On May 12, 2004, the coalition cabinet of Social Democrats and Greens approved the Action Plan for Civil Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding. This is one of the few inter-agency foundational documents on German foreign and security policy. As a cabinet resolution, it ranks above defense policy guidelines, which are acknowledged by the cabinet but apply only to the administrative domain of the Ministry of Defense. This also explains why the Action Plan is not a complete project, but rather a collection of 163 actions to be implemented in the next five to ten years.
The Action Plan incorporates the gender perspective in its discussion of women’s participation in power structures. The Action Plan thus strategically promotes democracy and the rule of law in crisis countries, explicitly mentioning the necessity of women’s participation “in power structures and their full inclusion in all efforts surrounding crisis prevention and conflict resolution,” as a prerequisite for the peaceful reconstruction of a constitutional democracy. In the chapter on the role of civil society, it also advocates support for gender sensitive non-governmental organizations. In contrast to military training programs, the Action Plan lists “gender sensitive behavior” as a criterion for the training of police. Thus a gender perspective does find expression in individual demands of the Action Plan. On the other hand, the Action Plan lacks a gender perspective in its underlying expanded notion of security, as well as in the chapter on culture and education. It also fails to address ways of implementing UN Resolution 1325 at the federal level.
Further difficulties arise regarding implementation of the Action Plan. To complement it, the German Foreign Ministry created a Council on Civil Conflict Prevention under its own supervision. It consists of the commissioners responsible for civil crisis prevention from all relevant ministries. This council formed an advisory board to act as an intermediary between the federal government and civil society. Its members include representatives from non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and business circles (Siemens, BASF, Deutsche Bank), yet women’s organizations and experts on gender awareness are not represented. Since the advisory board is not itself a policy making body, it depends on close cooperation with the government and parliament. The council itself is made up of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Defense. Due to conflicts of interest among the ministries this makes coordination difficult. In reality, the Action Plan’s demand for coherence meets considerable resistance because of differing interests and organizational cultures. Furthermore, the government is expected to present a report on the Action Plan every two years. It is supposed to provide information on the ministries’ and the council’s implementation of the Action Plan’s recommendations.
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