Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the UN conference “Police and UN peacekeeping”
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Under-Secretary General Haq,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Berlin and to the Federal Foreign Office. Almost 100 member states and various United Nations organizations are represented here today. Thank you all for coming and for your interest in this important topic.
The German Government has actively promoted the role of civilian actors, especially the police, in UN peace missions. Your attendance here today demonstrates the wide recognition of the work of the police in peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
German foreign policy is “peace policy”. Our constitution, the Basic Law, clearly states the purpose and guiding principle of German foreign policy: “to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe”.
In consequence, our foreign policy is firmly based on the values and principles of the United Nations. We believe that today’s world needs multilateral solutions.
Conflict prevention is one of the chief obligations set forth in the UN Charter. It is the most efficient and cost-effective way of promoting international peace and security.
Effective conflict prevention can avert loss of life, population displacements and economic chaos. Working on improving prevention is, therefore, both a humanitarian and a strategic necessity.
Not only the situation in Syria today reminds us that we cannot rely on conflict prevention and capacity building alone. The Syrian regime is escalating the violence every day. Syria needs a new political beginning. However, the political transition can only be successful if the economic situation of the Syrian people improves.
Peace is more than the absence of war. That is what the term “peacebuilding” itself clearly expresses.
The work of UN police is an essential building block of our peace policy.
Trust in and legitimacy of the police force are at the core of any government. They are a prerequisite of internal and external peace.
In German we have a famous saying that goes back to the Weimar Republic and is still widely known today: “Die Polizei, Dein Freund und Helfer”. – “the police, your friend and helper”.
I believe it conveys a useful image of a successful police force. The police act to help and protect the interests and security of their citizens. And their actions are firmly based on the rule of law and human rights.
It is in this spirit that German police officers serve in UN peace missions, be it in Sudan, South Sudan or Liberia. In this spirit they provide training and assistance to local police services. In this spirit Germany engages in the development of effective and democratically controlled police structures all over the world.
It is my firm conviction that in order to secure peace and protect human rights, we need a strong and effective United Nations.
The Security Council is responsible for mandating police missions. It remains the centrepiece of the United Nations.
But the Council does not reflect the world of the 21st century, the realities of today. Reform is urgently needed.
The German Government is committed to providing long-term strategic support to United Nations Police. We hope that your discussions in the coming two days will help to further improve its efficiency and increase the impact for people on the ground.
Rest assured there are a lot of people in the world who are in need of a friend and helper.
Thank you very much.