Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law

By Charlotte Ku; Harold K. Jacobson | Go to book overview

10 Germany: ensuring political legitimacy for
the use of military forces by requiring
constitutional accountability

Georg Nolte

Germany has grappled for several years with the issue of the use of armed forces under international auspices and democratic accountability. Some observers, such as Lori Damrosch in this book,1 are tempted to look at the German case as an example of a worldwide trend towards greater democratic accountability in the use of armed forces under international auspices. Others may suspect that this view is misleading, since Germany is an exceptional example because of its twentieth-century history.


Historical introduction

In 1949, the new Federal Republic of Germany did not possess armed forces.2 Germany as a whole, East and West, was still under occupation by the four wartime Allies, the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and the United Kingdom.Bythis time, however, the Cold War had begun; the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington six weeks before the Federal Republic was formally established in Bonn. The creation of the two German states was part of the mobilization by the Cold War protagonists of their respective forces.3

Nevertheless, the Grundgesetz, the Constitution or Basic Law of the new West German state, contained only two indirect references to the use of armed forces. Article 4(3) guarantees the right of conscientious objection, and article 24(2) permits the integration of the new state into “systems of mutual collective security” (Systeme gegenseitiger kollektiver

1 See chapter 2, above.

2 See generally T. A. Schwartz, America's Germany: John J. McCloy and the Federal Repub-
lic of Germany (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 113; S. Mawby,
Containing Germany (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 1, 10; L. Kettenacker,
Germany since 1945 (Oxford, 1997), p. 57; D. F. Patton, Cold War Politics in Postwar
Germany (London, Macmillan, 1999), pp. 18–19.

3 C. S. Maier, “The Making of 'Pax Americana': Formative Moments of United States
Ascendancy” in R. Ahmann et al. (eds.), The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European
Security 1918–1957 (Oxford, German Historical Institute, 1993), p. 389.

-231-

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