Maren is a student of MA Conflict Resolution at the University of Bradford. She started to work on peace and conflict issues during her undergraduate in European Studies at the University of Osnabrück in Germany. Maren is interested in the relationship of human rights and armed conflict and particularly in feminist perspectives on security. I consider one issue as a crucial obstacle of peace for Germany and its relations with other nations, and I imagine how it could be different.
The issue I have in mind is the German arms export policy. According to SIPRI Yearbook 2014, Germany ranks 3rd among world arms exporters and sells different categories of weapons. German firms increasingly export into countries that are neither EU nor NATO members or partners and which often qualify as authoritarian states. The government decides on permissions in secret without information of or control by the parliament. Authorities lack effective means to control the final destination of the exported weapons or dual use goods and their use. The law that covers the conditions for permissions leaves enough scope for the governmental organ to allow arms export into regions in armed conflict. The German arms industry generates billions of profit and has a strong lobby in Berlin where private interest is falsely communicated as public interest.
Conservative German politicians believe we need arms exports to keep the industry alive, innovative, and at world’s top level, and that recipients of arms exports are automatically our security partners that help us to fight terrorism. This is a short-sighted view which undermines human rights, non-violent conflict management, and sustainable peace. It is obvious that weapons exports are not a solution, but make things worse. SALW (Small Arms and Light Weapons) end up in civil wars, tanks end up in repressive states, and submarines end up in states that pursue aggressive territorial policies. Germany should aim to facilitate solutions, not violent conflict.
I imagine a Germany that prioritises effective arms control over the interests of a profit-seeking arms industry. I imagine that the German parliament controls permissions and makes arms transfers transparent and debatable for the German people. I imagine a Germany that does not sign weapons deals with non-NATO members and that stands up to the US policy of nuclear armaments. I imagine a German government which facilitates NATO-Russia dialogue instead of fostering NATO expansion in a way that ignores Russia’s security interests. I imagine that Germany promotes the integration of a European arms market, and security cooperation between EU member states according to ethical considerations. I imagine that German policy-makers read the abundance of critical academic studies on contemporary arms policies and take the critique on board. I imagine that German politicians and their advisers discover how people in other parts of the world define peace and security and account for these understandings when they make decisions. I cannot imagine peace for Germany in the world if Germans continue to export arms in a way that benefits German national economy and serves a state-centric security paradigm, but supports violence against civilians and among various armed groups in different parts of the world.
Beyond imagining Germany, Maren took us through Arms Control Policy. You can never limit what you can imagine.