Since 2002, the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) has played a key role in the secondment of German experts. It has recently been expanded into a full sending organisation, and the revised Secondment Act has created a solid legal basis for its activities. Speaking at the event marking the anniversary on Tuesday (21 June), Minister of State Michael Roth praised ZIF as an important part of Germany’s modern peace diplomacy.
73 peace missions around the world
Around the globe, there are currently 11 major conflicts that claim more than 1000 lives per year – as well as numerous smaller conflicts. 73 peace missions are responding, working first to contain them and later to keep the peace. Because Germany’s foreign policy is first and foremost peace policy, actively contributing to these peace missions is a chief priority of German diplomacy. Germany provides financial support – for example, as the fourth-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. However, Germany’s engagement also includes seconding German experts to these same peace missions.
Experts more urgently needed than ever
With a staff of 50, ZIF is responsible for seconding experts to, and qualifying them for, peace missions. It also draws up analyses and concept papers on peacebuilding and peacekeeping. Some 150 experts, so-called secondees, are currently serving in the field via ZIF. They are deployed on, among others, OSCE, EU, UN and NATO missions. In his speech, Minister of State Michael Roth paid tribute to the role played by ZIF:
If ZIF didn't exist, we would have to invent it today. After all, in this world full of crises and conflicts, civilian experts are needed more urgently than ever. Your work and experience, colleagues, is extremely valuable. Day in, day out, you are helping to defuse crises or - even better - to prevent conflicts emerging in the first place. And you are doing so all over the world.
Thanking the German Bundestag
Roth also thanked all parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag for their support and emphasised how important the revised Secondment Act is for the seconded experts themselves:
The law is a milestone in legal protection and social insurance for civilian personnel. We want to pay them a fair salary for their work and to ensure that they are covered as well as possible in their difficult and often dangerous missions.