Published on September 25th, 2013 | by admin0
The Case For Co-operation in Crisis Management
As a series of crises break out across North Africa and the Middle East and the financial crisis puts Western defence budgets under strain, it is becoming increasingly important for the European Union (EU) to pursue a joined-up approach to crisis management operations and in particular to work with other organisations. The EU already relies on the United Nations and the African Union to manage civil wars in cases such as Somalia and there are also new potential partners such as the Arab League and ASEAN. Although the EU has devoted time and effort to building up its own security structures over the last decade, it may now find it more cost-effective and politically expedient to prioritise helping others manage looming threats. The EU should make CSDP missions more flexible and integrate them into the efforts of other organisations. The new European External Action Service (EEAS) should think about how to utilise the network of EU delegations to get help to the UN and other partners more effectively. Finally, European officials should consider making strategic investments in sharing ideas and lessons from the EU’s past experience in crisis management with organisations like the Arab League that have begun to experiment with crisis management but still struggle to mount effective interventions.
A new generation of civil wars and humanitarian crises is emerging along Europe’s southern flank. In the last six months, the Syrian crisis has claimed thousands of lives, rebels linked to Al-Qaeda have seized northern Mali, necessitating an EU response, and Sudan and South Sudan have stumbled towards civil war. Meanwhile, post-war Libya remains fragile and Islamist forces control large parts of Somalia, while pirates continue to operate from Somali waters as far as India and the Seychelles. Civil disorder persists in Egypt and Yemen. It is not clear that the European Union (EU) has the resources or political energy to handle all of these crises at a time when its leaders are absorbed in economic issues and NATO is focused on exiting Afghanistan. None of them presents a conventional threat to Europe but each could damage Europe’s security and interests.
An Islamist bridgehead in Somalia or Mali offers a base for terrorists and the pirates in the Indian Ocean have disrupted busy trade routes. If Syria collapses or President Bashar al-Assad holds on to power, the EU’s tenuous influence in the Middle East will be severely damaged. Conflicts in North Africa not only create the risk of mass atrocities but can also drive refugees across the Mediterranean into Europe. European governments’ financial preoccupations have not rendered them completely impotent in the face of these challenges, as the Libyan campaign demonstrated. EU and NATO vessels have had some success in combating Somali piracy. In Brussels, the European External Action Service (EEAS) has pulled together detailed regional strategies for dealing with security challenges in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel states (Mali, Mauritania and Niger). In this context the EU is preparing civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions to guide police reform in the Sahel and boost the coast guards of East African states. It has even approved a CSDP mission “to support airport security in South Sudan”. But getting these missions off the ground has dragged out painfully: while EU planners have taken months refining their options in the Sahel, Islamists consolidated their grip on the north of Mali while the army mounted a coup in the south.
Europe’s ambitions are limited by economic pressures and intervention fatigue. While the EU restricts itself to small CSDP missions, other organisations are putting far greater numbers of personnel on the front line in emerging conflicts. The UN has nearly 40,000 personnel in the two Sudans (including Darfur). The African Union (AU) has 15,000 troops in Somalia: its forces have engaged in street-to-street fighting with Islamists in Mogadishu, and won. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has proposed sending 3,000 troops to Mali. First the Arab League and more recently the UN have deployed observers to Syria, if with very limited effect on the growing chaos there.
So while Europe confronts a multitude of threats along its southern flank, it also has a multitude of potential partners. Although these partners lack advanced military capabilities that come as standard in NATO and EU operations, Europe may have to rely on the UN and African and Arab soldiers and diplomats to contain the current wave of crises. The EU has always co-operated closely with other multilateral organisations – and the UN in particular – on crisis management, and played a crucial role in funding their efforts. But Europe’s contributions have often been treated as altruistic, largely humanitarian gestures.
Now, however, the case for Cooperation is more clearly rooted in Europe’s own interests – and the EU should improve its mechanisms for working with others accordingly. This paper focuses on how the new European External Action Service (EEAS), and CSDP mechanisms in particular, can be harnessed more effectively to assist other organisations. It argues that three trends will define Europe’s contribution to crisis management in the next decade:
1. The rise of “plug-and-play” peace operations: in future, military and civilian crisis management will not involve large-scale, centralised operations like that in Afghanistan. Instead, loose coalitions of international and regional organisations – including the EU – will bring their different assets together on an ad hoc basis with decentralised command structures, as is currently the case in Somalia.
2. A focus on “good enough” stability and security: whereas the EU has often aimed to instill long-term stability in cases such as Bosnia and Kosovo through justice and police reform, financial and strategic pressures will lead to lower ambitions. In future crises, as now in Syria, the goal will be to create short-term calm and open up sufficient political space for local power brokers to negotiate, not to transform whole societies.
3. Unashamed “leading from behind”: given the economic strains inside the EU, and the growing challenges to its legitimacy as an actor in regions including Africa and Asia, European policy will increasingly focus on helping other actors manage conflicts rather than trying to deploy an EU-flagged crisis management mission every time.
Although the EU’s current focus is on North Africa and the Middle East, it may also become necessary to develop security partnerships with regional organisations in other strategically sensitive areas, such as ASEAN in South-East Asia. While EU Member States have devoted time and energy to developing a European security identity over the last decade – an effort that remains politically contentious – the EU’s major contributions to security in the next five years may be channelled through others as international power dynamics and threats shift and evolve.
The EU’s dual challenge
The EU’s contributions to conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction have long been closely connected to the operations and diplomacy of other organisations. More than two thirds of EU peacekeepers have been deployed alongside a UN or NATO mission or peacekeepers authorised by a regional organisation such as the AU. The European Commission and EU member states are leading humanitarian donors to the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs – and nearly 75 percent of all humanitarian aid goes to countries affected by conflict.1
The EU also provides funding for peace-building projects and – through the African Peace Facility (APF) – has played a central role in enabling the AU to take on peace operations in the last decade. As the European Council on Foreign Affairs’ (ECFR) recent Foreign Policy Scorecard notes, many of the EU’s most effective conflict management policies involve Cooperation with the UN and other multilateral bodies, or “indirect support to peace operations run by other organisations rather than direct interventions”.2 But the nature of the global framework for conflict management is changing as the US revises its security posture – with a greater emphasis on air and sea operations in the Pacific – and new actors take on increasing responsibility. The last year has seen the Arab League launch its first peace operation since the 1970s in Syria, while ASEAN mandated Indonesian observers to patrol the Thai-Cambodian border.3 Yet these new actors in crisis management often lack mechanisms to launch effective operations. The Arab League’s mission in Syria was a widely-derided mess while the deployment of ASEAN’s monitors has repeatedly been delayed. Meanwhile, some of the EU’s established partners in crisis management – the UN and the AU – are facing resource constraints despite continuing to run large-scale operations, while NATO is trying to work out how to retreat from its role in Afghanistan without leaving chaos in its wake.4
The EU has a huge amount to offer other organisations dealing with crisis management. Yet interactions with these partners have often been hampered by the complexity of the EU’s institutions. The problem of “stove-piping” that affects the EU’s ability to craft coherent strategies of its own, with multiple chains of command and decision making mechanisms, is reflected in its dealings with others over specific crises. The consolidation of the EEAS – and especially its delegations in countries affected by conflict – offers opportunities to strengthen the EU’s partnerships, although persistent gaps between the new service and the European Commission continue to complicate matters.
The EU now faces a dual challenge. It must develop strategies and concepts that allow it to work better with others in a changing international environment; and it needs to ensure that its own structures and rules of procedure allow it to meet its strategic commitments, especially when put to the test by intense crises.
The changing nature of crisis management
This effort to reposition EU crisis management needs to reflect broader changes in how other organisations respond to crises. Since the launch of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) in 1999, the EU has deployed relatively small military and civilian missions in support of (or to take over from) large-scale operations mounted by other organisations. These larger framework operations have included the NATO forces in Afghanistan and Bosnia and the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They have also provided a framework for broader European projects in support of security, good governance and democracy. In the 2000s, for example, the European Commission played an important role working with the UN to mount post-conflict elections in cases including not only the DRC but also Iraq.
In this context, EU missions have contributed to a grand narrative of stabilisation and state-building, accepted in most Western capitals at least, by which crisis management has involved (i) significant international security forces acting as platforms for (ii) democratisation processes and (iii) the utilisation of development aid to build up state structures and stop post-conflict countries returning to violence. The EU and its member states have contributed to this model of crisis management in many ways. The EU’s contributions have often followed the “Bosnia template”, by which the union deploys police or civilian missions to manage the long-term reform of a country’s security structures after NATO or the UN have managed to create at least minimal stability.5
Where military CSDP missions have deployed, they have often followed the “Artemis model” (based on a rapid and effective EU deployment to the DRC in 2003) of discrete short-term assistance to back up UN forces.6
In some cases, however, the EU has provided a more sophisticated mix of support, as when it deployed a military mission to Chad in 2008 and the European Commission launched a package of financial aid to help the UN build up Chadian police capacities and maximise humanitarian relief efforts. Operation Atalanta off the coast of Somalia is a third example of a complex, multi-pronged intervention which involves the protection of World Food Programme convoys and is co-ordinated with support to the African Union’s military mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
However, the grand narrative of state-building is now breaking down for three reasons. Firstly, experience in cases including Afghanistan and the DRC has bred pessimism about whether states can be built at all. Secondly, the financial crisis has placed constraints on all organisations’ ability to sustain large-scale operations. Thirdly, growing political differences between organisations (such as EU–AU splits over how to deal with Côte d’Ivoire and Libya in 2011) and within them (as in recent UN Security Council debates over Syria) may place limits on what large-scale missions will be able to achieve in future. In this context, an alternative model for crisis management is emerging. In contrast to the old paradigm, there is a growing emphasis on exploring what can be achieved with (i) limited commitments of ground forces; (ii) a focus on achieving “good enough” political compromises and institutional reforms in conflict-affected states; and (iii) a more flexible approach to the design, sustainment and command of crisis management operations.
Examples of the new era of crisis management include:
• Somalia, where AU ground forces are supported by a UN logistics operation and a separate UN political mission, while an EU CSDP mission trains Somali forces outside the country. EU, NATO and other vessels conduct anti-piracy operations offshore and a further EU presence (euphoniously entitled “Nestor”) is being prepared to help Somalia and its neighbours combat piracy more effectively themselves.
• Libya, where the NATO military campaign was accompanied by AU and UN mediation efforts, and the UN deployed a political mission to assist the postwar transition. The EU has been working on a civilian mission to help secure Libya’s borders, although this has repeatedly been held up by security concerns.
• Syria, where the Arab League deployed an ill-conceived observer mission in December 2011 (while UN human right officials separately monitored the situation), prior to the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) in April 2012. The EU has used sanctions to put pressure on Damascus, and there is recurrent talk of some sort of UN–Arab League hybrid peacekeeping force in the future. These cases do not prove (contrary to some analyses) that large-scale, centralised peacekeeping operations are obsolete. There are cases in which significant military forces remain crucial, such as Liberia and the DRC. Had the UN not already had troops in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010, the crisis there could have been uncontrollable. In the case of South Sudan, the Security Council has arguably erred by approving far too small a UN force to keep order in a very weak state. However, in the near term, the EU will need to adapt to increasingly complex and fluid security environments. It will be necessary to deploy CSDP missions in conditions complicated by three factors. These are (i) a proliferation of organisational presences, many of them authorised by entities with limited experience of crisis management (such as the Arab League); (ii) the absence of consistent or clear grand narratives around state-building and democratisation; and (iii) continued financial constraints on the EU’s efforts.
Where will crisis management operations be needed?
Given this confusing global context, it is hard to predict exactly what types of crisis management activities will be required in what regions in the years ahead. However, it is probable that at least three regions will be priorities for crisis management operations as a whole in the next five to ten years.
In Africa, as this paper has already argued, there will be a continued emphasis on ongoing crises (i.e. Somalia and both Sudans). But there will also be “legacy” state-building projects in post-conflict states that have been stabilised by the UN and AU, sometimes with EU help over the last decade (i.e. the DRC, West African States and Burundi). There is also an outside risk that a large African state (i.e. Nigeria or Egypt) will face state collapse.
The Middle East presents an unpredictable set of crisis management challenges. It is probable that countries such as Libya and Syria may require extended support in the years ahead. Other countries in the region (i.e. Yemen and Iraq) will also need help, as will the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The future shape of crisis management in Asia and the Pacific is uncertain, not least because China, India and other powers in the region are suspicious of multilateral engagement on their peripheries. However, there may be crises in cases from Nepal and Fiji (fairly “classic” small fragile states) to North Korea and Pakistan (cases that overawe the hardest-headed state-building experts). It should be added that the EU will likely remain committed to maintaining stability in two cases which it has prioritised previously: the Balkans – where recent disturbances in Kosovo have emphasised the potential for further trouble – and Afghanistan. Although NATO and the EU are committed to continue operations in Afghanistan until 2014, there will be persistent calls for European powers to maintain civilian (or at least financial support) to Kabul for a much longer period of time.
This is a divisive issue among European governments, many – perhaps most – of which fear that Afghanistan is already lost. If these are probable priorities for crisis management, who will the crisis managers be? It is probable that, apart from the EU, the UN and the AU will continue to be major players. The UN is currently the most widely deployed peacekeeping organisation, with 100,000 troops and police worldwide, and it will face the challenge of guiding countries such as Côte d’Ivoire towards long-term stability for many years yet. However, the UN will have to adapt to meet the new model of “good enough” state-building described above: the organisation is already addressing ways of balancing “heavy” blue helmet operations like that in Liberia with lighterweight political missions such as that in Libya. The UN Secretariat has been working hard to retool its capacities to mount both heavy and light missions, developing not only a new global logistics strategy but also systems for recruiting and deploying civilian crisis managers in a more timely and rapid manner. NATO is also undergoing profound changes as it readies itself to withdraw from Afghanistan. Its engagements in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan were symptomatic of the grand narrative about nation-building described above. Yet the Libyan campaign saw the alliance use force in a more calibrated – if extended – manner and avoid becoming drawn into a long-term ground operation. It is not clear whether future NATO operations (inevitably affected by European military cuts) will follow the Balkan template or the Libyan model.
The AU’s future trajectory is also unclear. In Darfur the organisation’s well-intentioned effort at military peacekeeping went badly awry. But in Somalia it has turned round an apparently doomed mission – with a great deal of external assistance – but only because AU forces have been ready to fight a war against Islamist forces. It is not clear how long the organisation will tolerate such risks.
Meanwhile, AU officials have begun to highlight their preference for mediation over peacekeeping. In West Africa by contrast, ECOWAS – which launched a series of peace operations to countries including Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990s and early 2000s – is moving towards a new era of military deployments. It considered deploying forces to Côte d’Ivoire in 2011, and has declared its readiness to send troops to Mali and Guinea-Bissau this year. Nigeria, the regional leader, has often favoured a tough military approach to crisis management. While the AU, the UN and ECOWAS have established track records in peace operations, other potential future players in the field have to define their role in crisis management in an ad hoc fashion. ASEAN, for example, has been very cautious about engaging in peace operations – although ASEAN members co-operated with the EU in Aceh in 2005–2006 – but the organisation was drawn into monitoring the Thai- Cambodian border dispute.
A few years ago, it seemed unlikely that the Arab League would deploy a crisis management operation, yet it was compelled to do so in Syria. It is possible that there will be other strategic surprises for multilateral and regional organisations in the near future. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have, for example, suggested deploying Arab troops to Syria and it is conceivable that the Arab League could find itself in charge of a military deployment long before it is ready to do so. Meanwhile, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation – which failed to act during the 2010 Kyrgyz crisis – has agreed to set up a 4,000-strong peacekeeping force for regional and UN mandated missions.7 The landscape of international crisis management could look very different indeed five years from now.
THE EU’s LIMITATIONS
In responding to this proliferation of crises and partners, there is a temptation for the EU to try to be every other organisation’s best friend, but it will need to be selective in how it applies its tools if it is to maintain its resources effectively. Yet while many factors will push the EU to be cautious in its use of resources, it should also be ambitious in its efforts to assist new players become more effective crisis managers while sustaining established allies. Just as EU support was instrumental in developing AU peacekeeping, the EU could play a role in building up new actors such as the Arab League and ASEAN. Simultaneously, it can recalibrate its interactions with actors such as the UN, NATO and the AU as they reform themselves – especially as they can take on crises that the EU cannot handle alone. In outlining the future of EU crisis management, it is necessary to distinguish between “demand” factors and “supply” factors. Demand factors include basic operational issues: where do organisations such as the UN lack specialised assets and personnel, such as helicopters and engineering companies, that the EU’s members can offer? But there is also a political dimension: where is the EU a welcome and legitimate partner? In recent years, for example, African governments have been increasingly frank about their doubts about European policy on the continent (especially over issues such as the role of the International Criminal Court in pursuing African leaders) and it is conceivable that this opposition will delegitimise future CSDP missions in Africa.
Similarly, the proposal for an EU operation in Libya last year was clearly complicated by NATO’s ongoing campaign there, and there was never any suggestion that EU rather than Arab League and UN observers should deploy to Syria. In spite of the EU mission in Aceh, there are few parts of Asia and the Pacific where the EU could lead a mission with full legitimacy. However, supply factors also place significant limits on what the EU can achieve.
Since the start of the financial crisis, proposals for CSDP missions have received a tough hearing from the European Council. As Nick Witney has underlined, the liberal interventionist logic for European crisis management has lost momentum.8 In this context, it is likely that three considerations will affect decision making on future EU policy: (i) a clearer definition of where crisis management meets specific European interests; (ii) the availability of credible international partners with which to manage the crisis; and (iii) a judgment on whether the cost of the initiative is affordable, and whether other actors will help bear the expenses. These considerations have already resulted in a marginalisation of CSDP in European policy debates. And there will be an emphasis within the EU on harnessing existing resources – not least the development budget – to cover the costs of building up security. Politically, the EU’s limited legitimacy means that it will often make sense to (in a phrase that has become politically poisonous in the US but still has merit) “lead from behind” and focus on helping other organisations rather than insisting on mounting autonomous EU responses to new crises.
How to strengthen the EU’s role in multilateral crisis management
With these limitations in mind, the EU can co-operate with partners in crisis management in three ways: (i) civilian crisis management, including both CSDP-based options and alternatives; (ii) military crisis management; and (iii) support to help other actors improve their own capacities.
Civilian Crisis Management
The EU’s options for collaborative civilian crisis management involve both CSDP-based options and alternatives making use of new EEAS structures. EU civilian crisis management never solely relied on autonomous ESDP/CSDP missions. The European Commission previously provided the economic pillar on the UN-led Interim Administration in Kosovo, and took on oversight of police training in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (in the latter case as a follow-on to an ESDP presence) in addition to managing significant quantities of conflict-related programming in cases such as Afghanistan. There is no reason that the EEAS and the European Commission should not continue to build upon this tradition of conflict-related activities in tandem with other actors (if, that is, they can overcome the institutional divisions that continue to undermine cooperation in Brussels).
As noted above, even where autonomous civilian CSDP missions have deployed they have often worked very closely with organisations such as the UN to achieve their goals. In the DRC case, small civilian teams have dealt with police training and security sector reform under the UN security umbrella, and often making use of UN assets such as helicopters. In Darfur, a contingent of EU police personnel – plus some military staff – worked within AU structures. In the case of the Aceh monitoring mission, the EU oversaw a civilian presence partly staffed by personnel from ASEAN member states – while the EU offered sound administrative structures, the Asian personnel added their legitimacy and knowledge. There is now a growing emphasis on further developing this “plug-and-play” approach to civilian crisis management, by which the EU either plugs distinct EU modules into operations run by others or provides an EU framework for a mission to which others can play a significant role.
• a team of governance or border management experts could be deployed in a UN operation for a fixed term, with a clear EU mandate, identity and funding, while answering to the UN head of mission. This option could allow the EU to achieve targeted goals: EU member states could deploy experts on organised crime in a region such as West Africa under the UN’s political aegis.
• a team of EU specialists could provide logistics or administrative support to political staff deployed by a less well-prepared organisation such as the Arab League in a new mission. In this case the EU would have overall technical responsibility but might share political responsibility.
• parallel, organisationally autonomous civilian missions by the EU and another organisation, such as NATO, could be overseen by a joint strategic cell that could agree on the division of responsibilities.
Options for modular EU support to the UN have already been discussed by the Political and Security Committee, while the EEAS is currently exploring better ways to align its civilian capacities with NATO’s. However, as the EU’s previous experience with the AU and ASEAN suggests, potential future arrangements with a full range of organisational partners need to be considered. It is also necessary for the EEAS and the European Commission to consider how they can provide support to other organisations in the absence of a CSDP mission.
Would it be possible, for example, for a UN mission to request an existing EU delegation in a country where peacekeepers are deployed to provide advice on a range of specific security and/or governance issues to a government or to act as a conduit and hub for security-related programming based on an overall UN strategy? Might it be possible to attach short-term police or security sector reform teams to EU delegations? Could the head of a delegation be designated as the primary liaison and broker between the UN and the Brussels institutions, centralising discussions of how European funding can support UN activities?
Military Crisis Management
While deploying civilian CSDP modules and adapting EU delegations to support other organisations both involve complications, adapting military CSDP deployments to meet current realities is of necessity harder. In the past, European militaries have distinguished between EU contingents deployed to operate under UN command (as in Lebanon) and those under EU command working alongside the UN (as in the DRC in 2003 and 2006). Blurring the distinction between these two types of deployment is extremely complicated, and not necessarily conducive to effective operations.
However, there are cases in which specialised “CSDP military modules” could deploy to assist the UN or another organisation achieve fixed goals, but with a separate chain of command.
• in a case where the UN or the AU is deploying a new operation, the EU could send an autonomous engineering mission with orders to construct necessary camps and other military infrastructure. This would be a time-limited operation with a sharply defined set of tasks, reducing worries about costs and mission creep. The EU could also deploy distinct assets, such as a field hospital, to assist a UN, AU or other force.
• in a case where – as, recently, in Libya – the presence of chemical or biological weapons is a concern for the UN, the EU could send a dedicated team of military WMD specialists to help secure and disarm the stockpiles. Again, they could maintain their own chain of command.
• although the debate about how to utilise the EU Battlegroups is ongoing, one option would be to use them to provide temporary security to UN, AU or other civilian political staff deploying into unstable environments. The EU mandated a mission of this type to assist humanitarian workers in Libya last year, although it was never deployed. One obstacle to the EU deploying military CSDP modules would be the complexity of getting clearance from the European Council in a timely fashion – many of the tasks described above require rapid response. But such mandates are not always necessary. The EU Movement Planning Cell (EUMPC, part of the EU Military Staff) has previously played a useful co-ordinating role in identifying and co-ordinating member states’ military assets to help UN humanitarian operations in cases such as the 2010 Pakistan floods. This was, of course, justified by co-ordination with European Commission humanitarian officials. Could the European Council agree to let the EUMPC play a similar role in, for example, co-ordinating the rapid transport of personnel and basic equipment of a UN political team or a regional organisation’s human rights observers into theatre?
Increasing The Readiness Of Others
While there are many ways that the EU can use its military and civilian tools to assist partner organisations, it is also important that it continues to transfer knowledge and lessons learned to others. As noted above, the EU has a potentially important role to play in assisting organisations such as ASEAN and the Arab League to develop their crisis management capacities, just as it has helped the AU before. It should work closely with the UN and other organisations that are also providing this sort of
support. Options for Cooperation run from simple
mechanisms to build expertise to much larger investments.
• the EEAS could run a “Crisis Management Scholarship” scheme, by which EEAS staff in Arab and Asian countries could identify potential leaders of future missions for training in Europe. The EU Security and Defence College has already devoted time to working with partners, which can be increased.
• European personnel with experience of CSDP operations in cases such as Afghanistan and Kosovo could organise training and operational simulations in Jakarta, Qatar and other centres.
• the EU could develop a basic stockpile of equipment – 4×4 vehicles, basic communications kit, etc. – to loan to other organisations undertaking rapid civilian deployments in emergencies.
• following the model of the African Peace Facility, the EU could set aside a fund to support non-military crisis management operations and associated training by regional organisations, either in general or with a specific focus (an Arab Peace Facility, for example) to help new crisis managers emerge. Ultimately, such Cooperation may lead to networks of crisis managers better-equipped to handle future crises with the EU. Such networks may offer a framework for a new era of innovative CSDP operations.
What concrete steps can the EEAS, the European Commission and EU member states take to strengthen cooperation with their partners in crisis management? There is a need for a mix of conceptual steps – to build consensus for Cooperation – and “learning by doing”, to see what will work on the ground.
• the European Council’s Political and Security Committee (PSC) should request the officials responsible for CSDP, along with other relevant elements of the EEAS and the European Commission to undertake a global assessment of partner organisations’ gaps and needs in civilian crisis management, and how the CSDP “modules” could address these. Much of the assessment could take place on the basis of existing studies conducted by partner organisations themselves – such as the UN’s recent review of its civilian deployment mechanisms – with added analysis on concrete options for EU/CSDP support.
• in co-ordination with the relevant European Commissioners, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy should identify three or four “test cases” for boosting EU delegations’ support to UN and other peace operations. In these test cases, the heads of delegation should be tasked with playing an enhanced broker role, identifying ways in which the delegation can work on governance/security issues with a government, thereby taking pressure off a UN/other peace operation in fulfilling its mandate.
• the PSC should request the EUMPC to conduct a study on options for co-ordinating emergency lift support to peace operations mounted by other organisations. This could draw on the EUMPC’s experience in coordinating humanitarian lift, as well as earlier lift support for the AU in Darfur.
• in order to identify options for support to emerging crisis management actors, EEAS officials dealing with CSDP issues should offer to organise lessons-learning exercises with the Arab League and ASEAN on recent crises. To reduce potential sensitivities around these sessions, UN peacekeeping officials could co-host, or a third-party think-tank (such as the Centre for International Peace Operations (ZIF) in Berlin) could take formal responsibility for the discussions.
• the High Representative should commission a scoping study on options for an “Arab Peace Facility” as a counterpart to the African Peace Facility, and possible alternatives. This study could also cover other options noted above, such as an EU-managed stockpile of equipment available to crisis management operations launched by other organisations.
• The European Security and Defence College should work with the relevant regional directorates of the EEAS to discuss the possibility of a “crisis management scholarship scheme” backed by EU delegations in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.
The proposals outlined above are all deliberately limited and careful steps. The EU’s financial and political constraints mean that this is not the time to launch grandiose new security initiatives. But by strengthening the EU’s web of partnerships with the UN and regional organisations, the EEAS can help bring resources to bear on crises that directly threaten European interests. If the EU cannot manage all these crises alone, it can at least play a significant role in enabling others to take the lead in doing so. This inevitably involves compromises and frictions: European officials will sometimes disagree with the strategies that the UN or the AU takes, for example, and African and Arab leaders will not take orders from Brussels. But with new dangers emerging along Europe’s southern flank and further afield, perfectionism is not an option. Instead, the EU has to do what it can with its constrained resources to manage crises as they arise through whatever channels are available. In crisis management – as in many other policy areas – the EU needs all the friends it can get.
A version of this paper was originally presented at the conference jointly organised by ECFR and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on ‘Ensuring a Comprehensive EU Approach to Crises. Readiness, Response and Recovery’ on 28th February 2012. Nick Witney gave very helpful advice on both the original and final versions. Olivier de France, Hans Kundnani and Alba Lamberti provided useful comments on the final text, as did a number of officials from relevant governments and organisations. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent, effective and values-based European foreign policy.
About the author
Richard Gowan is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is also associate director for crisis diplomacy and peace operations at New York University’s Centre on International Cooperation. Last Winter, he was invited to lecture at the Military College in the Defence Forces Training Centre on foot of his contributions to SIGNAL Magazine.
1 European support to UN humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts is discussed at greater length in Sven Biscop and Richard Whitman, “The UN and European Strategy”, in The Routledge Handbook of European Security (London: Routledge, 2012). Many of this paper’s references to previous EU missions are derived from Giovanni Grevi, Damien Helly and Daniel Keohane (eds.), “European Security and Defence Policy: The First 10 Years”, EUISS, 2009, and from Daniel Korski and Richard Gowan, “Can the EU Rebuild Failing States? A Review of Europe’s Civilian Capacities”, European Council on Foreign Relations, October 2009.
2 “European Foreign Policy Scorecard 2012”, European Council on Foreign Relations, January 2012, p. 113.
3 The Arab League mission was deployed in December 2011 and was suspended at the end of January. In the 1970s the League deployed a (largely Syrian) peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
4 The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a regular partner for the EU in the Balkans and Central Asia, is also increasingly hamstrung by political differences between Russia and the West.
5 Daniel Korski and Richard Gowan, “Can the EU Rebuild Failing States? A Review of Europe’s Civilian Capacities”, European Council on Foreign Relations, 2009, pp. 27–29.
6 Richard Gowan, “From Rapid Reaction to Delayed Inaction? Congo, the UN and the EU”, International Peacekeeping, Vol. 18, No. 5 (2011), pp. 603–604.
7 See Center on International Cooperation, Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2012, p. 107.
8 Nick Witney, “How to Stop the Demilitarisation of Europe”, European Council on Foreign Relations, November 2011, p. 4.