UN Security Council reform: a story of growing German frustration

Published: 30 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Germany regards the Security Council as “the most important organ of the United Nations for guaranteeing peace and security worldwide.” Following its admission to the organisation on 18 September 1973, it was elected six times to a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Council. However, from the 1990s Germany aspired to become a permanent Council member. Together with three other aspirant countries – Brazil, India, and Japan – it formed the Group of 4 (G4) which worked for Security Council reform, including an expansion of both permanent and non-permanent members. The G4 advocated adding six new permanent members to the Council (two seats each for Africa and Asia and one seat [i.e., Germany] for the Western European and Others Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Group respectively).  In addition, they supported four or five non-permanent members (one seat each for Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and one or two seats for Africa). Although the item “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and other matters related to the Security Council” was first included in the agenda of the General Assembly in 1979, and although the World Summit of Heads of State and Government in 2005 supported “early reform of the Security Council” as an essential element of the overall effort to reform the United Nations, there was no progress on Security Council reform. The intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) which were conducted in an informal plenary of the UN General Assembly since 2009 produced no tangible result. (more…)

UN Security Council reform: a story of growing German frustration Read More

Germany calls on Turkey to respect international law when conducting seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean

Published: 28 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Turkey and Greece have a long-standing dispute over their continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) entitlements in the eastern Mediterranean. On 21 July 2020, tensions between the two countries flared – once again – when Turkey announced that, as part of its ongoing hydrocarbon exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean, its seismic survey vessel “Oruç Reis” would launch a new seismic survey in areas of the Turkish continental shelf. Greece immediately objected, claiming that the survey area was within its own continental shelf because of Kastellorizo – a small Greek island of some 10 km2, located only 2 km off the Anatolian coast, some 127 km from the nearest Greek island of Rhodes and around 580 km from the Greek mainland. The Greek navy was placed on alert and the “Oruç Reis” was escorted on her mission by Turkish warships. (more…)

Germany calls on Turkey to respect international law when conducting seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean Read More

Germany as an almost permanent member of the Economic and Social Council

Published: 24 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. Its tasks include coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and making recommendations on economic, social, and environmental issues, as well as the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals. ECOSOC’s 54 members are elected for overlapping three-year-terms by a two-thirds majority of the members of the General Assembly present and voting. Members are elected directly and individually through a secret ballot. Seats are allotted based on geographical representation, with fourteen allocated to African States, eleven to Asian States, six to Eastern European States, ten to Latin American and Caribbean States, and thirteen to Western European and other States. Germany is part of the so-called “Western European and other States” group (WEOG). (more…)

Germany as an almost permanent member of the Economic and Social Council Read More

For Germany the “State of Palestine” is not a State Party of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Published: 22 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 2 January 2015, the State of Palestine deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the Secretary-General of the United Nations pursuant to Article 125(2) of the Statute. On 22 May 2018, Palestine referred the “Situation in the State of Palestine” to the Prosecutor pursuant to Articles 13(a) and 14 of the Statute. Palestine requested that the Prosecutor investigate crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction which were “committed in all parts of the territory of the State of Palestine” since 13 June 2014. In its referral the State of Palestine specified that its territory comprises “the Palestinian Territory occupied in 1967 by Israel, as defined by the 1949 Armistice Line, and includes the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.” (more…)

For Germany the “State of Palestine” is not a State Party of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Read More

Germany appeals to Iran to comply with its treaty obligations not to execute persons who were minors at the time of the crime

Published: 16 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 16 August 2015, Shayan Saeedpour killed a man in a street fight in Iran whilst under the influence of alcohol. At the time of the crime, he was only 17 years old and, according to human rights organisations, was receiving psychiatric treatment. A criminal court in Iran’s Kurdistan Province held him to be fully responsible for his acts and on 23 October 2018 sentenced him to death. The Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in February 2019. On 19 April 2020, Mr. Saeedpour’s lawyer was informed of his client’s imminent execution. (more…)

Germany appeals to Iran to comply with its treaty obligations not to execute persons who were minors at the time of the crime Read More

First conviction for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity by enslavement

Published: 14 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 2 October 2020, the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg rendered the first conviction for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity by enslavement. The Court sentenced the German and Tunisian citizen Omaima A. to three years and six months’ imprisonment for, inter alia, her involvement in the enslavement of a 13-year-old Yazidi girl. The verdict came some six years after the terrorist organisation “Islamic State” (IS) committed genocide against the Yazidis, an ethno-religious minority in northern Iraq. During the IS campaign in August 2014, some 200,000 Yazidis were driven from their homes and 50,000 fled for their lives to the Sinjar Mountains; 5,000 Yazidi men were killed and as many as 7,000 women and girls were enslaved. (more…)

First conviction for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity by enslavement Read More

Federal Prosecutor General Accuses Russia of State-Ordered Murder

Published: 09 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 23 August 2019, Tornike K., a former Chechen separatist fighter who had fled to Germany, was shot dead in broad daylight in an execution-style killing in Berlin’s Kleiner Tiergarten park. The suspected killer, a Russian national, was arrested near the crime scene shortly after the crime and provisionally taken into custody. From the outset, Russian State involvement in the insidious murder was suspected. Once sufficient factual grounds emerged to suggest that the killing was carried out either on the order of the Russian State authorities or on those the Autonomous Chechen Republic, the Federal Public Prosecutor General took over the investigation on 4 December 2019. As a consequence, the Federal Government expelled two Russian diplomats. (more…)

Federal Prosecutor General Accuses Russia of State-Ordered Murder Read More

Germany Counts and Condemns North Korean Illegal Missile Tests

Published: 06 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

For many years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has conducted ballistic missile tests in violation of its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. In March 2020, North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles which on each occasion triggered a strong condemnation from Germany. (more…)

Germany Counts and Condemns North Korean Illegal Missile Tests Read More

Germany Fails to Integrate Climate Security Concerns Into the Work of the Security Council

Published: 31 August 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

For more than a decade, Germany has been on a mission to integrate climate security concerns into the work of the UN Security Council. During its presidency of the Council in July 2011, the Council for the first time expressed ‘its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security’. The Council acknowledged that the security implications of climate change are sometimes be drivers of conflict, as well as representing a challenge to the implementation of its mandates or endangering the process of peace consolidation, and requested that the UN Secretary-General ensure his reporting to the Council contain contextual information on, inter alia, possible security implications of climate change. (more…)

Germany Fails to Integrate Climate Security Concerns Into the Work of the Security Council Read More

Legal consequences of Germany’s non-recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea

Published: 27 August 2021 Authors: Stefan Talmon and Hannah Janknecht

In February 2014, in the wake of the Ukrainian revolution, Russian troops stationed in Crimea under an agreement between Russia and Ukraine left their military bases and took control of the peninsula. A pro-Russian government was installed which held a status referendum in which the majority ethnic Russian population voted overwhelmingly for the independence of Crimea and the accession to Russia. On 18 March 2014, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty of accession making Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol the 84th and 85th federal entities of the Russian Federation. (more…)

Legal consequences of Germany’s non-recognition of the Russian annexation of Crimea Read More