Security, the rule of law and dealing with the past as foundations of stabilisation in crisis regions

A prerequisite for peace and stability: Germany is promoting the build‑up of police forces in many countries

A prerequisite for peace and stability: Germany is promoting the build‑up of police forces in many countries, © Photothek

18.09.2019 - Article

From Colombia to Khartoum, Germany is promoting security, the rule of law and efforts to deal with the past in crisis countries around the world. The Federal Government intends to improve the coordination of its projects still further with the help of new strategies.

Since their adoption in 2017, the guidelines “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace” have set out the Federal Government’s approach to crises and armed conflicts. In this context, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development are now publishing joint strategies for promoting the rule of law, security sector reform and efforts to deal with the past in order to be better equipped for working in specific fragile contexts and to improve the coordination of their work in crisis countries.

No peace without justice and security

From Afghanistan to Mali to Colombia, Germany supports crisis‑ridden countries around the world in their efforts to build up and expand efficient police and armed forces and place them under constitutional control, as well as strengthen their courts and come to terms with past injustices. A basic common consensus on the state order often has to be found anew and enshrined in a new constitution, especially after a civil war.

Foreign Minister Maas recently visited the Sudan, a country currently undergoing major changes following the ousting of Omar al‑Bashir. The population’s desire for security and stability was palpable also in that country:

During my conversations in the Sudan, we kept coming back to the same issues: a police force protecting the entire population of the country, a judiciary that people trust, and a mindful approach to past injustices – these are crucial foundations on which new social cohesion can grow. We are committed to helping those who supported the peaceful revolution and the new civilian‑led government in Khartoum.

Building up police Forces in Africa, promoting international courts

The rule of law is one of the prerequisites for peace and stability
The rule of law is one of the prerequisites for peace and stability© GIZ

In other crisis countries, too, Germany is helping to rebuild the security sector, promote rule‑of‑law structures and support efforts to deal with the past in order to create a basis for reconciliation and a fresh start. 

Since 2009, the Federal Foreign Office has supported a programme seeking to build up and strengthen police structures in six African countries. A forensic laboratory was set up in Côte d’Ivoire, and networking of border police between Mali, the Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania is also being promoted.

The population can only put their trust in the security sector if the armed forces and police are under effective constitutional control. The rule of law facilitates peaceful coexistence and protects citizens from state tyranny. It is for this reason that the Federal Government also supports EU, OSCE and UN peace and rule-of-law missions and fosters international courts such as the International Criminal Court.

Dealing with the past: Mali’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

It is important to come to terms with past injustice in order to make a fresh start for society possible after crisis situations and to create a new basis for coexistence. In 2015, a peace treaty was signed in Mali between the Government and insurgent rebels and militias. A commission funded by the Federal Foreign Office has been working since then to document and address human rights violations.

Peacelab: input from academics and civil society

The Federal Government had previously obtained expert input from the Peacelab blog. What concrete goals should the interministerial strategy pursue, and how should the risks and dilemmas that arise when working in crisis contexts be addressed? More than 100 articles by academics and civil society representatives were drawn on when drafting the strategies.

Peacelab debate

Interministerial strategy for supporting efforts to come to terms with the past and reconciliation (transitional justice)

Interministerial strategy for supporting security sector reform (SSR)

Interministerial strategy for promoting the rule of law


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