The number of conflicts in our world is increasing while crises are ever more often spanning national borders, affecting entire regions. At the same time, the impact of the climate crisis is becoming more and more palpable and in many places is fuelling existing conflicts. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine not only poses a direct threat to Europe but also exacerbates food insecurity worldwide and undermines international principles such as the general prohibition of the use of force. It is against this backdrop that the Federal Foreign Office drew up a new foreign and security policy concept for integrated peace engagement. It is rooted in the experience of the last decade, is part of the new National Security Strategy, seeks to coordinate our various instruments more closely and puts the focus on people.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock unveiled this new approach on 19 December 2022 during her visit to the village of Ngarannam in north-east Nigeria, a village which Germany helped to rebuild. In 2015, the terrorist organisation Boko Haram quite literally flattened the village and many others like it, driving out the local population. During the reconstruction process, the focus was on equipping the village with guard towers and protection systems to prevent future attacks and on rebuilding state structures such as a police station, school and hospital. The population of the village was involved at every stage through a local stabilisation committee.
Security does not just mean curbing terrorism but also that the people on the ground can once again rely on state structures, that they vest their trust in the police once more, that they see a future for their children through education, healthcare and food security. That is why we, the German Government, have redesigned our stabilisation policy – also based on lessons learned in Afghanistan – by closely interlinking civilian instruments and security cooperation.
– Foreign Minister Baerbock
What does integrated peace engagement mean in concrete terms?
Crisis prevention, stabilisation and peacebuilding are the three central pillars of integrated peace engagement. In all three areas, we are focusing on an integrated approach. This means that the work of German institutions is to be dovetailed and coordinated even better with other international actors in crisis regions. After all, the interplay between humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding and development cooperation is crucial when it comes to preventing crises, stabilising regions and bringing peace and long-term development. The various civilian instruments, such as security sector reform, peace mediation and support for holding elections, with police and military elements including training, ownership or even military steps, must be thought of as a whole and connected in practice – always fully integrated into multilateral or international coalitions.
What is important is to take action as early as possible and yet remain flexible so as to bring about lasting solutions to crises. After all, there is no such thing as instantaneous or perfect solutions when it comes to crisis engagement. The new concept for integrated peace engagement therefore focuses in particular on a learning, flexible approach and realistic goals. What approach achieves concrete, positive outcomes where? What approach achieves less and why? What helps in a particular region on the road to lasting peace? How do we secure human rights? How do we improve the situation of women and children and empower marginalised groups? We observe all these factors in each individual case and make adjustments as necessary.
It is all about using tailor-made projects in a country to empower those advocating political solutions and cooperation. If, for example, Germany together with other partners helps to nurture trust between governments, security forces and local communities through joint action, displaced persons are able to return to their homes and take their fate into their own hands. This builds a bridge out of the crisis to peace. When mediation experts, for example in Sudan, bring conflicting parties together behind the scenes and enable them to conduct effective negotiations, the chances for the peaceful balancing-out of interests increase. If in Iraq war crimes are investigated and a basis can emerge for reconciliation, the risk of a new spiral of violence falls.
Stabilisation in the budget of the Federal Foreign Office
The growing importance of German peace engagement is also reflected in the budgetary funds earmarked to this end. The German Bundestag authorised funding to the tune of 595 million euro in 2022 for crisis prevention, stabilisation and peacebuilding of which 110 million euro was special funding for Ukraine and funds to deal with the global impact of Russia’s war of aggression.