Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the General Debate of the 74th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

27.09.2019 - Article

The speech took place on September 25, 2019 in New York.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas© Federal Foreign Office

In Mali, United Nations blue helmets, including almost 1000 Germans, are securing the fragile peace day by day. The prerequisite for lasting stability is that the people regain confidence in the local security forces.
That is why we, along with France, have established the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel. And we call upon all Member States to join.
A solution has yet to be found in the conflict in Libya, too. We support the United Nations and its tireless Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé. An international process involving supporters of the parties to the conflict is the only way forward. Here, too, we want to take on responsibility, and together with the Special Representative we have launched a process intended to lead to peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Germany has now been a member of the Security Council for nine months. And my impression is that, far too often, crises and conflicts are not discussed in that body until shots have been fired and people have died. Yet that is the very opposite of sustainable policymaking! Because then it is too late.
The Security Council must move from being a crisis response body to being a crisis prevention body! At long last, it must also look at the causes of conflicts.
That’s why we put “Climate and Security” on the agenda right at the start of our term. And we will ensure that it stays there.
Because climate change has long ceased to be merely an ecological challenge for humanity. More and more often, it is a matter of war and peace. Climate change is nothing other than a question of the survival of humanity.
If people no longer have access to clean drinking water, if entire harvests are ruined by persistent drought, and if conflicts erupt over the few remaining resources, the wars of the future will be climate wars.
Climate protection therefore needs to become an imperative in a sustainable foreign policy.
During our Security Council membership, we are also focusing on the role of women. Sexual violence is still being used as a tactic of war. This is abhorrent and perverse. With the adoption of Resolution 2467 in April we were able to help ensure better support for survivors of sexual violence. But more is at stake here. A stable peace is a third more likely if women are involved in the process. So we are committed to seeing an increase in the number of women peacekeepers.
Currently only eight in every 100 seats at peace talks are occupied by women. That is more than negligent. It simply will not work if 51 percent of the world’s population is excluded!
So we will continue to do whatever we can to fight for an equal world. This is not only a matter of justice; it is a matter of human reason.
We will also continue to fight in the Security Council for disarmament and arms control. It was thanks to us that the subject of nuclear arms control was put back on the agenda in April, for the first time in seven years!
Even though one thing is utterly clear: we can build security only if we work with each other, not against each other.
That is why many states are calling strongly and increasingly impatiently for a return to concrete, realistic steps towards disarmament. Especially in the nuclear sphere. That’s why those states which have not yet ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must finally do so!
With the Stockholm initiative, we want to anchor nuclear disarmament issues firmly on the international agenda prior to the NPT Review Conference. And I am looking forward to welcoming the supporters of this initiative to Berlin next year.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Cooperation. Compromise. Defence of our joint rules and institutions. That is what we understand by sustainability when it comes to foreign policy.
More than virtually any other country, Germany has benefited from the rules-based order over the past seventy years. Peace, prosperity, free trade, a world open to the outside, but also a liberal society within, are inextricably linked with multilateralism. Never again going it alone – that is a lesson from our, from German, history.
Precisely because it was Germany that 80 years ago unleashed fire and destruction in Europe and the world, today we must assume a special responsibility for an order which secures peace.
That is why we launched an Alliance for Multilateralism last year. Because we do not agree with the logic that claims that “if everyone thinks of themselves, then everyone has been thought of”. Because ultimately that logic means nothing other than that everyone is pitted against everyone else.
However, not one of the major issues of the future confronting us today can be resolved by one country acting alone. Only if we work together will we find answers to globalisation, the digital revolution, migration or human-induced climate change!
Cooperation is anything but a betrayal of one’s own country. Rather, it creates the preconditions for our countries’ security and prosperity.
In the past 12 months, countries from all parts of the world that share this view have joined together. An Alliance for Multilateralism. In this week more than 50 of my colleagues will be meeting here at the United Nations in New York to agree on concrete steps to strengthen international law and human rights, and for disarmament, crisis prevention, peacebuilding and global issues for the future such as cyber technology and climate change.
This is multilateralism in practice. This is sustainable foreign policy.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Sustainability is not a lofty discourse; it is not an elite approach that only the wealthy can afford.
On the contrary. We can no longer afford not to act sustainably.
Thank you very much.

©Federal Foreign Office

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