Remember your humanity

March 3, 2022

“We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

Bertrand Russell – Albert Einstein Manifesto


We are appalled by the scale of human suffering unfolding in the heart of Europe. We are stunned by the brutal violence of Russia’s armed forces, orchestrated by their president. And we are deeply concerned about the far-reaching implications the war on Ukraine will have throughout the world.

People everywhere are following the war on Ukraine minute by minute, making us all global witnesses to this enormous and completely senseless tragedy. Ukrainian cities are being destroyed. Innocent civilians and soldiers are losing their lives. Hundreds of thousands – soon to be millions – are forced to flee their homes in a humanitarian and refugee crisis.

At the same time, a (dis)information war is raging, severely complicating our ability to distinguish what is true and what is fabricated to influence public opinion. Especially in Russia, where independent and reliable news sources have been shut down and where journalists brave enough to report the truth are silenced and threatened.


The war on Ukraine has galvanized people, countries and institutions in opposition to these deplorable human rights violations. Throughout the world, ordinary citizens are expressing solidarity with Ukraine, families are taking in refugees, and people are donating money and supplies and taking to the streets to protest. They have our deep admiration, as well as the Russians citizens doing the same. They risk physical violence and imprisonment every time they dare to go protest the war openly.

Looking at ourselves in the mirror

We urge everyone with a stake in this tragedy, in particular governments and corporations, to reflect on their own actions. Especially those who provide tax havens to wealthy Russian oligarchs and fail to hold the Russian state accountable for previous acts of war and election interference. Too often, economic interests have taken prominence over the wellbeing of people and the need to keep authoritarian regimes in check.

More and more people seem to understand and agree that we need to redefine our current economic, social and political models. Democratic forces – not only in Ukraine – are up against political autocrats and (often multinational) companies that serve the short-term interests of shareholders, instead of the common good and longer-term societal values.

We must strengthen democratic institutions and we must protect the right to information so people can make free and informed decisions about their futures.

No single solution

There is no single solution. And of course, that makes us feel powerless.

It is not unlikely that we are entering a new polarization of global powers that will be felt well beyond the European continent. If this crisis is not adequately and consistently met with unified resistance by people and governments everywhere, the war on Ukraine will embolden other authoritarian leaders to use violence to increase their sphere of influence. We can only assume that people and communities around the world will suffer from the economic fallout of this crisis, coming on top of existing hardships created by the corona pandemic.

What we as Hivos can continue to do is to strengthen civil society around the world. It is our task to join our partners and create strong and resilient movements of human rights defenders, journalists and independent media, frontrunners in environmental justice, transparency and open government advocates, and civic technologists, artists and bloggers.

If anything, the war on Ukraine reinforces our commitment to our humanist founding principles. We firmly believe in every person’s right to live in freedom and dignity, to enjoy equal opportunities, and to influence decisions made regarding the changes they want to see in their lives, communities and country.

We must remember our humanity and forget the rest.


Michel Farkas
Acting Executive Director Hivos