The trip got off to an unusual start for a Foreign Minister with the delegation taking a ferry from the airport to reach the capital Freetown, where a varied and packed programme lay in wait for Heiko Maas. Sierra Leone is one of few countries on the African continent to have successfully embarked on the path to stabilisation and democratisation following the long civil war of the 1990s. It is therefore an example of how international organisations and partners can help to ensure that all phases of international crisis management are successful and long-term change is possible.
Focus on stabilisation
The main issues on the agenda of his talks with Foreign Minister Dr Alie Kabba and President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio will be civilian post-conflict peacebuilding and political reconciliation and how the country can serve as a model and example for other conflict countries. This issue will also be the focus of a meeting with representatives of civil society, for instance with regard to trade in raw materials from conflict regions, the role of religious communities in peace processes and the continuing importance of civil society for the political process. The programme also includes a visit to the Emergency Operational Centre (EOC) in the capital Freetown, which is supported by Germany.
The role of women in post-conflict societies
One of the main priorities of Germany’s membership of the UN Security Council will be a key focus of discussions with women from all sections of society, namely the protection and promotion of an active role for women in conflict resolution and post conflict peacebuilding in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325.
Trip to West Africa: different phases in the cycle of international crisis management
Foreign Minister Maas is visiting Sierra Leone as the first leg of his trip to West Africa. Further destinations include Burkina Faso and Mali. All these countries are in different phases of international crisis management, be it in the area of conflict prevention, exiting crises or sustainable peacekeeping following crises. Conflict prevention, sustainable peacekeeping and strengthening a comprehensive approach to resolving and preventing conflicts are priorities of German foreign policy and Germany’s membership of the UN Security Council.
At the same time, the Federal Foreign Office has been tasked by the Federal Government with updating the guidelines for Germany’s policy on Africa – a process that is currently nearing completion. With this in mind, it is important to Foreign Minister Maas to be on the ground and to gain an insight into how and within which framework cooperation with African countries can be deepened, improved and modernised. How can Germany help to promote conflict prevention and crisis management in Africa, either bilaterally or in the context of multilateral networks?