Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the side event Cooperation for Accountability in Ukraine at the UN General Assembly

23.09.2022 - Speech

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

That’s how Martin Luther King put it.

We have come here today to stand up for justice.

We have come here to speak out about Russia’s accountability for countless breaches of international law in its war of aggression against Ukraine.

Men and women shot off their bicycles.

Horrifying reports about torture, rape and murder of men and women, both young and old, about deportations and forced adoptions of children.

When we see these images, we know that these could be our children.

And now the sham referenda: an attempt to give a veneer of legitimacy to a blatant land-grab.

There must be no impunity.

This is our pledge to the victims.

Especially to the most vulnerable: women and girls but also the elderly.

Not just because we know that it is the weakest who suffer most during armed conflict.

But also because we know that “unless women are safe, no one is safe”.

This is how a Ukrainian woman put it to me when I met her at the contact line before 24 February.

That’s why the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, is so important – so we can prevent and prosecute such horrendous crimes.

And let me say this very clearly: this is our united effort.

This is not about fighting these crimes only in Europe.

Whether in Ukraine, in Myanmar, in Ethiopia or in the Democratic Republic of Congo: we cannot tolerate rape and other forms of sexual violence – no matter where they are committed.

These crimes do not simply “happen” during times of war, as was still assumed in the Second World War, in the wars of the 1970s, and more recently still during the Balkan wars.

Rape – and this is the result of the important work of public international lawyers, of NGOs, of civil society and also of the ICC – is today considered an illegal method of war, a war crime.

Because “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor General has opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

His office is tapping its leading expertise from trials for crimes committed by the Syrian regime and Da’esh.

Germany also supports the investigations of the International Criminal Court into the situation in Ukraine.

And we back Ukraine in its case against Russia at the International Court of Justice.

Because we are convinced that Russia is abusing the Genocide Convention – and we heard this today in the Security Council – as a pretext for its war of aggression.

I call upon all states to explore ways of supporting our joint efforts.

What is crucial about the ICC and ICJ proceedings is that they target both state responsibility and individual responsibility for violations of international law – right up to the highest level of Russia’s government.

The United Nations plays a key role in all these efforts: through the Commission of Inquiry, through the Human Rights Monitoring Mission, as well as through the Secretary-General’s Fact-finding Mission on the attack on the Olenivka camp.

And also through this small side event. After all, what we are doing here is seeing how we can best join forces around the world in this battle – from north to south, east to west.

Because when there is justice, we are all safer – no matter where we are.


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