Preview: Germany as a Member of the UN Security Council
Since January 1, 2011, Germany has been a member of the United Nations Security Council. According to Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, this means that for the next two years Germany will shoulder a special responsibility for international affairs. “In the Security Council Germany will be a reliable, responsible and committed partner,” he pledged.
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September at the 65th General Assembly. (© picture-alliance/dpa) Following previous terms in 1977/78, 1987/88, 1995/96 and 2003/04, Germany is now serving its fifth term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. The main business of the Security Council is dealing with crises and conflicts and steering UN peace missions. Its meetings are held normally at ambassador level. When particularly important issues are to be discussed, emergency meetings attended by foreign ministers are convened.
“We will play our part in enabling the Security Council to fulfil its role effectively as the key authority on matters of world peace and security,” the Federal Foreign Minister emphasized. In the Security Council he made clear that Germany will actively strive to develop political solutions to international conflicts. “Germany will live up to its international responsibilities,” he noted, “but it also stands for a culture of military restraint.”
The Security Council in January
The referendum on the independence of southern Sudan will loom large on the Security Council’s agenda for January. The task here, according to Westerwelle, will be to prevent instability in what is the largest country in Africa in terms of surface area. This will require the United Nations, which has peace missions on the ground there, to play an active role in brokering a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
Enlarge image For the next two years, Germany will be a non-permanent member of the Security Council. (© picture-alliance/dpa) A peace agreement concluded in 2005 ended the civil war that had been dragging on since 1982 between the Sudanese Government and the rebel movement in the south of the country. The agreement provided for a six-year transitional period, during which the south would enjoy a large measure of autonomy. It also provided for the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections (which took place in April 2010) as well as a referendum on the issue of independence for the south, which is due to take place on January 9, 2011.
Other items on the agenda in January 2011 will include the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia and the Middle East as well as the recent elections in Haiti and the humanitarian situation there. The Security Council’s first meeting in 2011, which will take place on 5 January at ambassador level, will deal with the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
Another thematic priority of Germany’s Security Council membership will be peacebuilding in the sense of post-conflict consolidation and crisis prevention. Germany would like to see UN peace missions give greater consideration to peacebuilding already during the peacekeeping phase.
Another cross-cutting issue Germany hopes to advance is the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. The Security Council has set up a special working group to address this problem.
Enlarge image United Nations headquarters in New York (© picture-alliance/dpa) Since December 2009 Peter Wittig has been Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1982, Peter Wittig studied law, history and political science. He has served in a number of posts abroad, including as ambassador to Lebanon and Cyprus; at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin he has also been Deputy Director-General responsible for the United Nations. He is married and has four children.
Germany believes it is important that its conduct as a Security Council member should be open and transparent. “Our representatives in the Security Council will take seriously the anxieties and concerns of all 192 UN member countries,” Westerwelle promised. He also emphasized his desire to strengthen Europe’s voice in New York. “Our aim is for Europe to take a united stand in the Security Council and for our EU partners to consult closely to this end.”
Security Council reform
In the long term Germany would like to see a joint European seat on the Security Council. In the meantime, however, it is ready to assume greater responsibility also on a permanent basis. As Westerwelle made clear, a Security Council reform capable of standing the test of time is long overdue. To remain credible, it was vital the Security Council should reflect the realities of today’s world. This meant the countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia had to be given greater weight, he noted.