Navigating a World Without a Compass: Wars Without End

Amidst a backdrop of escalating conflicts and humanitarian crises, the 2024 Peace Report, presented in Germany, underscores the urgent need for diplomatic interventions and long-term strategies to navigate a world increasingly devoid of stability

by Sededin Dedovic
Navigating a World Without a Compass: Wars Without End
© Pierre Crom / Getty Images

The annual Peace Report published in Germany offers very few signs of improvement in the global situation. Researchers from the institutes involved in compiling the report call for more diplomatic efforts. "The world has been staggering from one crisis to another for years," says Ursula Schröder, director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) in Hamburg.

On Monday, she presented the Peace Report for 2024 in Berlin, titled "A World Without a Compass." According to Schröder, key peace policy trends indicate a movement in the wrong direction - "towards more war and violence, more armament on all sides, and more global conflict." This development began in 2022 with Russia's attack on Ukraine, which violated international law, and peaked after the Islamist Hamas terrorist attack on Israel in October 2023, says Schröder.

She detailed the "hot spots" in Europe and the Middle East in Berlin, but also drew attention to Africa: "We must not forget that Sudan has been raging in a violent war for more than a year, threatening millions of people and causing a catastrophic humanitarian situation," as reported by DW.

Need for "Long-Term Political Strategies"

Paths to peace are hardly in sight, says Schröder, pointing to authoritarian and populist tendencies in the world. To change this, she advocates for "long-term political strategies," explaining why this is necessary using the example of the Middle East war.

Hamas, she 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 military in the Gaza Strip: "Israel exceeds the legitimate use of its right to self-defense and violates international humanitarian law."

Demands to the German Government

This war must end now, demand Schröder and researchers from three other institutes who have been publishing peace reports annually since 1987.

They expect more diplomatic initiatives from Germany and say: "The German federal government should energetically advocate for the interests of the Palestinian population, which is highly exposed to destruction, displacement, death, and hunger in Gaza." Moreover, legal decisions must be respected, experts point out.

At the end of May, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to cease its military offensive on Rafah in light of the catastrophic humanitarian situation. However, this demand had no effect.

A Palestinian girl stands amid the rubble of her destroyed home on May 24, 2021 in Beit Hanoun, Gaza.

© Fatima Shbair / Getty Images

Criticism of Arms Exports to Israel

German research institutes also find arms exports to Israel problematic in the current situation and recommend halting all deliveries of small and light weapons and ammunition until the end of the war in Gaza.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) took a step further in April. This human rights organization wants to file a lawsuit in the Berlin Administrative Court to stop arms exports to Israel approved by the German government.

Following Biden's Proposals

To break the spiral of violence in the Middle East war, peace researchers recommend following the proposals of U.S. 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 now take." Researchers also believe it is crucial for Germany to follow the example of other European states and recognize 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 the permanent end of the war and the development of a two-state solution," says Ursula Schröder.

No Contradiction: Diplomacy and Military Support

Regarding the war between Russia and Ukraine, experts also rely on an international solution.

Their goal remains a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Ukraine that can successfully defend itself against possible future attacks. Schröder emphasizes: "Diplomacy and military support are not contradictory."

People walk through debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street on April 06, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine.

© Chris McGrath / Getty Images

On the way to a solution, she adds, a sustainable framework for a political process to end the war must urgently be explored. Researchers believe that the peace conference on June 15 and 16 in Switzerland is an opportunity not to be missed.

One of the results they hope to achieve there is "to make negotiations conceivable in the future."

Lack of Willingness for Negotiations from Russia and Ukraine

However, conflict researchers and their colleagues are clear on how far we are from that point, stating: "At this 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, this refers to the so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. Schröder, on behalf of the entire team, further emphasized: "To increase the prospects for negotiations that have a chance of success, long-term and sustainable support for Ukraine must be ensured." "We believe it is necessary to maintain pressure on Russia, because as long as the Russian leadership assesses that it can win militarily, it will not engage in real negotiations," the German experts state in the Peace Report.