Five Questions, Four Agendas Germany's Top Parties Debate Foreign Policy Agenda

Part 5: New World Orders


New World Orders

There are a range of catch phrases: "effective multilateralism" or "networked security," reform of the UN, WTO and IMF, the expansion of the G-8 to the G-20. How should German foreign policy handle the rise of emerging powers?

Erler: In order to effectively meet the new challenges -- such as climate change, raw material crises, and water shortages -- we need a globally responsible partnership. For this reason, Germany has been lobbying for the reform of international institutions for some time. They must adequately reflect the world of today, granting the newly industrialized nations the place they deserve. At the same time, emerging states must be integrated into a functioning multilateral system and be called upon to assume global responsibility.

von Klaeden: The economic and financial crisis has clearly shown that the large nations of Europe and North America, together with Japan -- the G-8 in other words -- are increasingly unable to shoulder the entire burden of today's global challenges on their own. It is no coincidence that the countries involved in the Heiligendamm process -- namely the G-8 plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa -- and the G-20 have come to play a more prominent role in the past year. This reflects a shift in the balance of power from the North Atlantic toward the South, and especially toward Asia. Thanks to its economic and political upsurge, China in particular has become a major stakeholder in the international marketplace and a leading player on the international political stage. Its influence, along with that of other countries such as India, is growing, not only economically but also in the fields of political diplomacy, cultural influence and military strategy. This upsurge lends increasing importance to German and European relations with China as well as with Brazil, Russia and India. It is also in our interest to engage these countries more fully in the work of existing international organizations and structures, which need to be reformed accordingly. As the influence of these countries grows, however, so does their share of responsibility for political and economic stability of their respective regions and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Against the backdrop of numerous failed and failing states, of which the economic and financial crisis is likely to create more, even greater importance should be attached to development cooperation as a key component of foreign and security policy.

Trittin: "Networked security" is Defense Minister Jung's favorite term. But it's only a smokescreen. He has never been able to satisfactorily explain what lies behind it. The government's 2006 White Book on security policy has already shown that the federal government's inter-agency collaboration does not work. Nor has the government done anything to speed along construction of a civilian infrastructure, like building up the Afghan police force.

I personally prefer the term "effective multilateralism" -- and it is more becoming. The term means to create a global order in a rapidly changing world -- a global order that is banking on greater inclusiveness and participation. The growing political importance of nations like Brazil, India, and China presents a challenge for the international order, and German foreign policy must help to adapt it. In the face of so many global problems -- climate change, the economic crisis, the food crisis, disintegrating states -- global responses are absolutely necessary. Effective multilateralism means making the United Nations capable of acting, namely through reform of the UN Security Council and other organs. We must find a way to improve the structure of our entire system of international governance, which means reform of the World Bank, of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Trade Organization. And we need to strengthen international law and binding norms.

Effective multilateralism also means expanding the outmoded G-8. The meetings of the G-20 within the framework of the economic crisis are a step in the right direction; after all, these industrial and emerging nations make up 62 percent of the world's population and 77 percent of the world's gross national product; 90 percent of world trade takes place between these states.

Germany and the European Union must make a concrete contribution -- and also, where necessary, they must make concessions; for instance in the area of climate protection, where many countries claim their right to develop and will only support climate programs if the European Union and the United States set a proactive example; or in the sphere of world trade, where the European Union must dispense with agricultural subsidies that destroy the markets in developing countries and have become the symbol of an unfair world trade policy.

Germany has traditionally made important multilateral contributions. These days it participates in several international peace missions under the umbrella of the United Nations. Germany is the UN's third leading donor and finances almost ten percent of the organization's budget. Above and beyond that we have also helped to establish the International Criminal Court and a new UN Human Rights Council.

In the current international upheaval, intensified through the economic crisis, Germany can reconnect with its multilateral tradition and assume a great deal more responsibility in configuring the international community; but instead, the present German government has boycotted a UN conference for the first time since it joined the UN in 1973 -- the Anti-Racism Conference in Geneva. As a result, Germany was neither able to influence the conference's concluding resolution nor was it able to demonstrate opposition to Ahmadinejad. That was a mistake. We have to be engaged, including when it comes to critiquing the UN system and pushing necessary reforms.

Westerwelle: Emerging nations like India, China, and Brazil have long ceased to be developing countries, and are now playing a decisive role in world politics. And their influence on world affairs will only increase in the future. The role such countries play in global security, energy, climate change, health care, and food production is now central to any policy addressing these fields. In effect this constitutes an enormous challenge for the West because we must cooperate more closely with states that do not necessarily share our values and in fact may actually violate them. On the one hand, we therefore have a strong interest in strengthening the United Nations and thus the rule of law in international relations. On the other hand, we need to call on emerging nations to assume a greater degree of responsibility in return for greater influence on international policy.

With regard to Afghanistan, for instance, China, Russia, and India are three large states that have just as little interest in seeing the return of the Taliban regime as we do in the West. However, the contributions of these countries to the stabilization of Afghanistan are comparatively modest at present. In my opinion, more engagement beyond the mere level of military involvement is needed and is also possible. On another level, the same could be said in relation to North Korea and even Iran.

Moreover, I do not believe we need to be reticent when it comes to asserting values such as universal human rights when confronted with their violation by emerging powers. In our opinion, the principle of non-interference ceases to apply when universal human rights are being systematically violated.

The G-20 and the Doha Development Round illustrate the workings of a globalized world based on participation and cooperation. The reconciliation of interests functions best in multilateral organizations.

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