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Germany participates in new NATO maritime operation Sea Guardian

30.09.2016 - Article

On 29 September the Bundestag approved the participation of the Bundeswehr in the new NATO maritime operation Sea Guardian. Germany is thus helping to increase security in the Mediterranean Region.

On Thursday (29 September) the Bundestag approved the participation of the Bundeswehr in the new NATO maritime operation Sea Guardian with a large majority. From October, the operation, which was agreed on by the Heads of State and Government at the NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 July, will follow on from the long‑term operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean region. Germany is providing up to 650 soldiers.

Contribution to more security in the Mediterranean region

Sea Guardian was agreed on at the NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 July 2016.
Sea Guardian was agreed on at the NATO Summit in Warsaw on 8 July 2016.© von Stocki

The goal of the new maritime security operation Sea Guardian is to identify crisis developments in the Mediterranean region at an early stage and tackle maritime terrorism as well as human trafficking and arms smuggling. The instability and fragility of some of the regions bordering onto the Mediterranean harbours significant potential for illegal activities such as arms smuggling and human trafficking.

Broad range of tasks and support for the EU

Against this backdrop, the new NATO operation Sea Guardian will provide ongoing reports, like its predecessor Active Endeavour. The mandate also includes the option of conducting checks on ships with a suspected connection to terrorist organisations. In future such checks may be conducted with the permission of the flag State and without the approval of the crew. Moreover, the operation mandate also facilitates cooperation with the EU EUNAVFOR (Sophia) operation. This includes providing support in the form of logistics, for example, as well as the exchange of reports.

Bundestag approves German participation until the end of 2017

The mandate also facilitates cooperation between Sea Guardian and the EU EUNAVFOR operation.
The mandate also facilitates cooperation between Sea Guardian and the EU EUNAVFOR operation.© dpa/picture alliance

On Thursday (29 September) the Bundestag approved the deployment of up to 650 soldiers to help strengthen security in the Mediterranean region with 441 votes in favour, 117 votes against and one abstention. The Bundeswehr mandate for participation in Sea Guardian will initially run until the end of next year. NATO plans to launch the operation in October.

Maritime law as a legal basis for the operation in the Mediterranean region

Unlike Operation Active Endeavour, the follow‑up operation Sea Guardian will proceed within the context of maritime law and will not have to have recourse to the UN Charter’s right of self‑defence or the NATO mutual defence clause.

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