Accepting responsibility means acting conscientiously and realising that we have a duty. It means not looking away, but taking action. The real skill, however, is not only to pursue our own best interests, but to consider the wellbeing of others – to help in emergencies, for instance. That calls for strength, courage and stamina.
The world today is marked by the forward march of nationalism and populism, by the increasingly unclear position of nations that used to be global powers with respect to international responsibility, by a weakened Europe and a huge number of ongoing conflicts. In this situation, Germany is needed, in conjunction with Europe, to uphold Western values. That is the conclusion of the ‘Germany in the Eyes of the World’ study, which GIZ has now conducted for the third time. About 150 academics, politicians, businesspeople and representatives of civil society and the cultural sector in 24 countries were asked how they see Germany. The study has prompted us to dedicate this issue of akzente to responsibility.
In his essay, Indian politician and long-serving UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor leaves no doubt that ‘Germany must be a strong and reliable actor if the world is to successfully navigate the turbulence that characterises our age’. The country, he continues, must play a key role in strengthening multilateral institutions.
We take a closer look at a project in the Horn of Africa to illustrate what it means to accept responsibility in the ongoing debate about displacement and migration. On behalf of the German Government and the European Union, GIZ is endeavouring to make migration in the region safer: it is supporting the establishment of medical facilities, training border management staff in first aid among other things, and enabling the judiciary and the police force to thwart the activities of human traffickers. This is no easy task, and one that attracts a great deal of criticism.
Finding out how others see us, listening to them and questioning our own convictions – everything that we set out to achieve with our study on how Germany is seen is also part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange programme. Five young women and men report here on what they personally saw as an eye-opener.
We hope that these diverse views and opinions on the concept of responsibility encourage you to reflect on Germany’s responsibility, our shared responsibility, and also the individual responsibility of every one of us.