Dr. Stephan J.
Lang, Dipl. sc. pol. Univ.
In the field of economics the nations of the European Union have
already reached a high level of integration within the union. The
treaty on the European Union signed in Maastricht on 7 February
1992 provided the member states with the legal foundation for this.
The most recent example of successful economic and monetary cooperation
was, apart from the creation of a European domestic market, the
common currency officially introduced effective 1 January 1999,
with all member states finally being able to meet the required national
Hardly any progress has been made, though, as regards the standardizing
of legal norms in the armed forces of the European Union, despite
the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany has been second to
none of the other European states in its efforts to include its
armed forces into multinational structures. This policy was expressed,
for example, by establishing the Eurocorps, the German-Dutch Corps
and by activating the German-Danish-Polish Corps. Especially for
the German Army, this constituted a quality leap from integration
in NATO to multinationality, which is intended to demonstrate a
common will to lead on an operational-unit level that is shared
by all nations and that is brought to bear not only in a mission
setting but even during peacetime. The challenge of dealing with
the problems that multinationality entails lies primarily in the
fact that political parameters need to be put into practice. To
no small degree these parameters are a result of the Treaty of Amsterdam,
which was signed on 2 October 1997 and which entered into force
two years later, which is intended to shape Europe into an area
of freedom and security. The Treaty of Amsterdam also establishes
a clearly improved range of tools to support the Common Foreign
and Security Policy (CFSP), which is designed to help the EU to
better advocate its interests on an international level.
The Bundeswehr is one of several instruments of German foreign and
security policy. This policy is focussed on cooperation, crisis
prevention and conflict avoidance. Thus, multi-nationality today
is to be considered a partial goal and an instrument of German security
policy, which - as is shown in practice in ex-Yugoslavia - can be
realized mainly by involving the USA within the framework of an
overall European security architecture. Of course, these tasks and
the related goals require intermediate objectives to be set, such
as bringing Germany's eastern neighbors closer to western structures
and establishing an order of cooperative security geared to a balance
of interests and partnership among all European nations.1 It was
also a matter of concern to Minister of Defense Volker Rühe
to further develop the results that had been achieved so far, given
the problems in the field of multinationality. The present Minister
of Defense Rudolph Scharping, too, continued topursue this intention,
as is clearly evidenced by the coalition agreement of 20 October
1998 and his most recent policy speeches.
When dealing with the subject of "multinationality" the
first thing to do is to explain the terminology. In doing so it
is often necessary to outline the forms multinationality can take,
including its legal foundations, and in many cases to outline these
legal foundations as well before turning to the problem-oriented
questions. Before attempting to establish a definition, however,
a look at the historical development of multinationality within
the NATO alliance seems to be in order:
1. The Term Multinationality
It has become common usage to speak of multinationality
only in those cases where regular contacts at the various levels
of hierarchy are required in order to command and control multinational
units. Normally, specific procedures are established to maintain
these contacts, be it by means of contractual arrangements between
the states involved, be it at the level of the ministers of defense
or of subordinate commanders, or be it within a corps headquarters,
where the commanding general may issue an order to that effect after
prior coordination. By this general definition, multinationality
is a result of the greater density of political structures in Europe
and the world. Unless this will affect the sovereignty of states
and, in consequence, will necessitate processes of adaptation of
the legal orders and the leadership cultures of the armies involved,
multinationality will not create serious problems or conflicts.
If we look at the definitions and facts as they apply to existing
multinational units in context, it becomes clear that very different
subjects may be subsumed under the heading of "multinationality".
The conditions underlying multinationality are different from those
applying to binationality, and the term must not be confused with
supranationality.2 The general comparison of the models outlined
reveals that the forms of cooperation in multinational military
contingents range from the cooperation between purely national units
to mixed units at company level made up of service personnel from
Basically, these different forms of cooperation may be summarized
under the simplified term of cooperation between various armed forces
with specified goals. However, the content and motives are subject
to different agreements between nations and need to be put in formal
terms for practical and legal reasons. While "integration"
denotes the structural principle of international staff work in
NATO commands, "multinationality" refers to the structural
feature of troops kept available for military missions.
The issue of multinationality has gained in
importance since the heads of government came together at the North
Atlantic Council meeting on 5/6 July 1990 in London, as a decision
was taken at that meeting to the effect that the NATO alliance should
increasingly rely on multinational corps made up of national units.3
Even when NATO was founded as a collective defense alliance, multinationality
was cited as a hallmark of its structure. It was only by pooling
their defense efforts in forming a common structure that the members
of the alliance saw themselves able to ensure their security in
the face of the Warsaw Pact threat. It was the will of the NATO
partners to retain the feature of multinationality in the alliance
even as the Cold War had ended. Thus, the goals of multinationality
The fact that there is no alternative to multinationality becomes
increasingly evident even from official documents of the Ministry
of Defense, from presentations given by the responsible ministers
and the Bundeswehr Chief of Staff, but especially so from the "Defense
Policy Guidelines" established by the federal government on
26 March 1992 and from official documents such as the 1994 White
Paper. It says that Germany's defense capability is based on the
ability to defend the nation and to defend the partners to the alliance
within what is referred to as extended national defense. It is complemented
by the ability to contribute to cooperative multinational conflict
prevention and crisis management. Therefore, friendship and cooperation
with its allies are at the core of German security policy, with
priority being given also to an enhanced and broadened European
integration to strengthen Europe's ability to act.
Another aspect of German security and defense policy cited in the
1994 White Paper is to win stable, democratic, efficient and equal
partners in the East, with Germany going to extend the zone of western
prosperity and stability beyond its borders in order to reach this
goal. What is meant by this is the close cooperation with the neighboring
states in the East, apart from keeping Europe firmly anchored in
the Atlantic community.
In that respect there are hardly any limits to the spectrum of multinational
integration, and yet a new dimension was reached from a German perspective
when the German-Danish-Polish Corps was activated in 1998: This
example goes to show that multinationality even makes cooperation
with former Warsaw Pact states possible, even though it will be
necessary to make many compromises and go through many learning
processes in the future. Multinationality today is a feature of
political and military structures that has characterized NATO since
its inception as a collective defense alliance in April 1949. While
efforts to establish a European defense community in the 1950s failed,
integrated NATO command structures existed since the beginning of
the East-West conflict4, of which the Bundeswehr has been an integral
part since its beginnings. Multinational units such as the LANDJUT
German-Danish Corps, established in 1962, or the Allied Command
Europe Mobile Force (Land), referred to as AMF(L) and activated
in 1960, testify to the fact that multinational units can already
look back on a long-standing tradition.
On principle, the armed forces are committed together with allies
within the NATO and WEU framework. Thus, the ability to cooperate
with partners within different command structures is of great importance.
The Bundeswehr allows for this fact even in peacetime by integrating
itself in multinational structures and assigning units to such structures.
The Navy contributes to all four permanent task forces in the Atlantic,
the Channel and the Mediterranean Sea (STANAVFORLANT, STANAVFORCHAN,
MCMFORMED and STANAVFORMED). Moreover, exercises are conducted regularly
on an international level.
Like the Navy, the Air Force too is firmly integrated in the alliance's
air defense with joint operational planning and command staffs.
The Army is represented in all corps in Central Europe as well as
in all rapid deployment forces of NATO. In addition, joint airspace
control, air transport and training tasks are performed on a multinational
basis. Multinationality therefore fosters integration in the alliance
and causes tasks to be performed more economically. It is quite
obvious that the cooperation between armed forces of different nations
- be it within the scope of international UN missions, be it within
the scope of alliance systems - faces a multitude of problems. These
include not only linguistic, cultural and historical but also economic
and organizational problems, which need not be explained further.
The German Bundestag's Commissioner for the Bundeswehr arrived at
the same conclusion based on a large number of petitions sent to
her office. Probably hers was the first official comment on a problem
which requires greater attention to be paid to international cooperation
in multinational units than has been the case in the past. In her
1995 annual report, she stated that:
".....the forces of the various nations have different opinions
as to Leadership and Civic Education issues. The comprehensive legal
protection accorded to German soldiers, including the right to petition
an institution established by law for that very purpose, the legally
mandated soldier participation or the strict safety regulations
of the Bundeswehr are not understood, accepted, let alone appreciated
by all partners. In my opinion, this is an urgent matter that should
be dealt with. While, understandably, efforts are made to establish
provisions that are both feasible and practicable, what must be
taken into account is that it is the province of parliament to decide
on measures that intrude upon the legal position of military personnel.
The concept of Leadership and Civic Education, which is based on
the guiding principle of the soldier as a "citizen in uniform"
and which has proven its worth for forty years must not suffer..."
2. Multinationality in a Field of Tension
Between Sovereignty and Integration
It is not a rare incident that mainly the
different military structures of the armed forces, the different
traditions and leadership philosophies (among which we must count
the Bundeswehr's Leadership and Civic Education concept as well
if we look at things in an international environment) and legal
problems stand in the way of cooperation between different national
force contingents. If we look at the fundamentals of the various
constitutions which determine the establishing of armed forces in
western nations, it becomes obvious that there are essential differences
to be found even in the very historical developments that led up
to their creation6.
These differences become even more apparent in the various systems
of military law as regards the legal status of soldiers, disciplinary
law, complaint regulations and other matters of military law. We
find the same differences - and often even more grave ones - in
the leadership philosophies or concepts of the various forces which
"leave quite a mark" in the troops' daily routine, especially
so in multinational units. Whenever forces of different nations
with their different legal and leadership concepts deal with each
other, the differences come to the fore very quickly if "cooperation"
is the order of the day. Even the greatest willingness to work together
will often come up against its limits because of national legal
provisions and leadership principles. The more enhanced such cooperation
is supposed to be, the more obvious these difficulties become, especially
so if the matter at hand involves placing soldiers of one nation
under the command of someone from another.
3. Forms of Multinational Unit Organization
Efforts aiming at standardizing legal and
organizational divergences at the European level can be traced back
as far as 1955. Article 132 of the European Defense Community Treaty,
which failed at the time because it was not ratified by the French
National Assembly, provided for "European armed forces"
to be established, with Article 79 of that treaty providing the
basic concept that such forces should be subject to standardized
rules. The European Defense Community was to be created as a supranational
organization, based exclusively on the concept of defense. Had it
been ratified then, the problems regarding joint European forces
would be a much less explosive subject; admittedly, French domination
would have been inevitable to some degree.
The political will of the states of the European Union to arrive
at joint force structures within the WEU, however, still exists.
It also shows, though, that it is no longer merely an issue of reducing
the weak points in the cooperation of multinational units but also
of establishing, in the long term, rules and provisions on "joint
European forces" within the scope of a politically desired
foreign and security policy process. So far, three forms of organization
for major military units at brigade level and above have emerged,
which is the "lead nation principle", the "framework
principle" and the "integration principle".
a. The "Lead Nation Principle"
II (GE/US) Corps in Ulm and V (US/GE) Corps
in Heidelberg are organized in accordance with the "lead nation
principle". Germany is the lead nation for II (GE/US) Corps,
whereas for V (US/GE) Corps this role is played by the Americans.
The lead nations are responsible for all matters relating to command
and control and conducting their respective units' business. Both
corps headquarters are structured along national lines. Each corps,
however, has liaison elements permanently assigned to its counterpart.
The Americans have a liaison team with II (GE/US) Corps, while we
have a similar element with V (US/GE) Corps. The "lead nation
principle" respects the national idiosyncrasies of each lead
nation. Compromise solutions are not necessary when establishing
staff procedures, nor for planning projects and exercises or for
other matters. Headquarters do not have a mixed staff, nor mixed
thinking. As for the objective of multinationality, this certainly
is a disadvantage.
b. The "Framework Nation Principle"
According to the "framework nation principle",
one nation is responsible for command and control, administration
and the logistic support of the headquarters. The Allied Command
Europe Rapid Reaction Corps is structured along this principle.
Great Britain provides almost 70 percent of its staff. The other
staff posts are divided among the 10 nations that provide forces
to the corps. These multinational units that are structured along
the "framework nation principle" do not practise true
multinationality at any great depth either. Since only one nation
has the responsibility for command and control, administration and
logistic support of the headquarters, its influence is so dominating
that cooperation based on equality is difficult. It is therefore
not easy to overcome problems such as how staff posts should be
distributed or how staff work and procedures should be organized,
because the interests of its partners often are only of marginal
concern to the lead nation.
c. The "Integration Principle"
The "integration principle" is the
one which the Eurocorps, the I GE/NL Corps and the German-Polish-Danish
Multinational Corps Northeast are based on. It is a feature of corps
headquarters organized in a truly integrated way that the participating
partners are accorded the same rights and duties in every respect.
This is ensured by manning key command functions, such as commanding
general, deputy commanding general and chief of staff, on a rotating
basis. The nations man these positions for specified periods of
time, while care is taken that positions are shared equally among
them for each rotation cycle.
The integration principle is the only one that fully guarantees
that the political goal of multinationality in the sense of participation
of all on an equal basis is achieved. The personnel provided by
the partners involved is employed in mixed staffs, without any one
nation being able to exert a dominating influence because of the
number or quality of staff posts held by it. Financial and personal
contributions, too, are made on an equal footing. The units organized
along the "integration principle" are especially suited
to multinational crisis-management operations, which was proven
not only by the German-French Brigade's SFOR mission but is underscored
as well by the SFOR mission in Bosnia carried out by a large part
of the EUROCORPS staff since 1998. It is mainly the multinational
units organized along the "integration principle" that
can play the role of a prime mover as regards the process of European
Concerning the organization of multinational units, the German Army
attaches great importance to taskings and missions that are clearly
set both in peacetime and during operations as well as to feasible
solutions reached by cooperating in the fields described. There
are many aspects of importance, as is corroborated by the long years
of negotiation on the Eurocorps agreement concluded in Strassbourg,
but also by the I GE/NL Corps agreements and the ongoing negotiations
on the Multinational Corps Northeast. Aspects to be addressed include
the right of multinational unit personnel to stay in the receiving
state, the authority of the commander or commanding general to enter
into contracts, the issue of what international status and legal
status the headquarters should have, tax privileges and other regulations
which might be the subject of special supplementary agreements.
The staying of personnel of multinational units within the territory
of the receiving state requires a clear legal basis. The needs and
requirements of the sending state's personnel must be brought into
line with those of the receiving state. Both the 1951 NATO Status
of Forces Agreement and the Paris Protocol of 1952 remain basically
unaffected as far as multinational units are concerned. However,
the Paris Protocol relates to NATO headquarters and, from the German
point of view, can therefore not be applied without a NATO command
structure. This was a main issue when special status and tax provisions
were negotiated for the Multinational Corps Northeast agreement.
Multinationality is no end in itself, though, and would be misdirected
if it were not at the same time the expression of a common political
will. But multinationality is also an opportunity and an idea to
align national efforts to reach common goals. This can only be done
within the scope of the "Strategic and Operational Community"
and within a suitable legal framework.
4. Possible Legal Forms of Multinational
The question that arises, therefore, is about
possible future legal forms of multinational units. Legal forms
denote certain constellations, structures or organizations specified
in legal terms. As to the initial question, there are legal forms
at the national as well as at the international (that is, international
law) level. It is important to differentiate between those, as the
question whether the chosen legal form is supposed to establish
legal capacity or not depends on it. At the level of international
law, there is also the question of whether the entity to be created
should have legal capacity only on foreign (national) territory
or according to "international law" as well, that is,
whether it should be able to enter into relationships with other
entities of international law9.
Thus, the primary question is not which legal form to choose for
multinational units but what purpose is to be achieved. National
and international law do not exist side by side without any relations
between them. If national constitutional law - such as the meaning
of Article 24 of the German Basic Law - provide for sovereignty
rights to be transferred to international institutions, this is
perhaps not limited to "international organizations" as
defined by international law. However, an organization that "does
not exist" per se or which has no legal significance in international
law can hardly be an "international" institution in accordance
with Article 24 paragraph I of the German Basic Law.
If someone intended for a multinational unit or its headquarters
to exercise sovereignty rights, German constitutional law would
require it to be an "international institution" as described
above within the meaning of Article 24 paragraph 1 of the German
Basic Law. Sovereignty rights would have to be transferred, for
example, to soldiers of other nations who perform guard duties and
exercise pertinent authority on premises in the Federal Republic
of Germany. Discussing whether a multinational integrated unit should
have a legal form of their own makes sense only if that unit also
had legal capacity of its own. Legal forms that could apply to multinational
units would be that of an "international administrative union"
or a "plurinational administrative institution10". These
are based on agreements between the parties involved, enjoy privileges
and immunities and perform administrative duties but do not necessarily
have sovereign authority or rights of intervention.
Even the "international administrative union" would be
a possible legal form to fit an integrated multinational formation,
while not a binational one.
Examples of international administrative unions
are the International Rivers and Fishing Commission or organizations
pertaining to postal and telecommunication services. Examples of
plurinational administrative unions of the public-law variety include
the European Space Agency (ESA), EUROCONTROL and the European flight
control organization. As in a national context armed forces as such
are counted among the executive, that is, administrative authorities,
multinational12 units might quite aptly be designed as administrative
unions or plurinational administrative institutions. It would ultimately
be for the nations involved to decide what should be the functions,
powers, organs and privileges of such institutions. Moreover, it
is worth considering whether the creation of separate legal forms
- whatever their shape - would not have to be complemented by measures
at the political level, for ultimately multinationality means not
only a field of tension between tradition and integration but also
a dilemma between sovereignty and the dispensing with rights. With
this perspective of shaping the future in a comprehensive manner,
multinationality is without alternative; what is required is the
further enhancement and extension of integration so that this development
will lead to a European Army integrated in NATO which is able to
make an adequate contribution to peace in Europe and to crisis regions