Global Human Rights Defence

The Costs of War: How the Russo-Ukrainian War is Affecting Billions of People’s Rights.

The Costs of War: How the Russo-Ukrainian War is Affecting Billions of People’s Rights.
Protests in London against the rising cost of living and increasing inequality and poverty. By Alisdare Hickson via Flickr, April 2022.

Author: Laura Libertini

Department: Europe Team


The outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022 has unleashed an unprecedented war within European borders, where its ripple effects are causing great human suffering and violations of fundamental human rights. The conflict has shaped – and has exacerbated – a global crisis of living costs, unknown in at least a generation, starting from food prices, commodities prices, the prices of energy, and fertilizers. The current breakdown is severely jeopardizing the living conditions and the livelihoods of billions of people around the globe, undermining any aspirations for a better and healthier future by 2030 (United Nations, 2022). Meanwhile, the world economy has been taking the hits of two years of COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2022, 60 percent of workers have   incomes compared to those before the pandemic. 60 percent of the poorest countries are risking indebtedness or are already suffering from debt distress; developing countries lack $1.2 trillion per year to meet the social protection gap, while $4.3 trillion is needed per year – more capital than ever before – to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (United Nations, 2022).


The food crisis

The war is causing a severe rise in food prices, an increase in the cost of energy and a constriction of financial conditions. Russia and Ukraine – alongside the U.S., Canada, and Australia – are the world’s top exporters of wheat. The two countries were considered to be the “breadbaskets of Europe”, accounting for 30 percent of the worldwide grain exports before the outbreak of the conflict. In the last few years, their production has increased, with Russia becoming the principal exporter and with Ukraine covering the third place. While grain prices started to increase before the Russian invasion, wheat prices streamed even higher after Russian troops marched into Ukraine, exceeding 400 euros ($418) per tonne on the European Market in May, doubling its levels compared to the summer of 2021 (Agence France-Presse, 2022). Because of the increasing prices of wheat and corn alone, the average household has lost 1.5 percent in real income. Worldwide, more people have been encountering famine-like conditions, while more and more people have faced severe hunger crises (United Nations, 2022). As of June 2022, the World Food Programme estimated that in just two years, the number of people suffering from food insecurity doubled from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million at the beginning of 2022. The repercussions of the invasion of Ukraine are expected to bring this number up to 323 million by the end of 2022 (United Nations, 2022). It cannot be denied that the war in Ukraine is affecting the wealth and fundamental rights of people across the globe, a crisis that is unknown to this generation. Families are cutting health visits and cooking fuel, moderating food purchases and may be diminishing the number of nourishing articles, for instance by skipping meals or eating smaller portions (United Nations, 2022).

 In Europe, this situation has been further exacerbated by the intensifying heatwaves and drought affecting numerous European and urban regions. Agronomist and resilience adviser at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Sylvie Wabbes, claimed that an increasingly unstable climate results in difficult farming conditions, forcing farmers to adopt measures that are usually taken in low-income countries exposed to severe climate change events. She continued by stating that “We have seen big change in weather patterns – it rains less, it is less predictable when the rain will come and when it does rain it is often sudden and heavy causing soil erosion” (Nuttall, 2022). As the new report on the global impacts of the war in Ukraine by the UN states “Food should never be a luxury; it is a fundamental human right. And yet, this crisis may rapidly turn into a food catastrophe of global proportions” (United Nations, 2022).


The energy crisis

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing severe trade and production disruptions. The World Bank has forecasted a 50 percent rise in energy prices in 2022. According to the World Bank, the price of Brent crude oil is expected to reach an average of 100 US Dollars a barrel this year; Reaching its peak since 2013 and resulting in an increase of more than 40 percent compared with 2021 levels. Energy prices are not expected to fall before 2023. A decrease to 92 US Dollars per barrel is estimated. This number is still above the five-year average of 60 US Dollars per barrel (Elliott, 2022). Compared to 2020 levels, the price of European natural gas has increased ten-fold, forcing large natural gas importers to drastically reduce their dependence on Russian natural gas. Higher energy prices, particularly diesel and natural gas, made the costs of fertilizers and transport surge. These aspects increase the prices of food production, leading to the reduction of farm harvests and even higher food prices in the following season. In turn, inflation metrics vary, contributing to already-rising interest rate pressures and tautening financial conditions (United Nations, 2022).



The Russo-Ukrainian war has generated a vicious cycle leading to a series of long-lasting and dangerous consequences. The cost of living crisis can easily spark social and political instability, especially in countries where the consequences of the war are felt the most. In general, the food and energy crisis is reducing the real income of families, seriously jeopardising their opportunities and their hopes for a better and sustainable future (United Nations, 2022). Families are forced to make painful compromises: reducing meals and the quality of food, withdrawing from schools or reducing medical expenses. These decisions usually affect women and young girls the most. These choices have worrying long-standing influences, starting from higher levels of poverty, to rising gender inequality, creating situations where access to education is considered a privilege. In contrast, lower productivity and declines in real salaries start to become the standard (United Nations, 2022).

The world population was left in an extremely fragile state, after two years of intense struggle due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis that followed while the violent impacts of climate change are becoming dreadfully frequent. Therefore, it is clear that the Russo-Ukraine war came in an extremely stressful period, further eroding the capacity of people and governments to cope with a crisis. “A shock of this magnitude would have been a significant challenge no matter the timing; now, it is of historic, century-defining proportions” (United Nations, 2022).



Agence France-Presse. (2022, July 5). Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupts global wheat market, raises hunger fears. Firstpost. Retrieved on 7 July 2022 from

Elliott, L. (2022, April 26). Ukraine war “will mean high food and energy prices for three years.” The Guardian. Retrieved on 7 July 2022 from

Nuttall, P. (2022, June 21). Drought pulls Europe’s farmers to the front line of a drying world. The New Statesman. Retrieved on 7 July 2022 from

United Nations. (2022, June 8). Global impact of the war in Ukraine: Billions of people face the greatest cost-of-living crisis in a generation (Brief N. 2). United Nations. Retrieved from



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Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
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Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

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João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)

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She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

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Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher

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Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
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Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
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parties and as well seek domestic funding.

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