Maas in New York: Time for sustainable foreign policy

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the General Assembly of the United Nations

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the General Assembly of the United Nations, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

26.09.2019 - Article

Be it in the context of climate protection, disarmament or the resolution of ongoing conflicts: “It is time to do more than just talk about sustainability. It is time to act sustainably,” emphasised Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the 74th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Sustainability: this is almost certainly the most frequently heard word at the UN General Assembly this year. No matter whether it is climate and security, disarmament issues or the resolution of the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine: “We can no longer afford not to act sustainably,” stressed Foreign Minister Maas in his address to the General Assembly.

What exactly is sustainable foreign policy?

“Sustainable foreign policy demands stamina, resilience, resolve. Above all, though, it means working together reliably.” – Heiko Maas.

“Anyone who loves their country will be committed to cooperation with other countries”

From Syria to Iran to Ukraine: in many crises, the search for solutions is too difficult and is taking too long. Peace talks have been put on ice, and parties to conflicts are more interested in mutual accusations than in cooperative talks. At the same time, there is the risk of humanitarian disasters, while simmering conflicts, for example in the Sahel region, threaten to cast entire regions into chaos.

Foreign Minister Maas firmly believes that peace can only be established if countries work together. Crisis prevention, stabilisation and post-conflict peacebuilding can only succeed if we join forces. It is a matter of making continual progress, even under difficult circumstances. “After all, pursuing a sustainable foreign policy also means doggedly pursuing a goal, step by step.”

The most recent developments in the Sudan prove that this can work: after 30 years, there is hope for a new beginning. The international community supports the process, for example through the UNAMID peace mission. In Mali, too, UN blue helmets, including almost 1000 Germans, are securing the fragile peace day by day.

Strengthening disarmament and arms control

In arms control, as well, only if we work together to take small, continuous steps can we make the world a safer place. Germany is working to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons. At UN level, the German Government champions implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the ending of nuclear tests worldwide.

During the General Assembly, Germany will demonstrate its support for disarmament and arms control at a wide range of levels. Germany and Algeria will take on the Co-Presidency of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). And along with the Swedish Foreign Minister and counterparts from other countries that do not have nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Maas will call for the Non-Proliferation Treaty to play a greater role in the United Nations.

Alliance for Multilateralism

“Cooperation. Compromise. Defence of our joint rules and institutions. That is what we understand by sustainability when it comes to foreign policy,” said Maas in summary. That is why, along with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, he will be launching an initiative for an Alliance for Multilateralism and advocating for a strong international order. More than 50 Foreign Ministers will be meeting to agree on concrete steps to strengthen international law and human rights, and for disarmament, crisis prevention, peacebuilding and global issues for the future such as cyber technology and climate change. Because German foreign policy is multilateral foreign policy.


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