It’s been five days since Russia launched a devastating attack on Ukraine, a European democracy and the place 44 million people call home. A country that had done nothing to threaten its assailant.
While stopping short of direct military intervention, the response from the West has been strong, unified, and decisive. Banning Russia from its airspace, kicking it out of the SWIFT banking system, freezing the assets of billionaire oligarchs, all the while supplying Ukraine with military aid.
It’s not just governments that have expressed their solidarity with Ukraine.
The worlds of culture, sports, and business have been quick to recognise the significance of what is happening in eastern Europe and the importance of presenting a united front against.
Performances by Russian theatre companies have been cancelled, sporting bodies have pulled major events out of Russia, supermarkets have emptied their shelves of Russian vodka.
Sometimes the gestures have sounded like a bad punchline, such as Russia’s eviction from the Eurovision Song Contest, but they all reflect a human desire to do something. To resist.
Civil society has made its feelings clear, too. International associations - from young lawyers to au pairs – have issued public statements unequivocally condemning Putin’s assault on freedom.
Which makes the international meetings industry’s silence on the matter so perplexing. The industry that exists to bring people together, to spread knowledge and reciprocity, has gone quiet.
Apparently, none of the major trade bodies representing the industry has anything to say about the horrors unfolding in Ukraine or the existential risks posed by an escalation of the conflict.
The last two years have been a massive challenge for the meetings industry. Few industries can have suffered so grievously from the fallout of Covid-19 restrictions. And clearly the hope now is that a corner has been turned, that Covid has finally been beaten, and that things can only get better.
Exhausting then, to turn our focus on another disaster.
But not, we can agree, as exhausting as trying to repel a tank with your bare hands.
So PCMA, ICCA, MPI, ILEA, UFI et al…what say you?
A journalist for more than 22 years, AMI editor James
Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international
association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation
for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Page
proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk,
read, listen to music, and drink beer.