Arria-format Security Council, “Addressing the Abduction and Deportation of Children during Armed Conflict: Concrete Steps for Accountability and Prevention”

28.04.2023 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Ambassador Antje Leendertse, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations in New York

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Germany aligns itself with the EU statement as well as the statement of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.

The abduction of children is one of the six grave violations against children defined by the United Nations. Unfortunately, currently, we are witnessing a worrisome increase in such incidents during armed conflict.

From today’s briefers we heard examples of violence against children from various parts of the world, but one situation clearly stands out: the impact of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine.

Among the many atrocities committed by the Russian forces, the crimes against children are the most egregious. They not only affect the most vulnerable but also constitute a direct attack on the future of Ukraine as a nation. These crimes are not rumours; they are well documented and corroborated by independent international bodies and institutions.

The OHCHR’s human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine has already confirmed the forcible transfers of children by Russia. The Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine found that these acts violate international law and amount to war crimes.

Germany thanks these missions for their important work under extremely difficult circumstances. We will continue to support them. They are crucial actors in providing accountability and prevention (on behalf of children).


We cannot leave this situation without a response. Germany therefore welcomes the inclusion of Ukraine as a situation of concern in the Secretary General‘s latest report on Children and Armed Conflict.

The war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, including against the weakest members of society, must not go unpunished. They will be accounted for. We strongly welcome that the ICC has issued arrest warrants for the Russian President and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights.

Germany has joined forces with like-minded partners, especially with the Netherlands, to improve the situation of Ukrainian children. Among other initiatives, we have successfully worked towards the inclusion of child abductions in the recently renewed mandate of the Commission of Inquiry. We are also pushing for better access to displaced persons in Russia for humanitarian actors like UNHCR and the ICRC. Germany and the Netherlands will continue to keep this topic high on the international agenda!


In conclusion, we should never forget: We are not talking about crimes that have happened in a distant past. The grave violations of the fundamental rights of Ukrainian children, including the right to live, is taking place ongoing, every single day since this aggression was started more than a year ago. Only this morning we heard of further Russian missile attacks against civilian targets, causing the death of further Ukrainian children.

Just last week we took note of reports, according to which Wagner mercenaries confessed to the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, on the orders of their superiors. These executions included dozens of children. These reports are truly shocking and need to be thoroughly investigated.

We renew our call on Russia to immediately stop this war, and to end the plight of Ukraine’s population and Ukraine’s children – in line with the binding order of the ICJ and the resolutions of the UN General Assembly.

Ukrainian children have a right to grow up in peace, they have the right to be united with their families.

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