Peace missions are one of the United Nations’ hallmarks. They have continued to grow in importance in recent years as an instrument of crisis prevention and crisis management. Over 120,000 blue helmets from 127 countries are currently deployed in 15 missions around the world. Germany has increased its involvement in UN peace missions considerably in recent years.
Peacekeeping on the agenda of the UN general debate
Peacekeeping is on the agenda of the general debate of the 72nd UN General Assembly taking place from 19 September, which Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel will be attending. UN Secretary‑General Guterres intends to reform the UN Secretariat in order, among other things, to make peace missions even more effective. One of his key priorities is therefore crisis prevention, which Germany is also supporting.
Peacekeeping: plans for reform and the primacy of politics
New global challenges, new types of conflicts and discussions surrounding the budget are increasing the pressure to undertake reform in the area of UN peace missions. A high‑level panel to assess the peacekeeping architecture recently submitted numerous proposals to bring about greater efficiency, which UN Secretary‑General Guterres has now taken up. These include more rapid deployment of operational troops, more flexible mandates, the deployment of new technologies, greater cooperation with regional organisations and improved collaboration between actors. The primacy of politics is an express focus in all of this. Peace missions are not the solution, but are a political instrument to support peace processes.
Germany is an active player in the area of peacekeeping
Germany has increased its involvement in UN peacekeeping considerably in recent years. Over one thousand German soldiers and police officers are currently supporting ten peace missions. The UN mission MINUSMA in Mali is a particular focus of Germany’s engagement. It is currently Germany’s biggest deployment abroad with up to one thousand soldiers and twenty police officers. Another priority is the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon.
Alongside providing German personnel, Germany is supporting the peace missions financially as the fourth‑largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget (after the US, Japan and China). The Federal Government is also providing further support in the form of training courses for third countries in the context of its comprehensive stabilisation efforts, as well as through providing German expertise. For instance, Germany seconded a team from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief to support the peace mission in Colombia at the request of the UN in order to assist the establishment of the mission’s communications infrastructure in the region.
Making capabilities available for improved planning
A further focus of Germany’s efforts is in supporting the planning of peace missions – rapidly deployable capabilities for peace missions are particularly important in this regard. It was with this in mind that the Federal Government made additional capabilities for the missions at the beginning of September 2017, including a reconnaissance company, mine‑clearance operatives, hospitals and air transport personnel.