In recognising the importance of addressing the gaps and characteristics of the war in Ukraine, a group of experts put together some practical steps that were presented during seminars conducted at the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of Pretoria and at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

The platform for expert collaborations was initiated by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Democratic Institute Foundation, and the Ukrainian Association of South Africa.

In the seminar held at the Institute for Security Studies, South African and Ukrainian experts convened to discuss the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and its implications for regional security and peace initiatives. The seminar, titled “Lessons from the Ukraine War and African Governments’ Role in Resolving the Conflict,” addressed key issues such as regional security architecture, nuclear safety, and the deportation of children.

The experts highlighted the urgent need to address gaps in global security systems, particularly in the context of powerful states exerting dominance over less powerful ones. They emphasised the significant repercussions of the conflict on global energy, financial, and food systems, underscoring the importance of finding practical solutions for long-lasting peace in Ukraine and beyond. They also stressed the unprecedented nature of military aggression aimed at redrawing internationally recognised borders.

The seminar provided a platform for collaborative efforts between South African and Ukrainian experts, facilitated by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Democratic Institute Foundation, and the Ukrainian Association of South Africa.

Key topics discussed during the seminar included regional security architecture, nuclear safety concerns, and strategies to prevent the forceful deportation of children. Experts looked at outlining practical steps to address these challenges and promote peace and stability in Ukraine and the broader African continent.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine underscores the need for a comprehensive reassessment of global and regional peace and security architectures. The seminar participants emphasised the importance of engaging in deeper discussions on principles, values, and policies that underpin collective security efforts.

In addition to analysing the narratives and interests of the parties involved in the Ukraine conflict, Prof Cheryl Hendricks, Executive Director of the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation emphasised the importance of transitional justice, reconciliation, and healing in post-conflict settings. She called for meaningful transformation of relationships and redress for past atrocities to achieve sustainable peace.

Prof Hendricks stressed that,” The invasion of Ukraine and Gaza are the red flags to indicate that a major shift is needed in our peace and security architectures. We have to pause and revisit what we have been doing to get to this situation – that is the window. The window is however only slightly ajar and needs a whole movement of states and civil society to open it wide so that fresh ideas can flow in.”

Looking beyond the Ukraine conflict, the seminar highlighted the broader challenges facing the international community, including increasing intra and inter-state conflicts, displacement crises, and threats to democracy. The experts stressed the need for a new agenda for peace and a complete rethink of existing peace and security architectures.

In conclusion, the seminar served as a call to action for a concerted effort to reshape global governance structures and promote inclusive dialogue among stakeholders. It emphasised the importance of collective action in addressing the complex challenges facing the world today.