The world is being jolted by numerous crises ‑ making prevention, stabilisation and post-conflict management increasingly important. On Wednesday (21 December), the Federal Cabinet approved the revised Secondment Act, which regulates and simplifies the secondment of German experts to peace missions. The central element is the expansion of the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) into a full sending organisation.
They monitor the ceasefire in Ukraine. They provide support for judicial reform in Kosovo. They support demobilisation of the warring parties in Colombia and the development of the police force in Mali. Or they support supplies to the European training mission for civilian security forces EUCAP Sahel in Niger. Highly-qualified German personnel are making a valuable contribution to peace and stability in many of the world’s trouble spots.
The Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF), based in Berlin, plays a crucial role in this context. Every year, it recruits over 150 civilian experts for peace missions and more than 300 election observers for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). There are currently 1400 people in its pool of available experts. The Secondment Act which has now been approved means that ZIF can offer a complete package, from finding and recruiting experts to concluding their contracts, overseeing their engagement and following up on missions. This will allow recruitment and training to be tailored even more specifically to the missions in question, and will enhance profiles in the the fields of justice and management positions.
The Act will also bring tangible advantages for the experts themselves, in particular better social security cover, a clear legal foundation and help with reintegration upon return to Germany. This is especially important given that they often have to work in adverse or indeed dangerous conditions.
Trademark of German foreign policy
Speaking to the dpa press agency, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said he was happy with the Cabinet decision: “Reform of ZIF is a milestone that orients Germany’s civilian capacities even more specifically to the challenges of a world in turmoil.” The starting point for reform was the Review 2014 process, in which the Federal Foreign Office took critical stock of its work in the light of the increasing number of crises worldwide. In Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s view, it is only logical that peace operations should be an important focus of this process. As he said: “Civilian crisis management has become one of the trademarks of Germany’s foreign policy.”