GHDI logo

Germany and the United Nations (July 7, 2005)

page 2 of 4    print version    return to list previous document      next document

Additionally, Germany has also become one of the largest contributors of troops. Bundeswehr soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Bosnia; they participated in the peace missions in Cambodia, Somalia, and the Persian Gulf. Even more importantly: German diplomacy has largely played a constructive role in recent years. It fought for the International Criminal Court in The Hague; it argued for intervention in the war-torn Sudanese province of Darfur. Civil rights advocates and human rights groups attest to the fact that Berlin has acted credibly and unselfishly.

Multilateralism is the axiom of all German foreign policy today. Berlin would have withdrawn its candidacy immediately had there been the slightest chance of England and France giving up their permanent seats in favor of an EU seat. But there isn’t such a chance. Still, the federal government would like to reemphasize that we would give up our [permanent] seat the minute the EU is willing and able to speak with one voice on the Security Council.

At any rate, Germany’s European partners do not see a clash of interests in Berlin’s candidacy. Italy is the only country whose pride seems to be hurt. Together with others (Pakistan, Argentina, and South Korea), it is organizing the opposition to the G4 in the New York “Coffee Club.” France and Poland, our most important neighbors, happen to support the German candidacy. They will even be co-sponsors of the resolution on the expansion of the Security Council.

None of the four candidates, by the way, is demanding the veto right that is so jealously guarded by the “Permanent Five.” And not only because they have no chance of receiving it anyway. The veto is as anachronistic as the present composition of the Security Council, which has only one justification: to keep America the superpower on board. America would never subject itself to a majority vote (see Iraq), but without it the U.N. would be paralyzed.

Like Japan, Germany has enjoyed the benefits of life in the quiet corner for decades. But the expectations placed on a reunified Germany have risen; we can no longer duck down like we did in the times of the Cold War.

Since the world stopped being divided into East and West, the Security Council has grown increasingly more important. Today, it is practically in permanent session as a sort of global crisis center. Anyone who wants to strengthen the United Nations, who wants to put it in a position to meet the challenges of the 21st century, must hope that Germany soon becomes a permanent member of the Security Council – along with Brazil, India, Japan, and perhaps South Africa and Egypt. Then and only then will this “world” body have arrived in the present.

first page < previous   |   next > last page