Defense Policy Guidelines


BERLIN documents excerpts from the new German Defense Policy Guidelines.

German Ministry of Defence Berlin
- The Minister -
18 May 2011

Defense Policy Guidelines

Safeguarding National Interests - Assuming International Responsibility - Shaping Security Together


III. Values, Objectives and Interests

Germany's place in the world is characterised above all by our interests as a strong nation in the centre of Europe and by our international responsibility for peace and freedom. German security policy is committed to the values and principles of the free and democratic order of the German constitution and international law. As an active member of the international community, Germany pursues its interests and is actively striving for a better and safer world. We are committed to serving world peace as a strong partner in a united Europe.

German security interests are a result of our history, our geographic location in the centre of Europe, the international political and economic relations of our country, and our resource dependency as a centre of high technology and an exporting nation with few natural resources. These interests are not static, but can change in and along with international constellations and associated developments.

Germany's security objectives are:
- the security and protection of German citizens;
- the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Germany and its allies;
- the fulfilment of international responsibilities.

German security interests include:
- preventing, mitigating and managing crises and conflicts that endanger the security of Germany and its allies;
- advocating and implementing positions on foreign and security policy in an assertive and credible way;
- strengthening transatlantic and European security and partnership;
- advocating the universality of human rights and principles of democracy, promoting global respect for international law and reducing the gap between the rich and the poor regions of the world;
- facilitating free and unrestricted world trade as well as free access to the high seas and to natural resources.

Ensuring security for our nation today means above all keeping the consequences of crises and conflicts at bay and taking an active part in their prevention and containment. To ensure its security, assert its sovereignty and demonstrate its willingness to defend itself, Germany is prepared to use the complete spectrum of national policy instruments. This includes the employment of armed forces. The involvement of the German Bundestag with regard to the employment of the armed forces as stipulated in the constitution will continue to be an indispensable basis of German security policy. Military operations have far-reaching political consequences. In each individual case, there must be a clear answer to the question of whether German interests require and justify an operation and what the consequences of non-action would be.


The traditional distinction between external and internal security is becoming less and less important in the light of current risks and threats. Today, safeguarding our interests is only possible in a whole-of-government approach. We therefore need a national, comprehensive and coordinated security policy that includes political and diplomatic initiatives as well as economic, development policy, police, humanitarian, social and military measures. A comprehensive, national approach to security can only be ensured if all competent national institutions and forces in Germany take far-sighted, whole-of-government action while taking into account their responsibilities and capabilities laid down in the constitution. To achieve this, the goal-oriented interaction of the foreign service, development aid, police, armed forces, civil protection, disaster control, and the intelligence service must be enhanced at all levels.

Improving information systems and better interlinking existing capabilities are tasks that will have to be performed on a continuous basis. It remains to be examined if and to what extent cooperation in alliances and the changing security and threat situation will necessitate changes in legislation.