Peace Researchers publish Memorandum before the Federal elections: “Prevention of violent conflicts: more visible – more effective – more efficient”

Press Release of 11 August 2009

In 2005, the grand coalition declared its support of the Action Plan “Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Peace building”. Prominent representatives of the German peace and conflict research community, members of the action plan’s Advisory Board, are now criticizing shortcomings in its implementation. In a Memorandum on the occasion of the German federal elections 2009, they draw up recommendations – to improve preventive policy.

The Action Plan sees prevention as an integral part and inter-ministerial task of German peace policy. It foresees the cooperation of the government and civil society. In the past years, funds for this have markedly been increased, and a professional as well as personal infrastructure has been established. Every two years, the federal government reports to the Bundestag of its activities.

Still, renowned peace and conflict researchers, members of the action plan’s Advisory Board, point to deficits in implementation. “The dispute about sense, costs and consequences of the deployment of the German armed forces to serve peace and security crowds out the necessary debate about how to improve the prevention of violent conflicts,” Peter J. Croll, Director of BICC (Bonn International Center for Conversion), Tobias Debiel, Director of INEF (Institute for Development and Peace, University of Duisburg-Essen), Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Director of the Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management, Opens internal link in current windowJörn Graevingholt, Senior Researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Bernhard Moltmann, Chair of the Study Group on German Arms Exports of the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE), and Hans-Joachim Spanger, Head of Research Department and member of the Executive Board of HSFK (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) state in their Memorandum on the occasion of the German federal elections 2009 “Prevention of violent conflicts: more visible – more effective – more efficient".

Sobering experiences of multinational peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, the Sudan, the DR Congo, but also in the Caucasus, show that civilian crisis prevention is more necessary than ever. This is why on the occasion of the German federal elections, the signatories, who are highly experienced experts in the field of conflict prevention policy, both in research and in implementation, intend to give a new impetus in terms of content and organization.

“Germany needs a strategy discussion on content and format of the German peace and security policy in which the notion of prevention must be given a central place,” the signatories of the memorandum postulate. “Otherwise poor marks have to be given to German politicians as concerns their learning capacity, and they would loose touch with international developments,” they fear.

Making German peace policy more distinctive and more operational

The signatories suggest the following to make prevention politics more effective, that is, more operational:

  1. The position of the representative for crisis prevention should be strengthened and be located at the Federal Chancellery. This contributes to a better identification of the political status of prevention as a key element of German peace and security policy and its greater effectiveness.
  2. The Inter-ministerial Civilian Crisis Prevention Steering Group must be strengthened. The granting of steering competencies, the creation of its own financial instruments and improved human resources capacity is one means of doing this. Additionally, the establishment of special ‘task forces’ on the German engagement in regions of conflict and central cross-cutting topics will contribute to strengthening the Steering Group. Only in this way can we ensure that prevention represents an inter-ministerial topic of the executive, also in the operational sense.
  3. A Sub-Committee ‘Civilian Crisis Prevention’ at the Bundestag should be established, analogous to the Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation. This permits an improved political control via the Parliament and insures that the Bundestag continuously deals with the task of civilian crisis prevention.
  4. An integrated inter-ministerial early warning system for crises should be created, integrating non-governmental organizations and research institutions, to overcome the existing deficits in coordination.
  5. An independent evaluation mechanism is to be established to rectify existing shortcomings in the result assessment of steps taken in conflict prevention. Failures are just as important advisors for future action as successes.
  6. The government and the Bundestag are well advised to more intensively promote the idea of crisis prevention in the public sphere, precisely because maintaining peace is less spectacular than sending off troops.

For more information, please contact
Susanne Heinke
Press spokesperson BICC (Bonn International Center for Conversion)
Phone: +49-228-911 96 44

Matthias Ruchser
Head of Media and Public Relations
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Phone: +49-228-94 927-159

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