Peace and security

German peace policy – an overarching task for all German government ministries

German soldiers stationed at Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, as part of the UN mission MINUSMA

All ministries within the German government work to achieve the goal of preventing crises and creating a stable environment for peaceful conflict resolution. With a view to following a comprehensive approach, the German government systematically harmonises its development policy with its foreign, security, economic, financial, environmental, social, cultural, and gender equality policies, thus ensuring that German players act in a coordinated manner.

German government guidelines

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

In June 2017, the German government adopted new guidelines entitled Guidelines on Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace (PDF 1.3 MB). Together with the German government's 15th Development Policy Report (PDF 3.5 MB) and the 2016 White Paper on Security Policy (PDF 4.5 MB), they form the current strategic framework for Germany's peace policy.

The guidelines state that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the basis for Germany's foreign, security and development policy. They lay down that politics and prevention take precedence over military force, which must only be used when all civilian means have been exhausted. This means that development cooperation has a particularly important role for crisis prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding.

The commitments that the German government has made in the guidelines include efforts to foster democracy, the rule of law and human rights; efforts for economic development and job creation; and anti-corruption efforts. The German government has committed itself to achieve even greater harmonisation of the activities of individual federal ministries, and to expand its cooperation with non-governmental organisations. Among other things, greater use is to be made of existing platforms such as the Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt), and such platforms are to be expanded.

FriEnt – the Working Group on Peace and Development at the BMZ

The Working Group on Peace and Development (FriEnt) unites government organisations, civil society networks, church aid agencies and political foundations. It seeks to enhance awareness among policymakers and the general public regarding the broad range of options and approaches for development-based peace work.

In order to foster the exchange of knowledge and build networks, FriEnt organises events such as expert discussions, conferences and international workshops. It also offers advice on specific countries and topics as well as training programmes, and it draws up conflict analyses, guidelines and documentations.

Interface between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation

Two children play in the mud in the refugee camp Hilac in Somalia

Protracted and recurrent crises have become more frequent over the past few decades. This means that there is a growing need for humanitarian assistance – and a need for closer mutual integration of humanitarian aid and development cooperation, that is, more attention for the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. In Germany, humanitarian assistance is the responsibility of the Federal Foreign Office, while development cooperation is the task of the BMZ.

Both at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2016 and in its 'Guidelines on Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace', the German government made a commitment to improve the collaboration between its federal ministries. From the first analysis of the situation and the planning and implementation of measures all the way to their evaluation, ministries are expected to work closely together. This is intended to ensure that they share expertise and that there is better harmonisation of all humanitarian and development projects and programmes.  Efforts are also made internationally to integrate humanitarian aid and development cooperation more closely. For instance, the United Nations has joined forces with the World Bank Group to set up the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Initiative (HDPI) in order to harmonise processes and develop new forms of cooperation. Similar activities are being pursued within the OECD and the European Union. The European Commission and the EU member states are going to combine their programmes into joint approaches in an initial six pilot countries (Chad, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda).

The BMZ on the Federal Security Council

The BMZ is a member of the German Federal Security Council, where it raises development aspects to be taken into consideration in the decision-making on the German government's peace and security policy.

The Federal Security Council is a German Cabinet committee that meets about four times a year. Its main purpose is to control Germany's arms exports. Another task of the body is to discuss and agree on the strategic focus of Germany's security policy. Working with the German foreign and defence ministries, the BMZ aims to curb the use of force (the likelihood of which is increased by the availability of weapons).

The German government does not ever give approval to arms exports if there is reasonable suspicion that the arms may be misused for human rights violations or for internal repression. Furthermore, the German government considers whether disproportionate military spending by a given recipient country of military equipment may be seriously hampering its sustainable development.

In the Federal Security Council, the BMZ successfully lobbied for improved small arms export controls. On 18 March 2015, the German government adopted its 'Principles governing the export of small arms and light weapons, corresponding ammunition and production equipment to third countries'. These export approval principles are intended to significantly reduce the small arms proliferation risk.

In July 2015, a decision was also taken to pilot the introduction of post-shipment controls in third countries. This means that even after the military equipment has been shipped, checks can now be carried out on the ground in order to establish whether the recipient government has met all the stipulations.

BMZ glossary

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