On Sunday (29 May), the world paid tribute to the work of UN “blue helmets” and all others working on international peace missions. At a ceremony on Wednesday (1 June) jointly organised by the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Center for International Peace Operations, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Interior Minister de Maizière and Parliamentary State Secretary Brauksiepe honoured nine German soldiers, police officers and civilian aid workers who have shown outstanding commitment to peace in various crisis and conflict regions.
Over 4500 Germans are currently working on international peace missions
From Afghanistan to Libya, South Sudan and Mali – peacekeepers are working for peace in crisis regions all around the world. Their tasks are as diverse as the countries in which they are deployed. Peacekeepers help to resolve conflicts, work in crisis prevention, monitor adherence to peace agreements and advise countries on building up government bodies. They include not only members of the Federal Armed Forces and police officers, but often also civilian experts. It is precisely this combination of civilian, military and security-policy expertise, said Foreign Minister Steinmeier in his address, that brings success in peacekeeping. There are currently over 4500 Germans working on international peace missions.
“Creating peace in turbulent times”
There is one thing all peace missions have in common: peacekeepers work under extremely difficult conditions in crisis situations which involve numerous risks and deprivations. That is why, under the motto “Playing an active role in fostering peace: The role of peace missions in implementing peace agreements”, Steinmeier, de Maizière and Brauksiepe honoured nine Germans from the Federal Armed Forces, the police force and civilian aid organisations who had shown particular commitment in peace missions. They stood proxy for all peacekeepers.
In his address, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya, expressed his appreciation of the peacekeepers’ work. Foreign Minister Steinmeier, too, thanked them for their commitment: “But in your missions, you help to make fragile peace more sustainable, to strengthen unstable structures and to restore the public’s trust in their state. [...] And this makes you an important role model.”
Expand multilateral support for peacekeeping
Steinmeier emphasised that if we want to play an active role in fostering peace, we also need to expand our multilateral support in the field of peacekeeping, for example by strengthening UN crisis‑response mechanisms. At the same time, more use should be made of mediation, for instance to ensure support for the process of implementing peace agreements.
Peacekeeping is also a key issue for Germany’s OSCE Chairmanship. The aim is to enhance the OSCE’s crisis-response capacities throughout the entire conflict cycle, from early warning to post‑conflict peacebuilding. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is doing ground‑breaking work in this field, the Minister said.