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, including those posed 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 coalitions of the willing (for example, the KFOR military mission in Kosovo) led either by an individual country or an international organisation to settle conflicts. Since its foundation, the United Nations has itself conducted over 70 peace missions and mandated many others through the Security Council.
Today’s UN peace missions increasingly concentrate on national conflicts and usually take the form of multidimensional operations. Alongside purely military peacekeeping tasks, these operations therefore also assume a wide range of civilian duties. Depending on their mandate, the peace missions support political processes within the context of stabilisation measures, e.g. by promoting mediation efforts between conflict parties. They are also involved in supporting security-sector reform, destroying small arms, monitoring elections and democratic processes, building rule-of-law institutions and monitoring the human rights situation. Germany supports this engagement directly through participation in missions, funding for UN aid organisations and its own peacebuilding measures, which complement the UN’s approaches.
Since 2000, there has been a substantial increase in UN-led peacekeeping (blue helmet missions), and special political missions, with currently around 120,000 people (soldiers, police officers and other civilian personnel) involved in such missions around the world. The bulk of UN peacekeepers is 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 as a result of the complexity of the crises in the world demonstrate the importance of these missions, but at the same time present the UN system with significant challenges in terms of planning, implementing and concluding missions. Comprehensive reforms of UN peacekeeping have therefore been initiated at international level and are being pursued under the leadership of UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
German personnel in UN peace missions
Germany currently has around 3500 Bundeswehr soldiers and approximately 130 police officers serving with international peace missions. Most of the German soldiers and police officers currently deployed on peace missions are serving with the United Nations peace mission in Mali (MINUSMA), with the aim of supporting the peace and reconciliation process within the country and stabilising the region beyond Mali itself. Germany is also involved in NATO and EU operations, as well as international coalitions within the framework of the UN system of mutual security. It is one of the largest troop providers to Resolute Support in Afghanistan and KFOR in Kosovo and also has a large military contingent serving in the EU mission EUNAVOR MED (Operation Sophia) in the Mediterranean. Germany’s engagement in these missions is therefore part of a coordinated peacekeeping approach.
Members of German security forces are currently participating in the following UN led missions:
- UNIFIL (Lebanon)
- MINURSO (Western Sahara)
- MINUSMA (Mali)
- UNMISS (South Sudan)
- UNAMID (Sudan)
- UNAMA (Afghanistan)
- UNMIK (Kosovo)
- UNMIL (Liberia)
- UNSOM (Somalia)
- MINUSTAH (Haiti)
German soldiers and police officers are also deployed to the following international missions and activities:
Resolute Support in Afghanistan; Operation Inherent Resolve to combat IS in Syria and Iraq; training support in northern Iraq; KFOR and EULEX 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 Libya; EUAM and OSCE SMM in Ukraine; NATO activities in the Aegean; SEA GUARDIAN and EUNAVFOR MED (Operation Sophia) in the Mediterranean.
As the fourth-largest contributor to the relevant United Nations budget after the United States, China and Japan, Germany is also a crucial source of funding for peacekeeping missions. Germany currently provides 6.389 percent of the budget, that is, around 457 million dollars.