Main challenges facing the European
Union in effective conflict prevention
to reaffirm and maintain conflict
prevention as a fixed priority of EU external action;
to establish and sustain priorities
for action in the field of conflict prevention;
to move the timescale for EU action
forward, becoming progressively more pro-active and less reactive;
to ensure the coherent use of what
is now a very broad range of resources in pursuit of priorities, better
integrating development, trade, economic and humanitarian instruments with
CFSP instruments and civilian and military capabilities for crisis management;
to deploy those resources in a timely,
comprehensive and integrated way;
to build and sustain effective partnerships
with those who share our values and priorities at global, regional, national
and local level;
to develop targeted common approaches
to countries and regions at risk of conflict taking account of CFSP, development,
trade, economic and justice and home affairs issues.
Key recommendations in the short
early consideration of conflict prevention
by the GAC, possibly during annual orientation debate, and periodic identification
of priority areas for EU action;
SG/HR and Commission to assist in
overseeing implementation of policies;
the Political and Security Committee
invited to develop role as a focal point in developing conflict prevention
policies in CFSP and CSDP;
Commission to bring forward Communications
on Conflict Prevention and on Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development;
Council and Commission to pursue
review of relevant budgetary regulations and procedures and to examine
issues of co-ordination between Community instruments and those of Member
intensify coordination with the UN,
building on the UNSG proposals, and supporting drive for greater UN effectiveness
generated by the Millennium and Brahimi Reports;
deepen dialogue with and support
for key partners including OSCE, Council of Europe and ICRC, as well as
academic and NGO communities;
draw on experience of partners in
preparing EU action plans and approaches to specific countries and regions;
systematically support the rights
of access to potential conflict zones by ICRC, OSCE and UN Human Rights
prioritise support for effective
action on small arms including in UN and G8 frameworks;
ratify and implement new international
instruments including the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court
and the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stock Piling,
Production and Transfer of Anti Personnel Mines and On their Destruction;
review use of diplomatic instruments
for conflict prevention including the role of Special Representatives and
heads of mission;
Council Working Groups invited to
develop the practice of scheduling informal discussion with relevant partner
better coordination of information
sources available to Union and regular preparation by the Policy Unit and
by the Commission of papers on conflict prevention issues for consideration
by policy makers.
II Coherent action: the central
challenge of conflict prevention
Conflict prevention is at the heart
of the European Union which is in itself a strikingly successful example
of how reconciliation, stability and prosperity can be promoted through
closer cooperation and understanding. The process of enlargement aims to
extend these benefits to a wider circle of European states. Preserving
peace, promoting stability and strengthening international security worldwide
is a fundamental objective for the Union, and preventing violent conflict
constitutes one of its most important external policy challenges.
Conflict bears a human cost in suffering
and undermines economic development. It also affects EU interests by creating
instability, by reducing trade and putting investments at risk, by imposing
a heavy financial burden in reconstruction and ultimately by threatening
the security of its citizens. The financial costs of preventing conflict
are small compared to the cost of addressing its consequences. Millions
of civilians in Africa have died from violent conflict in recent years,
and our efforts in support of lasting economic and social development are
repeatedly set back by recurring conflict. Conflict has moved much closer
in recent years to the EU's own borders: an estimated 200,000 people have
been killed and some 1.8 million remain displaced following a decade of
conflict in the Western Balkans. Democratic change in the FRY has opened
new prospects for lasting peace and stability in the region but the process
of recovery will be a long one and the financial cost high. Already the
Union has invested some Euro 18 billion in reconstruction for the region
as a whole. Recent developments in the Middle East are a reminder of how
rapidly conflict can escalate, with potential consequences not only for
regional stability but also for the global economy.
Against the background of its work on
strengthening the Common European Security and Defence Policy, the European
Council at Feira underlined its determination to prevent conflict and invited
the Secretary General/High Representative and the Commission to "submit
to the Nice European Council, as a basis for further work, concrete recommendations
on how to improve the coherence and effectiveness of the European Union
action in the field of conflict prevention, fully taking into account and
building upon existing instruments, capabilities and policy guidelines."
The purpose of this report is to build
on the existing work undertaken by the Union, to indicate some of the broader
challenges facing the Union as it prepares to undertake further work on
conflict prevention, to put forward some concrete recommendations aimed
at improving our effectiveness in the short term, and to set out a more
coherent framework for possible future action.
Conflict prevention should be addressed
by the GAC, possibly during its annual orientation debate on external relations,
integrating the issue into its work and addressing the broader issue of
coherence at Council level, including with the Development Council.
The GAC should regularly identify
priority areas for EU action in the field of conflict prevention, taking
account of recommendations from the SG/HR and the Commission. Where priorities
are identified, the Council should invite the SG/HR and the Commission
to oversee the implementation of policies and to report accordingly.
The Union should set the explicit
aim of developing targeted, common approaches to countries and regions
at risk of conflict taking account of CFSP, development, trade, economic
and justice and home affairs issues.
lll. Building more effective
Conflict prevention is not a new issue
on the EU's agenda. For some years now, the Union has made sustained efforts
to adapt its external action to a changing international security environment
characterised by a growth in conflict within borders where civilians are
increasingly both the victims and the intended targets of violent conflict.
The Council has repeatedly emphasised the importance of effective early
action to prevent violent conflict. Our experience of the consequences
of conflict has been instrumental in the development of civilian and military
crisis management capabilities, and is a driving factor in the development
of a more effective and responsive common foreign and security policy.
A key challenge now facing the Union is to ensure the most effective use
of the full range of tools which have become available in order to prevent
conflict from occurring in the first place.
The European Union is well placed to
engage in conflict prevention. Its capabilities include trade policy instruments,
cooperation agreements, development assistance and other forms of economic
cooperation, social and environmental policies, humanitarian assistance
from both ECHO and member states, civilian and military crisis management
capabilities, diplomatic instruments and cooperation in the area of Justice
and Home Affairs. In many of these areas the Union has very considerable
influence. It is the world's largest provider of development and humanitarian
assistance and the biggest trading partner.
Specific situations of potential conflict
present unique challenges. Policies aimed at defusing tensions in the Middle
East will be quite different from those deployed to prevent a recurrence
of conflict in the Western Balkans or in the Horn of Africa. The central
issue for the Union is one of coherence in deploying the right combination
and sequence of instruments in a timely and integrated manner. This demands
greater coherence and complementarity at several levels: between the instruments
and capabilities available within each pillar, between the pillars themselves,
between Member State and Community activities, and between the Union and
its international partners in conflict prevention.
Moreover, the coherence of conflict
prevention policies cannot be separated from the broader issue of how the
EU sets priorities in the area of external relations. While some regions,
including those close to the EU's own borders, will remain a high priority,
the Union must be ready to engage elsewhere when confronted with a clear
risk of violent conflict. The work under way since Evian on improving coordination
of EU external assistance will also serve to improve our ability to address
situations of emerging conflict.
Policies can only be effective if the
Union adopts a proactive approach, identifying problems before they become
acute, and translating early warning into early action. Measuring the success
of conflict prevention policies is particularly difficult, and the absence
of easily identifiable results can be a stumbling block in securing support
at a political level. Political will is essential if the Union is to develop
and sustain a new emphasis at all levels of our external action: a shift
from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.
The causes of conflict are usually
complex and therefore require complex policy responses which can only be
delivered by a broad range of actors, some of whom have specific mandates
under international law. Recent experience clearly demonstrates the need
for the European Union to cooperate closely in this area with other regional
and international organisations as well as with the non-governmental sector.
The United Nations, with its
Charter responsibilities, global presence and broad institutional framework,
is uniquely placed both to contribute to tackling the root causes of conflict
and to take shorter term preventive measures. The UNSG has recently made
specific proposals for strengthening dialogue with the Union. Agencies
such as UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF, as well as the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights and the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, have access
to extensive information networks and can play an important role in addressing
specific problems associated with conflict. The UN is currently taking
steps towards greater effectiveness in conflict prevention. The European
Union can play a key role in helping to maintain the momentum to this work.
Regional cooperation and the growth
of regional and sub-regional organisations is a development which
in itself plays a valuable role in conflict prevention. Organisations such
as the OAS, OAU, SADC, ECOWAS, the ARF and ASEAN
are adopting an operational role in this area. Key partners for the EU
are the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Each plays a distinct
role: the OSCE through its field missions, the High Commissioner on National
Minorities and its emerging mechanisms for preventing and managing conflict,
and the Council of Europe through its Parliamentary Assembly and its role
in standard setting and human rights. Partnership for Peace, through its
work on Petersberg Tasks, and the EAPC can also play a valuable contributory
role in conflict prevention.
The G8, IMF andWorld
Bank have taken an active role in developing an approach to conflict
prevention which focuses on the broader economic factors underlying conflict,
including issues such as the trade in small arms and diamonds.
have an increasingly influential role to play in conflict prevention. Many
are well-placed to work with the victims of conflict and to identify and
address root causes at an early stage. Others have done valuable work on
policy elaboration and conflict mediation. Experience in Serbia demonstrates
that a strong and active civil society and independent media are themselves
important factors for democratic change and long-term stability. The growth
in the number of civilian victims of conflict underlines the increasingly
important role of the International Committee of the Red Cross in promoting
and upholding humanitarian law.
The EUís extensive political dialogue
offers regular opportunities to address the issue of conflict prevention
with our partners in a more flexible and timely way, both with those who
are directly at risk of conflict and those with the potential to assist
those at risk.
Building effective partnerships with
such a broad range of actors sets specific challenges for the European
Union: first, to establish a focussed dialogue with agreed contact points
based on mutual priorities; second, to incorporate their input into our
own policy formulation; third, to establish practical cooperation on operational
issues and fourth, to support mandate based organisations in playing their
role for conflict prevention to the full. The principles guiding our approach
to partnership should include those of added value, comparative advantage
and mutually reinforcing institutions.
IV Long-term measures
Further development of mechanisms
for coordination with the UN system, building on the proposals already
put forward by the UN SG.
Support the drive for greater UN
effectiveness in conflict prevention, maintaining the momentum generated
by the Millennium Report and the Brahimi Report on peacekeeping.
Deepen dialogue with other key international
and regional partners such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the ICRC,
with a view to identifying common priorities, strengthening support for
their mandates and cooperating in the implementation of EU policies.
Draw on the experience of other actors
in preparing EU action plans and approaches to specific countries and regions.
Intensify dialogue with the academic
and NGO communities in order to improve effectiveness in identifying potential
conflict and to ensure close convergence of effort on priority issues.
Systematically support the rights
of access to potential conflict zones by other mandated organisations including
the ICRC, OSCE and UN Human Rights Rapporteurs.
Consistently integrate conflict prevention
priorities into our political dialogue with international partners (as
is already the case with Canada and Japan) as well as with those directly
at risk of conflict.
Support conflict prevention initiatives
in the G8 framework, in particular in areas where the G8 can bring particular
value such as small arms and the illicit trade in high-value commodities.
There is a wide range of measures
which can be deployed over the long-term in support of an overall strategy
of conflict prevention. Many of these already constitute a major part of
the Union's action in the area of external relations. In general, long-term
action is not focussed on the avoidance of a specific and imminent outbreak
of conflict, but is designed to address the underlying causes of conflict
and thereby to contribute to the overall objective of peace and stability.
The role of the Union as a global trading partner and as the largest donor
of development cooperation give it the possibility of contributing to conflict
prevention even in those areas which are not the subject of specific policy
priorities. The recently agreed standard framework for Country Strategy
Papers should become an important basis for ensuring coherence between
the long term cooperation programs and other complementary actions aimed
at preventing conflict. Long term action may be divided into horizontal
instruments which are explicit in their overall objective of preventing
conflict, and broader policies which address wider economic and developmental
issues, but in doing so have an important role to play in creating the
conditions for longer-term stability.
Many of the horizontal issues are
relatively new on the international agenda. The establishment of the International
Criminal Court and the creation of new international instruments governing
landmines and the issue of child soldiers will enable us to address new
and emerging concerns but must be followed up by sustained and concerted
efforts aimed at full ratification of the instruments and implementation
of their standards. This calls for closer convergence between Community
and Member State programmes aimed at addressing such issues. Our emphasis
on human rights values and on upholding international legal standards provides
a framework for much of this effort. Human rights and humanitarian violations
lie at the heart of many conflicts. Addressing the gap between international
commitments and practical implementation must be a priority in our conflict
Other concerns have yet to be addressed,
not least the issue of the trade in small arms and the trade in diamonds.
The Union should continue to support such initiatives which have a clear
role in preventing conflict and should remain open to suggestions (both
from inside and outside) for further imaginative proposals which would
deserve its support.
Increasingly important also are the
wide range of instruments falling under the heading of 'Justice and Home
Affairs'. Measures designed to tackle organised crime, drug trafficking
and money laundering all have the long-term effect of creating greater
stability and therefore contributing to the prevention of conflict. Initiatives
undertaken in recent years in the U.N., G-8 and other contexts have helped
to create frameworks in which concerted action on these issues can be taken
at international level. The Union has been involved in all of these initiatives
and has sought to adapt its own instruments in support of them. The challenge
for the Union now is to develop policy-making mechanisms which allow it
to integrate these initiatives into its overall political approach to specific
countries and regions, to assess their respective benefits, and to set
priorities for the future.
Alongside these horizontal measures,
there is a wide range of instruments which can contribute to the prevention
of conflict. These should be used in a more targeted manner to address
the root-causes of violent conflicts, such as inequality of opportunity,
lack of legitimacy and effectiveness of government, lack of frameworks
for peaceful conciliation of interests and absence of an active and organised
civil society. In many countries, conflict prevention can also be considered
a development objective because without peace and democratic stability
there can be no poverty alleviation and no sustainable development.
The most effective way for the Union
to use its cooperation instruments in conflict prevention is by integrating
long-term peace-building measures into its country cooperation strategies.
In countries in unstable situations, specific projects and programs within
the cooperation sectors included in the Country Strategy Papers should
be dedicated to supporting a peaceful resolution of conflict and strengthening
the democratic state. These should support political dialogue and mediation
efforts, democratic institutions, the rule of law and the administration
of justice, an effective and impartial police force, and, for countries
emerging from armed conflict, the demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants,
including child soldiers. Furthermore, in traditional sectors of development
cooperation (infrastructure, health, education etc.), the reduction of
existing imbalances in a society, whether ethnic, regional, or economic,
must be taken into account in allocating funds to specific sectors.
The Union should also strengthen
its support for non-state actors which play a role in developing a culture
of democracy, tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict, through support
for projects and programmes which assist independent media, civil society,
local NGOs, womenís groups etc.
Effective deployment of both horizontal
measures and measures designed to tackle the root causes of conflict requires
much greater coordination between Community instruments and those relevant
instruments of the Member States. This should involve cooperation both
in-country and between capitals at an early stage.
Closer consideration should be given
to coherence and coordination between measures envisaged or taken in the
different phases of a conflict or crisis situation. The Commission will
present in January 2001 a Communication on Linking Relief, Rehabilitation
and Development which will i.a. include proposals to enable a quicker and
more coherent transition from one phase of assistance to another in countries
going through a crisis, whether political or other in nature.
V Short term measures
An inventory should be made of EU
instruments and policies which could be brought to bear on conflict situations.
A Commission Communication on conflict prevention in Spring 2001 will focus
specifically on the use and possible adaptation of Community instruments
in this respect. The Commission will also pursue work on the "Conflict
Prevention Handbook" detailing instruments and procedures.
In the context of "post-Evian" discussions
on ways to improve co-ordination between Community instruments for external
cooperation and those of Member States, greater exchange of information
on economic and political issues, both at the level of capitals and in
country, is recommended. This should include a revitalisation of the Electronic
Bulletin Board (EBB), established by the Commission in 1999 to link country
desk officers in the Commission, Council and Member States.
An early decision by the Council
on the proposed recasting of the Financial Regulation would facilitate
the successful completion of the reform of EC external cooperation programmes.
In this context, the Commission will also pursue internally the objective
of more rapid mobilisation of funds under its various cooperation programmes.
The Union should give priority to
effective preparation for the UN Conference on Small Arms and to the ratification
and implementation of new international instruments including the Rome
Statute on the International Criminal Court and the Ottawa Convention on
the Prohibition of the Use, Stock Piling, Production and Transfer of Anti
Personnel Mines and On their Destruction.
Situations which have the potential
to lead to conflict in the short term are often characterised by complexity
and rapid change. If it is to use its instruments and capabilities to best
effect, the Union must address specific challenges to the way in which
policy is formulated and implemented.
First, efforts at conflict prevention
must be underpinned by vigorous and continuous diplomatic engagement, involving
the transmission of clear messages to countries and regions in a situation
of political deterioration as well as to its other international partners.
Progress has been made. The EUís traditional diplomatic instruments such
as structured political dialogue, démarches, and high-level visits
are increasingly effective. The use of special representatives has allowed
sustained engagement in both the Middle East, Africa and the Western Balkans.
The appointment of the High Representative with new resources in the Council
Secretariat has raised the level of our diplomatic engagement and broadened
its scope. This must be underpinned however by a more focused, flexible
and robust approach to dialogue than is often the case at present. There
is a need for more informal contact with a broad range of actors, clear
mandates and for a more effective use of the privileged relationships of
individual Member States in support of a common political objective. Such
an approach has been successful in assisting a peaceful transition to democracy
in Serbia. The effectiveness of dialogue will be further enhanced by the
development of ESDP and the development of a comprehensive range of civilian
and military instruments, broadening the toolbox for conflict prevention
and enabling the EU to deploy civilian and military crisis management instruments
for conflict prevention purposes.
Second, moving the focus of policy-making
away from a responsive to a more proactive approach represents a particular
challenge for the Union. The earlier the Union is able to anticipate and
address problems, the lower the ultimate human and financial cost. Conflict
prevention has to begin in situations of "unstable peace", where structural
problems are apparent but have not yet resulted in open violence. The Union
has access to information from many sources and a range of capabilities,
many of them new, for assessing situations and formulating policy options.
Their potential has still to be fully developed. Translating early warning
into early action will require the application of political will by the
Council and its bodies at all levels in order to encourage the early assessment
of potential problems and the formulation of possible policy options.
Third, as is the case with our longer
term measures, there is a clear need for comprehensive and integrated policies
which address the full range of factors which can produce or exacerbate
violence. These include discrimination against minorities, forced population
displacement, the abuse of human rights, and weak institutions, the availability
of small arms, abuse of humanitarian law, exclusion of international organisations
and curtailment of media freedoms.
Fourth, a recurring challenge is
the need for responsiveness in the deployment of appropriate instruments.
Deployment can involve a range of authorities and different procedures
for decision making and accountability: humanitarian aid and trade policy
fall within Community competence while responsibility for third pillar
instruments and new civilian and military capabilities lies primarily with
Member States. Achieving coherence and responsiveness is not solely a matter
of instruments but of political will.
Evaluate use of diplomatic instruments
for conflict prevention (including use of Special Representatives) with
objective of more focussed, flexible and robust diplomatic engagement.
The Political and Security Committee
should continue to develop its potential as a focal point within the framework
of CFSP and CSDP for the development, implementation and monitoring of
conflict prevention policies.
Council Working Groups should support
PSC in this task and develop the practice of joint meetings and informal
discussion with relevant partner organisations.
More proactive use of heads of mission
for conflict prevention, including through visits to potential conflict
zones, and the preparation of regular systematic reports.
Better coordination of the wide range
of information sources now available for identifying and monitoring potential
conflicts including Member States commitment to sharing all relevant information.
Regular preparation by the Policy
Unit and by the Commission of conflict prevention papers for consideration
by policy makers.
Effective action by the EU in the
area of conflict prevention will require sustained political will and should
become a priority. Future work should acknowledge our failures but also
build on our successes. The Union has, for example, made a very substantial
contribution to the establishment of permanent stability in Central and
Eastern Europe. The rapid delivery of political and financial support to
Montenegro was important in stabilising a potential conflict situation
while our support for democratic forces in Serbia and the recent Zagreb
Summit with its emphasis on the Stability and Association Process have
opened up new prospects for lasting peace in the region. It can build also
on successes further afield. After a decade which has seen many failures,
the wider international community has, for example, acted to address the
spiral of conflict in East Timor and has stepped in to provide the support
and security necessary for the re-establishment of public authority and
The challenges which face the Union
as it sets about improving its coherence and effectiveness for conflict
prevention are similar to those which it faces throughout its external
action: to establish and sustain priorities for action; to ensure the coherent
use of what is now a very broad range of resources in pursuit of those
priorities; to deploy those resources in a pro-active, flexible and integrated
way; and to build and sustain effective partnerships with those who share
our values and priorities at global, regional, national and local level.
Addressing these issues in the context of conflict prevention can give
impetus to our efforts towards greater coherence in all external action.
It is an ambitious political undertaking and will be achieved only with
the exercise of political will. Nonetheless, it demands a high place in
the Council's priorities. The benefits of effective conflict prevention
ó to human life, political stability, national and community budgets, and
trade and investment ó will far outweigh the effort invested.