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Assessing the success of the EU in conflict resolution.

Assessing the success of the EU in conflict resolution.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Cummins. Originally submitted for Contemporary International Relations at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Dr Etain Tannam in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Joseph Cummins. Originally submitted for Contemporary International Relations at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Dr Etain Tannam in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Assess the success of the EU in conflict resolution.
 The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community(which became the European Union) following the end of the SecondWorld War, was in essence, a conflict resolution project. The EU’sfounders saw it as a functionalist international institution that wouldestablish economic and political ties between the countries of central Europe, gradually but permanently removing the possibilityof war from the region, which had for decades been fraught withtension and often violence. The success of the EU project and thedevelopment of the European single market - its economicintegration and innovation - have since made the EU region theworld’s largest economy, with far reaching implications for trade,investment and economic development far beyond its own borders. Together these factors allow the EU a unique position in worldaffairs. The EU combines both significant economic might - to pose‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ incentives for states all around the world - andalso potential normative legitimacy, derived from the fact that theEU itself evolved from an institutional conflict resolution project, toenable it substantial effectiveness in conflict resolution betweenthird party states in the international system. The EU’s involvementin resolving conflicts outside of its own borders, however, has rarely,if ever, reflected this premise (Smith, 2008; Tocci, 2011). This essayseeks to examine the success of the EU’s engagement in conflictresolution internationally, and attempts to determine some of thereasons behind its successes and failures.Firstly, there will be a very brief overview of the EU’s engagement inconflict resolution, followed by a justification of the elements thatthis essay will focus on and the cases selected for examination.Next, I will proceed by laying out three cases of the EUsinvolvement in conflict resolution, examining its effectiveness, andfinally, discuss briefly some factors that seem to affect itsperformance. The EU’s emergence as an actor in international affairs has beengradual. Before the end of the Cold War, international organisationssuch as the United Nations (UN) and North Atlantic TreatyOrganisation (NATO), were the main vehicles through whichEuropean states played a role on the world stage. Since the 1990sthe EU has emerged, to a greater or lesser extent, as an importantplayer. Conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s, and in particular,sustained violence in Bosnia and Kosovo, served to highlight theEU’s inability to manage a war close to its own borders. Since then,the EU has frequently played a more active role in conflict resolutionand altered its institutional arrangements to allow more coherentaction in world affairs. From agreeing a Stability Pact with a numberof states in the Balkans, to deploying troops as part of a peacekeeping mission in Chad, funding and supporting cross-border andcross-community initiatives in Northern Ireland, to a rapid
deployment of troops and cease-fire brokering in the Caucuses; theEU’s involvement in conflict resolution has taken a variety of different forms, with varying degrees of success (Smith, 2008; Tocci,2011; Diez et al., 2006; Kotios, 2001). While it is beyond the scopeof this essay to examine all aspects of the EU’s conflict resolutionengagement, a potentially insightful way to proceed will be toexamine two of the central features of EU conflict resolution in anumber of diverse cases.As outlined in the introduction, I propose that two fundamentalaspects of the EU’s conflict resolution engagement are, firstly, itsability to use coercive economic and political means to offerincentives to states as part of a conflict resolution agreement,wielding the ‘carrot’ and the ‘stick’, through trade agreements,economic support packages and in some cases, negotiation onaccession to the EU. This aspect of EU conflict resolution supportspolitical science theories of economic pragmatism and rationalinstitutionalism, in that economic incentives and cooperation withinan international agreement can alter statespreferences. Thesecond core tenet of EU conflict resolution, I propose, is a distinctivenormative legitimacy in international affairs, based on the EU’sorigins as a peace building project and its core principals, bothinternally and externally applicable, of non-violent problem solving,institutionalised negotiation and democracy. There is muchreference, in discourses of the EU, to ‘normative power’. Thisapproach would support constructivist political theories, highlightingthe power of ideas and norms, developed through interaction andengagement, to alter the perceptions and preferences of states; inthis instance, the ability of the EU’s normative legitimacy and coreideas to convince actors to engage in negotiation and non-violentsolutions to conflict (Harpaz and Shamis, 2010; Tocci, 2008).In order to examine the effectiveness of these two core elements of EU conflict negotiation, I will proceed to briefly examine threeseparate cases: the conflict in Cyprus between Greek and TurkishCypriots, the conflict between Georgia and Russia in the Caucuses,and the Middle Eastern conflict between Israel and the Palestiniancommunity. The EU has played an interesting role in each, and whilethese cases do not amount to a comprehensive analysis of EUinvolvement in conflict resolution, they can pose an illustrativeinsight, due to varying degrees of effectiveness and relevance of thetwo central features proposed. The conflict on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus dates as far backas the 1500s. Tension arises between Cypriots who affiliatethemselves culturally with Turkey in the north of the island, andCypriots who are culturally connected to Greece in the south. A UNbrokered cease-fire between the two sides in 1974, following anattempted coup by the Greek Cypriots, established a ‘Green Line’separating the two, running through the capital Nicosia and alongthe length of the island. The two sides have essentially been
governing themselves ever since, with the migration of GreekCypriots to the south, and a Turkish military presence in the north.After Greece’s accession to the EU in the eighties, Greek Cypriotsunilaterally applied for EU accession in 1990. The EU’s role inconflict resolution in the Cypriot case has thus been tightly linked tothe negotiation of EU membership for the countries andcommunities – involved (Fisher, 2001). An attempt to reconcile thetwo sides, brokered by UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, offeredCyprus closer ties with the EU and fast-tracked EU accession, inreturn for compromise and unification of the island. Thisrepresented the EU’s ability to offer (‘carrot’) economic incentives inorder to secure a resolution to the conflict. The Annan-Plan wassupported by a majority of Turkish Cypriots, for whom the economicincentives of joining the EU were most attractive and for whom anegotiated end to the conflict in the context of the EU negotiationseemed most favourable. For Greek Cypriots, however, thelikelihood of accession to the EU was already quite high and soeconomic incentives were not as appealing, also, Greek Cypriots feltthat the Annan-Plan didn’t ensure quick enough withdrawal of  Turkish troops from the north nor a fair enough compromise interms of relocation of displaced Greek Cypriots to the north. Itseemed likely to Greek Cypriots that they could secure a better dealafter accession to the EU had taken place. Cypriots thus rejected theAnnan-Plan in a national referendum in April 1994. In terms of normative power, the EU’s engagement seems to have been arelative success. Large pro-peace demonstrations took place innorthern Cyprus in 2002 and 2003, where many of the protestorswaved EU flags. The idea of negotiated settlement to the conflictand the esteem associated with EU membership became attractiveto both communities, though possibly more so in the Turkish north,especially as it became clear that Turkey was also considered apotential EU member (Tocci, 2008; Fisher, 2001; Axt, 2009).While no unification of the island could be agreed, Cyprus became amember of the EU, as two separately governed halves, in 2004.Since accession there has been cordial relations between the twogoverning bodies, within the EU framework. EU membershipprovides considerable incentives for the two to work together, evenif unification into a single government still seems unattainable. There has been some disaffection with the EU since accession,partially as a result in the delays in economic integration andgrowth, and, in the north, because of the obstacles that haveemerged to Turkey’s membership of the Union (Rumelili, 2007; Diezet al., 2006).Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, conflict over the territorybetween Russia and independent Georgia, has flared up, focussingon the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, along the Russian-Georgian border. While Georgia wishes to maintain territorialintegrity, these regions are dominated by Russian influence, which

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