At the 4th UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, Germany announced a wide range of pledges to enhance UN peace operations. This included, among other things, helicopters for medical evacuation, training offers for UN headquarters personnel, and the piloting of a network of uniformed women peacekeepers.
At the Peacekeeping Ministerial on 7 and 8 December 2021, representatives of more than 80 UN member states discussed current challenges and possible improvements in UN peacekeeping – mostly at the foreign or defence minister level. Furthermore, they announced specific pledges intended to contribute to the success and effectiveness of UN peace operations.
With these contributions, the member states want to support the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) reform initiative initiated by Secretary-General António Guterres as well as its implementation strategy, Action for Peacekeeping+ (A4P+).
The Republic of Korea as the main host had prepared the event together with the United Nations Secretariat and eleven other UN member states. Owing to the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the ministers did not meet in Seoul, as originally planned, but attended a largely virtual event.
Among the cross-cutting issues discussed at this year’s Ministerial were medical capacity building and the use of technology in UN peace operations. The goal of the United Nations is to technologically enable peace operations in order to, for instance, improve the security of UN camps and vehicle convoys, obtain a more comprehensive operational picture, and enable digital communication in large theatres of operation.
Furthermore, the United Nations intends to expand the medical infrastructure to increase the security and protection of peacekeepers on operations. The COVID-19Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic is only the most recent example of how important medical self-reliance is on operations. Health care for women peacekeepers as well as in the area of mental health is to be strengthened as well.
On his last day in office, the outgoing Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defence, Thomas Silberhorn, announced the German ministries’ contributions to enhancing peace operations in a video message. Please find the German statement and the list of pledges here. He stated, for example, that Germany would provide a helicopter unit for the UN’s MINUSMAMultidimensionale Integrierte Stabilisierungsmission der Vereinten Nationen in Mali (Mission Multidimensionnelle Intégrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation au Mali) mission in Mali until 2024 to support the transport and care of wounded persons.
Together with Israel, Germany would also finance the development of a mental health strategy for uniformed UN personnel. Silberhorn went on to say that African troop contributors to MINUSMAMultidimensionale Integrierte Stabilisierungsmission der Vereinten Nationen in Mali would be equipped with 3,000 first-aid kits.
In the area of technology, he added, Germany and the Netherlands were supporting the Big Data Radio Mining and Analysis Mainstreaming Project, which was to help UN forces analyse radio programmes in regional languages for situational awareness purposes and in order to better identify hate speech.
Silberhorn declared that as an A4P Champion on Training and Capacity Building, Germany was providing comprehensive training offers to troop- and police-contributing countries. International female participants had the opportunity to complete the UN military observer course with a focus on women in peacekeeping annually, and participants would be able to complete the course on Tactical Protection of Civilians at the United Nations Training Centre of the Bundeswehr, he added.
Moreover, Germany would dispatch up to six mobile training teams every year in order to support UN member states in pre-deployment training. In addition to the training of UN headquarters personnel in ongoing operations and at the United Nations Regional Service Centre Entebbe in Uganda, there was the annual offer of online training of international staff officers in UN mission headquarters, Silberhorn said.
As an A4P champion in the area of Women, Peace and Security, Germany has implemented a number of initiatives in the past three years aimed at raising the number of women serving in UN operations.
At the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, Silberhorn further announced that Germany, together with the UN Department of Peace Operations, would carry out the pilot phase for a Uniformed Women Peacekeeper Network in two UN operations. Germany also supports the preparation of the United Nations’ first global report on women in defence.
In 2015, the United Nations and nearly 50 heads of state and government initiated the process of improving UN Peacekeeping at the Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping in New York. In 2016, 2017 and 2019, UN Peacekeeping Ministerials were held in London, Vancouver and New York to further the reform process.
In the light of new threats, increasingly complex conflicts and a growing number of attacks on UN forces, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in 2018. The aim of this initiative is to make peacekeeping operations more successful and effective. As part of a Declaration of Shared Commitments to strengthen UN peace operations, as many as 154 UN member states and four regional organisations – including NATO and the EU – now support the Secretary-General’s initiative.
In a comprehensive approach, Germany supports the Action-for-Peacekeeping agenda as an A4P Champion in the following A4P Areas of Commitment: ,,Politics”, ,,Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”, ,,Women, Peace and Security” as well as ,,Training and Capacity Building”. A4P Champions are responsible for moving reform commitments forward by initiating projects, campaigning for other UN member states’ involvement or supporting member states in the implementation of the commitments.
Germany is the fourth-largest contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget and the fifth-largest European UN troop contributor. A large proportion of the contributions of the Ministry of Defence is being funded from the Federal Government’s Enable & Enhance Initiative, which is a strategic instrument of German foreign and security policy and is as such the shared responsibility of the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defence.
The Bundeswehr is currently participating in four UN peacekeeping operations with 1,184 troops: MINUSMAMultidimensionale Integrierte Stabilisierungsmission der Vereinten Nationen in Mali in Mali, UNIFILUnited Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in Lebanon, UNMISSUnited Nations Mission in South Sudan in South Sudan and MINURSOThe United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (Mission des Nations Unies pour l’organisation d’un Référendum au Sahara Occidental) in Western Sahara (as of November 2021).