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Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m delighted to be speaking to and with you today. As Germans serving in international organisations, you have a key responsibility for the day‑to‑day functioning of our multilateral order, which is currently under attack from many sides. On 8 June, Germany received 184 votes and was elected to serve on the UN Security Council for two years. This convincing result reflects the trust our country enjoys and our commitment to a rules-based international order. The Security Council lies at the heart of the international security architecture. Non‑permanent membership brings with it great responsibility and Germany will have to live up to this responsibility in future. We take this task seriously and are well-equipped to tackle it.
What role will Germany play in the UN Security Council?
Many stakeholders are hoping that we will be a “voice of reason”. At a time when many are distancing themselves or trying to reinterpret the multilateral system, it is all the more important to nail our colours to the mast and to continue to actively support the United Nations. In doing so, our aim is to defend the multilateral, rules-based world order. This includes taking a clear stance on all issues dealt with in the Security Council, accepting the necessity of making in some cases unpleasant decisions as well as making an adequate financial contribution.
We hope to be able to build bridges in the Security Council.
It remains important to us to continue promoting cooperation among EU member states on the Security Council. When we join, one third of the Security Council seats will be occupied by EU member states. It’s therefore all the more important to seize this “European moment”.
Our aim must be an EU which presents a united front on the international stage and acts coherently. Our intention to make our non‑permanent seat on the Security Council a European seat should be seen against this background. Naturally, we’re aware that we were elected as the Federal Republic of Germany and, naturally, we will sit behind a nameplate with “Germany” on it. However, we aim to represent European positions.
Brexit will take place during our stint on the Security Council; we therefore have to further strengthen the E3 format. The close ties with Britain should be maintained under these changed circumstances.
German EU priorities and goals in the UN Security Council
The Security Council agenda is largely set by current crises and ongoing mandates. We will therefore be judged first and foremost by whether we’re able to make a contribution towards defusing or resolving the conflicts in Syria, in South Sudan or in Yemen. Nevertheless, there are of course cross-cutting tasks beyond the current crises which also belong on the agenda. These include climate change, health crises or massive human rights violations. Particularly during our Presidencies of the Security Council, we intend to work towards ensuring that the Security Council makes progress in its conceptual work on these issues.
Our approach: fostering post-conflict peacebuilding
Germany advocates a comprehensive approach to conflict management and prevention in the sense of “sustaining peace”: the UN Security Council should not wait until there is a full-blown crisis before taking action. If possible, it must prevent a crisis from even starting. Once a crisis has broken out, however, it should not abandon those affected. Rather, it should help them to return to their former lives. It’s important to focus on the entire conflict cycle. Action should be taken from the start to finish of a crisis in the form of preventative, stabilising and post-conflict measures. Our maxim here is: preventing crises, managing conflicts, building peace. Germany favours a comprehensive concept of security. Issues such as human rights, climate change, global health and equal rights for women are closely intermeshed with the preservation of international peace and belong to the very core of security. They therefore belong on the Security Council agenda.
Disarmament and arms control must have a prominent place within the United Nations in view of the ongoing conflicts and a global trend towards acquiring weapons. We intend to work towards this end.
Peacekeeping is an essential crisis instrument, but it’s not a long-term solution. We need realistic mandates and we have to clearly define exit strategies and transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.
Expectations of the Bundestag and of the public? A look back at 2011/12 and possible lines of conflict
Before the eyes of the global public, Germany will have to take a stand on the world’s crises and conflicts and will be confronted with greater resistance, pressure or opposition than hitherto as a member of the Security Council. At the same time, membership is also a great opportunity to put our strengths to good use and to play an active part in a key forum – especially in the field of conflict prevention. Many states supported our candidacy because they trust us and have high expectations of us. Actually living up to these expectations will greatly test our political and diplomatic skills. As with the question of the Iraq intervention in 2003 or Libya in 2011, we will have to make decisions that need to be explained – both domestically and internationally. Your work as insiders is needed here when supposedly simple answers to complex questions are propagated in the public forum.
During our last stint on the Security Council in 2011/12, we achieved quite a lot, for example the first ever Presidential Statement was adopted, which highlighted the connection between climate change and security, the independence process in South Sudan was monitored and supported, a resolution on the protection of schools and hospitals was adopted, rule of law procedures were strengthened in connection with sanctions regimes and the Wiesbaden Process on cooperation with the private sector on the non‑proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was established.
In 2019/20 we will most likely have to deal with major crises and difficult decisions.
In the light of the forthcoming challenges, I’m very interested in your views on the opportunities and possibilities of our forthcoming membership of the Security Council, especially from your perspective: where could we do better? Which issues should we focus on more? What are the expectations of Germany’s Security Council membership among your colleagues?
I would be delighted if you could support the aims and priorities of our Security Council membership in your own fields and canvass support for our strategies. And I would like to invite you to cultivate close contacts with the Federal Foreign Office, local embassies and German permanent missions to international organisations. We can only be successful if we pull together.
Thank you for listening. I’m now looking forward to exchanging views with you.