By Kellys Kaunda

As someone familiar with security diplomacy and the importance of frames in communication, especially as the concept applies to global security, I took note of how President Hichilema framed the war between Russia and Ukraine.

He used both humanitarian and economic frames while, characteristic of his delivery style, repeated the words, “we don’t want war, we don’t want war”.

From a humanitarian point of view, President Hichilema cited the human toll of the war that has needlessly lead to the loss of human life and drove millions away from their homes. Morally, this frame must appeal across every human society anywhere.

From an economic point of view, the President cited the increased prices of food, fuel and fertilizers, something that, once again, appeals to every society, anywhere in the world.

Note that these frames contrast with some of those used at the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, namely, a proxy war between the US and Russia where the latter was supposed to justifiably stop NATO expansion, that would have imposed a US military hegemony and threatening the Kremlin’s security.

This cold war narrative has been repeated by several countries including South Africa who framed the war in the narrative of the bipolar world of yesteryears.

Frames in security diplomacy have, in the past helped to accelerate arms reduction, disarmament, arms control, the elimination of cluster bombs and landmines.
Framed in humanitarian terms, namely, the impact of cluster munitions on human beings, it became evident that the moral appeal moved otherwise reluctant policy makers to sign up to international conventions that eventually led to banning of some of these weapons.

Before these frames, security diplomacy was characterized by policy makers and military experts that, not only spoke among themselves but also spoke only in terms of military hardware – the number of missiles to reduce, restrict and placed under what kind of protective protocols. That was too abstract to move the needle until the narrative was switched to the impact of military hardware on human life.

So, President Hichilema’s usage of the humanitarian/economic frames as he spoke about the war in Ukraine was not lost on Members of the European Parliament who responded enthusiastically by clapping their hands for extended periods of time.


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