News Releases

IIR UWI and CCSJ talk the Humanitarian Implications of Russia-Ukraine War

For Release Upon Receipt - April 19, 2022

St. Augustine

The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Tuesday 19th April, 2022 – The Russian aggression in Ukraine now exceeds two months with disastrous consequences far beyond the battlegrounds.  On April 7, the Institute of International Relations at the St. Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (IIR UWI) together with the Catholic Commission for Social Justice and the Archdiocese’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (CCSJ/AMMR) hosted a webinar to explore the “Humanitarian Implications of the Ukraine-Russia War”. 

In welcoming the 70 attendees from 24 countries, IIR Director Professor Jessica Byron pointed out that this war challenged the foundational international norms of territorial integrity, non–aggression, peaceful settlement of disputes and international humanitarian legal principles. “It will hinder the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Ukraine and elsewhere and have detrimental effects on global affairs for many decades”, she said. 

Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Dr. Amery Browne, represented by his Permanent Secretary Ms. Reita Toussaint, stated that “Trinidad and Tobago is aligned on the side of peace and [committed] to the tenets of the sanctity of the sovereignty and the maintenance of the territorial integrity of states and condemns [Russia’s] violence against Ukraine”. He pointed out that the war threatens international peace and security, and is particularly inimical to vital security interests of small states like Trinidad and Tobago.   Trinidad & Tobago co-sponored the UN resolution: Humanitarian Consequences of the Aggression Against Ukraine.  

Chair of the Warsaw Security Forum, Poland, Prof. Katarzyna Pisarska, debunked the Russian narrative that Ukraine is not a state. She shared Ukraine’s centuries of history and national identity, gaining full independence in 1991. Russia wants the West and the world to recognize Ukraine as Russia’s sphere of influence, subject it to Russia’s power so as to destroy its identity; stop Ukraine from joining Western institutions; and pursue full demilitarization, making Ukraine unable to defend itself.  Putin, she said, fears that a pro-West democratic Ukraine could spark a revolution in Russia. Russia also desires to regain their former imperial status and regain territory which it considers to have lost.

Mr Sanjin Soldatic, Deputy Head of Delegation and Political Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad & Tobago, considered the implications of the Russia-Ukraine war for migration and refugee issues in Europe. He reiterated the EU’s strong condemnation of Russian atrocities against civilians and saw it as “a moment of truth for Europe and for the whole world … a clash between the rule of law and the rule of the gun, between democracies and autocracies, between a rules-based order and a world of aggression." Inevitably, the impact of the war will heighten human suffering, poverty, food insecurity, possible famine and social unrest, leaving long lasting deep wounds and trauma. 

Ms. Jewel Ali, Head of Office-Project Coordinator, International Organisation for Migration, Trinidad & Tobago, noted that the IOM's Ukraine Situation Report March 30-31, 2022, shows that 6.48 million people have been internally displaced; while 4.02 million refugees, including third-country nationals, have fled. She outlined key human rights of these vulnerable groups which are being violated, including discrimination and xenophobia, and made recommendations on ensuring that human rights are recognised and protected. 

CCSJ/AMMR Chair Ms. Leela Ramdeen shared examples of discrimination/racism being meted out to non-nationals in the Russia-Ukraine war, as well as the racism inherent in how some media outlets have been reporting the issue. Examples of harrowing experiences of African students being kept in detention centres are cause for concern. This is happening despite an EU Protection Directive that was issued on March 4. It stated that any kind of third country national - studying, working, or living in Ukraine, should be admitted to the EU temporarily on humanitarian grounds. 

Dr. the Most Rev. Charles Jason Gordon, Archbishop of Port of Spain, believes that the world is working with an inadequate human development model. “Development”, he says, “must be for all people and nations”, based on an ethical framework of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. He proposed that this war be seen from a developmental perspective - of the person, of the nation, and of the community of nations in this world. More broadly, he pointed to driving factors (not justification) for the war and indicated that the war signals a changing world order. 

Interested persons can access the proceedings of the virtual engagement via  


About The UWI 

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region. 

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. 

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world. 

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action. 

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)