Hardly any rays of hope against a gloomy background

Hardly any rays of hope against a gloomy background

Doves of peace © N.N.

The conclusion of the 2018 Peace Report is sobering: more wars, more crises and a declining ability to ensure peace and security. Germany is seen as a force for order.

The "message of hope" U.S. President Donald Trump spoke of at the summit with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore was one of the few rays of hope at the presentation of the "Peace Report 2018" by German peace research institutes in Berlin on Tuesday. Otherwise, in addition to successes in the fight against terrorism, the experts painted a sobering, even disturbing, picture of the world situation.

Germany as a regulatory power

"More wars, more crises and a diminishing capacity of the international community to ensure peace and security in the world," they conclude. Against this background, Germany is faced with the task of "acting as a force for order". Europe's old model of values must once again become an export hit.

At the same time, they warned the German government not to undermine its high credibility as a possible mediator through questionable arms exports.

Between 2012 and 2015, the number of civil wars rose from 32 to 51 – the highest level since 1945, states the annual report published by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), the Leibniz Institute Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (HSFK), the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) and the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH).

USA under Trump a threat to order

For Christopher Daase of the HSKF, this negative development is additionally aggravated by the "US attack on the liberal world order". Above all, the unilateral denunciation of the Iran agreement was seen by the researchers as a "frontal attack on the multilateral peace and security order. The U.S. is thus violating the principle that international treaties must be respected. For the peace researchers, Trump's "success" in Singapore – which they see as an "opportunity for denuclearization" with many unanswered questions – does nothing to change this situation. Tobias Debiel of INEF also pointed out that the meeting had been multilateral, i.e. with the participation of China and South Korea.

Under Trump, the U.S. has gone from being a guarantor of international order "to being a threat to that order," Daase lamented.

Experts believe this gives the EU the responsibility to stand up for the proven stability framework. "Their adherence to the Iran agreement, but also in general to the values of the liberal world order – free trade, human rights, validity of international law – is right even if it comes at a high cost," says Daas.

However, at the latest since the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law and Russia's support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine, the expert opinion sees the European peace order in crisis. Liberal democracy is also coming under prere in Hungary and Poland. Here, the experts advocated for "active conflict management". The first urgent task is to "reduce the level of escalation and conflict".

To this end, sanctions against Russia should be maintained until an agreement is reached with Ukraine; at the same time, however, a comprehensive dialogue should be initiated on the basis of common interests. "A European peace order cannot be achieved without Russia, neither internally nor externally," the scientists said

Humanitarian aid

On the positive side, the report notes that the German government is providing "significant humanitarian aid" in many regions. Increasingly, however, Germany is so involved through arms exports and the "upgrading" of the military and militias that it is losing its ability to mediate credibly between the fronts. The experts see such a mediation task particularly in Syria.

In the face of bleak prospects, the German government should take a "moderating role" and use its networks.

The report, on the other hand, takes a hard line on Germany's arms export policy. Arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey contradict EU agreements and commitments. Instead, the German government must present a strict law to control arms exports.

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