March 16, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio

The executive committee of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) held an extraordinary meeting last week to consider new measure of support for the Ukraine and to condemn the Russian attacks.

The committee decided to temporarily suspend all members from Russia from participating in UFI events and activities.

“The military actions launched by the Russian government in Ukraine contradict our most fundamental principles. They cannot be allowed to stand,” the executive committee said.

“UFI’s mission is to drive collaboration within the exhibitions and business events industry. As such, our association, along with all collaborative international organisations, relies on a foundation of respect for all individuals and adherence to a rules-based order.

“The UN General Assembly, in a rare emergency session, has passed a resolution that lays out a path forward to end this aggression and restore peace in the region, with an overwhelming majority.”

The executive committee used the strongest terms in denouncing the actions of Russia even though the organisation has a strong membership base in the Russia, particularly in St Petersburg, a city in which it has held some of its most important global and European meetings.

It said UFI condemned the military actions ordered by the Russian leadership and called on the Russian leadership to implement the UN Resolution.

The committee also confirmed it had no current sponsorship agreements with Russian businesses and would not enter any new ones with Russian companies. It will also not award hosting rights to anywhere in Russia for UFI activities or events.

UFI said it would continue to highlight and support humanitarian actions undertaken by UFI members and it would launch a designated donation program.

“I am grateful for our association’s leadership, coming from twelve countries/markets from all over the world, to come to this clear response – balancing our association’s non-political stance while standing up for humanity. UFI stands for humanity, and therefore we #standwithukraine,” said UFI CEO Kai Hattendorf.

“We also understand that we must differentiate between the actions of the Russian leadership and the Russian people. Right now, we must focus on ending the inhumane activities. Right now, we must focus on emergency humanitarian support, to help as many individuals as we can, as an industry.

“Only then can we use the role of events to help to heal the human, the cultural, and the economical wound, that will persist long after the violence has ended,” Hattendorf said.

The UFI community comprises more than 780 member organisations from 83 countries.