Phase 3

Citizens' Report

March 2021

Download: Citizens' Assembly report "Germany's role in the world".

The second nationwide sortition-based Citizens' Assembly in Germany took place from January 13 to February 20, 2021. Around 160 participants from all over the country were randomly selected from the population registers. Due to the pandemic, the Citizens' Assembly was held online, making it the first completely digitally organized citizens' assembly of this magnitude.

The topic of Germany's role in the world, which was deliberated on for a total of 50 hours, was chosen at the suggestion of the Bundestag Council of Elders. In order to be able to deal with this broad and complex topic, participants of the Citizens' Assembly were divided into five thematic subgroups by random draw.

These five subthemes had been identified as central to Germany's role in the world during a series of consultations and workshops in the lead-up to the Citizens' Assembly. At the suggestion of the Bundestag parliamentary groups,  civil society, and citizens, the Assembly dealt with Democracy & the Rule of Law, Economy & Trade, Peace & Security, EU and Sustainable Development. In each of the travel groups, participants received inputs from experts with very different perspectives to inform their deliberations.


The work in the travel groups not only served to develop recommendations on the five themes, but also to reflect on Germany's role in the world in general by using concrete examples.  The insights gained in the smaller "travel groups" then flowed back into a process of reflection with all Citizens' Assembly participants, in the plenary sessions. Finally, the citizens formulated guiding principles for Germany's Role in the World, which, along with the recommendations from the thematic travel groups, were voted on on the last day. These are the guiding principles for foreign policy decided on by the Citizens' Assembly:

  • Germany should assume the role of a “partner and mediator” and take more responsibility in the world. Sustainability, climate protection, protection of human rights, as well as peace and security, should be at the center of its action. For this to happen, German policies must first meet these demands and assume this role.
  • If Germany acts innovatively and inspiringly but also self-critically and consistently, other countries will see Germany as a role model.

In the Economy and Trade Travel Group, participants emphasize that Germany should work for fairness and sustainability in international trade.

  • This is concretized, among other things, in the demand for a supply chain law which ensures compliance with human rights, social and ecological standards.
  • The demand for free global trade without trade barriers is limited to a certain extent by the fact that human rights, democracy and the rule of law should also be the basic values shaping international trade relations.
  • For example, Germany, together with other democratic states, should build up a stronger counterweight to the trading power China.

The European Union Travel Group notes that Germany can play a greater role in the world as a part of and in cooperation with the EU.

  • This is why, the EU's foreign policy should be made more effective by introducing majority decision-making and by gradually becoming independent when it comes to specific issues.
  • Because the unity of Europe is so important to Germany, the travel group recommends that migration policy should only be proceed with a "coalition of the willing" when no other solutions can be found, so that the continued violations of human rights at the EU's external borders can be ended and those seeking protection can be distributed more fairly.

The Peace and Security Travel Group answered the question of whether and how Germany should engage militarily in the world and what civilian measures are available to prevent and resolve conflicts.

  • In its recommendations, the group advocates strengthening prevention, modernizing the Bundeswehr's equipment and setting it up as a force that primarily takes on peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks.
  • Civilian peacekeeping measures are seen as an equally important complement. Expenditure of the defense budget is to be adjusted accordingly.

The Democracy and the Rule of Law Travel Group looked at multilateral cooperation and relations with autocracies and came to a dual strategy as a result. Germany should consistently address the violation of human rights and the rule of law everywhere in the world, but at the same time strive to keep a dialogue with autocratic states.

  • Due to Germany's historical responsibility and because of cultural proximity, Germany should seek a partnership relationship with Russia, also in order to convey democratic values.
  • Germany does not have comparable ties with China.
  • In addition, Germany should work for a reform of the UN Security Council.

Sustainability, climate protection, the right to clean water and the fight against world hunger belong at the heart of political action, according to the Sustainable Development Travel Group.

  • For this reason, the goal of sustainability should be incorporated into the Basic Law and a Ministry for Sustainability should be established.
  • In order to secure the livelihood of future generations, detailed proposals have been drawn up for restructuring the economy, especially agriculture.
  • In the view of the travel group, it is necessary to break with the growth paradigm. To work towards this, Germany should promote sustainability and climate protection in the world, thereby triggering changes in awareness and behavior.