Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in the session “The G20’s role in dealing with the ongoing international tensions” of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Rio de Janeiro

21.02.2024 - Speech

Building a “just world – and a sustainable planet”.

I believe this slogan by the Brazilian Government captures what most of us here aspire to: a safer and fairer future for all of our children, no matter where they live.

Today, however, one in six children in the world lives in extreme poverty. As the G20, as the world’s major economies, we cannot accept that.

I am therefore very thankful that we are debating the question of justice in depth tomorrow.

We won’t win the battle against inequality if we fail to address the world’s wars and crises.

I disagree with those who said we shouldn’t talk about geopolitical tensions.

We have seen again and again, especially in the past two years:

Crises and war are an accelerator of injustice, hurting the weakest most – especially women, children, everywhere in the world – and preventing development, preventing justice, preventing a just world.

And yet, for two years now, one G20 member has ruthlessly exposed the world to the worst form of conflict: a war of aggression.

Russia’s war has brought terrible suffering upon the people of Ukraine, particularly upon the most vulnerable. Women and children.

Bombing maternity clinics, schools and nurseries, on purpose.

Deporting thousands of children from Ukraine to Russia, changing their names so that their mothers will never find them again.

And this war has opened wounds far beyond Ukraine.

By attacking Ukraine and blocking food exports, Russia mercilessly used food as a weapon. Again, against the poorest in the world, against women and children. It drove up prices and fuelled worldwide inflation, laughing in the faces of the world’s weakest.

When we travel around the world, we all see what hunger means. When I was in Ethiopia with my French colleague last year, when I was in South Sudan three weeks ago where I spoke to women who had escaped the violence in the Sudan, with nothing but a bag of belongings, their children on their backs.

All of us can be grateful to the brave Ukrainian defenders for pushing Russia’s warships out of the western Black Sea, thereby making possible the resumption of food exports.

Naledi, I am grateful to the efforts that you and other African leaders have made to help end the suffering. By travelling to Russia and to Ukraine, to Bucha. By focusing on the children.

President Putin has proved again and again that, in his imperial quest, human lives count for nothing – neither abroad nor at home, where he now doesn’t even shy away from arresting children, teenagers for laying down flowers to mourn the death of Alexei Navalny.

Mr Lavrov,

If you care about human life, if you care about your own people, Russian children and teenagers, you must end this war now. If Russia were to end this war now, the road to peace, to justice, which we are all calling for, would be wide open.

Esteemed colleagues,

if we want to build a “just world”, we must tackle wars and crises together –



and with a willingness to engage in self-reflection.

I respect the fact that we have different perspectives on the war in Ukraine. I respect the fact that a country that is 10,000 kilometres away from Kyiv feels a different urgency about this security threat than a country in Europe.

I’m thankful that some of you told us two years ago: “Where were you when we needed you?” But we cannot change the past, we can only build the future together.

Russia’s aggression is more than a regional conflict. It requires all of us to resolutely defend the core principles that protect us all: the Charter of the United Nations, international law, human rights.

These principles protect all nations, no matter how big or small.

And we defend them everywhere in the world – whether in Europe, in Africa or in the Middle East.

Like many of you, we are deeply shocked by the devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza. Again, it’s children who are suffering the most.

17,000 children who have been left without a mother, without a father, who are alone.

Hundreds of thousands who are desperate for food and water.

This suffering needs to end now.

But it will not end if we just call for an end. We have to work for an end. Every day. Every minute.

We need a humanitarian pause now to work towards a sustainable ceasefire.

We need Hamas to release the Israeli hostages. Now.

Toddlers, women, small children – still being held by terrorists.

We need humanitarian aid in Gaza now.

Germany is one of the biggest international donors of humanitarian aid, the second largest donor. Also for UNRWA. We stand by our international responsibility. But for that, we need a situation in which we have a humanitarian pause.

This conflict has stirred up intense emotions in many of our countries. And I believe that’s why it is so important to be self-reflecting when it comes to our response.

To see the pain on both sides.

To realise that humanity is indivisible.

There is no Christian blood. There is no Muslim blood. There is no Jewish blood. There is only human blood. That is how a 102-year-old Holocaust survivor put it a few days ago.

That’s why we need a solution that allows both Palestinians and Israelis to live peacefully and in security side by side. In two states.

I am grateful to so many here around this table, I am grateful to our Arab friends and partners, who are working tirelessly with us on such a solution behind closed doors.

Because that’s what diplomacy is all about:

respectfully hearing each other out,

reflecting on our own actions,

and resolutely standing up against aggression.

So that we can find concrete steps forward,

towards a just world and a better future – for all our children. No matter where they are in this world.


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