On 1 March, Germany and France launched a historic project in the UN Security Council. For the next two months, the two countries will dovetail their respective presidencies – France in March and Germany in April – in a twinning arrangement with an ambitious, jointly elaborated programme. By so doing, they are moving the Treaty of Aachen, in which they committed themselves to close cooperation also in the UN Security Council, to the international stage. Moreover, through their joint initiatives Germany and France are driving forward the European agenda in the UN’s most important body with the intention of bolstering Europe’s voice and shared values. The clear message is that only multilateral cooperation can strengthen peace throughout the world.
What exactly is on the common agenda?
1) The Sahel Region in focus
Together with Côte d’Ivoire, Germany and France are organising a Security Council trip to Mali and Burkina Faso at the end of March. This will centre on crisis prevention as well as the close cooperation between the EU and the UN in this region and in the area of peace and security. Afterwards, the situation in Mali and the MINUSMA peace mission will also be discussed in the Security Council itself. During his recent trip to West Africa, Foreign Minister Maas underscored Germany’s engagement in the country in terms of funding and personnel in all phases of crisis management.
2) Protecting humanitarian aid workers, strengthening international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles
Germany and France want to strengthen international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. At two events in New York at the beginning of April, which will form a bridge between their respective presidencies, the two countries wish to find answers to the following questions: How can we be more effective in protecting humanitarian aid workers in global conflicts from violence? How can we more effectively implement and strengthen existing obligations? In far too many conflicts international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles are disregarded. And from a quite practical perspective, how can we be more effective in providing people in need with basic necessities? In this context, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will travel to New York at the start of the German presidency.
3) Reducing small arms and curbing terrorist financing
Germany and France jointly support efforts to combat arms trading in the Balkans. To this end, one goal is for cooperation between the authorities in the six Balkan states to be improved. The two countries intend to promote this initiative in the UN, as it is successful and could serve as a model for other regions, such as West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Another priority of France’s Security Council presidency is the fight against international terrorist financing.
4) More protection and ownership for women
The participation of women in political processes needs to increase. France and Germany will pursue this goal not least in an informal session of the Security Council in mid-March, which will focus on the Sahel region. In April, too, Germany will promote its focal issue “Women, Peace and Security” in the Security Council. Two open debates are to take place, on women in UN peace missions and on fighting and preventing sexual violence in conflicts. In 2000, UN Security Council resolution 1325 set new standards for political participation and for the protection of women in conflicts. Since then, the issues have received greater international attention. However, Germany is striving for its implementation also within the EU through a National Action Plan. In this context, Minister of State Müntefering issued the following statement in New York: “We cannot afford to neglect women’s potential for promoting security, stability and sustainable peace as remains the case today.” More information is available here.
As Foreign Minister Maas repeatedly emphasised, disarmament needs to be placed higher up on the international agenda. At the beginning of April, Germany will chair a Security Council session on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Heiko Maas wants to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as its principles and obligations. Germany plays an active role in the Proliferation Security Initiative, which aims to put a stop to the transport of material for weapons of mass destruction, as well as in other areas.