Check Against Delivery
Mr. President, let me end with a personal remark. In a little more than a week Germany’s current Security Council membership will come to a close. This is why today is most likely Germany’s last meeting on the Council. These were two years full of close cooperation, common goals and friendship and I want to sincerely thank you all for this. I will not forget this. I also want to thank my wonderful team at the German House.
We worked hard during the last two years to uphold the respect for international law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law, with the Charter of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the core. We always called a spade a spade. We know that we did not only make friends. Our Russian and Chinese colleagues last Wednesday didn’t make a secret of their disapproval of such a transparent approach and thus our work in the Council.
This Council has been known for its frank exchanges of positions and it is only functional if we continue with the open deliberations. In fact, I started my time here with the claim that we have to stop it with the pre-conceived statements – something I maintained throughout the years. But, let me also say this: We will not be deterred by the disdain against those telling the truth. To the contrary: we will continue to fight for the respect for international law – be it in the Middle East, in Ukraine or in the South China Sea.
We will defend international law and human rights, in Syria, in Yemen, in Libya; we will remain engaged to improve the fate of the Yazidi, the Uyghurs, the Rohingya and to care for humanitarian aid workers like the White Helmets.
On the issue of Syria last Wednesday the Russian representative dismissed as fake the Pulitzer Prize Story on the Russian bombing of hospitals in Idlib and pointed to a Spiegel story on a White Helmet member. As my Russian colleague thinks highly of Der Spiegel I ask him to pick it up again and read the story about the FSB’s attempt to poison Mr. Navalny.
Mr. President, as I will soon retire after 40 years in Germany’s Diplomatic Service, I am looking at activities of other retirees. Michael Kovrig came into my field of view. A fellow Canadian diplomat, who joined the International Crisis Group after retirement, and who has been held hostage together with Michael Spavor for two years now after Canada’s decision, at US request, to detain a Chinese technology executive. While the Chinese executive spends her time in a seven-bedroom mansion in Vancouver, Michael Kovrig has been confined to an isolated small cell in Beijing.
Some of you might dismiss this as “just” two singular cases among a whole range of issues that the Security Council has to deal with on a daily basis. However, they are not singular and they cannot be dismissed. They represent so many others. This Council will lose its legitimacy if it ceases to be concerned about the fate of individuals, about their protection and security, their human rights and their freedoms, their well-being and their aspirations. Therefore, let me end my tenure in the Security Council by appealing to my Chinese colleagues to ask Beijing for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Christmas is the right moment for such a gesture.
Thank you very much, Mr. President, and compliments on your presidency. It was wonderful to have been together with you and the other four colleagues over the last two years in the Council. Now, the E5 that remain are the grown-ups and we wish good luck to the rookie E5 that will take over in January. Good luck to you in upholding the rules-based international order. Thank you all.