Germany is facing a growing number of crises and violent conflicts, many of which are in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood. Tackling these crises is an important task for the international community, not least due to the refugee flows caused by such situations. In order to be able to play a role earlier, more decisively and more effectively in preventing and overcoming crises, the Federal Government, under the auspices of the Federal Foreign Office, plans to draw up a new basic document on international crisis engagement for the German Government by the spring of 2017. In so doing it intends to define for itself guiding principles for coordinated and effective action in times of crisis and tailor them to the long‑term goal of safeguarding peace throughout the world. These new Guidelines on Crisis Engagement and Peacebuilding are designed to specify priorities for Germany’s engagement and promote coherent action on the part of the ministries and their international partners.
Why a new basic document?
The new basic document will replace the 2004 Action Plan “Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Peace-Building”. For in recent years, the expectations of Germany’s engagement in the area of conflict and crisis resolution have increased significantly. The soon-to-be-published White Paper on the future of the Bundeswehr outlines the impact the changed framework conditions will have on security policy. The experiences gleaned from recent engagement – for example in Afghanistan, in the Sahel countries or in the context of the Syria conflict – as well as the impetus for reform generated by multilateral partners such as the UN and the EU, require the sophistication of the entire toolkit, especially the civilian tools for crisis prevention, stabilisation and post‑conflict peacebuilding.
Guiding principles for peace policy and priorities of future engagement
The interministerial guidelines will begin with a review of crisis causes and the experiences gained from Germany’s engagement to date. The guidelines will clearly specify the principles and goals directing the Federal Government’s activity according to its responsibility to maintain peace set down in the Basic Law. Instead of attempting to provide an exhaustive list of all instruments in the area of crisis engagement, the Federal Government will set priorities in which it plans to invest strategically in future and which are to acquire prominence as specific German contributions in cooperation with international partners. In addition, structures and processes are to be reformed to ensure that all ministries involved in German crisis engagement can pull even harder in the same direction and work more effectively with international partners such as the United Nations and the European Union.