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Four years of engagement for peace: German Government policy guidelines: Preventing crises, resolving conflicts, building peace

31.03.2021 - Article

For four years now, the German Government policy guidelines: Preventing crises, resolving conflicts, building peace have provided the framework for Germany’s engagement for peace. In future the focus is to be on climate and health, among other aspects.

Aid delivery by the International Red Cross at the Lebanese refugee camp Nahr al-Bared
Aid delivery by the International Red Cross at the Lebanese refugee camp Nahr al-Bared© dpa/picture alliance

Germany’s commitment to peace has many facets

A culture club for young people in Bamako, support for cross-border police cooperation in Africa, data-based early detection in Berlin, or the deployment of soldiers or police officers in peace, stabilisation and training missions across the world – Germany’s commitment to peace has many facets.

Stability, development and human rights can only be realised by working together

Since 2017, the Federal Government’s various instruments have been collated in an interministerial strategy for handling international crises and armed conflicts – the German Government policy guidelines: Preventing crises, resolving conflicts, building peace.

The conviction underlining this strategy is clear: peace is and will remain a fundamental prerequisite for a life in dignity, freedom and prosperity. Promoting peace in the world is enshrined in the Basic Law as a central aim of the state. It also services Germany’s values-based interests – not least at a time when epidemics and natural disasters, but also crises and armed conflicts, are dominating world events and Germany and Europe are directly affected by their repercussions. That is why the Federal Government is committed to crisis prevention and the peaceful, constructive resolution of conflicts worldwide. It acts in the firm belief that stability, development and human rights can only be attained within the framework of an overarching approach to foreign policy.

Facing up to risks, learning from mistakes, improving instruments

In the four years since the policy guidelines were adopted, the Federal Government has implemented a great deal.

Experience in the major fields of rule-of-law promotion, security-sector reform, dealing with the past and mediation has been bundled in strategies and concepts which now form the basis for increased engagement in these areas.

During its membership of the UN Security Council in 2019/2020, Germany supported the efforts towards reform initiated by Secretary-General António Guterres and actively worked to strengthen blue helmet and political peace missions. The EU’s civilian crisis management has been further expanded, including through the establishment of the European Centre of Excellence for Civilian Crisis Management in Berlin.

With a view to improving crisis management, the federal ministries have significantly stepped up their coordination in many areas. Regular interministerial meetings on the implementation of the policy guidelines have been held since 2017. Foreign-policy instruments and development cooperation complement each other even better thanks to joint analysis and coordinated planning. And in the Working Group for Early Crisis Detection the ministries systematically evaluate their knowledge of incipient conflicts and critical developments.

What happens next?

Not only the instruments, but also the challenges, have developed and changed over the past four years. So the Federal Government has fixed four priorities for the further implementation of the policy guidelines.

  1. There is growing awareness of the link between the climate crisis and issues of peace, security and sustainable development. Early detection of climate-related conflicts, but also adaptation and the further development of possible solutions, will be of key importance in the coming years.
  2. COVID-19 has revealed the weaknesses of all societies when it comes to responding to pandemics. When strengthening healthcare systems, one priority in future will be to keep an eye on the links between health crises, state fragility and conflict tendencies.
  3. The EU is more necessary than ever as an international actor in crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding. The Federal Government will give the EU even more support than hitherto in this role.
  4. The Federal Government has significantly expanded and refined its early crisis detection instruments since 2017. On this basis, the focus now is on linking up with crisis prevention policy.

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