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3. July 2024

Parliamentary consultation on the revision of the crisis guidelines

The Advisory Board is responsible for advising the Federal Government on all aspects of civilian crisis prevention and peacebuilding, strengthening Germany's commitment to peace in both strategic and practical terms and creating spaces for exchange and discourse. On July 3, 2024, the Advisory Board therefore discussed the important benefits of civilian crisis prevention, also in light of the tight budget situation, the changing global order and the strengthening of systemic rivalries, with members of parliament and departmental representatives in the Bundestag as part of a parliamentary consultation on the further revision of the crisis guidelines.

The Federal Government’s guidelines “Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Promoting Peace” are an expression of the Federal Government’s peace policy principles and were adopted in 2017. Their further revision this year, which the Advisory Board is supervising in an advisory capacity, takes into account the “Zeitenwende” and a time of new realities and non-traditional security risks.

At the invitation of Member of Parliament Ottmar von Holtz and Member of Parliament Rainer Semet, the Advisory Board discussed the status of this revision of the guidelines with MPs and departmental representatives in the Bundestag. The event was moderated by the co-chairs of the Advisory Board. The aim of the consultation meeting was to invite a more in-depth discussion so that the MPs’ perspectives and expertise could also be directly incorporated into the further development process of the guidelines.

In his introductory statement on the status of the revision process, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Dr. Tobias Lindner emphasized the importance of readjusting the guidelines and the primacy of crisis prevention, also in view of the budgetary situation. He made it clear that every euro invested in civilian crisis prevention saves many times over the higher investments required in military engagement and crisis containment after the outbreak of a crisis and that an integrated understanding of peace and security therefore remains the guiding principle.

With regard to the need for the revision process, the co-chairs of the Advisory Board LKD (ret.) Dipl. Krim. Lars Wagner and Dr. Kira Vinke explained that there is no knowledge deficit in the field of civil crisis prevention, but rather an implementation deficit. Although evaluations and target definitions contribute to the knowledge of this field, the same capacity that is put into knowledge and strategy development is also needed in practical implementation. Once again, the Advisory Board highlighted the relevance of clear planning objectives (“Planziele”) in the further development of the strategy.

“The Council welcomes both the National Security Strategy and the revision and refinement process of the guidelines. In both cases, it can be said that the concept is right, but the question of implementation remains open. Without the definition of a budget and staffing levels for Germany’s civilian engagement and the associated mandatory evaluations, the guidelines, just like the security strategy, will lack the necessary power to implement the respective goals,” Lars Wagner continued.

In this context, Advisory Board member Dr. Sonja Schiffers also emphasized the urgency of providing clearly defined resources, funds and personnel, for example in embassies. However, this would not suffice; there also needed to be better political coordination of the resources used, which could also only be achieved on the basis of clear target definitions. The former co-chair of the Advisory Board, Winfried Nachtwei, also referred to the role of national implementation plans, which are planned and required in accordance with the EU’s CSDP.

MP Michael Müller agreed with the positive status of German knowledge in the field of civilian crisis prevention, but also criticized the lack of further German initiatives. He suggested strengthening Germany’s focus on international and multilateral formats for joint prevention work. Such formats must be found or made possible and more efforts made to act early in international cooperation. Germany should show more initiative here and lead the way.

On the question of the status of implementation of the target definitions as set out in the coalition agreement, the MPs referred to the need for further inquiries. In this context, MP Christoph Schmidt also mentioned the difficult situation due to the budget situation, which makes it complicated to make serious commitments. He nevertheless argued for the need to prioritize regions with regard to the planning objectives to be defined. Following the consultation meeting, the co-chair of the Advisory Board, Lars Wagner, proposed the establishment of a working group as a first step towards defining planning objectives.

Civilian crisis prevention is and remains an interdepartmental task, and the integrated approach is still the right one, the departmental representatives made clear in the consultation meeting. However, the revised guidelines can only serve as a sustainable and effective instrument for achieving a greater impact in the area of long-term crisis management by integrating the topics of evaluation and target definition to a greater extent and thus taking a cause-oriented approach and following the primacy of prevention at an early stage, if not before a crisis breaks out.