ILA Stands With Ukraine
by Professor Mike Hardy
Friends, colleagues, and partners, to all of us who care with passion for a better world and who work with humility to raise awareness and knowledge about how leadership can, should, and must be a positive part of a better future………
It is so hard to come to terms with where we have arrived.
The days since the unjustified, immoral, and illegal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian State have been terrifying for us all, most especially for those under fire in the country. For all of us outside the immediate theatre, a black cloud has fallen, and the shock at such deliberate and reckless action has consumed our realities.
I call for the utmost clarity, that all in our ILA family and community stand with Ukraine in these terrible times. And I call for us to stand with those Russians, including our co-workers, students, friends, and neighbours, who are not responsible for this war, many of whom continue to speak out against it with great courage — thousands of whom have been incarcerated by the Russian State for their peaceful protest and non-violent resistance to this terror.
We identify with them all.
We must combine the immediacy of care and concern for people with a longer-term reflection on our work and connections, on our values and purpose. How have we arrived here? Should we factor into our continuing work, the violence and vulnerabilities that we were beginning to believe had been relegated to the past in many parts of our world?
Many of you will be worried for family and friends in faraway places, and we would like them to know that they are all in our thoughts and that we are there to offer support, as neighbours, friends, and as a community. There will be many calls for help to which we should respond positively in whatever way we can.
We must very clearly write into our work an unambiguous commitment to defending peace, treasuring it, and holding it close to our way of life as well as to values that are incompatible with the imposition of power by violence. Just as much, we will need to grow our faith that we can imagine and support the leadership we will need to bring us from this brink and help us all find a restored, better world beyond.
War is a catastrophe that kills people, destroys infrastructures, damages confidence, and knocks back our freedoms to think and share knowledge and to construct across generations and geographies a better democratic world.
The actions of the Russian State have cast aside dialogue and put at risk all the gains made in Europe since the end of the Second World War. In our interconnected and interdependent world, the high stakes go way beyond Ukraine, Russia, and Europe.
Professor Mike Hardy CMG OBE FRSA is Founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, UK. After a distinguished career, he returned to the academic world in 2011 as Professor of Intercultural Relations at Coventry University. Mike is active with UNESCO and the UN Alliance of Civilizations; he is currently lead advisor to the World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku, the World Peace Forum in Indonesia and directs the RISING Global Peace Forum at Coventry. Professor Hardy has been twice honoured, awarded the OBE in 2001 for his peace-building work in the Middle East, and appointed a Companion of Honour of St Michael and St George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, June 2010, for his work internationally in Intercultural Dialogue. Mike is a trustee of The Faith and Belef Forum the leading interfaith charity in the UK and Board Chair of the US-based International Leadership Association.