Statement by Germany delivered in the UN General Assembly Plenary debate on the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, June 23rd, 2022.

23.06.2022 - Speech

Check against delivery.

Germany aligns itself with the EU Statement.

Seventeen years ago, we as the international community unanimously agreed on the R2P principle, and our joint responsibility to save populations from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

We thank the Secretary-General for his latest report. We also thank the Secretary-General’s two Special Advisors on the Prevention of Genocide and on R2P for their leadership. We join others in welcoming the new Special Adviser on R2P, Mr. George Okoth-Obbo. We are looking forward to working with you in the years ahead.

Despite various commitments and promises, children and young people continue to be caught up in conflicts and fall victim to atrocity crimes across the world. Pictures of killed children, of child soldiers for example in Western and Central Africa in the 1990es, horrified us and are engraved in our collective memories. It was a major step forward in international justice and co-operation that perpetrators of these despicable crimes have been brought to justice.

Thirty years later, atrocity crimes against children still occur around the globe. From Yemen to Afghanistan, from Syria to Myanmar – the latest report on children and armed conflict lists a total of 21 situations of concern, a number that is far too high and even likely to increase in the coming years.

Allow me a word on Ukraine:
Russian troops have killed and maimed many Ukrainian children, they have destroyed their schools and hospitals. Russian officials recently admitted that more than 300,000 children have been “evacuated” since the beginning of the war. Reports suggesting that this happened against their will are extremely disturbing and must be scrutinized.

In the meantime, Russian officials keep denying Ukraine the right to exist. Many examples from history teach us that the worst atrocity crimes, including genocides begin with words. Germany will stay extremely vigilant in that respect – and remains staunchly committed to hold Russian perpetrators to justice.

Dear friends, the developments in Ukraine should be a wake-up call that we need to do more to protect children and youth from atrocity crimes – not only in Ukraine, but all around the world.

First and foremost, we must strengthen prevention. We agree with the Secretary General’s assessment that the most effective way to guarantee the safety of children and youth from atrocity crimes is to prevent them from occurring:

To this end, it is imperative to strengthen the global protection of human rights. The Children and Armed Conflict mandate is crucial in this regard, and we thank Virginia Gamba for her tireless efforts and important work.

We agree with the Secretary-General that member states should put effective early warning systems in place that include the collection of age- and gender specific data.

We encourage the Secretary-General to include recommendations for responses, including for country-specific situations, in future reports. We encourage the two Special Advisers to advance atrocity prevention and highlight atrocity risks throughout the world.

Strengthening accountability is both a critical deterrent for future perpetrators and a necessary response to atrocity crimes already committed. We must strengthen national and international accountability mechanisms, including the ICC and Commissions of Inquiry. I commend all collectors of evidence for their important work.

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