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Foreign policy

Commitment to peace and security

Germany participates widely in multilateral cooperation and promotes democracy, and human rights all over the world.
UN-Einsatz
© Getty Images

On the international stage, Germany enjoys a very broad network of close contacts. It maintains diplomatic relations with almost 200 countries and is a member of various important multilateral organisations and informal international coordination groups such as the “Group of Seven” (G7). Heiko Maas (SPD) has been Federal Foreign Minister since 2018. The Federal Foreign Office, which is based in Berlin, has around  12,100 staff members. In total, Germany maintains 227 missions abroad.

The primary objective of German foreign policy is to ensure peace and security in the world. The basic premises on which this rests include the nation’s full integration into the structures of multilateral cooperation. In concrete terms this means: constructive partnerships with the Member States of the European Union (EU) and transatlantic partners, , support of the right of Israel to exist, active and committed involvement in the United Nations (UN) and the Council of Europe, as well as the strengthening of the European security structure through the OSCE. In the second half of 2020 Germany will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Crisis prevention and stabilisation

Together with its partners, Germany promotes peace, security, democracy, and human rights all over the world. Alongside crisis prevention, stabilisation, disarmament, and arms control, the broad notion of security promulgated by Germany embraces sustainable economic, ecological, and social aspects. These include a globalisation that offers opportunities for everyone, cross-border envir­onmental and climate protection, and dialogue between cultures and religions.

Since the end of the East-West conflict, new opportunities and challenges have emerged for German foreign policy. On the basis of its multilateral relations, Germany has accepted the increased responsibility it has been accorded since reunification in 1990. Through its many and continually increased efforts, Germany nowadays plays a role in the stabilisation of crisis regions and the political resolution of conflicts.  It also participates in the maintenance of peacekeeping structures, and through the deployment of personnel to UN-mandated peace missions plays a role in crisis management.

Germany does this on the basis of a value-based definition of interests. Nowadays there is hardly any crisis that does not at some point in time impact on Germany. For this reason, the long-term stabilization of crisis-torn countries is always also in Germany’s interest. The guidelines “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace” adopted in 2017 form a compass for German actions in international crises and in dealing with armed conflicts, as recognizing and defusing conflicts before they escalate is the focus of responsible foreign policy. The German soldiers, police officers, and civil experts deployed on EU, OSCE, UN and NATO missions, as well as those of the European Council and the Organization of American States (OAS) play an important role in crisis prevention and peacekeeping.

Expenditure on international development cooperation in 2018 (in US dollars billion)

Source: OECD/DAC

Active humanitarian aid

Budget for humanitarian aid worldwide in 2018 (in US dollars billion)

Source: Statista

Germany provides humanitarian aid to help people who on account of crises, conflicts, or natural disasters are in acute distress and are unable to resolve the situation on their own. The aim is to enable those affected to survive in dignity and safety, to give them prospects, and to alleviate suffering. To this end, Germany works with organisations of the United Nations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as with German and international humanitarian non-governmental organisations. As a donor guided by principles, Germany bases its actions on the needs of the people affected by crises and disasters. Furthermore, Germany champions compliance with international humanitarian law, humanitaraqin principles and the preservation of humanitarian space. Humanitarian workers must be given the protection to which they are entitled by international law.

In the age of globalisation and digitisation, and against the backdrop of a fast-changing world, alongside classical foreign policy new fields are increasingly on the agenda, including, for example, “malign cyberoperations” or attempts via propaganda to influence public opinion.