Celebrating three years of a foreign policy toolkit 

Germany is now the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid.

Germany is now the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid., © humedica

12.03.2018 - Article

Created in 2015, Directorate-General S has restocked the Federal Foreign Office’s diplomatic toolkit. We look back at three eventful years since it was established.

Modern foreign policy must be more today than traditional diplomacy. This, at any rate, was the conclusion reached by experts, the public and members of the Federal Foreign Office following the comprehensive review process “A Fresh Look at German Foreign Policy”. An outcome of the Review was the establishment on 11 March 2015 of Directorate-General S – for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance. Since then, the Federal Foreign Office has pooled its expertise, personnel and necessary budget in order to respond to crises with the necessary resources from a single source.

Enhanced crisis engagement

Directorate-General S had a Budget of around 2.4 Billion euros in 2017 alone.
Directorate-General S had a Budget of around 2.4 Billion euros in 2017 alone.© Foto HELP / Grafik AA

“Over the past three years, we have achieved a great deal, created new instruments and thus expanded our capacities in the area of stabilisation and humanitarian aid. This has also enabled us to raise the profile of German foreign policy internationally,” said Rüdiger König, Head of Directorate-General S. The Federal Government provides funds to alleviate the plight of people in humanitarian crises and is committed to ensuring that aid organisations cooperate even better. Germany is now held in high esteem as the second-largest donor of humanitarian aid and an active player in the humanitarian system. It is taking responsibility on the international stage with respect to efforts to stabilise countries and regions, for example by assuming leading roles in international bodies such as the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS. The Federal Foreign Office is also a sought‑after partner in the area of peace mediation. Interministerial strategies to promote the rule of law and security sector reform have been constantly expanded during the last three years.

Networked approach

The policy guidelines on preventing crises, managing conflicts and building peace are the Federal Government’s compass for the interministerial response to international crises and armed conflict. These guidelines were developed under the auspices of Directorate-General S within the Federal Foreign Office. They contain a clear commitment on the part of the Federal Government to always give priority to civilian instruments and to ensure that crises are prevented. The Federal Government is pursuing a networked approach in order to increase the likelihood of the peace dividend accruing. For example, Directorate-General S is promoting a wide range of integrated initiatives in Iraq to help bring stability to the country and is providing urgent humanitarian aid.

Thinking ahead

Three years down the line, Directorate-General S is endeavouring to translate these guidelines into reality: “We will also have to work hard in the future to ensure that we can achieve results both in the area of stabilisation and humanitarian aid that live up to the expectations being made of Germany,” said Head of Directorate-General S König. “To this end, we will assess and continue to develop the entire range of tools at the disposal of Directorate-General S on a constant basis,” he added. Mediation, security sector reform and strategies to strengthen the rule of law are to be refined in terms of concepts and action on the ground. Anticipatory approaches are continuing to be developed in the area of humanitarian aid. The dialogue with both the public and international partners must be maintained on an ongoing basis in order to integrate German crisis engagement into international processes such as the EU’s Global Strategy and the UN Secretary-General’s reform agenda. Additional focuses include early crisis detection and strategic evaluation. The Federal Foreign Office is currently developing and testing pilot projects in this area such as the new electronic analysis system PreView.

Zum Weiterlesen

What is humanitarian assistance? How does the Federal Foreign Office provide assistance? On which principles is German aid based?

Fundamental principles of humanitarian assistance

The focus is not only on management of severe crises, but also on effective prevention, to keep crises from arising in the first place.

Basic elements of crisis prevention


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