UN peace missions and Germany’s engagement

German soldiers during a UN mission

German soldiers during a UN mission, © Liesa Johannssen/photothek.net

05.02.2020 - Article

The paramount task of the United Nations Security Council is to maintain and restore peace. To this end, the Security Council issues mandates for peace missions. Germany is active in a large number of peace missions.

According to Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, the purpose of the organisation is “to maintain international peace and 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 it was in the past.

Organs and instruments

The UN Security Council takes appropriate measures to maintain or restore peace. This includes issuing mandates for peace missions. The Security Council can mandate the UN itself, regional organisations (such as NATO, the EU, the OSCE or the African Union) and coalitions of the willing led by a country or an international organisation to intervene in a conflict situation. Since its foundation, the UN has conducted over 70 peace missions itself and mandated many others through the Security Council.

As a result of the increasing complexity of crises around the world, UN‑led missions cover a wide range of tasks and have grown in number and scope. This shows the importance of UN peace missions, but also poses significant challenges to the system as regards planning, conducting and concluding missions. Comprehensive reforms of UN peace missions have therefore been initiated at international level and are being pursued with great energy under the leadership of UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Conflicts are now mainly of an internal nature and involve a large number of different stakeholders, thus necessitating a multidimensional approach to peace missions. Alongside purely military peacekeeping tasks, such as safeguarding and monitoring borders and protecting the civilian population, these operations therefore also assume a wide range of civilian duties. Depending on their mandate, peace missions actively support political processes, for example by endeavouring to mediate between conflict parties, as in Darfur; fostering security-sector reform, as in Mali; destroying small arms; monitoring elections and other democratic processes; establishing rule-of-law institutions and monitoring the human rights situation.

UN peace missions can involve peacekeeping or special political missions. Unlike peacekeeping missions, special political missions do not have any military components, but instead focus solely on civilian conflict resolution. Examples of such missions include UNSOM in Somalia and BINUH in Haiti.

Around 100,000 people (soldiers, police officers and civilian personnel) are involved in 13 peacekeeping missions around the world at present. Currently, there are also 24 special political missions.

German personnel in UN peace missions

Soldiers with an armoured vehicle in the peace mission in Mali
Soldiers with an armoured vehicle in the peace mission in Mali© Xander Heinl/photothek.net

Germany’s engagement in UN peace missions is an important component of German foreign and peace policy.

Germany contributes civilian personnel, police officers and soldiers to UN peace missions. At present, its personnel are involved in seven peacekeeping missions and two special political missions. In terms of personnel, Germany’s commitment is focused on the UN peace missions in Mali (MINUSMA), which seeks to support the peace and reconciliation process in the country and to stabilise the region beyond Mali itself. Germany’s engagement in these UN missions is therefore part of a coordinated peacekeeping approach. Furthermore, Germany is involved in missions mandated by the UN, as well as in NATO, EU and OSCE missions.

Members of German security forces are currently participating in the following UN peace missions:

German Bundestag mandates for Bundeswehr deployments in:

Further personnel contributions to:

Besides contributing personnel to UN peace missions, Germany also supports the UN’s extensive engagement in many places by conducting bilateral capacity-building and stabilisation measures and deploying mobile training teams.

As the fourth-largest contributor to the relevant UN budget after the US, China and Japan, Germany is also a crucial source of funding for peace missions and is currently contributing 6.09 percent of the budget.


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