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Development for Peace

German peace policy – an interdepartmental task


Sign in front of a German army base in Afghanistan. Copyright: phalanx / KöhlerAll ministries with­in the German govern­ment work to­gether to achieve the pri­ma­ry goals of its de­vel­op­ment policy, name­ly to pre­vent con­flicts and cre­ate stable pa­ra­meters for peace­ful con­flict re­so­lu­tion. To this end, German de­vel­op­ment policy is syste­ma­ti­cally coordinated with foreign, security, eco­nomic, finan­cial, environ­mental, social, cultural, and equa­lity policy.

Good examples of successful cooperation on the ground are the German government’s involvement in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe – which led to the setting-up of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) in 2008 – and in Afghanistan. German soldiers have been stationed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2001. In October 2008, Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, extended their mandate. Up to 4,500 troops are to be stationed in Afghanistan to help improve the security situation in various regions. At the same time, civilian staff, deployed under the mandate of the BMZ, are working with representatives of the Afghan Interim Government and civil society to reconstruct the country’s economic, political and social structures.

The German government's Action Plan

In May 2004, the German government adopted an interdepartmental Action Plan "Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Peace-Building". Together with the 2006 White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr, the Plan is now one of the basic documents underlying German foreign and security policy.

The Action Plan provides an overview of peacebuilding activities to date and makes recommendations for future action. It seeks to dovetail the work of all players more effectively. This applies not only to the work of government departments but also to non-governmental peace organisations, academics and repre­sent­a­tives of civil society. The Action Plan therefore considers all the international organisations of relevance to Germany and outlines Germany’s contributions to multilateral crisis prevention activities.

The Action Plan identifies curbing the arms trade, disarmament and arms control as key objectives, along with the establishment of legal structures. It defines the following fields of action:

  • Establishing reliable state structures

  • Creating the capacities for peace within civil society, the media, culture and education

  • Safeguarding opportunities through economic and environmental measures

  • Strengthening the global level – especially the United Nations

  • Developing the regional level – especially the European Union

  • Supporting Africa’s regional organisations

  • Developing a national infrastructure for civilian crisis prevention

To help achieve these objectives, the Action Plan contains more than 160 concrete initiatives. An interdepartmental group comprising all the ministries was established to coordinate these activities. Every two years, the German government produces a report with information on its crisis prevention policy.

The BMZ's Sector Strategy for Crisis Prevention, Conflict Transformation and Peace-Building in German Development Cooperation

The Sector Strategy for Crisis Prevention, Conflict Transformation and Peace-Building in German Development Cooperation was produced by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and adopted in spring 2005. It fleshes out the principles established in the Action Plan and contains binding directives for the planning, implementation and steering of development projects in countries in which the BMZ’s early warning mechanisms have identified an increased or acute need for crisis prevention. It also identifies opportunities for cooperation in the field of peacebuilding for post-conflict countries. The Strategy is designed to provide impetus and guidance for non-governmental development cooperation.

The Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt)

Logo of the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt). Copyright: FriEntIn order to main­stream the con­cept of peace­building more effectively in all areas of dev­el­op­ment cooperation, the BMZ and the implementing organisations, non-governmental agencies and academics established the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt) in August 2001. FriEnt members con­tri­bute their expertise in the fields of crisis prevention and conflict management, engage in a regular exchange of information with each other and with other organisations, and establish networks which benefit the membership as a whole.

The Working Group also gathers and evaluates research findings of practical relevance and makes them available to its members and other interested parties. Other important fields of work are the development of professional expertise and the preparation of background papers.

Arms and development

Each year, industrialised and developing countries spend considerable amounts of money on military investments. In 2007, for example, governments worldwide spent more than 1.3 billion US dollars on arms. Spending on development in the same year came to less than 10 per cent of this sum.

The existence of excessively huge arsenals of weapons is one of the causes of violent conflicts. Through its development, foreign and security policy, the German government seeks to counter the culture of violence – a culture fostered by the availability of weapons. For example, Germany is calling for a stop to small arms exports into areas riven by conflict. Since 2004, Germany has been part of an international working group aimed at developing a mechanism for marking and tracing illegal small arms. The German government does not ever give approval to arms exports if there is sufficient cause to suspect that the arms will be misused to repress opposition groups within a country or to perpetrate other human rights abuses. Furthermore, the German government also considers whether a recipient country’s disproportionate military spending may be seriously hampering its sustainable development.

Germany is also calling for particularly cruel weapons to be banned outright. In December 2008, more than 100 countries agreed on a convention against cluster bombs, which provides for a ban on these cruel weapons. Germany declared it would immediately renounce all use of this type of weapon.

BMZ glossary

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