| 11 December 2023, Monday |

Baerbock says Germany has a duty to end Russian war crimes

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, while attending a ceremony at the United Nations in New York commemorating the 25th anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC), stated in an interview with DW on Monday that Germany has a duty to prevent future wars and crimes. She emphasized Germany’s historical responsibility for some of the gravest crimes in the world, highlighting the need for proactive measures to ensure peace and justice.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to extend the deal that allowed Ukraine to export its grain amid the war “shocked” every country and every United Nations delegate, Baerbock said in an interview with DW Washington DC bureau chief Ines Pohl.

She stressed the importance of applying pressure on Putin to reverse the decision, saying the best route is for African, Latin American and Asian countries to “address Putin directly.”

“We have seen in the last year that it makes a difference if also other countries in the world, not only European countries, are calling on Putin.”
On the sidelines of the ceremony, Baerbock stressed: “It was and still is, our responsibility to strengthen international law in order to prevent future wars, to prevent genocide, crimes against humanity.”

Germany’s top diplomat acknowledged the difficulty in closing the “accountability gap” using the ICC.

Just over a third of the UN’s 193 member states, including the United States, have failed to enact the treaty that established the ICC, known as the Rome Statute. This leaves the court’s jurisdiction wanting.

“I feel it is our responsibility also, after the Nuremberg trials, after the setting up of the ICC, to close this accountability gap,” Baerbock said.

The Nuremberg trials were held by the four major Allied powers — France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States — after World War II to prosecute the political leaders of Nazi Germany.

Baerbock stressed the importance of ensuring that more countries sign the Rome Statute. Currently, there are 123 signatories.

She said the importance of the ICC has become clearer in the past year, amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Russia is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, collectively known as the P5, along with the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom.

“Now is really the watershed moment where we have seen that if a war of aggression is being done by a P5 country, this is also a moment where we have to react by law and bringing together those who believe in law and not in war.”

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March. Putin is accused of war crimes for his role in forcibly deporting children from Ukraine.

  • DW