Discussing Sustainable Mountain Development with PR of Germany to the UN, Ambassador Dr. Harald Braun

On October 31, 2016 Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Harald Braun and his wife Ute visited UVU campus. The purpose of his visit was to promote Germany and its role at the United Nations, and to learn about the Utah model of economic development, its people, their traditions, culture and heritage. Ambassador Braun made a presentation before UVU students on the topic: “Germany’s Role in the United Nations”


(L to R): Munkhbat Batmunkh, Ambassador Harald Braun and Christian Jensen after breakfast

Before the major presentation, Ambassador Braun and his wife met with UVU leadership and a group of selected students during the early morning breakfast. Two represented the only UVU students during breakfast in addition to three students from Germany, who study now at UVU through the foreign exchange program. Dr. Jeffery Olson, Senior Vice President, (UVU) hosted the honored guests. After the brief introductions by all participants at breakfast, the Ambassador and his wife curiously asked about the Foreign Affairs Club, and student involvement in the club’s activities. It was a great moment for the Foreign affairs club presidency to present the Ambassador with documents about both the club and the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU, which advocates the United Nations sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda at UVU in the State of Utah. In addition, he was presented with a copy of the United Nations Secretary General’s Report on SMD featuring UVU students as the hosting of the International Women of the Mountains on October 7-9, 2015. The students emphasized the importance of the club for student engaged learning. Club members engage by hosting dignitaries and different events to share ideas and initiatives to bring about real change throughout the world and among mountain communities in particular. The Ambassadors’ wife, Ute Braun, had questions about the Model UN initiative, which involves students in the UN agenda. The students informed the distinguished guests that the UIMF focuses on encouraging students to look for and share experiences in economy, political life, culture and ideas in the State of Utah with people and dignitaries from abroad. They explained how Utah is a great model of sustainability for mountainous nations around the world. The economy was built in a place that was desolate, by Mormon Pioneers venturing west one century and half ago.

Ambassador Harald Braun was impressed by the efforts and work of UVU students featured in the United Nations Secretary Generals’ report. He and his wife commented on the huge potential we have in Utah to reach out to similar mountainous countries and share stories of success. This led the Ambassador into discussions about the cooperation in education between the State of Utah, the Federal government and in Germany. European nations have seen a decline in exchange students from the United States to Europe; this is partly due to differences in language. Dr. Olson informed the VIP-guests that the State of Utah is combating this by helping students learn multiple languages through its dual language programs.

Ambassador Braun made brief remarks about the current economic and political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany. Much has happened in the past hundred years to bring his country to where it is today. Germans can finally say that they are in peace with its surrounding neighbors. They have a rich history and a beautiful country; it has survived two world wars and the split of east and west. The German economy is thriving magnificently today.

After breakfast, the Foreign Affairs club presidency spoke with the Ambassador about future plans and the possibility for the student delegation to see him during their visit to the 61 session of the UN Commission on Status of Women (61CSW) next spring. During 61CSW, UIMF will make a special presentation about contributions to the promotion of gender, and SMD agendas of the United Nations by hosting International Women of the Mountains conferences in Utah since 2007. Ambassador Braun expressed his willingness both to meet members of the delegation and to work in any ways to advance the UN agenda on sustainable development goals.

Christian Jensen, President, Foreign Affairs Club and Munkhbat Batmunkh, Vice President, Foreign Affairs Club



Ambassador Harald Braun Lectures About Place of Germany in Global Affairs at UVU

On Monday, October 31, 2016 students at UVU had the privilege of attending a lecture by His Excellency Harald Braun, the Permanent Representative (PR)of Germany to the United Nations. Dr. Braun spoke on Germany’s role in the United Nations. Visit of such a high level dignitary continued tradition established at UVU during last several years to host PRs to the UN from many nations and engage students and faculty in many important initiatives at the United Nations.


Ambassador Harald Braun With UVU Students

Germany was a latecomer to the United Nations. It wasn’t until 1972 that both East and West Germany were recognized as countries and were provided seats in the General Assembly. However, after reunification Germany began to take on a larger role in the international arena.

            Out of all the European nations Germany is the largest and is the largest exporter in the world. Germany has a stable democracy and the resources so they have a duty to be involved internationally. They are currently involved in 16 different peacekeeping operations that involve 1,000 German troops with 500 in Mali alone. However Germany recognizes that military forces are often not the most effective and also provide police and civilian contingents. In addition to providing manpower to the peacekeeping operations Germany also contributes 6% or about 500 million USD to the peacekeeping budget. In addition to these contributions Germany is very involved in United Nations international and social goals contributing about 12 billion Euros. German is also very involved in the human rights efforts of the UN being reelected in October of 2015 to the Human Rights Council.


Students and faculty gathered for Ambassador Harald Braun’s Lecture

Germany is also working on the 17 sustainable development goals that will help develop the world over the next 15 years. These sustainability goals aim to eliminate hunger, poverty, and reduce epidemics. Germany also participated in the Migration and Refugee Summit. At this summit Germany assisted the forming of plans to address problems with migration or the movement of people for economic and resource related reasons as well as refugees or individuals who leave a place due to non-economic and resource related reasons.

Many of these goals coincide with goals of UIMF for sustainability in the mountainous regions of the world. Migration or the movement of people due to resource or economic related concerns can be address particularly for the mountainous regions by creating ways for these communities to be able to sustain themselves in ways of basic needs.

            The question that is now being asked is, Is Germany punching below its weight. Because Germany is such a large contributor in terms of financial investments as well as supplying man power there is a call for reform in the United Nations adding Germany as one of the permanent members of the Security Council. Currently Germany only has one vote in the general assembly while also serving on different councils. However, the Security Council is the only group within the United Nations that can put forth legally binding resolutions. The five permanent members also have what is known as the veto meaning if any one country belonging to the five permanent members votes against a resolution the resolution does not pass and become binding. At the time of its conception the veto helped to prevent a UN sanctioned war between the world powers. However, the idea is now outdated and used to support or deny political issues. Aside from the five permanent members there are also ten elected officials. These elected officials signify who is relevant and who is not at any given moment in the international community. Germany has already been a part of a deal that included the five permanent members and Germany, the Iran Deal. Germany would be much more able to influence the international community as a permanent member of the Security Council.

Tenika Ray, member of UIMF


Is Germany Punching Below it’s Weight?

            On Monday the 31st of October 2016, Utah Valley University had the awesome opportunity to hear from the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, Ambassador Harald Braun. Envoy of Germany to the UN enlightened us on many different topics as far as international relations. The majority of his lecture was him talking about Germany and the type of state that the country is in. Everyone there learned a lot about the UN’s plans for these next years, and what they’re going to focus on.


Ambassador Harald Braun at UVU

The ambassador started by talking about his responsibilities in the UN and what his job is and how he interacts with his other members of the United Stations. He then reassured us that even though Utah is 2,000 miles away from New York and even further from Germany, the issues that they deal with there and what we deal with here, are very similar. How everything that happens all over the world affects every country in the surrounding area. He told us that he would be speaking for 20-30 minutes and then he wanted to answer our questions and that we should be thinking of things that we wanted to ask him.

            The ambassador started by giving a brief overview of the history of Germany. He went over things like the rise and the fall of the Berlin wall, the cold war and how it affected them, both world wars, and of course how Germany ended up being in the United Nations. I learned that they joined the United Nations back they were East and West Germany. He mentioned that first peace-keeping mission that East Germany participated in during 1931. He said that Germany continues to try and not only try to send military contingents when it comes to keeping the peace. That Germany always tries to maintain the peace domestically, using political leaders and regular citizens. He said that he believes that the world needs countries like Germany that have the resources and are able to help repair the defaults that are present all over the world. Countries with strong democracies and strong members of their country. The first question that he posed was, “Is Germany punching below its weight?” I thought that was interesting because i’ve never really heard that Germany is having issues or that other countries might be feeling that they aren’t performing the way they should. He then continued to almost “talk up” Germany to all of us and try to help us understand that Germany really was able to help out and pull it’s own weight. I thought it was a very interesting approach to take, I almost felt like he was trying to convince us of how good of a country Germany is. It almost felt like he was presenting Germany’s resume to us. He said that in the area of peace and security that Germany is a solid contributor as far as budget. They are the 4th biggest contributor to the United Nations as far as the peace keeping budget. They contribute just over 500 million U.S. dollars to the budget. Apparently the peace keeping budget for the United Nations is even bigger than it’s regular budget.


During his presentation VIP guest pointed out Dr. Rusty Butler, former Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Diplomacy at UVU in the audience who had a button on his jacket with seventeen colors. Ambassador Braun said that those colors represented the seventeen sustainable developmental goals that have been put forth by the United Nations and that those will outline their next fifteen years as far as their focuses. He said that Germany will be able to help the UN with that by using their multiple locations that are employed by the United Nations in Germany. There are many judges that live in Germany as well. One of them won an award for sustainability programs and is very highly admonished for that.

Ambassador Brauns’ third and final part really drove home his beginning point of whether Germany was punching below his weight, after which he answered questions. To be honest, after listening I didn’t feel at all like Germany wasn’t doing all that it could. If what the Ambassador said was true, it definitely seems like they pull their own weight and do everything they can to contribute to world peace and the other goals made by the United Nations. Overall it was a great lecture. I enjoyed it and learned a lot.

Max Taylor, UVU Student


Lecture of the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, Ambassador Harald Braun at UVU

On Monday, October 31, 2016, His Excellency, Dr. Harald Braun, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, visited Utah Valley University and spoke on “Germany’s Role at the United Nations.” There were two topics of discussion Dr. Braun focused on; what is Germany doing in the UN that sets them apart, and the conflicting question “Is Germany punching below its weight?”


(L to R): Ute Braun, Wife of Ambassador, Ambassador Harald Braun and Dr. Baldomero Lago, Assistant Vice President – Global Engagement, UVU

This semester I am enrolled in the International Relations class and it was important for me to understand from Ambassador Braun’s presentation about Germany’s role in the United Nations and how his nation has become an example of leadership, especially to those countries who do not find themselves in the Security Council. Germany is considered the “heart of Europe” as Mr. Braun explained, and pave the way in multiple facets, including economic growth and prosperity, and human rights advancement. The Ambassador also explained what Germany’s role today in the UN is. Germany must maintain peace in the world. Germany provides substantial aid to the United Nations through peacekeepers, and Military instructors, including 3,300 International peace member troops, and 1,000 troops in Iraq. Germany currently gives the third largest amount in financial contributions to the UN (7.1 percent of the UN’s total contributions), only behind the United States (22 percent) and Japan (10.8 percent)1. Germany also strives to maintain Human Rights goals internationally. At present, Germany supports the majority of the 16 peacekeeping missions in effect by the United Nations. Germany was also recently reelected to the Human Rights Council, and has been a massive contributor to the global south in its efforts to create the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (a roadmap to economic prosperity, supported by the entire world community).

Germany’s role in the United Nations has created a question asked by some of its fellow General Assembly members, “Is Germany punching below its weight?” Dr. Braun described to us that “Germany has one vote in the UN, no more, no less.” He also brought to our attention the dynamics of the countries who are active in the United Nations. In the hierarchy of the system, you are either in the Security Council, or out. Dr. Braun also noted that those who are elected to a non-permanent position in the Security Council are still considered less important than those nations who have permanent seats. The Ambassador also made a very demonstrative point that the Security Council’s personal ideals and use of vetoes on clearly positive resolutions “is not meant for the 21st century.” The veto is not used to stop war as it was meant when created, but rather used to support or deny political issues. The Ambassador explained that the forces at work in the upper ranks of the UN need to change if the full potential of the UN is to be reached.

It was very interesting and productive lecture, which provided both the audience at UVU and myself with new knowledge about important role of Germany as one of the leading nations both in Europe and globally at the United Nations.

William Crist, Member of the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at UVU

1 DGVN. (2016). Germany in the United Nations – deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen e.V. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from http://www.dgvn.de/germany-in-the-united-nations/, http://www.dgvn.de/germany-in-the-united-nations/


Germany’s Role at the United Nations: Ambassador Harald Braun

I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to listen to German ambassador, Harald Brauns’ lecture at UVU on October 31, 2016. After listening, I must say, I like him. I know this statement may seem juvenile; however, the way he spoke to us and explained his duties at the United Nations and Germany’s participation there in really pulled together in class learning and real life application. Something that he mentioned really drew my attention.


Ambassador Harald Braun Makes Presentation at UVU

In the United Nations the Security Council is made up of five permanent members and ten elected members who serve for 2-year terms. Those of the five permanent hold power of a veto. Each of the five have a veto for each reform brought to their attention. For example, the past three attempts to decide on a resolution to the Syrian conflict have been vetoed by Russia (a permanent member). For this reason, Braun suggests that the power of the veto be limited to a more specific set of cases. Still it is believed that the role of the veto amongst the five permanent Security Council members remains important; however to the extent in which it stretches is seen as needing reform.

Another very interesting point of the lecture was that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon by the Council. These goals are represented on a circular button with 17 colors representing each goal. Theses goals pertain to the major issues across the globe; things that the council has agreed need attention and reform internationally. For example, a goal of these seventeen is that to eliminate hunger and poverty. Braun shared that the countries of the United Nations have agreed to put their best foot forward in attempting to make this goal a reality by the year 2030.

Interestingly enough, Germany is actually looking to apply to become a permanent member of the Security Council. Germany has been elected as a 2-year member of the Security Council five times in the past. With Germany’s increasing participation and support of peace missions in the past years, as a country it has proven its intentions to be in line with those of the United Nations. Thus I would not be surprised that if the Security Council does undergo some level of reform, Germany would be an ideal candidate for permanent membership.

All in all, I would love to further hear about the United Nations from representatives themselves. In hearing how the UN works (behind the scenes) and the steps being taken in reference to current events like the Syrian Conflict. The members of the UN encourage countries to open its borders to refugees. Germany has been one to have open borders, taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees. I am very interested in the make up of the UN and how it may be able to act more effectively in the future.

Ellen Dekker, UVU Student


Germany and its place in the United Nations

On October 13, 2016, Utah Valley University had the pleasure of welcoming the Honorable H.E. Harald Braun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations to discuss the role Germany plays in the geopolitical sphere, and more specifically its place within the United Nations. Being a student of German and having lived for a year learning about its culture, I was excited to learn more about Germany in this context. Despite its absence from the permanent representation in the Security Council, Ambassador Braun stressed the leadership capabilities Germany has in leading peace efforts worldwide, with involvement in 16 separate peacekeeping missions worldwide, as well as supporting more than 6% of the UN budget on peacekeeping He also stressed the importance of peace in his own country and the political system which sees that there is a continuation of peace and preventing a reoccurrence of the Weimar Period, while enabling democratic ideals in their society.

Ambassador Braun also discussed the weakness in the current UN system. He sees Germany as an underrepresented party, most specifically within the Security Council. The Council, established with the creation of the UN founding members holds the U.S., France, Russia, China, and the United Kingdom to permanent representation. Additionally, UN member states rotate among 10 positions, serving for 2 years. Each member has one vote. However, only the permanent members have the power to veto any agreement within the Security Council. Ambassador Braun stressed that this veto power was not being used in the way it was envisioned at its conception more than 70 years ago. The permanent members, in his view, too often politicize their veto power to advance their country’s interests, rather than to prevent war.  He also emphasized the change in the geopolitical sphere in our current area, and that perhaps the Security Council structure is outdated. He advocated that Germany—as one of the largest economies in the world, as a leader of the European Union, and as the third largest contributor to the UN budget (After the U.S. and Japan)—should play a larger role in the UN.

Jon Downs ( R ) with Ambassador Harald Braun

It was especially remembering to meet Ambassador Braun after the presentation. I spoke to him about his studies in Tübingen. He was impressed on my knowledge of the region, and I clarified I had lived in the city the previous year. It was also nice to speak with him in German and practice my language skills. He encouraged me to continue my studies of the language and pursue my passion for international politics and diplomacy, a career which he emphasized is unique and one he wouldn’t trade for any other.

Jon Downs, UVU student