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Statement by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in the Security Council Open Debate on Upholding International Law - 17 May 2018

17.05.2018 - Press release

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Mr. President, 

First, I would like to commend Poland for convening today’s debate on this very crucial topic.

Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

Germany is strongly committed to supporting, defending and developing our rules-based international order. Our campaign for a seat on the Security Council for the 2019/20 term reflects this commitment.

International peace and security can only be achieved if we respect and adhere to international law and the rules-based international system that we as States have built together. We have a responsibility to not only create law but also to respect and implement it. 

This includes first and foremost the UN Charter, entrusting the primary responsibility for upholding international peace and security to the Security Council, and keeping at hand a whole system of measures in Chapters VI, VII and VIII of the Charter to be deployed to this end. Upholding international law also means respecting and implementing UN Security Council resolutions and international agreements.

Unilateral breaches undermine the entire system. It is deplorable that we still daily witness breaches of international law. It is not hard to list numerous breaches of human rights law and international humanitarian law, for example in the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and other places around the world. And we can list violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, for example in Ukraine with regard to Crimea and the Donbass. 

We need to adhere to what has been agreed upon, including upholding the consolidated international position on Jerusalem embodied in UN Security Council Resolution 478. 

Addressing breaches of international law that pose a threat to peace and security is key to preventing conflicts early on. The Security Council needs to be informed at an early stage of such breaches and take early action

There is a close correlation between protecting human rights and safeguarding peace and security. Repeated/grave/systematic violations of human rights are crucial early warning signs for crises. For this reason, human rights situations should be brought before the Security Council. The Security Council should also work more closely with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. In the past, clear warnings have not always been registered by the Security Council. The situation of the Rohingya is just one example. Since 2014, the Human Rights Council has time and time again called upon the international community to react to the grave situation in Myanmar. 

In addition to investigations, the UN Charter in Art. 33 holds numerous other instruments for the prevention of conflicts. Mediation is one of them. Peace mediation is an essential instrument of Germany’s crisis and stabilization policy, and we have significantly strengthened our mediation efforts over the last 3 years. 

Let me also highlight judicial settlement as a means of prevention. International courts and tribunals such as the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as well as other tribunals and arbitration mechanisms can and should play a more important rule in the peaceful settlement process. But for this to happen, member states must also respect and implement their decisions. 

Another aspect of prevention is deterrence. Germany is strongly committed to the fight against impunity and to advancing international criminal law. We are the second largest financial contributor to the International Criminal Court. In the 20th year since the adoption of the Rome Statute, we believe that the International Criminal Court is more important than ever, and its work sends an unequivocal signal to perpetrators and potential perpetrators of the most serious and horrific crimes: they will be held accountable. It also sends a message of hope to the victims of atrocity crimes: they won’t be forgotten by the international community. 

Allow me to illustrate this point with an example. When the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia closed its doors last December, none of the 161 indictees was still at large. The Tribunal concluded proceedings in all their cases; 90 persons were convicted, among them heads of state, ministers and generals. The Tribunal has proven that the law can prevail even against perpetrators who once seemed untouchable

Germany believes the Security Council should refer situations to the ICC in the case of serious allegations of breaches of human rights and international humanitarian law. 

The use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The actors responsible for such crimes must be identified and held accountable by all means at our disposal. We sincerely urge the Security Council to live up to its responsibility and establish an independent, impartial and objective attribution mechanism for the situation in Syria. 

To close, allow me to add that I fully support what the EU and Belgium have said on sanctions. 

I thank you, Mr. President.