Points of Reference on Peace Ethics and Peace Policy. A Contribution of the Evangelical Church Council in Germany (EKD-Texte 48), 3rd edition 2001

Steps on the Way to Peace. Points of Reference on Peace Ethics and Peace Policy

Interim Results

Elaborated by the
Church Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
Herrenhäuser Street 12
30419 Hannover

This brochure is the reprinted part of the 3. edition of

Steps on the Way to Peace.
Points of Reference on Peace Ethics and Peace Policy.
A Contribution of the Evangelical Church Council in Germany (EKD-Texts 48)
and therein forms an up-dating supplement from the perspective of the year 2001.
The page numbers correspond with the complete edition of the series of EKD-texts.



I.  Changes in the Situation of Peace Policy and in the Discussion of Peace Ethics

II.  Emphasis and Clarification

1. Just Peace - the Basic Idea of Christian Peace Ethics
2. The Priority of Non-Military Instruments in Safeguarding Peace
3. Extending Ways of Civil Conflict Management
4. Strengthening the International Peace System as a Legal System.
5. The Deployment of Military Force as ultima ratio

III. Completion and Resumption

1. International Law, Mandatation and "Humanitarian Intervention"
2. The Function of the NATO and of a European Security Policy in the Framework of International Peace System
3. Structure and Mission of the Federal Armed Forces
4. Civil Conflict Treatment and Civil Peace Services
5. Prospect

Members of the Advisory Commission of the EKD for Social Responsibility


The meeting on September 7th/8th, 2001, was the closing discussion of  the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany about the presented text which thereafter was issued. On September 11th, the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington took place. This chronological coincidence will have a lasting influence on the perception of this text.

Even after the terrorist attacks the presented texts retains its validity. It is, however, true that many people share the opinion that the world had changed and that international terrorism created a whole new situation for peace policy. But even in the future, the threats to peace will not exclusively, maybe not even principally, be of terrorist nature. The consequences of the incidents of September 11th, 2001, cannot be predicted yet, not even for the security policy. Therefore, the Council saw the necessity to confine to interim results now more than ever. Only the coming years can show either the proof of the previous principles and concepts of peace ethics or an extensive need for alteration.

The Evangelical Church in Germany has re-defined its position in terms of peace ethics after the end of the East-West confrontations by two texts: the announcement of the synod of 1993 and the Points of Reference of the Council "Steps on the Way to Peace" of 1994. By the preparation and publication of the presented new contribution to peace ethics the Council responds to the widely expressed wish to thoroughly examine the currently taken position according to the developments of the past years. Due to the conflicts in the area of former Yugoslavia and the escalation of tension in Macedonia there is an urgent need of render account for the question whether and to what extent the current attempts and concepts of peace ethics have proved themselves in the new world political constellation. On behalf of the Council, the Advisory Commission of the EKD for Social Responsibility has accepted the task to investigate this question with regard to the statements of 1993/1994. The Council would like to thank the Commission for the preparation of the presented text.

In its meeting in the year 1999, the synod has explicitly asked the Council to authorize a new memorandum of peace and to publish the result after two years at the latest. The Council, however, was convinced that there is no necessity for the elaboration of a completely independent and new memorandum of peace. Looking back on the incidents and developments of the past years, whatever can and must be said is in conformity to former statements about peace ethics. Therefore, even in the outward appearance, this texts explicitly resumes the "Points of Reference" of 1994. After pointing out the changes in the situation of peace policy and the discussion of peace ethics, it will proceed in two steps: First the main principles of peace ethics which have proven to be viable even in 1993/94 will be emphasised and clarified as well as their viability in the following period. Then some aspects will be dealt with which must be included as supplement or resumption in face of the latest developments.

No matter how incomparably the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 have shown the dimension of terrorist threat and no matter how unexpectedly mankind, its policy, its police and its military has been hit - the presented text was already having an eye on the challenges of the future of peace and security politics, especially the Prospect at the end of this brochure. The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 are just a few dots in a historically obvious line which keeps moving away from the conventional type of war and the applicability of conventional military means in crisis management. Since the eighties of the 20th century, the type of war where regular armies of enemy states fight against each other has constantly lost importance. In its place, violent conflicts within states, where the conflicting parties can be more or less identified at least, had a drastic increase in number, duration and intensity. Terrorist attacks against civil aims and the vulnerable infrastructure of high-industrialized nations, however, introduce a to a large extent invisible opponent. In addition there is one premise valid for any constitutional sanction against criminals which expires where suicide assassins are concerned: the fact that they want to continue to live after their committed crime and therefore react in some way to the deterrent intention of sentence.

One could gather from the course of conflicts towards the end of the 20th century that the use of military force for tasks of safeguarding, maintaining and promoting peace helped to a limited extent only. Principally, political aims must be pursued with political strategies. The priority of politics over the deployment of military forces assumed by all classical strategic thinkers, at the latest since Clausewitz, is of similar importance for the defence against terrorist danger. First and foremost, the fight against terrorism is not based on military means but must rely on a combination of political, economical, police, intelligence service and maybe even military means. Improved security standards for citizens, sound analysis of cause, as well as long-term concepts for conflict prevention are especially sought after. The rapid willingness  to talk about "war" with regard to the confrontation with terrorism, or even about a new type of "war" characteristic for the 21st century is over-hasty. Even in fighting terrorism the constitutional democratic state is, in terms of prevention and reaction, bound to the means which are compatible with its democratic constitution, the human rights and the rule of law. Adjusting every political action towards the overcoming of peace-threatening conflicts -particularly in Israel and Palestine - and creating an international system being more just is of great importance, especially for the repulse of terrorist danger: For such policy promises the abolition of hatred and fanaticism, the most dangerous breeding grounds for terrorist movements.

Hannover, September 25th, 2001

Chairman Manfred Kock
Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

I. Changes in the Situation of Peace Policy and in the Discussion of Peace Ethics

More than seven years have passed since the synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany has decided its "Proclamation for Responsibility for Peace" and since the Council has published its "Points of Reference" with the title "Steps on the Way to Peace". There have been developments in the time since 1993/94 which in some ways have changed the situation of peace policy and introduced new demands to the discussion of peace ethics. They require a critical examination of the formerly presented statements about peace ethics of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the confirmation where they have proven to be viable, but also a completion and resumption where additional clarification has become necessary.

The statements about peace ethics of 1993/94 were a reaction to the far-reaching, radical political changes which came along with the end of the East-West conflict and the bipolar system of nuclear and conventional deterrent. The arisen coordinates of peace policy do still exist. To a far extent, the changes that have occurred in the meantime, contribute to stabilize the situation in Europe. The admission of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary  into the NATO has already taken place, the admission of further Central-Eastern European and Eastern European nations will probably follow in the foreseeable future. Little more than a decade after the disbanding of the East-West conflict, the fear in face of the potential danger of a nuclear war that has ruled the people in East and West everyday is almost forgotten, as well as the outer and inner burden brought along by the division of Europe in the spell of the East-West confrontation. All the more there is reason today to thankfully remember the positive outcomes and the possibilities of a new world-political constellation and to see them as an admonitory commitment for the future.

The statements about peace ethics of 1993/94 have formulated the main tasks of peace policy in the new constellation: the development of solutions for the problem of surviving in the world-wide poverty and for the progressive destruction of natural vital resources, the establishment and implementation of international peace system under the rule of law, the restriction of armaments and arms trade and the extension of initial attempts and possibilities of civil conflict-solving. The results with regard to the fulfilment of these tasks is sobering. The atmosphere of change at the moment of the "Wende" withdrew and gave way to an arduous struggle for each and every reformatory step. Particularly apparent where climatic protection is concerned: The translation into practice of the CO²-reduction as agreed in the Kyoto-Protocol of 1997 has come to a halt. Quantity-wise success has been achieved in terms of disarmament. A considerable reduction of  troops has been put into practice; no doubt, in this field, there has been a "dividend of peace". However, the dynamics in the field of armaments leading to the development of technologically improved and refined weapon systems continue to exist.

Among all the dangers, the main focus of 1993/94 was aimed towards the different regions in the world, where hidden conflicts due to a lack of recognition of the claims and rights of minorities which have been coercively suppressed for a long time smoulder and threaten to flare up. The development since then completely confirms this fear. Since the eighties of the 20th century, the type of war where regular armies of enemy states fight against each other has constantly lost importance. In its place, violent conflicts within states had a drastic increase in number, duration and intensity, not only on the Balkans being a European hot spot and thus in the focus of public interest, but in a similar way also in Chechen, in Afghanistan, in other parts of Asia and last but not least in Africa.  "The 'civilization-blanket' of human behaviour is" - as the Points of Reference of 1994 (p. 10) have put it - "thinner than we assumed it to be. It still covers a latent willingness to make an archaic use of violence and the capability of cruelty and brutality."

The immediate link of the Kosovo war, in spring 1999, with the military conflict itself has stimulated and stirred the discussion of peace ethics, especially in the retrospective reassessment of the occurrences. This is particularly due to two factors: The military course of action of the NATO has neither been confirmed by an explicit mandate of the United Nations nor has it been covered and the political success of the military intervention of the NATO appeared only when the air raids - in contrast to the norms of the international law and its underlying ethical criteria - were aimed against the Serbian infrastructure instead of exclusively military objects. The persistent discussion about the legal and ethical aspects of the Kosovo war had completely contrasting effects on the participants of the discussion: On the one hand, categorical opponents of any use of military force have become supporters of this coercive means, at least as in exceptional cases; on the other hand, fundamental doubts have come up among supporters of possible military deployment about whether such use of military force is effective and permissible and the strategic conditions were questioned.

Whoever examines the statements about peace ethics of the Evangelical Church in Germany, published in 1993/94, about their viability in the light of the occurrences and developments since then will reach a conclusion: The peace-political attempt of those days remains viable and convincing. The principles of peace ethics deserve remain valid even today and even with regard to the special case of war in Kosovo. How the Evangelical Church assessed (and still assesses)  the Kosovo war in terms of peace ethics is marked by uncertainty and discrepancy. This is not actually due to an  unproductiveness of the statements about peace ethics of 1993/94 but to a  Evangelical Church who does not consequently apply the included criteria and contribute them to the political judgement formation. Therefore, even in the outward appearance, the presented statement of the Council explicitly resumes the "Points of Reference" of 1994. Looking back on the incidents and developments of the past years, whatever can and must be said conforms clearly with former statements about peace ethics. Therefore, the following explanations are subdivided into two steps: First the main principles of peace ethics which have proven to be viable even in 1993/94 will be emphasised and clarified as well as their viability in the following period. Then some aspects will be dealt with which must be included as supplement or resumption in face of the latest developments.

II. Emphasis and Clarification

1. Just Peace - the Basic Idea of Christian Peace Ethics

,In the peace memorandum of 1981 it says programmatically: "Safeguarding, promoting and renewing peace is the commandment which has to be pursued by every political responsibility. Every political task is assigned to this commandment of peace. The target of Christian ethics is only peace, never war." In accordance to this, the churches of the GDR at the Ecumenical Meeting of 1988 have- rejecting the idea of a "Just War" - called for the development of a "Doctrine of Just Peace".

Security cannot only be defined in a military way. Above all, it depends on a fair distribution of living chances between North and South, between East and West, on the observance  of the human rights, on strengthening constitutional democratic structures, and on the protection of the natural vital resources. The result is that analysis and elimination of every conflict provoking cause must have priority and must be a long-term task which cannot be replaced by a short-term military crisis management of symptoms." (Steps on the Way to Peace, p. 14)

The expanded idea of security and peace that is used here coincides with the results of recent peace research. Its basic, interdependent components for a reliable structure of peace are:

  • Rule of law ensuring the protection of freedom, and, consequently, legal security,

  • economical balancing, which contributes to the reduction of gross economical differences thus soothing destitution and despair,

  • international organisations and the international law which serve the purpose of protection from unlawful violence, and

  • A culture of social manners and contact with minorities and people of a different ethnical origin which opposes intolerance and nationalistic tendencies.

These four components refer to conditions and circumstances within a society as well as to relationships between nations and therefore must be considered with global measures.

A policy of peace which adjusts to such a wide idea of security and peace - in the threesome of conflict prevention, conflict solution and post-conflict reconciliation - must be a matter of both, political handling of profound conflicts trying to achieve the permanent peace and preventing critical and violent escalations of concrete conflict situations. This is valid today, not only with regard to the relationships between nations but especially with regard to intrastate conflicts whose importance has strongly increased, world-wide.

The latest statement of the Roman-Catholic church concerning peace ethics is also determined by the insight that Christian peace ethics must be orientated according to the main idea of Just Peace. The German Conference of Bishops has put its new Word of Peace, published in the year 2000, under the headline "Just Peace". Even if in some sections the main emphasis differs from the "Steps on the Way to Peace", and even if on some individual questions different positions are taken up, which is going to be exemplarily dealt with in section II.5 of this text - the statements about peace ethics of the Evangelical and the Roman-Catholic church are expressions of common Christian peace ethics supporting and completing each other.

Besides, the adjustment towards the main idea of Just Peace includes the arguments used in the doctrine of "Just war", which are orientated according to criteria of the limitation of violence. It is the war in Kosovo that has showed: Moral alone is not enough. Moral indignation and nothing else, that runs the risk of skipping essential questions by the full force of unconditional imperatives and turbulent emotions. Whereas the doctrine of "Just war" stresses the following examining questions: Which justification does the use of military force have? Which means and objectives are legitimate? Are these goals able to be reached? Is the proportionality kept in case of use of violence?

2. The Priority of Non-Military Instruments in Safeguarding Peace

"In order to maintain and re-establish peace different ways have to be taken and different means be used. This does not allow, however, that priority is given to military action. In this sense, the churches of the GDR have held a "Prior Option of Freedom from Violence" as a "Basic Orientation in Questions of Peace" at the Ecumenical Meeting in 1989. This formula aims at the examination and political use of the efficiency of non-military instruments in order to cope with conflicts and to safeguard peace, at the same time it aims at the further development and strengthening of these instruments." (Steps on the Way to Peace, p. 15)

The following instruments were specifically thought of:

  • political exertion of influence and a preventative diplomacy,

  • efforts for fairer conditions and circumstances in world economy and for the protection of the natural vital resources,

  • economical , social and cultural co-operation

  • establishing civil ways of conflicting and regulations with the objective of a constitutionally secured co-existence,

  • foundation and deployment of peace services as completion and resumption of peace-keeping activities beyond the military action,

  • progress in disarmament and the restriction of arms trade,

  • imposition of peaceful sanctions and measures of embargo

In this context, the document of peace ethics ("The Protection of Endangered Groups of Population in Situations of Armed Violence") which has been discussed by the Central Committee of the WCC at its meeting in Potsdam in February, 2001, and recommended to the member churches for examination, talks about a necessary "continuum of measures". The objective must be to prevent violent conflicting by early and constantly applied political measures under the consideration and the use of the above-mentioned non-military instruments to keep the peace.

The obligation to a "Prior Option of Freedom from Violence" also is one of the roots of the Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence which has started in the year 2001. In the German-speaking area, the idea of violence requires a very careful treatment, because the German word "Gewalt" has more than one meaning. Equivalents of the English language would be: "violence", "force", "power" and "authority". Thus, the English version of the Ecumenical Decade pursues the aim to "overcome violence" (s. a.). This means the elimination of legally disordered, somehow chaotic violence promoting political anarchy, not the actual replacement of using (even physically) coercive measures for the implementation of democratically legitimated decisions. By demanding that the semantically necessary differences within the idea of violence are carefully watched, the Evangelical church in Germany explicitly agrees with the new Roman-Catholic Word of Peace "Just Peace (cf. there p.8, note 3).

Besides, the above-mentioned examples of ecumenical togetherness show that there are important interrelations between the essential ecumenicism of the churches and a global international law system

3. Extending Ways of Civil Conflict Treatment

"Since animosity cannot be overcome by weapons and since, as a rule, unfair, conflict-causing or -increasing structures won't be eliminated by the use of violence, there is an urgent need for effective non-military means for the treatment and solution of conflicts.

Basically, they do already exist. In the churches, it is especially the peace services dedicating themselves to their development, promotion and employment. A decisive elaboration of the existing basic attempts is necessary and possible." (Steps on the Way to Peace, p.  32)

In the past years, civil conflict treatment as an instrument in the national field has experienced a growing attention and even a financial support which, however, still needs to be increased if it is supposed to have an effect. More clearly than it has been done in 1993/94, the function of civil conflict treatment on the basis of definite experience can be distinguished in before conflicts, during conflicts and after conflicts. The distribution of the national financial resources is still glaringly disproportionate: For the deployment of military forces in an actual case of conflict high amounts of money are spent within a shortest period of time which are nowhere near as much available for conflict prevention, measures of mediation and the post-conflict reconciliation. Both aspects, the different moments in time and the different ways of civil conflict treatment, especially the meaning of conflict prevention, as well as the question of a better financial equipment, will be resumed in section III.

In this context, it is particularly important to have an eye on the - in many cases given -inter-dependency of civil and military measures in order to secure peace. That is the only way how a lasting effect of both ways can be achieved.

4. Strengthening of the International Peace System as a Legal System.

"There is an urgency for steps to strengthen the international peace system as intended and drawn up in the Charter of the United Nations ... An international peace system which ought to be in working order must be formulated and established in law in a certain way and therefore be institutionalised at least basically and it must be under the 'rule of law' . The most elegant contribution to the rule of the law is the acceptance of the law. International as well as national peace systems, however, who would want to back up their validity by the idea of acceptance only, loses touch of reality as historical experience proves. In case of conflict, law must be carried out . The qualitatively new thing about an international peace system founded by the law of the United Nations, although still incomplete, is that it knows and accepts physical force as ultima ratio, as a means of law enforcement." (Steps on the Way to Peace, p. 25-27)

The universal acceptance and implementation of human rights is an important factor for strengthening the international peace system as a legal system. Within the international community of nations, after 1991 (starting with the resolution 688 based on the situation in Iraq), massive violations of human rights within a country are regarded not only as an internal matter but , more and more, also as a threat to peace. In the area of former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda, ad-hoc-tribunals were established in order to prosecute massive violations of human rights and crimes against humanity. Another important step is the passing of the statute of a Permanent Hague Court which is to prosecute most serious international crimes (genocide, crime against humanity, war crime and acts of aggression) in future. The establishment of such a court signals that hereafter nobody involved in such crimes can claim for immunity from criminal prosecution. This signal, however, is weakened and deprived of its effectiveness if significant individual states (such as the USA) refuse to agree to the statute or obstruct its application to their own citizens.

5. The Use of Military Force as ultima ratio

"The more the use of military force abandons the idea of emergency aid and self-defence  and the more it is extended i.e. not only to destroy arms but people, not only to destroy military institutions but indiscriminately everything, the less it may be represented and supported . On the other hand, the use of military force may be supported, even the more, the closer in the sense of emergency aid and self-defence it remains to the protection of threatened people, of their life, their freedom and the constitutional democratic structures of their communities and the more precisely and exclusively only offensive military means are destroyed . In order to emphasize that the use of military force is an option of action which is to be applied with greatest reserve and after careful examination only, it is called "ultima ratio", i.e. the very last consideration or measure. This phrasing properly expresses that from the ethical point of view the use of violence for the protection of peace is a borderline case. It must be ensured that a borderline case remains a borderline case." (Steps on the Way to Peace, p. 16-18)

The international peace system as a legal system is, like any other legal system, dependent on law enforcement. A number of non-military means is available for the law enforcement. There are, however, breaches of the law and threats to peace where to renounce the keeping ready of, threatening with and if necessary even the use of military force would mean to renounce law enforcement. Therefore, the Charter of the United Nations (chap. VII) explicitly provides the use of military force. The Points of Reference of 1994 have explicitly agreed with this argumentation under the point of view of peace ethics. The category of the ultima ratio was defined more precisely, ultima does not mean "last" according to time, but "last" according to the extent of the exercised force. At this central point, we have to point out one of the few, but nevertheless considerable differences to the Roman-Catholic Word of Peace "Just Peace" which tends to see "ultima" in the chronological sense (Just Peace, p.84). True is that any process of sounding and examining a certain political state does have a dimension of time. Rash action without having examined the definite situation is ethically not acceptable. Thus, a qualitative interpretation of the term of ultima ratio will have to include the aspect of time. This aspect of time, however, must not cause a belated taking of necessary military measures which thereupon would not be able to fulfil their functions.

The figure of reasoning of the use of military force as ultima ratio has been vehemently criticised in the church-internal discussion about peace ethics, especially after the Kosovo war. One main point of critique was that the talk about the ultima ratio had not complicated the decision about the use of military force but it had obtained a easing function. Warfare had been legitimised on behalf of this term. This critique does not always clearly point out whether it considers the use of military force as unsuitable means in general or whether it merely strives for a stricter version of the criteria of peace ethics by which a decision for the use of military force can be restricted with greater effect. The first case shows that the astonishingly broad consensus in peace ethics achieved in the Evangelical church in 1993/94 has become - although not altogether but with regard to the ethical authorization of the use of military force - fragile. In the second case, there is an agreement on the intention to allow the use of military force restrictively only and as a last possibility which furthermore has to be judged on the basis of the credibility of preventive measures; it is then the mutual task to take the criteria of peace ethics in a way that they effectively have the desired restricting effect; this problem is to be resumed in section III. Altogether, the current discussion about the use of the traditional term "ultima ratio" shows that this term needs to be analysed even more carefully than previously assumed.

III. Completion and Resumption

1. International Law, Mandatation and "Humanitarian Intervention"

a) Evangelical peace ethics is fundamentally orientated according to the ban on killing of the Decalogue and the commandment to love one's enemy as Jesus has proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount. It thus agrees with the full ban on violence of art. 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations. This ban on violence outlaws war, the use of violence and threat of violence in international relationships. Only individual or collective self-defence (art. 51 UN-Charter) as well as the - even violent - repelling of aggression, violation and threat of the peace by the United Nations themselves (art. 39 - 49 UN-Charter) remain admissible. Such collective course of action is planned as execution of international law enforcement.

In the context of this law enforcement, the Points of Reference of 1993/94 talk about "humanitarian intervention" meaning military intervention with the reason and aim to contribute to the recognition and implementation of human rights in cases of serious violation of human rights and thus to grant protection and help to the victims of oppression and violence. The term of humanitarian intervention is formed in analogy to the term of humanitarian help. The war in Kosovo has taught that this term runs the risk of having a whitewash effect and of being politically misused. It should be clearly stated by which means, namely the use of armed forces, help is to be given.

Not only in the case of the term "humanitarian intervention" the problem of linguistic cover-up and deception has become apparent. The NATO itself pursues the playing down calling civil victims of military attacks "collateral damage". This fact must not be accepted. Not only the state policy of disclosure face this problem but also the independent media. The churches' responsibility for peace includes the use of their international ecumenical relationships in order to gain and spread information of a different point of view and - if possible- of an independent character uncovered by political interests.

However, not terminological but factual problems are in the centre of attention of the discussion about armed interventions in order to implement human rights: especially the problem of mandatation and the problem of coming back to the idea of emergency relief aid. These two problems play a decisive part in the discussion about the Kosovo war.

b) Referring to the problem of mandatation, the Points of Reference have dedicated an own section to questions about the efficiency and the strength of the United Nations. It formulates "doubts whether the actual state of the organization of the United Nations guarantees an adjustion to the principles and regulations of the Charter in all cases - not least with regard to the Permanent Members of the Security Council who can veto any decision and any action aiming at themselves or at their interests" (p. 29). Despite these restrictions, the points of view that are to be considered in the ethical assessment of an armed intervention also refer to a decision "in the framework and according to the rules of the United Nations" (p. 28). The fact that this had not happened in the case of intervention in Kosovo, was of particular significance in the ethical and political discussion about the war in Kosovo. The conditions and reasons under which that decision had been prevented confirm the aforementioned doubts in the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Indeed, a tension reigns here which is attributable to a gap in the international system of law enforcement in cases of systematic and massive violation of human rights. In the present state of the international system, there is no supranational monopoly on force standing by the common ban on violence. No internationally recognized law for (unilateral) intervention corresponds to the moral demand of emergency help, although art. 51 UN-Charter does make an attempt. Since every interpretation and progress of the international law anticipates the actual-nominal-balance of the international law and peace system, the entire debate remains without any conclusive result - even in peace research and among specialists in the international law.

Despite all the attempts to close the gap in the system of law enforcement, attention must be paid to the fact that presently a world develops which has a growing density of international organisations. But only the organisation of the United Nations and the assigned special organisations are obliged to the principle of universality and may claim for global authority. If, in case of blockades in the Security Council caused by single permanent members by arbitrary veto, the decision for an armed intervention as emergency aid seems to be unavoidable, priority should be given to ways which are compatible with the point of view of keeping, strengthening and developing a universal international law system.

Let's have a look at history, the resolution "Uniting for Peace" from 1950 has entitled the General Meeting of the United Nations to recommend coercive measures to the members. Coercive measures even of regional agreements or establishments are provided in the Charter, although under the sole authority of the Security Council (art.53 par. 3). This is our starting point. An appropriate regulation could look like this:

A regional establishment of the United Nations (like the OSCE) would only be entitled to the use of coercive measures if 1. it has asked the Security Council to act who, however, is not capable of acting, if 2. the Security Council does not explicitly deny an existing threat to peace and if the action 3. takes place in accordance to the principles of the United Nations.

Such strengthening of regional organisations immediately linked to the United Nations would lead to a simultaneous strengthening of the present universal structures of organisations. At present, there is no alternative besides the organisation of the United Nations to promote an international law system as a peace system. There is only the one possibility which is to renew the United Nations in a way where a climate of comprehensive respect towards the spirit and meaning of the United Nations and their Charter is promoted, where decision blockades are pushed back, where separation of powers is developed in order to allow the verification and universal authorisation of any decision taken. In the end, this would mean the formation and securing of principles in analogy to the rule of law on an international level: Who is in charge of the fact finding? Who is in charge of comparison with the prevailing law? Who decides whether the present violations of human rights have reached a level where the use of military coercive means is required and justified? The fact that at the present moment the Security Council owns a political overall competence is not only unsatisfactory but it is inconsistent with the basic principles of modern communities under the rule of law. Even the more, it is important to promote institutionalisation according to principles analogous to the rule of law.

The Points of Reference of 1994 provide a number of criteria and clues in order to examine and, as far as possible, to care for the necessary limit of the use of military force as ultima ratio, as the very last possibility. A kind of a flexible scale according to which "the use of military force can be represented the more, the closer it remains to the protection of threatened people, their life, their freedom and the democratic structures founded on the law of their communities and the more precisely and exclusively only offensive military means are destroyed" (p. 17). Another passage emphasizes that "The principle of proportionality remains valid even in case of violent collective law enforcement, as it is case in the national law of police action" (p. 21). Finally, the four points of view are mentioned which come from the doctrine of "Just War" in connection with the ius ad bellum and therefore belong to the classical ethical criteria of restricting law enforcing forces, namely that

  • the decision about such intervention which must not be left to the sovereignty of individual states is taken in the framework and according to the regulations of the United Nations,

  • in the framework of protection or the re-establishment of a legally drawn up peace system, the policy is in charge of clearly to-be-stated objectives,

  • the prospects of success judged by the objectives are estimated in a sober way

  • from the very start the ending of such intervention is taken into consideration"-"(p. 28).

Two aspects require completion:

- Although the factual state of emergency aid is recognised by positive law in the legal system of independent states and legitimated even in the international law, there is a context in the international law in which there is neither a monopoly of force nor a judiciary which is able to stop excessively misusing claims of the emergency help right. In the framework of the United Nations there is just a monopoly of decision of the Security Council, which finally must be understood in a political way, about forcing measures according to chapter VII UN-Charter. Armed interventions as a measure of support in case of aggression are bedded into a legal system which is still in a state of formation, not yet fully developed. Since the Points of Reference are carried by the thought of promoting an international peace system as an international law system, the ethical assessment of military emergency aid measures in the international context needs examination, whether or not eventually such measures strengthen or weaken the establishment and development of an international legal system.

-   Besides the restricting criteria from the argumentation of the doctrine "Just War" in context of the ius ad bellum, also the criteria used in context of the ius in bello must be enforced. The orientation according to the regulation of the international law of war obtains priority where warfare is submitted to restricting conditions: The use of violence must obey to the principle of proportionality and may not take place excessively; cruel behaviour against military opponents must be stopped; consequences of fighting on the civilian population must be stopped, or at least minimized; the victims are entitled to receive help, regardless of their membership of a conflicting party.

The clues and criteria as drawn up here give instructions of how to ask essential examining questions and how to reach a careful formation of judgement. However, since discrepancies in fact finding cannot be avoided and since the leeway of estimation is immense, they cannot prevent that judgements formed on this basis will probably differ. The actual efficiency of criteria of peace ethics must be assessed in a sober and honest way: They emphasize the imperative of one's own formation of judgement. However, even when applied properly, they do not necessarily come to concurrent results.

2. The Function of the NATO and of a European Security Policy in the Framework of the International Peace System

In April 1999, the heads of state and the heads of government of the NATO accepted the new Strategic Conception of the alliance. Clause 15 of this concept emphasizes that the Security Council of the United Nations bears the "prime responsibility for safeguarding the universal peace and the international security". Clause 24 confirms that "in case of armed attack from any direction to the territory of alliance partners, . the articles 5 and 6 " of the North Atlantic Treaty are to be applied. In the following it says: "The security of the alliance must also take the global context into consideration. Security interests of the alliance may be disturbed by other large-scale risks, including acts of terrorism, sabotage, organized crime and interruption in the supply of vital resources. The uncontrolled movement of a great number of people especially as a result of an armed conflict may also impede the security and stability of the alliance." In accordance, clause 29 says: "Military capabilities effective in the entire spectrum of unpredictable circumstances are also the foundation for the capability of the alliance to contribute to crisis reaction deployment in ways of conflict prevention and conflict treatment which are not mentioned in article 5."

The "prime responsibility" of the United Nations referred to in clause 15 cannot allay the serious reservations caused by the sweeping and vague statements of clause 24 about "security interests of the alliance" and "drastic risks". The naming of examples like sabotage, organized crime and security of supply of vital resources arouses the assumption that the restrictions placed on the use of military force are exceptionally wide. The tendency to a one-sided decision about the use of coercive military means seems to be much stronger than the recollection to the order drawn up in the Charter of the United Nations. Critical voices call the military intervention of the NATO in Kosovo which had not been authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations the first practical example of what kind of consequences the security-political perspectives of the NATO after the end of the East-West conflict could bring about, namely the undermining of the prevailing international law. With justification do they warn about the possibility of dangerous fatal developments. Especially, if, besides the Charter of the United Nations, also the "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment the Crime of Genocide" from the year 1948 is supposed to be put into practice as an integral part of the international law.

Presently, the endeavours for a relatively independent European security policy are intensified and focussed onto a peace system and an architecture of security in Europe. Equally to the case of the NATO, these endeavours must care for compatibility with the Charter of the United Nations. Especially the military component of a European security policy must be drawn up in  a way that it fits into and strengthens the peace-keeping mechanism of the United Nations. In particular, this would mean: the priority of conflict prevention, the mandatation for deployment by the United Nations or a regional system of collective security and a narrow geographical limitation to the range of the European security and defence policy. In this context, it is an imperative of peace policy that - in accordance with the resolution passed at the EU- council meeting in Göteborg, June 2001 - the aspired Common European Security and Defence Policy (CESDP) is institutionally enabled to reliably provide the non-military capacities of conflict prevention and crisis management. This would particularly include the availability of a European police and a sufficient and qualified number of police forces in emergency cases.

It is remarkable that the term of civil conflict prevention and the non-military aspects of conflict prevention do not play a more significant part in the important documents about peace and security policy of the last few years. At the same time, one cannot fail to notice that the therefore necessary organisational precautionary measures as well as the designated financial volumes turn out to be exceptionally low compared to the military means designated for the existing military system. The main problem is, however, that, in cases of conflict and emergency, the designated means and promised personal contingent are provided either not at all or too late and calculated too scantily. But the credibility of peace ethics concerning a German participation in a European security and defence policy is actually founded on an insistent claim for and put into practice of the non-military components. This would also require the marked support of OSCE-mechanisms and their institutionalised promotion (early warning capacities, precautionary regulations for minorities, promotion of democracy, etc.). In order to promote the appropriate political processes, a large-scale democratic consensus on the foundation of a lasting political sensitisation for the problematic nature of peace must be found. And we must succeed in overcoming the gap between the financial means for military crisis intervention which are quickly made available because of extremely alarmed public attention, and the much lower means for a permanent keeping of the peace. Likewise, a closer and coordinated cooperation between civil and military authorities is necessary. As it is widely known today, the latter are frequently used as a stopgap for the not-existing civil precautions.

3. Structure and Mission of the Federal Armed Forces

The outline of the  function of the NATO and the tasks of a European security policy of the previous subsection has the same legal force for the Federal Armed Forces. Thus, two points of view are emphasized which were already included in the brief statements of the Points of Reference of 1994 about revising the mission of the Federal Armed Forces:

-   The charged past justifies "-no fundamental extra role of Germany... Everything valid for other states in the United Nations in terms of peace ethics and peace policy is equally valid for Germany-" (p. 31)
a) The mission of the Federal Armed Forces must adjust itself "ethically towards the insights of peaceful political responsibility in the framework of an international peace system founded on the rule of law as well as legally close to the guidelines of the Basic Law . A sweeping idea of national security which adjusts itself to possible risks from the perspective of national interest, evokes the danger of a world-wide gunboat-policy"- (p. 30). This danger is far from being banned although the Minister of Defence has presented a paper in the year 2000 "The Federal Armed Forces - Safely into the 21. Century. Cornerstones for a Fundamental Renewal", his reaction to the report for "Common Security and the Future of the Federal Armed Forces" of the  Independent Commission appointed by the Federal Government. The statements about "Conflict Prevention and Crisis Management" even outside of Europe and its periphery fail to be related clearly to the participation in a responsibility of peace policy in the framework of an international peace system founded on the rule of law. In the meantime, the clarification of the constitutional situation has taken place to a certain extent, i.e. by two decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court - the decision of July 12th, 1994 and the resolution of March 25th, 1999.

The tension between the explicit statements of the Basic Law about the mission of the Federal Armed Forces on the one hand and the political and military reality on the other hand is definitely notable: The constitutional norm has become the incredible exception, the exception, however, has become the norm. Par. 1 of art. 87a of the Basic Law states: "Authorities . for the purpose of protecting the Constitution...may be established by the Federal legislation." Par. 2: "Apart from actions of defence, the forces must not be deployed except with the explicit agreement the Basic Law." Every deployment of the Federal Armed Forces in the framework of a mandate of the United Nations, the NATO or the own crisis reaction forces of the European Union may only take place with reference to art. 24 par.2: "The Federation may integrate into a system of mutual collective security in order to safeguard the peace." Today, deployments justified like this essentially determine the set-up and the planning of the Federal Armed Forces. And still the Federal Constitutional Court has not complained about this political practice. In this respect, there is no indispensable necessity for a constitutional debate. Although it is alarming that the [present] political and military developments take place in a framework of constitutional determinations which are clearly based on different premises and that the differences between a system of collective defence and collective security are covered.

A corresponding problem arises in the formulation of oath and solemn vow which are demanded according to § 9 of the army law from professional or fixed-term soldiers on the one hand and military service men on the other hand. In both cases the solemn commitment is made "to serve the Federal Republic of Germany faithfully and to defend the right and the freedom of the German people bravely." This formulation fails to do justice to the function of the soldier as it arises from the presented conception of peace ethics.

The revision of the mission of the Federal Armed Forces, where the weight has shifted from national defence to participation at deployments in the framework of the United Nations or of the NATO which goes beyond the Washington Treaty of 1949 (art. IV: "collective defence") and extended its purview, does have an effect on the question whether the universal compulsory military service should remain. Since anyway only the professional soldiers come into consideration for international crisis deployments, due to their training.

There are some signs that indicate that, in the foreseeable future, the compulsory military service could be omitted or, at least, interrupted. It is necessary to be prepared for circumstances in which the Federal Armed Forces are formed by professional or fixed-term soldiers only. Therefore, it is important to have an eye on the problem of the soldiers' qualification. Their qualification includes the willingness and capability of an ethically careful way of dealing with military force. This requires a keen conscience. The Evangelical church in Germany has, to an earlier moment already, ("Military Service or Refusal? Remarks about the Situation of Christians in the Nuclear Age", presented by the Advisory Commission of the EKD for Social Responsibility, EKD-texts 29, 1989, p. 11) pointed out that not only the refusal to do military service but also soldiery itself challenges the conscience of a Christian: Both cases have to be answered to the conscience. Soldiery is not a job like any other job, since practising this job requires the use of weapons partly with a great power of destruction on the one hand and, if necessary, the willingness to risk the own life on the other hand. Even today, it is important to provide the members of the Federal Armed Services with a permanent and wide qualification for operational situations if their previous attitude of  "of you're not for us, you're against us" is dysfunctional, because the actual operation often takes places between the fronts.

4. Civil Conflict Treatment and Civil Peace Services

a) The language usage for tasks meant by the term of civil conflict treatment still is not uniform. In connection with chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, the art. 33 in particular talks about ". seek . peaceful means". These categories relate to the level of governments and of official diplomatic action. In 1992, the former general secretary of the United Nations Boutros-Ghali has described the ways of action where even peace-related contributions of social groups could come into the field of view by terms of the preventing diplomacy, peace creation, peace keeping and post-conflict peace building. The Anglo-Saxon peace research and conflict counselling proposes to use the term peace building as an overall term for steps and attempts which are necessary to reach the lasting peace. Meanwhile, however, the German speaking area has developed the concept of constructive or civil conflict treatment as full term for the treatment of violent conflicts (their transformation into non-violent conflicts up to their violent-free conflict resolution). In the following, we resume the use of  this term. Two things- besides the meaning of 'non-military' -  are meant by the term 'civil': firstly, that not only the politico-diplomatic level is responsible for activities, but the citizens; secondly, that these activities are directed towards the peace-promoting reorganisation of relationships in a community.

b) The challenges of civil conflict treatment suggest a new cooperation not only between social initiatives but also between state representatives of foreign policy, intra- and supra-national organisations as well as social actors engaged in peace policy:

In the political field of economic cooperation and development, a cooperation between the responsible bodies of society and state has been anchored in the Federal Republic of Germany for a long time already, because of the development aid law which has drawn up a concept of the delegation of German Commitments to national and international responsible bodies of society, also development-politically orientated peace services. German peace services being active in the North-South relationship have established expert services, besides the so-called educational services of solidarity which are recognized in the framework of the civil service law as a so-called 'other' service abroad according to § 14b, which work as ecumenical development aid services generally in the framework of the development aid law of the Federal Republic of Germany as acknowledged contracting partners. Among the mentioned peace services joint  in the Evangelical field in the AGDF we would like to point out EIRENE in particular, as well as the universal peace service and European volunteer programs. The civil peace service (ZFD), a mutual task of governmental and non-governmental bodies is a new instrument of bilateral cooperation in the field of development, planned and financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. It deals with the deconstruction of structural conflict causes as well as with contributions to the mediation in conflicts, to rebuilding and reconciliation.

The policy field of security and crisis prevention, an area of classical sovereign policy, lately formulates, on behalf of the state, a clear need of cooperation with non-governmental organisations, even peace services. This is mainly about experts for short- and long-term missions active in the framework of new OSCE-mechanisms for crisis prevention and promotion of democracy. The declared political objective is that Germany contributes to the crisis reaction forces of the OSCE (REACT), the EU and the United Nations in the developing personnel pool.

The policy field of human rights and democracy includes numerous independent social actors which are first and foremost active as a body of correctives and critics of official policy. These voices are reluctantly heard, since they affect the own country, although they are officially acknowledged even by state representatives in their effect on the subject of problematic situations. In this field, the promotion of independent media and reporting by professional ethos is of great importance and effect.

c) With regard to the aim of lasting civil conflict treatment, there are many overlapping fields of activity for governmental and non-governmental organisations: in the dimension of policy, infrastructure and interaction. Despite encouraging attempts for the promotion of civil peace services and the increase of their effectiveness, the support is still far from being sufficient. A much stronger finance- and organisation-wise support for differentiated civil peace services must be demanded on the level of policy and social effort. Clarification in fields of allocation of responsibilities, competence, and cooperation between civil and military activities is urgent.

In November, 1996, the council of the EKD has presented to the synod of the EKD a report with methodical reflections about the "Future of Christian Peace Services". Three fields of action can be identified in the area of Christian peace services differing with regard to their tasks, goals and demands to the active people:

Social peace services enable the participants to experience learning processes in social fields of work and conflicts at home and abroad. The actions often have a symbolic character in the respect of reconciliation. Inter-cultural learning is another important accent. In this context, Aktion Sühnezeichen/Friedensdienste (peace services) and EIRENE are particularly significant.

The field of action of regional peace work and conflict training is mainly about people developing competences and receiving opportunities to engage themselves in the promotion of peace, be it in informal education of youth to prevent violence, in mediation programs in schools or places of further education. The Ecumenical Service in the conciliar process and various workshops for violent-free action are of great importance in this field of action.

In analogy to a professional development aid service, the third field of action is called professional peace service. It is about the professionally qualified active participation in the context of a certain conflict. The spectrum includes among other things the, in the narrow sense, political dimension of construction or extension of a reliable infrastructure for civil conflict treatment as well as the renewal of problematic human relationships. These activities cannot be carried out without the necessary scaled competences gained by special training, be it as a potential "peacemaking citizen" on the level of political multipliers beneath the highest political executive level, be it as observer of legal proceedings and elections, be it as negotiating agent between enemy collectives.

Experience teaches that civilian engagement and civil peace services are of special importance, especially after a period of open violence and military conflicts. It includes help in the reconstruction of houses and material infrastructure, the formation of democratic structures, e.g. independent media; an operating administration is included as well as the patient and sensitive help in a re-establishment of relationships between enemy groups. Even on EU-level, more weight will have to be given to the perspective of a permanent reconciliation, a foundation on which future conflicts can be solved violent-free, in order to put an end to the cycles of violence which are deeply carved into history.

Here, the churches obtain special competences. The foundation of their function to serve peace is prayer and the organisation of church services. But, in a large sense, it also includes the education for peace. The Evangelical church can resume the experiences collected in civil Christian peace services and strengthen a long-term peace and reconciliation work in connection with other co-organisations who can be found in the "Plattform Zivile Konfliktbearbeitung" (platform of civil conflict treatment). This strengthening requires a variety of scaled and linked qualifying offers as well as an accompanying research and evaluation. This also includes that attention is paid to the further development of job outlines and training offers and the protection of qualified full-time peace experts. Otherwise, this field of work remains limited to those only who want to and can "afford" to become active for a short period of time, since they are financially secure and/or of high idealism and willing to take risks.

5. Prospect

Inside and far beyond the Evangelical church, the Kosovo war has re-provoked the controversial discussion whether it is enough to ensure a restriction of military force by the development and strict use of ethical criteria or whether, on the other hand, the ethical authorisation should be withdrawn completely from the use of military force. This conflict has accompanied the history of Christian churches since their origin. In various situations, Christians and their conscience have been confronted with the question whether or not the Gospel demands or at least suggests the radically pacifistic consequence. On the level of a fundamental ethical discussion, this conflict will not and probably cannot be resolved. Although many signs do indicate that the shifting in the political situation has led to conditions where the use of military force is basically characterised by limited prospects of success.

As already mentioned (see I), the type of war where regular armies of enemy states fight against each other has continued to lose importance since the eighties of the 20th century. On its behalf, violent conflicts within states have strongly increased in terms of number, duration and intensity. The previous experiences nourish the doubts whether the use of military force is actually suitable for the solution of  conflicts like these, to avert the threat to fundamental human rights and to establish a permanent, peace-promoting political order. There is a concurrent pattern in the course of differing conflicts in different regions - Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Somalia, Liberia, Chechen, some even include Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. Even a technically excellently equipped army does not achieve any lasting success - beyond the stopping of mass persecution or the separation of the fighting parties. Which would most likely be the case if they had to deal with small and flexible resistance groups (rebels, terrorists) and with conflicts between enemy ethnicities. Changing the national armies by forces who are subject to the United Nations according to art. 43ff UN-Charter, probably would not change the described situation. It is the permanent, peace-building efficiency of traditional military means in a changed political landscape, which is questioned here.

Even in future, military abilities cannot be spared. The defensive war as well as the collective defensive war - even if it seems to be improbable in many areas - can never be completely excluded. The appropriate military means must remain available, they cannot be created in a short period of time. Regarding  the political hot spots in the world, one will remark a number of examples where hatred, destruction and killing would not have been stopped without armed intervention. However, they also clearly show the limited operational capability and efficiency of traditional military means and that a new, different kind of armed force is needed; this is also meant by various parties who claim for a deployment of police forces not of military forces. One thing can clearly be gathered from the course of the latest conflicts: in the prime task of peace promotion the use of military force is of very little help. Policy must be pursued with strategies strengthening the promotion of democracy and economy under such circumstances who serve the interest of the people and their ability for a peace-suitable conflict treatment.

The next decade will be important to get clarity about which means of conflict treatment and conflict management will be appropriate and effective in which definite contexts. The basic idea of Just Peace will serve as a signpost for every coming Step on the Way to Peace.

Advisory Commission of the EKD for Social Responsibility
(State: June 30th, 2001)

Ernst Benda, Karlsruhe
Andrea Dörries, Hannover
Johannes Fischer, Basel
Joachim Gauck, Berlin
Reinhard Göhner, Berlin
Wilfried Härle, Heidelberg (Vorsitzender Chairman)
Kristin Heyne, Berlin
Eberhard Jüngel, Tübingen
Hans Peter von Kirchbach, Potsdam
Otto Graf Lambsdorff, Berlin
Christine Lieberknecht, Erfurt
Stephan Reimers, Berlin
Margot von Renesse, Berlin
Gerhard Robbers, Trier
Richard Schröder, Berlin
Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, Bremen (Deputy Chairwoman)
Ingrid Spieckermann, Hannover
Klaus Tanner, Halle
Ursula Voskuhl, Bonn
Hermann Barth, Hannover (Permanent Visitor)
Eberhard Pausch, Hannover (Secretary)



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