This is the sixth time that the country has assumed special responsibility for international peace and security in this capacity. At a time when the multilateral order, with the UN at its heart, is coming under tremendous pressure, Germany wants to be a credible actor working to strengthen the international order, to assume even more visibly responsibility in the multilateral system, to help resolve ongoing crises and to help strengthen conflict prevention. To this end, it will focus on the women, peace and security agenda, disarmament and non-proliferation, human rights, climate and security, international humanitarian law and humanitarian space.
With its five permanent members and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms, the UN Security Council is the only body whose decisions are binding under international law. Membership of the Security Council extends Germany’s foreign policy outreach. As a member of the Security Council, Germany must continually take a position on key issues relating to peace and international security. This includes the mandates for peace missions and the imposition of sanctions. In addition to Germany, the non-permanent members of the Security Council for the 2019-20 term are Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and South Africa. On 7 June 2019, Tunisia, Viet Nam, the Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Estonia were elected to the Security Council for the 2020-21 period.
Germany’s priorities in the Security Council
The Security Council is the most important organ of the United Nations for guaranteeing peace and security worldwide. In working and cooperating constructively on the extension of mandates and on managing crises, Germany’s membership focuses on conflict resolution. Moreover, Germany is working to ensure that the Security Council is even more active in conflict prevention than was the case in the past, in keeping with a comprehensive concept of security.
Germany is also working to anchor selected issues on the agenda of the Security Council that go beyond the current crises. This includes, for example, links between climate change and security policy, or the impact of pandemics on global security. Climate change is becoming a security issue for more and more countries, for example small island states that are exposed to rising sea levels endangering their very existence.
Germany is also committed to the Women, peace and security agenda, which aims not only to help women play a stronger role in preventing and managing conflicts, but also to better protect them against sexual violence in conflicts. It is in this context that Germany has assumed the co-chairmanship, together with the Dominican Republic, of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security in 2020. The adoption of Resolution 2467 on 23 April 2019, under the German Presidency, was a major success on the way to intensifying the fight against sexual violence in conflicts and pursuing criminal proceedings.
Furthermore, Germany is committed to strengthening the humanitarian system. The focus here is on improving the application of international humanitarian law, protecting humanitarian aid workers, ensuring humanitarian access in conflict regions, and improving the protection of civilian populations in armed conflicts. In September 2019, together with its partners in the Alliance for Multilateralism, Germany launched the initiative for a Humanitarian Call for Action to promote and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. In this context, Germany and the Alliance against Impunity are seeking accountability for the most serious crimes. As Syria humanitarian co-penholder in the Security Council, we are committed to ensuring humanitarian access to those in need. In addition, Germany, as one of the world’s major actors in the humanitarian field, provides wide-ranging support for the civilian population in crisis-torn regions, thereby underlining its engagement for adherence to standards under international law and to humanitarian principles.
Germany is also injecting fresh impetus on disarmament and arms control, including with two debates on nuclear arms control (NPT link) and plans for resolutions on small arms, and is committed to a strong international arms control regime, one that is not just limited to nuclear, but also includes autonomous arms Systems, for example.
Finally, the joint consideration of human rights and security remains another key priority for Germany in the Security Council. Germany is working to ensure that massive human rights violations, which are often both a symptom and a cause of conflicts, are also discussed in the Security Council. For example, as well as addressing issues on its own, Germany has invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, as a briefer, and has organised an informal meeting (Arria-formula meeting) on human rights components in peace missions.
The timeframe for Germany’s membership of the Security Council
Germany has attended all meetings of the Security Council as an observer since 1 October 2018, becoming a full member on 1 January 2019. In April 2019, for the first time during this current membership, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Security Council, taking over from France. For the first time in the Security Council’s history, the two Presidencies followed coordinated programmes and were known as the “twin Presidencies”. This year again, Germany’s Presidency of the Security Council in July 2020 continues on from a “European spring” launched by Estonia in May and continued in June by France.
The unity of the EU is very important to Germany, not least in the United Nations in New York. Because if we Europeans take a common stance, our voice will have far greater weight. The aim is to act together. So Germany coordinates closely with its EU partners on the Security Council, too. There are currently four EU member states on the Security Council.
Germany’s work in the United Nations
Germany is already heavily involved in the United Nations politically, financially and in terms of personnel in addition to its humanitarian commitment as the fourth-largest contributor to the regular and peacekeeping budgets and as the second-largest donor of official development assistance. In addition, it has become one of the largest Western troop-contributing nations to UN peacekeeping missions and participates actively in missions such as the peace missions in Mali and Lebanon.