Statement by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen at the High-Level Launch Event for the Group of Friends of Accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine, March 25th, 2022

25.03.2022 - Speech

Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for organizing this more tha timely an urgently needed event today.

I don’t want to repeat, what many participants have expressed today. With the brutal war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine, a blatant violation of the UN Charter, we will experience a seismic shift with regard to the respect of international law and the entire international rules-based order, unless we act decisively now.

Strengthening accountability lies at the heart of these efforts.

For this reason, Germany applauds the co-Founders for the swift formation of this Group of Friends and the high-level launch event organized today. You can count on Germany’s full and wholehearted support.

Just three short comments:

First with regard to the crucial role of the ICC: Germany is committed to supporting ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and his investigation, including through mutual legal assistance, secondments and financial contributions.

Second on ongoing inquiries: We have been among the top donors to OHCHR’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine since 2014. We will continue supporting their essential contribution to accountability, which has now become even more urgent and valuable. We will also substantially support the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council on March 4th.

Third, what can we do nationally: As many of you are aware, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, Germany can and does prosecute crimes against international law that took place outside its borders even if neither the victim nor the perpetrator are German nationals. Most recently in the case of SYR. Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor-General has now opened structural investigations into possible war crimes committed in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

A final thought: we welcome efforts to broaden the group and creat synergies: Insights by experienced civil society organizations are an important asset that we should value and build upon.

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