Notable statements on international law during January 2020

Published: 3 March 2020 Author: Stefan Talmon

Throughout the year, Germany makes numerous statements on international law. Not all of these statements form part of a case study presented on GPIL. However, these statements may nevertheless be of interest to international lawyers. We will therefore compile these statements on a monthly basis, starting with January 2020.

9 January 2020

During the Security Council open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security – Upholding the United Nations Charter”, the Minister of State in the Federal Office declared:

“Our past instils in us a particular responsibility to champion the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a member of the Security Council, we are also guided by the will to defend and strengthen the rules-based international order and to promote universal respect for human rights. We firmly believe that respecting the Charter and commonly agreed international rules is the best way to help to foster peace and security and the well-being of all nations and peoples. […]  In its second year on the Security Council, Germany continues to call for respecting international law, including the law of the sea and international humanitarian law, and promoting and upholding human rights.”

9 January 2020

During the Security Council open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security – Upholding the United Nations Charter”, Germany also made it clear that it considered “gross human rights violations, the effects of climate change, and the risks emanating from new technologies” as new “threats to peace and security” which could trigger UN Security Council action.

13 January 2020

In response to a parliamentary question on the legality of the killing of Iranian General Soleimani, the Federal Foreign Office stated:

“The fact that Iranian General Soleimani was listed by the European Union on the list of persons to whom restrictive measures to combat terrorism apply is of no relevance to the international legal assessment of his killing by the United States.”

16 January 2020

In the Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East the German representative stated:

“The lack of respect for international humanitarian law that we have witnessed in Yemen and in other areas is something we all need to be concerned about. Germany has highlighted that point for the past two years while it has been a member of the Security Council.”

17 January 2020

On the question of Turkey sending troops to Libya under the Libya-Turkey MOU of 27 November 2019, a spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office declared:

“The deployment of international armed troops also falls under the arms embargo. […] The deployment of international troops to Libya violates the United Nations arms embargo.”

21 January 2020

During the Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, the German representative reiterated the German position that “international order must be based on international law.”

22 January 2020

German Federal Ministry of Justice reportedly takes the position that States are not obligated “either by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [UNCRC] or by any other rule of international law to include children’s rights in national constitutions”.

22 January 2020

In response to a parliamentary question, the Federal Government declared:

“In the past year, by conducting numerous tests of short-range ballistic missiles, North Korea has repeatedly violated international law in the form of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and has continuously put strain on possible negotiations.”

22 January 2020

In response to a parliamentary question, the Federal Government declared that States are “under a general obligation under international law to readmit their own citizens without any exception, irrespective of bilateral or multilateral readmission agreements.”

23 January 2020

At the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem German Federal President Steinmeier stated:

“From the horror of Auschwitz, the world learned lessons once before. The nations of the world built an order of peace, founded upon human rights and international law. We Germans are committed to this order and we want to defend it, with all of you.”1

23 January 2020

In response to a parliamentary question with regard to the violation of sanctions imposed in connection with the annexation of Crimea the Federal Foreign Office stated:

“Companies based in Germany are obliged to ensure compliance with EU sanctions law. Beyond that, international law does not impose any direct obligations on private companies.

28 January 2020

After a Turkish lawyer hired by the German embassy in Ankara to look into the cases of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany was arrested by the Turkish authorities, the Federal Government stated that the hiring of local lawyers by diplomatic missions was covered by both the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Federal Government declared:

“The fact that the diplomatic missions ascertain by all lawful means information about the legal and factual circumstances and developments in the receiving State and report thereon to the authorities of the sending State is in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963.”

29 January 2020

In response to a parliamentary question on the legality of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of National Accord – State of Libya on Delimitation of the Maritime Jurisdiction Areas in the Mediterranean of 27 November 2019, the Federal Foreign Office stated:

“According to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and also according to customary international law, a mutually agreed solution taking into account the individual circumstances of the case and equity should be sought when delimiting sea areas between States with opposite or adjacent coasts. All affected coastal States are to be involved in this process. This also applies to island States and continental States with offshore islands. […] Without prior consultation or other involvement of the neighbouring coastal State Greece and the delimitation of the sea area by agreement, the Memorandum does not meet the requirements under international law.”

30 January 2020

Referring to the attacks on Idlib by the Syrian Government, the Federal Foreign Office called the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure and of places in which civilians seek shelter or care, such as the hospitals, “a blatant breach of international humanitarian law.”

30 January 2020

During a Security Council debate on the situation in Libya the German representative stated that the delivery of “weapons, foreign fighters, ammunition and advanced weapons to the parties” represented “a flagrant violation of international law.”

30 January 2020

During the Security Council debate on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the German representative stated:

“Germany also firmly believes in adhering to the United Nations Charter, the international rules-based order, human rights and accountability for violations of international law and international humanitarian law. […] With regard to upholding international law and the United Nations Charter, in the light of the decision of the International Court of Justice with regard to the case Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) and the report of the Independent Commission of Enquiry, which were both released last week, we again urge ASEAN member States, the Government of Myanmar and the Myanmar military to ensure full accountability for all crimes and severe human rights violations that took place in 2016 and 2017. Impunity for those crimes must end.”

Category: International law in general

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  • Stefan Talmon

    Stefan Talmon is Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, and Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and practices as a Barrister from Twenty Essex, London. He is the editor of GPIL.

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