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“Judging by how the Security Council functioned during the last two years, at best it only has a limited ability to act”

30.12.2020 - Interview

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in an interview with the German Press Agency dpa reviewing Germany’s two-year term as a member of the United Nations Security Council

Question: Germany initiated a number of projects in the UN Security Council. At the same time, the last two years were marked by its permanent members blocking each other. Is this body still capable of addressing the current global situation?

Heiko Maas: Judging by how the Security Council functioned during the last two years, at best it only has a limited ability to act. That’s due to the fact that cooperation, particularly between the United States, Russia and China, hasn’t worked. The last two years in the Security Council were difficult and at times a sobering experience. Especially today, however, this body is vitally important. At least there’s hope that once the new President takes up office, the United States will see its international role in a different light or even start playing its role in the global arena again.

Question: Do you believe that there could now be another opportunity to finally push ahead with the reform of the Security Council?

Maas: We very much hope so. The new American President has emphasised the importance of international cooperation. He wants to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization and there are hopeful signs that he will also return to the nuclear agreement with Iran. That’s a very different strategy in foreign and security policy. It could create a new basis for once more discussing the reform of the Security Council or of the United Nations as a whole earnestly and in a focused manner. However, the United States is not the only key player here. Until now, Russia and China have blocked everything put forward by Secretary-General Guterres. However, I believe that if those who recognise the need for reform start working together once more, there will again be a chance of getting results.

Question: Germany will run for one of the rotating seats on the Security Council once more in six years’ time. Do you think that anything will have changed by then?

Maas: My hope would be that we’ll no longer have to take part in the election and that we’ll have a permanent seat by then. But it’s difficult to predict the future due to the current standstill. However, the necessity to reform the Security Council and the General Assembly is so patently obvious that I very much hope that when Germany is next a member of the Security Council part of the reform process will have been not just approved but actually implemented.

Question: Has the project of a joint European seat on the Security Council actually become obsolete now that the UK has left the EU?

The project is still the right way forward and we’ll therefore continue to advance it. However, as we can’t rely on it being realised in the foreseeable future, a seat for Germany on the Security Council will remain our priority.

Interview conducted by Michael Fischer

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