The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a unique compass for holistic foreign policy thinking – connecting economy, environment, security and human rights. In this interview, Susanne Baumann, Federal Government Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control and Head of the Directorate-General for International Order, the United Nations and Arms Control at the German Federal Foreign Office, gives examples of how German foreign policy works to achieve the SDGs.
"I think the Sustainable Development Goals set the overarching framework for foreign policy, and they are getting more and more important for us. They force us not to think on a single issue only, but to combine ecological thinking with economic thinking, with foreign policy thinking, with thinking in the dimension of security, and the combination of all these issues.
Let me give you the example of the SDG 16, which focuses on peace, on justice and on strong institutions. Conflict prevention is one of the trademarks of our time in the Security Council, but we are going also beyond our tenure in the Security Council. Prevention is something of our guiding principles. Justice is the second example. When you look to the situation in Syria, the use of chemical weapons, the horrendous human rights violations, they shout for accountability, for justice. Here we are working on a mechanism to strengthen accountability. Look at the example of Iraq, where we try to work together with the Iraqi government on transitional justice. Strong institutions are the symbol for our policy to strengthen the multilateral system.
They are a compass, the SDGs, certainly for German foreign policy, for our policy in the Security Council. When you think of our priorities to strengthen the nexus between climate and security, that's another very good example on which we will focus in the next coming months. Another example is the strengthening of human rights and, especially, strengthening the rights of women. Here we had a resolution on sexual violence in conflict areas with a lot of new elements, like accountability, like ending the state of impunity, strengthen the monitoring system of the UN. These are examples where we bring SDGs forward."