BMZ activities in Iraq within the framework of the Comprehensive Approach

Speech by Parliamentary Secretary of State Thomas Silberhorn at the High-Level Event of the Common Effort Exercise, 1 June 2017 in Berlin

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Ladies and gentlemen,

According to the World Food Programme, there have never been as many hunger crises as today. 37 countries worldwide require external assistance for food. In more than half of all countries concerned, wars and conflicts are the primary cause of hunger.

The Preamble of the 2030 Agenda correctly states: "There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development." In places that lack a legitimate government, violence and lawlessness will flourish, as we can see in parts of Libya. In places where populations are growing but jobs are scarce, where livelihoods are destroyed by drought, discontent and crime will grow, and maybe even terrorism.

This means that we need a comprehensive understanding of security. Our thinking and our actions must transcend the boundaries between government departments. All relevant policy fields must contribute: development policy, security policy, foreign policy, but also economic policy and trade policy.

This is about development opportunities and options for the people, about a chance for people to live together in peace and make their own choices. People must be able to believe that peace is possible. If policymakers on the ground do not manage to provide that confidence, people will leave – sometimes at all costs.

We are one of the most important donors in the field of peace and security. We live the Comprehensive Approach every day. We invest more than 1.5 billion euros a year in conflict prevention and peace­building. Over 300 peace experts are doing important work in very difficult settings in 42 countries.

For example, we have been able to help settle territorial disputes in 20 African countries. We are providing training for judges from the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. We are assisting the African Union in equipping its early warning system with state-of-the-art data analysis tools. The idea is to provide information in real time.

While military operations may be necessary as a last resort to provide a safe environment in the short term, they always have to be part of a comprehensive approach based on a broader political strategy that plans, from the beginning, for a transition to civilian rule. We must never allow a scenario like in Libya to happen again: a military intervention without a political strategy for the time after.

I am very pleased that your Exercise involved training on the Comprehensive Approach and that you are now able to even better understand the various security policy players and what they can contribute to global security, and that you are now able to translate these insights into practical cooperation. I would thus like to thank the First German/Netherlands Corps and you, General van der Laan, for having focused on the Comprehensive Approach for quite a few years now in your Exercise.

We are pleased that we were able to undertake this important Exercise together with our Dutch partners. Be it in Afghanistan, Iraq or Mali, we are working together closely in other countries. So we are ideally placed to lead the way on the Comprehensive Approach and jointly set an example.

In my view, the Exercise is particularly valuable because it practices the Comprehensive Approach based on a real example – this year, it was Iraq. In recent years thousands of people in Iraq have lost their lives through terrorist attacks and acts of violence. Since the summer of 2014, the situation has worsened dramatically in the wake of the rise of the terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State (IS). According to United Nations reports, there are currently about 3 million internally displaced Iraqis. In total, as many as 11 million people in Iraq are dependent on humanitarian aid – about one third of the population.

Germany will continue to help Iraq to combat IS and tackle the refugee and economic crisis. Since the crisis deteriorated in 2014, we have provided over 750 million euros in civilian aid to assist people in Iraq – both locals and refugees from neighboring countries.

Most of this funding – more than 500 million euros – was provided in order to stabilize communities that are hosting refugees and regions that have been liberated from IS. The bulk of the money went towards water, health, education and employment. Thanks to the swift reconstruction aided by this, as many as 90 per cent of the population have already been able to return to the liberated city of Tikrit.

The current Mosul offensive is presenting the Iraqi government with considerable challenges. That is why we promised Prime Minister Abadi in Baghdad last year that we would provide 34 million euros in additional funding for immediate assistance to displaced people and for reconstruction after Mosul has been liberated.

However, once people have returned to Mosul, they must have a future to look forward to. That is why we are providing support, in particular, to the creation of jobs and income through our "Partner­ship for Prospects" employment initiative for the Middle East. In 2016 alone, we created some 25,000 jobs in Iraq through local infra­structure reconstruction projects.

However, long-term stability cannot be created from outside. It must be achieved through transparent governance and national reconcilia­tion. Once Mosul has been liberated, it will be all the more important to ensure that the conflicting interests of different groups in the country will be settled peacefully, for example through a political dialogue.

We are therefore supporting the Iraqi government in pursuing politi­cal reforms. For example, we are currently working through our Civil Peace Service to assist the country in investigating and addressing human rights violations committed against minorities – including Yazidi women and men – and in working toward reconciliation.

Sustainable development, peacebuilding and civilian crisis response efforts transcend borders, and they transcend the boundaries between government departments. In Iraq, it is clear that people's living conditions cannot be improved through development cooperation alone.

That is why all relevant government departments are working together closely. The Federal Foreign Office is providing humanitarian assistance and working to help find diplomatic solutions to the conflict. The German military is helping local and regional players to successfully provide security for themselves. Our Economic Affairs Ministry is supporting projects that foster the development of the private sector. This is the only way in which we will be able to jointly create security and peace in the long term.

We are very glad that we, the Federal Ministry for Economic Coopera­tion and Development, are the first Ministry to host this High-Level Event. This also shows that we attach great importance to this topic. I would like to thank Dr. Wachs, who has been working hard on behalf of Haus Rissen to foster national and international military-civilian networking. Your committed efforts are a major factor in making this Exercise a success.

However, the Exercise of the last few days has also shown that much remains to be done. As Minister von der Leyen said, the question is not WHETHER but HOW we work together. In some areas, we are still at the beginning when it comes to the best possible coordination and practical implementation of our national and international instruments.

We all together, especially with our Dutch partners and friends, are helping to further develop the Comprehensive Approach. And this will enable us to be proactive, taking action early rather than late, instead of just reacting in crisis mode.

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