PeaceLab: Discussing Iraq’s Stabilization in New York

16. April 2018   ·   PeaceLab editorial team

On 18 April in New York, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, senior officials from Iraq, UNDP and Germany will discuss Iraq’s experience with stabilization and what the international community can learn from it.

In June 2017, the German government adopted new “Guidelines on Preventing Crises, Resolving Conflicts, Building Peace.” With this document, the German government has presented a broad vision for its peace-policy engagement. The guidelines supplement the 2016 security policy White Paper and the Development Policy Report of the German government. They demonstrate Germany’s instruments of foreign, security and development policy to shape peace in the world.

After the presentation and discussion of the guidelines as such at the EU in Brussels in January, this week’s event in New York ties back into the international discussion on one of the key thematic challenges addressed by the guidelines. Its focus is on international support to stabilization, and on the example of Iraq.

Germany’s civilian stabilization efforts in Iraq, as well as the Federal Armed Forces’ deployment in the country is an expression of the new government’s commitment to remain engaged in contributing to peace and security worldwide. In March 2018, Germany adjusted the mandate of its armed forces in Iraq. Within the new mandate, German armed forces will no longer focus its training program on basic training of Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq but shift its training activities to the Iraqi Security Forces, with a focus on specialized capabilities, like demining, and advising at higher command levels in Baghdad.

In addition, over the past few years, Germany has been actively engaged in Iraq within the Working Group on Stabilization of the Coalition to defeat ISIL and its local branch, the Task Force Stabilization in Baghdad. The Iraqi and German governments lead the Stabilization Task Force in Baghdad.

Stabilization in the new guidelines

The Iraq experience provides ample opportunity for the study of stabilization measures during an acute crisis situation. In the new guidelines, the German government defines stabilization of countries and regions as one of the government’s approaches to handling violent conflict. The guidelines describe the German government’s approach in detail:

“With its stabilization measures, the Federal Government supports political processes of conflict resolution, while providing an incentive for parties to cease engagement in armed conflict. This is an important contribution towards containing violence in conflicts and reducing displacement while providing an impetus for initial reconciliation efforts. Stabilization measures may also serve to consolidate legitimate political authorities by supporting them in their efforts to offer the population a more persuasive and inclusive vision which is more attractive than competing models of exercising political power. Stabilization measures specifically serve to create a secure environment, to improve living conditions in the short term, and to offer alternatives to economies of war and violence. This requires a comprehensive approach: depending on the requirements in the individual case, this approach requires the flexible and coordinated use of diplomatic, development-policy and security-policy measures. Certain circumstances may also require the use of military measures in order to contain violence and to restore a secure environment which is the basic prerequisite for political processes. The Federal Government is making sure that its stabilization measures are compatible with the more long-term support of structural and social processes of change aimed at creating sustainable prospects for people’s lives and future in states and regions affected by crisis and conflict.”

Discussing the stabilization experience in Iraq

Following the May elections in Iraq, the German government will need to review its approach to Iraq since any continued military engagement will require a new mandate obtained from parliament before October 2018. The necessary strategy debate will be kicked off on 18 April 2018 in New York. The Permanent Representative of Iraq, Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr Al-Uloom, the Permanent Representative of Germany, Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, and UNDP Assistant Secretary-General, Mourad Youssef Magdi Wahba will discuss with Ekkehard Brose, Co-Chair of the Working Group on Stabilization of the Coalition to Defeat ISIL and German Ambassador to Iraq 2014 – 2016. Among other questions, they will debate:

  • What are the conditions which enable stabilization policies to succeed as they have in Iraq? What are the lessons learned? Are there any remaining deficiencies? How relevant are they for replication elsewhere?
  • How can the UN be further strengthened to address crises and sustain peace?
  • How and where can stabilization be anchored in the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus? What happens after successful stabilization? In the current Iraq context: How can a reliable bridge be built from IDP returns to economic recovery and reconstruction?

The discussion will take place at the German House, 871 United Nations Plaza from 11.30am-1.00pm. Please refer to the invitation for more details. You can also follow the debate on twitter at @PeaceLabBlog.

Interested readers are also warmly invited to participate in the debate on this blog. A first contribution will be made by Ambassador Brose this week.