Actively Shaping Global Politics: Ten Priorities for Future German UN Policy

The opening of the 68th UN General Assembly in September 2013 falls on the anniversary of the 40th year of German membership in the United Nations, the elections in the Bundestag and the coalition negotiations that will lead to a government. This context offers the appropriate framework in which German policy towards the UN can realign itself with ten principles adapted to address current challenges. The United Nations Association of Germany presents these priorities as recommendations to all candidates in the German Bundestag.

1. Strengthen the United Nations
Global challenges require solutions on a global scale. Important international bodies such as the G-20 have come to the conclusion: Only the United Nations offers the important universality and the required legitimacy needed to confront current global issues. German policy must therefore, more than before, urge the solutions of problems within the framework of the United Nations. Naturally, geopolitical policy initiatives must be synchronized at the cabinet level. This includes a possible coherent personnel policy for offices in the UN.

2. Politically Enhance UN-Peacekeeping
The often-expressed readiness for Germany to take on more global responsibility is very much welcomed. More responsibility means that Germany can be a reliable partner and actor in UN peacekeeping operations. The new Federal Government should build off of the generally positive experiences that German troops had in fulfilling a temporary leading role in the maritime portion of the UNIFIL mission. Germany should play a stronger role in UN peacekeeping operations and support measures related to sustainable peacekeeping. Germany must also finally make a significant contribution to the required United Nations police force.

3. Place Active Conflict Prevention at the Center of German UN Policy
UNA-Germany welcomed the commitments to international conflict prevention initiatives by the various Federal Governments during the previous years. Through the implementation of this policy, not only German capacities for civilian conflict management were strengthened, but also the corresponding specialties of the United Nations. The work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission must be further supported by Germany.

Furthermore, the ratification of the recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty must be quickly completed and the German and international capacities for conflict management need to be strengthened. Indeed, German policy must actively recommend a worldwide rapid implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (at least 50 states worldwide must ratify the treaty in addition to becoming parties to it). In order to avoid the export of military equipment to conflict zones, the Bundestag’s oversight mechanisms need to be substantially broadened.

4. Comply with International Law and Strengthen the Responsibility to Protect as well as International Criminal Law
A peaceful world order can arise from the observance of the foundations of international law. More recently, the Security Council, through its system of resolutions, has contributed to the development of international law in a substantial way. In the context of the UN peacekeeping system, the principal of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is integral in combating genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Germany must make an appropriate contribution towards this principle.

The foundation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 was a milestone in the formation of an international justice system. The ICC contributes to the end of immunity for violators of human rights by prosecuting those responsible, and to the prevention of grave human rights violations. The continuing consistent support of the ICC (its further development, funding and cooperation, all of which increase its capacities) is an unconditional responsibility of German policy.

5. Become a Pioneer: Take Climate Change Seriously
Perhaps one of the most important geopolitical tasks to confront is the fight against climate change. Germany and the European Union have previously engaged in the negotiations within the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in order to achieve ambitious goals. Neither developing countries nor the USA chose to follow these guidelines, but this must not slow Germany’s motivation. In the face of grave consequences of climate change, measures to curb CO2 emissions in Europe must be undertaken. In order to create a binding global climate agreement, Germany must seek to reform European emission standards in addition to supporting the Durban Process and the World Climate Conference in Paris in 2015. If the goals of reduction fail, caused by the position of the USA and others, new binding agreements concerning energy efficiency and the promotion of new types of renewable energy in developing countries must be negotiated. As a notable CO2 emitter, Germany has the responsibility to people of all of those lands that have, and will be affected most by the consequences of climate change but contribute to them the least.

6. Strengthen Multilateral Cooperation on Development Projects, Do not Give Up on the 0.7% Goal
United Nations development operations are important additions to German bilateral cooperation on such projects. Only an integrated approach promises long-term success. Therefore, German development work should take place consciously in reference to UN projects and use this potential for a better international division of labor as well as improved donor coordination. The strength of cooperative UN development work is rooted in its neutrality and acceptance. Operational activity is especially effective when linked with normative work – for instance in the field of human rights.

The financial contribution of Germany to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has been ranked at 10th place for years and doesn’t match what Germany should pay according to its multilateral orientation and its economy. In order to make German multilateral policy more credible, financial contributions to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) must be substantially increased, paid into the core budget and promised for at least two years. Furthermore, there must not be any formal division – as previously common - between bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues related to international development. Not only the UNDP, but also the numerous activities in the economic and social arena which are under UN auspices, finance themselves through voluntary contributions of member states. Germany must urgently increase its voluntary contributions on top of the already compulsory level of financial contributions. Germany must also, through concrete result-oriented contributions and coherent policy, help in overcoming the fragmentation of the UN system. Overall, a substantial increase in funds for development work cooperation is necessary. Germany must comply with its commitment to annually spend 0.7% of its gross national product (GNP) on development initiatives starting in 2015, as agreed in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals.

7. Draw Conclusions from Economic and Social Crises
The global financial and economic crisis hasn’t just hit the economies of OECD-States hard, but has also intensified current emergencies in the poorest countries in the world. It has in part exacerbated the ongoing food crisis. Germany is asked, within the framework of the United Nations, to commit to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the advancement to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the post-2015 agenda. Furthermore policy related to the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organization must have a just and sustainable global economic and financial order as its goal. Additionally, the World Bank, IMF and WTO must become more inclusive, democratic and transparent in their work. German policy must work to ensure that the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is strengthened, so that it can effectively carry out its coordinating tasks. By strengthening ECOSOC, the Federal Government can follow through with the preexisting idea of developing a council on economic security. This applies even more to the G-20 which has proven itself to be unable to regulate global markets.

8. Strengthen and Promote Education Worldwide
Education is the key to enhancing development and must be the focal point of initiatives committed to reformulating global sustainable goals (known as post-MDG and SDG-process). According to the UN Development Programme, there is a lack of schools facilities for more than 60 million children worldwide don’t attend school. Furthermore, the quality of education for many who do go to school is deficient. Germany, whose economic power is rooted in its training and education systems, is especially suited to approach this problem and has a responsibility to help encourage primary and higher education.

German policy on the federal level and especially in each state must not tolerate the withholding of funds to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Rather, German policy must support the organization so that it can again fully carry out its mandate. UNA-Germany proposed to the Standing Conference of Ministers that October 24th, United Nations Day, should become a day of national projects. We recommend that the new Federal Government supports this initiative.

9. Establish New Prospects for Reform
The United Nations must adjust its organizational structure in order to adapt to conditions of the 21st century. Previous successful steps of reform, most of all in the establishment of the Human Rights Council, UN Women and the Peacebuilding Commission, are steps in the right direction.

Despite substantial resistance, Germany must not give up on its goal of reforming the UN Security Council. The 70th anniversary of the United Nations in 2015 should be the occasion for new efforts aimed at comprehensive structural reform. In addition, the practical steps of reform, such as the “Delivering as One” development initiative must be actively supported. This will increase effectiveness and reduce the administrative burden of partner states. Despite laudatory language, the new women’s organization “UN-Women” has been neglected by German policy. In the year 2012, almost one million Euros, only half of the promised funds by the German government, have currently been paid.

10. Ratify and Comply with Agreements and Conventions
Credible multilateralism is also reflected by the widest possible ratification and implementation of agreements worked out in the UN. German policy is required to ensure that:
- the Optional Protocol to the ICESRC on individual complaints is ratified,
- the UN Convention against Corruption is ratified, and
- the National Preventive Mechanisms of the Convention against Torture are appropriately equipped.