Committed to Peace and Security

The Bundeswehr is involved in numerous missions abroad, for example the European Training Mission in Mali (EUTM)
The Bundeswehr is involved in numerous missions abroad, for example the European Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) 2013 Bundeswehr/Bier
Germany is committed to a just, peaceful, and stable international order. Crisis prevention and disarmament are important focal points of efforts in this regard

Diplomacy, crisis prevention, and peaceful conflict resolution are the primary German foreign policy instruments: Deploying civil servants, judges, public prosecutors, police officers, reconstruction experts, and other civil officers is one strand of Germany’s comprehensive security policy, as is the German Armed Forces’ participation in multinational peacekeeping missions. The defining feature of German foreign policy, close multilateral involvement, applies in particular to the deployment of military means. Crisis management missions by the German Armed Forces always take place within the framework of the systems of collective security or defence run by international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the European ­Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organi­zation (NATO). The deployment of German Armed Forces abroad is embedded in a broader political approach with civilian elements such as political development-policy or socio-economic measures. The Federal Government has developed guidelines for its international commitment in the context of crises. Each deployment of armed forces is subject to parliamentary mandate and control. It requires approval by the majority of the members of the Bundestag. The German Armed Forces are therefore also termed a parliamentary army.

Germany has been a political and military member of NATO ever since the German Armed Forces were set up in 1955. This firm anchoring in NATO is part of German foreign policy’s DNA. Germany is the second largest provider of troops to NATO and contributes substantially to NATO-led missions, such as the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan or the KFOR in Kosovo. Since 1992, some 40 foreign missions have been carried out. In spring 2018, the German Armed Forces had deployed about 3,500 soldiers on 14 missions. As a result of the Ukraine crisis, NATO has focussed more strongly on the core task of Alliance defence and resolved a number of adaptation and safeguarding measures. Germany plays a major role here: In 2015, together with the Netherlands and Norway, the country helped set up the new, very high readiness joint task force (VJTF) which improves the Alliance’s response capabilities. In 2019 the German Armed Forces will again, on a rotation basis, as a Framework Nation play a leading role in VJTF. Moreover, Germany is contributing to policing the Baltic states’ air space and since 2017 as a Framework Nation has contributed in Lithuania to NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states and Poland.

Reliable and respected UN member

Since being accepted into the UN in 1973, the Federal Republic of Germany has been an active, reliable, and respected member of the organisation. In 2018 Germany was elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the sixth time. Each year, Ger­many contributes some 161 million US dollars to the regular UN budget, and about 466 million dollars to the budget for UN peacekeeping missions, in each case 6.4 percent of the total UN budget. In 2017-8 Germany was thus the fourth largest contributor. In the 2013-7 period, Germany quadrupled its payments to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). With 387 million euros a year, Germany is the second-largest donor after the USA. In spring 2018 Germany took part in five UN peacekeeping missions, among others in Mali and in Lebanon. Of the Western industrialised nations, Germany provides the most troops for UN peacekeeping missions. The UN has a strong presence in Germany, in particular at the UN Campus in Bonn, where 19 of a total of 30 UN agencies in Germany are based.

To optimise support for peacekeeping missions by international organisations, Ger­many is further professionalising the training and posting of civilian crisis workers. Founded in 2002, the ZIF Centre for International Peace Missions has a pool of 1,500 experts on standby, with plans for further expansion. ZIF selects civilian experts, holds courses preparing them for postings as observers or arbiters in crisis zones and post-conflict countries, and evaluates their experiences. In collaboration with the Federal Foreign Office, the ZIF has meanwhile posted about 3,000 voluntary short and long-term election observers on missions and realised projects in 65 countries.

As another key pillar of peace and security in Europe, Germany supports the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which has its origins in 1995 in the Conference on Security and Co-operation 
in Europe (CSCE). The baseline document for the OSCE is the Helsinki Final Act signed in 1975, agreeing amongst other things the inviolability of borders and the peaceful ­solution of conflicts as the principles of a ­European security order.

The OSCE as central forum for peace and security in Europe

Today, the organisation has 57 participating states from Europe, North America, and Central Asia, and it is thus the world’s largest regional organisation for collective security. The OSCE maintains permanent missions in many countries to prevent conflicts and promote democratisation, and, something Germany also supports, regularly sends election observers to participating states. During the Ukraine crisis, the OSCE’s significance as a key tool for crisis management and a forum for dialogue and confidence building was once again manifest. The OSCE supports the efforts to solve the conflict in east Ukraine, amongst other things by moderating political negotiations and by a special monitoring mission, whereby some 650 civilian monitors in the area in conflict supervise compliance with the Minsk Agreement and try to verify the withdrawal of troops and weapons. Under the German chairmanship, the OSCE in 2016 resurrected past negotiation formats for other flashpoints (Transniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh). To restore trust and strengthen the OSCE as a platform for dialogue on secur­ity policy, the OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg at the end of 2016 decided to mandate a structured dialogue on security-policy challenges in Europe and their impact on armaments control policies (“From Lisbon to Hamburg”).

Championing disarmament and arms controls

Germany makes an important contribution to global security with its disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation activ­ities. Germany’s goal is a world without nucle­ar weapons. For example, Germany seeks the swift implementation of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Together with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union, Germany actively helped ensure that in July 2015 the Vienna Nuclear Agreement with Iran on the Iranian nuclear programme was concluded. Moreover, Germany advocates the universal validity and enforcement of the relevant international agreements and treaties, e.g. the Chemical Weapons Convention, which sets out the norm of the non-deployment of chemical weapons.

Germany has also taken a clear position on arms control policy issues relating to new technologies, such as autonomous weapons systems. The Federal Government rejects fully autonomous weapons systems that ­undermine a final decision being subject to human control and seeks to ensure a global ban on such weapons. One goal of German foreign policy is the global realisation of 
the “Ottawa Convention”, the central treaty for banning anti-personnel mines.

In 2017 Germany contributed about 75.7 million euros for projects to clear mines and care for the victims of mines, making it one of the largest donors in this area. German policies also focus on the destruction of surplus weapons and ammunition and the safe storage of dangerous substances.

Conventional disarmament controls and confidence and security-building measures are very important within the OSCE area. Germany advocates modernising and adapting these controls to current challenges and in 2016 initiated the relaunch of conventional armaments controls in Europe. The “Structured Dialogue” inaugurated at the Hamburg OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting at the end of 2016 emerged in 2017 under the German chairmanship as a crucial forum for the security architecture in the OSCE framework. It is designed to help discuss ­perceptions of threats, reanimate security cooperation and strengthen conventional arms controls.

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