the values we share.
Each additional day, the united front that much of the worldwide community has formed since the invasion is also coming under attack, especially as countries around the world continue to bear the economic consequences of the conflict and its social cost. That is why UNWTO will continue to amplify tourism sector’s calls for peace and urging the immediate stop of all hostilities.” This was said today by Zurab Pololikashvili (Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the gates of a year since Russia invaded Ukraine.
But Pololikashvili added something not less important in his message, the look towards the future of a country and the Ukrainian people, in whose recovery, both from the economic point of view and from the coexistence side, the tourism sector will play, without a doubt, a key role: «We will also be there when the war ends, as it will undoubtedly happen. So the extraordinary power of tourism to restore trust, promote dialogue and understanding across borders, and offer opportunities, which has been proved over and over again, will be vital in helping the people of Ukraine to rebuild the country tey have given so much to protect”.
An illegal war that brought the suspension, not the expulsión, of Russia as a member of the UNWTO in April 2022
“From the beginning, UNWTO has led the tourism response to the crisis. Our Members acted quickly to suspend Russia from our Organization”, recalled the UNWTO Secretary General.
Zurab Pololikashvili, pointed out at that time (April 28, 2022) that with the suspension of Russia “UNWTO Members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international partnership, and UNWTO Members must defend these values or face the consequences, with no exceptions.”
He added as well: “…this emergency General Assembly demonstrates that Russia’s actions deserve no kind of defence and are contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and international governance.”
Since April 28, 2022, the Russian Federation cannot exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of being a member of the UNWTO. This means that cannot receive services from the Organization, including technical assistance, or participate in any UNWTO meetings or events. Russia neither present candidates to the statutory bodies, vote in the elections of UNWTO bodies nor propose a candidate for Secretary General.
Recognition for the solidarity of tourism stakeholders and the countries that welcome Ukrainian refugees
The Secretary General of the UNWTO recognized the solidarity and the merit of the stakeholders of the tourism sector and of the States that welcome Ukrainians forced to flee from home by the war: «Up to 8 million people have sought shelter across Europe, and UNWTO acknowledges the work of these tourism industry players who have provided transportation, accommodation and practical assistance of various kinds. We also appreciate the efforts of the countries hosting these refugees until they can return safely.”
An invasion at a high cost not only in terms of victims, forced displacements, violation of human rights, looting and material damage, but also in terms of loss of trust
“This week we commemorate a sad anniversary. One year ago the Russian Federation decided to invade Ukraine, in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.
The price of the invasion has been terrible. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes: currently around 6 million people, 65% of them women and girls, have become displaced inside their own country. And the number of victims continues to rise day by day, including civilian victims, as apartment buildings, and even hospitals, have been deliberately targeted. The invasion has also created a human rights and humanitarian catastrophe not seen in Europe since World War II. And it has undermined the sense of security and trust that we depend on to steer the world in the aftermath of the pandemic.”
Beyond economic recovery, tourism is a privileged bridge for understanding and favoring peace between peoples around the world
On February 18, Pololikashvili anticipated in some way his statements of today: «Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have already caused enough suffering to people, to society as a whole and to the economy. We cannot allow this to continue. We must rebuild and look to the future with hope, not fear.”
…»Tourism is the main bridge for understanding. It has a unique ability to promote peace among peoples around the world. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) strongly supports the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in his call for all countries to solve their disputes peacefully, not through conflict, and to respect international security and justice at all times.
As a body of the United Nations, which gives voice to people from all regions, origins and nationalities, UNWTO is convinced that the spirit of international solidarity and shared values that define not only tourism, but also mankind must prevail. We hope that diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict will continue and be successful.”
Image over the headline.- Protests against the war in Ukraine. Love, not War (February 27, 2022). Image by Amaury Laporte via Wikimedia Commons. To view the original image and read the terms of the license, click here
Notice: The declarations of the Secretary General of UNWTO quoted on this post has been traslated by Eastwind from UNWTO’s official press releases in Spanish.