Munich Security Conference – from “Lose-Lose” to “Win-Win”

Foreign Minister Baerbock will attend the 60th Munich Security Conference

February 16th, 2024
Editorial, News from Berlin
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Foreign Minister Baerbock will attend the 60th Munich Security Conference on 16 and 17 February 2024. The theme chosen by the organisers this year is “Lose-Lose?”. Read more about this motto and about the topics the Foreign Minister will focus on here.

With more than 900 participants, some 50 Heads of State and Government, over 100 Ministers, as well as representatives of think-tanks, NGOs and businesses, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) is one of the world’s most important meetings for the security policy community. Each year, the participants gather at the Bayerischer Hof hotel to discuss the main challenges to global security. “Engage and interact with each other: Don’t lecture or ignore one another” – this “Munich Rule” will be the common thread running through the Munich Security Conference this year, too. In other words, the idea is to talk to one another and learn from one another, instead of talking about each other.

The Conference was first held in 1963 and for the first few decades was known as the Wehrkundetagung. Back then, it was a much smaller affair, attended by only a few dozen participants. Although even in the early days the meeting was designed as an international conference, its aim and object was to give German participants an opportunity to meet their colleagues from the United States and from other NATO countries. As the years went by, the Conference grew and grew. Although there are still many generals to be found in the hotel corridors, they mingle these days with chief executives and chairpersons, human rights and environmental activists and other leading figures from all around the world.

Programme overview

Alongside public events such as panels and discussion rounds, the MSC is first and foremost an opportunity for diplomatic speed-dating. Where else can you chat to so many fellow politicians and security policy practitioners so informally and in such quick succession? The talks will focus on the situation in the Middle East following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel, as well as on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and its dramatic impact around the world.

Foreign Minister Baerbock:
We finally need a security and defence union that strengthens the European pillar in NATO – one that reflects our economic stature and endures regardless of who is in power in the US. To this end, the national military capabilities of the EU member states must not only be genuinely compatible with one another in reality, but we also need joint strategic European procurement, development and industrial cooperation to which everyone can contribute their particular national strengths.

Relations with China and India will also be discussed at the MSC, as will the significance of a feminist foreign policy for our global security.

Foreign Minister Baerbock will take part in a panel discussion entitled “Growing the Pie: Seizing Shared Opportunities” along with her Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They will consider how the international community can defend the principles that protect us all: international law, the Charter of the United Nations and universal human rights. A meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers will take place on the fringes of the MSC. This will be hosted by Italy, which took over the G7 Presidency at the start of the year.

Of course, the Munich Security Conference has always also been a clear proponent of transatlantic cooperation. Foreign Minister Baerbock will thus converse with a large delegation from the US Congress. For many years, there has been a tradition of cross-party US Congress delegations attending the MSC. Engaging in dialogue and hearing views from different political camps is extremely important at any time, and not only in view of the forthcoming presidential elections in the US.

There will also be numerous other events such as a meeting on the significance of feminist foreign policy for the people of Afghanistan, to which participants have been invited by Foreign Minister Baerbock and Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, as well as an exchange of views with a large group of women who are actively involved in security policy issues, including the former US Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton.

The organisers’ core issues

“Lose-Lose?” is the motto of the 2024 Munich Security Conference. It is also the title of this year’s MSC report, whose authors fear that given growing geopolitical tensions and increasing economic uncertainty, many governments are no longer focusing on the advantages of global cooperation. Instead, in the authors’ view, many countries are increasingly concerned that they benefit less from international cooperation than others do. They warn that this focus could give rise to lose-lose dynamics – in other words, a downwards spiral that jeopardises cooperation and undermines the existing international order, which in spite of all its flaws can still help grow the proverbial pie for the benefit of all. Germany will play its part in fostering good relations on the basis of international law. We look beyond Europe’s borders, provide assistance in the event of crises and conflicts around the world, and are committed to helping people worldwide through measures ranging from humanitarian assistance to climate foreign policy.


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