According to Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, the purpose of the organisation is “to maintain world peace and international security”. Given the many crises and conflicts around the world, as well as the new risks and threats to international security posed also by non-state actors, the need for such efforts is no less pressing today than in the past.
Organs and instruments
The maintenance or restoration of peace is the paramount task of the United Nations Security Council. It takes appropriate measures and can, for example, issue mandates for peace missions. It can also mandate regional organisations (such as NATO, the EU, the OSCE or the African Union) or so-called “coalitions of the willing” (for example, the military mission KFOR in Kosovo) led either by an individual country or by an international organisation to settle conflicts. Since its founding, the United Nations has itself conducted over 70 peace missions and mandated many others through the Security Council.
Today, UN peace missions increasingly concentrate on national conflicts and usually take the form of so‑called multidimensional operations. Alongside military peacekeeping tasks, these operations also assume a wide range of civilian duties such as supporting security sector reform, monitoring elections and democratic processes, humanitarian aid, economic reconstruction, rule of law institution-building and monitoring the human rights situation.
Since 2000 there has been a substantial increase in UN-led peacekeeping (so-called blue helmet missions), with currently around 120,000 people involved in such missions (soldiers, police officers and other civilian personnel). The bulk of UN peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, and this will presumably continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. The broad spectrum of tasks undertaken by UN-led missions and the great increase in their size and scope present the UN system with significant challenges in terms of planning and implementing missions.
Germany’s commitment to UN peace missions
Germany currently has around 3500 Bundeswehr soldiers and more than 150 police officers serving with international peace missions. The bulk of German soldiers and police officers currently deployed on peace missions are serving with UN-mandated NATO and EU operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans. Germany is one of the biggest troop providers for Resolute Support in Afghanistan and KFOR in Kosovo. Germany also has a large military contingent serving in the EU mission EUNAVOR MED (“Sophia”) in the Mediterranean and since 2016 has greatly extended its engagement within the context of the United Nations peace mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in order to support the peace and reconciliation process within the country and stabilise the region beyond Mali itself.
Germany is currently participating in the following UN‑led missions with its own security forces:
- UNIFIL (Lebanon)
- MINURSO (Western Sahara)
- MINUSMA (Mali)
- UNMISS (South Sudan)
- UNAMID (Sudan)
- UNAMA (Afghanistan)
- UNMIK (Kosovo)
- UNMIL (Liberia)
- UNSOM (Somalia)
- MINUSTAH (Haiti)
German nationals are further deployed on the following international missions:
Resolute Support in Afghanistan; EULEX and KFOR in Kosovo; EUMM in Georgia; EUBAM MD/UA in Moldova/Ukraine; EUPOL COPPS; ATALANTA in the Horn of Africa; EUTM in Somalia; EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUTM in Mali; EUBAM in Libya; EUAM and OSCE SMM in Ukraine; SEA GUARDIAN and EUNAVFOR MED (“Sophia”) in the Mediterranean.
Germany is also a crucial source of funding for peacekeeping missions, being the fourth-largest contributor to the relevant United Nations budget after the United States, Japan and France and before the United Kingdom. The German contribution amounts to 6.389 percent, which is almost 457 million US dollars.