Statement by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen at the UN Security Council High-level Open Debate, “Strengthening accountability and justice for serious violations of international law”,2 June 2022

02.06.2022 - Speech

I thank Albania for organizing this timely and very important meeting and I thank the briefers for their valuable insights. Germany fully aligns itself with the statement delivered by the EU. We also align with the statements delivered on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Rule of Law and on behalf of the Group of Friends of accountability following the Aggression against Ukraine. I would like to add a few points in my national capacity.

In an Arria formula meeting on accountability in Ukraine on 27 April, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine was condemned unanimously (with the exception of the aggressor and its allies, of course). At this meeting and ever since, we have condemned the brutal violence against civilians in the course of this ongoing war. And we have repeatedly called for accountability for the crimes committed.

Today, six weeks later, day one hundred of this war, Russia is still waging ist aggression against Ukraine using inconceivable brutality against civilians. New facts emerge every day. This unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression by the Russian Federation is an act against the founding ideas and the basic principles of the United Nations. It is a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter, a grave breach of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and an act against the fundamental rights of every human being suffering from this aggression.

These crimes, these atrocities, these infringements of international law committed by Russia and – most importantly – the killings of human beings as consequence of its illegal war must stop immediately! The perpetrators must be held accountable in accordance with international law.

There must be no impunity for war crimes. The perpetrators of atrocities - in Ukraine and elsewhere -, including all responsible State officials and military leaders, must be held accountable.

Accountability does not only mean criminal investigation and prosecution, it also implies state responsibility: we strongly urge Russia to comply with the legally binding order of the International Court of Justice of 16 March. Germany is strongly committed to accountability and rules-based international order. Therefore, Germany welcomes Ukraine’s efforts to seize the principal judicial organ of the UN in order for it to provide judgement on Russia’s military action and Russia's unsubstantiated allegations. Germany will explore all options to support Ukraine in its proceedings before the ICJ.

The investigation by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is more important than ever. We need to ensure that the ICC Prosecutor is well equipped to carry out his work as effectively and as speedily as possible. It is imperative that the international community support the ongoing investigations and collection of evidence of crimes committed.

The ICC, as an established mechanism with 123 state parties, remains the focus of our efforts for bringing to justice those that have committed international crimes in Ukraine. Germany will contribute an additional 1 million Euros to the ICC and will second personnel to this Court. Additional funding has also been provided for the mission of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine. In order to make the investigations as efficient and swift as possible, a group of experts will be supporting this process.

In cases in which the ICC could not be seized with a specific situation, it is important that national jurisdictions take up this task. These proceedings, often under the principle of universal jurisdiction, have offered some justice to the survivors. They also send a clear message to perpetrators that there is no impunity for their atrocities.

For example, regarding Syria, German prosecutors will continue to pursue cases under universal jurisdiction against the torturers of the Syrian regime. They will continue to prosecute crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh. The German Federal Public Prosecutor General has also opened structural investigations into war crimes committed in Ukraine to prepare the ground for individual indictments on charges of war crimes. We will moreover continue to supply the Ukrainian authorities with equipment to help conduct the many difficult investigations on the ground.

The international community must continue to stand united and uphold international law and the UN Charter. International law accounts for every person and is the yardstick for every government worldwide.

Madame High Commissioner, you have traveled to China and published a statement on the human rights situation in particular on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Following up on this visit, what are your next steps to contribute to achieving accountability for the widespread and systematic human rights violations reported in this region? When will you publish your report on the Situation?

It is imperative for us to document, condemn and prosecute war crimes around the world – both through international instruments and national legal systems. The perpetrators – whatever their position or rank – must understand that there is no respite, no safe haven for them.

Germany will remain firmly committed to supporting all efforts in this regard. We owe it to the victims of the atrocious crimes and to their families.

Top of page