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Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the UN Security Council Open Debate “Maintenance of international peace and security: Comprehensive review of the situation in the Gulf region”, October 20, 2020

21.10.2020 - Speech

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I would like to thank all the other briefers, especially Bob Malley from the International Crisis Group. I want to echo his appeal to China to liberate Michael Kovrig. He is not only a member of the International Crisis Group, but a former colleague of ours, a former diplomat.

On the subject, I don't need to repeat the description of the situation, all the tensions and divergences, the divisions, the shrinking democratic space, details of the suffering of the people, in particular in Yemen. Germany's response to all these challenges will not surprise you, and it's very much on the same line as we just heard from our Estonian colleague. The framework for peace and security in the region already exists. It is international law. It is international humanitarian law. It's human rights law. Unfortunately, international law is violated every day in the region.

We have spoken about the JCPoA and 2231. Other Security Council resolutions in the wider Middle East are not adhered to, from the resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the resolutions concerning sanctions on Libya. International humanitarian law is violated every day. We see it in our regular briefings on Yemen. It is totally unacceptable in view of the victims of the conflict among the civilian population. Human rights are violated every day in many countries in the region. Particularly in Iran, civilian and political rights are violated every day. The prisons in Iran are the most abhorrent in the whole region, similar to what we witness in Syria. Religious minorities like the Baha'i are persecuted. On international law, even today Iran still calls for the destruction of Israel and this is just unacceptable.

Germany can only urge and continues to urge adherence to international law, the JCPoA and other international agreements. I would like to pick up on Bob Malley's proposal that we have to start with small steps of confidence building measures, prevent unintended and accidental incidents. We also would need some steps to overcome the divergences in the Gulf Cooperation Council. In this context, I would also like to pay tribute to the late Amir of Kuwait who has done a lot to this effect. I can only encourage Kuwait to continue their good offices.

If confidence building measures succeed, they should be developed into a more comprehensive and cooperative approach to promote collective security and sustainable stability in the region. We encourage the Secretary-General to take initiatives. In his statement, he expressed his readiness and we should all support him. This was already stated and some mentioned Resolution 598 from 1987. It was a time when West Germany was also sitting in the Security Council.

Germany stands ready to help. We support in particular with humanitarian aid. We also support political processes. We have been doing this in Libya with the Berlin conference. We have announced that early next year we will have a conference on Yemen in the P5+3 format. We stand ready to support. The solution to all these problems is respect for international law.

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