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Securing Peace

Preventing cconflict aand bbuilding peace: tthe UUK’s rrole iin a cchanging wworld

peace: t t he U U K’s r r ole i i n a c c

The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group

October 2009

The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG)


Members of the PSLG

(listed alphabetically):

British American Security Information Council (BASIC) Conciliation Resources (CR) Conscience TAXES FOR PEACE NOT WAR Gender Action on Peace and Security (GAPS) International Alert (IA) Medact Oxford Research Group (ORG) Peace Direct Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) Responding to Conflict (RTC) Saferworld The United Nations Association-UK (UNA-UK)

About the PSLG

The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG) brings together NGOs engaged in peace and security issues. The group works to establish mechanisms for policy dialogue on security- related topics between NGOs and the British government that is of practical benefit to both parties. The organisations that make up the PSLG bring together considerable knowledge and experience from the peace and security sector of UK civil society. Their fields of interest and expertise span conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacebuilding, arms control and disarmament, international security and governance. Their remits include advocacy, research and campaigning. A policy summary based on this report is available to download from:



The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group






1. Conflict prevention: from the periphery to the mainstream


2. Empowering local capacity in post-conflict situations:


lessons from Afghanistan

3. Incentives, sanctions and conditionality in peacemaking


4. Delivering health care in unstable environments:


roles, capacities and consequences

5. The National Security Strategy: implementing an integrated approach


6. Building community capacity to engage in early recovery in conflict affected countries:


perspectives from peacebuilders from D.R. Congo

7. The EU’s approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding: current developments and the role of member states


8. Building a spirit of cooperation for NPT 2010



What is the added value of investment in preventing conflict and building peace, particularly relative to defence expenditure?

UK government polices on peace and security issues have developed significantly since 2000. Greater attention is now given to the UK’s international role in preventing and resolving violent conflict, with an acknowledgement that military solutions alone are not appropriate or effective in the face of complex conflicts which can afflict whole regions.

This report is based on a series of roundtable meetings held between 2007 and 2009, which examined aspects of these policies from both Whitehall and civil society perspectives. Issues raised included some of the trickiest in peacebuilding – the relationship between locals and outsiders (whether multilateral agencies, national donors or international NGOs – INGOs), how sanctions and conditionality can backfire, and the role of the military in post-conflict reconstruction.

Challenges were identified for policymakers and practitioners alike. Highly complex situations require extended attention, in-depth engagement and consistent investment of economic and human resources. How can we build understanding of the nature of intractable conflicts? How should we deal with the pressure to deliver short-term results rather than invest in long-term solutions?

Given the increasingly tight economic climate, how can national and international security best be achieved? What is the added value of investment in preventing conflict and building peace, particularly in relation to defence expenditure?

These are difficult but vital issues which will continue to challenge governments in future, whatever their policy agenda.

Roundtable participants included officials from across the relevant government departments, academics, and members of think tanks and NGOs. There were disagreements on all the issues discussed, though the fault lines did not always fall clearly or simply between government and civil society. Out of the interplay between their very different points of view, this report highlights new insights and approaches, which if adopted, would make our investment in this area considerably more productive.

our investment in this area considerably more productive. US army soldiers question an Iraqi woman in

US army soldiers question an Iraqi woman in Mosul 2008 Photo: U.S. Army / Pfc. Sarah De Boise


Since 2007, the NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG) 1 has sought to engage government officials, academics, members of think tanks and NGOs in discussions that look beyond the government’s headline policies on promoting peace and delivering security. The roundtable meetings posed the questions:

• How do these policies work in practice?

• Taken as a whole, how do they contribute to a consistent approach towards building peace and preventing conflict?

The meetings aimed to strengthen the UK government’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding capacity by facilitating thinking on a more consistent approach to the formulation and implementation of policies which promote peace and security. These discussions 2 over the course of two years reflect the way foreign and security policy has developed and the changes in the political climate since the series began in autumn 2007. 3 In that time, many forward steps have been taken and considerable efforts have been made in key departments to create better structures and strategies. When this series began in September 2007, the Comprehensive Spending Review was about to be launched, including Public Service Agreement (PSA) 30 (Reduce the impact of conflict through enhanced UK and international efforts), an ambitious effort to move conflict prevention and peacebuilding toward the centre of policy. Key policy developments in 2008 included the publication of the first National Security Strategy (NSS) and the FCO’s revised strategy, in which to ‘prevent and resolve conflict’ was one of four strategic policy goals. 4

Other major events – in particular the election of President Obama in November 2008 and the economic crisis of 2008-09 – have created a further shift in perspectives. These filtered into the last few roundtable discussions, which reflected renewed hope in the field of international policy, but also concerns about the longer-term implications of increasingly scarce public resources.

Since the series of meetings was completed in June 2009, the NSS has been updated and DfID has launched a new white paper. 5 Both of these documents reflect concern about global economic turmoil, increasing marginalisation of the world’s poorest communities, and the need to focus on fragile and failing states. The government has also published its Roadmap to 2010 – the NPT RevCon, 6 reflecting the marked changes in the climate of opinion on disarmament internationally, as well as in the UK since Margaret Beckett’s June 2007 speech as Foreign Secretary at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington DC.

Other major events – in particular the election of President Obama in November 2008 and the economic crisis of 2008-09 – have created a further shift in perspectives.

Notes and References

1 The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG) brings together NGOs engaged in peace and security issues. See the box on page 8 for more details, including a list of member organisations.

2 All the meetings were held under the Chatham House Rule.

3 For a summary of changes in foreign policy and the structures that support it, see for example, British Foreign Policy Since 1997, House of Commons research paper 08/56, 23 June 2008.

4 Cabinet Office, The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom:

Security in an interdependent world, Cm 7291, March 2008; FCO, Better World Better Britain, February 2008.

5 Cabinet Office, National Security Strategy of the UK Update 2009: Security for the next generation, June 2009; DfID, Eliminating World Poverty:

Building our Common Future, Cm 7656, July 2009.

6 Cabinet Office, The Road to 2010: Addressing the nuclear question in the twenty first century, July 2009.

1. Conflict prevention:

from the periphery to the mainstream

Ministers tend to focus on high-profile crises and on short-term security and military solutions rather than on conflict prevention.

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 20 September 2007 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by International Alert with the support of Conciliation Resources, Conscience and Medact. The government has taken a number of positive steps in regard to conflict issues but conflict prevention and peacebuilding demand a new approach. This meeting explored ways of ensuring a common understanding within and between government and NGOs of what a new conflict prevention and peacebuilding approach might entail and how it can be further prioritised within government.

Divisions within government

There is currently no common vocabulary on conflict prevention and peacebuilding across government. Different departments’ priorities and internal concepts add to this divided institutional culture, which stems in part from the division of labour that has developed among departments. On the whole, DfID works upstream on development, with the FCO joining if instability develops. The FCO and MoD, on the other hand, attempt to deal with the moment of crisis and the period of violent conflict. A little downstream from the crisis, it is possible that the FCO, MoD and DfID are all working at once, with the roles of the FCO and DfID diminishing as the peacebuilding process develops. This sequence is often seen as linear but, in fact, the process is frequently circular because peace agreements so often break down.

The current focus on the division of labour within government along this spectrum is inadequate. It entails coordination, division of roles and the avoidance of clashing priorities, but it cannot be strategic without agreement on objectives. Systems deal in compartments, and HMG has set compartments with different languages, purposes and cultures. There is a need for sharing at the edges, overlaps and common terminology across government.

At a more fundamental level, there is a misleading distinction made between ‘conflict prevention’ and ‘peacebuilding’. Conflict prevention is commonly viewed as what may happen before conflict turns violent (i.e. upstream) and peacebuilding is conceived as what may occur after the violent conflict has ended (i.e. downstream). However, it is often unclear whether a violent conflict is genuinely over or whether it may re-erupt (as happens within five years in approximately 40 per cent of cases). This overlap between post-war and inter-war periods means that peacebuilding is itself conflict prevention.

This situation is further confused by inconsistent and even contradictory policies. From an NGO perspective, core ‘national security interests’, as perceived by government, currently override conflict prevention concerns. Examples include the policies pursued at the international level as part of the ‘war on terror’, which have often undermined work to address conflict at the local level. Another example is the government’s aim to reduce arms flows and create a code of conduct, while at the same time backing arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. Engagement at ministerial level is an important issue here. Ministers tend to focus on high-profile crises and on short-term security and military solutions rather than on conflict prevention. The government machine may put the right advice to ministers but, with political pressures, the right decisions may not always be reached.

Government policy frameworks

The new Conflict PSA has ambitious targets:

to reduce violent conflict; promote the increased effectiveness of international organisations; improve the government’s coherence, showing impact on conflict across all departments and activities; and use both statistics and narrative to evaluate outcomes. But demonstrating effectiveness is a challenge and account has to be taken of Treasury requirements. This is not something that is currently happening.

The PSA seeks to avoid creating new mechanisms and committees – focusing instead on better implementation. This will be a gradual process, but will mean a step change and realignment of resources. It envisages a shift towards early warning, early intervention and long range forecasting of potential problems. This is ten to fifteen-year thinking, which is not in the current political framework. The goals set will not be achieved unless the government adopts a different approach and departments work together. This did occur in the field in the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool (DfID/FCO/MoD – now part of the single Conflict Prevention Pool), but less so in Whitehall.

Underlying issues in peacebuilding

The government has taken a number of steps in regard to conflict issues, but there is a large conceptual gap on how to deal with the communities and states involved in conflict. As well as tangible deliverables such as arms collection and work on the rule of law, the other half of the equation entails addressing the underlying, intangible issues – inequality, exclusion and abuse. These ‘intangibles’ are not resolved by technical assistance alone.

There is a need to ask how activities such as health care and education address these underlying issues and to develop methodological approaches to assess them.

and to develop methodological approaches to assess them. An example is the Millennium Development Goal (MDG)

An example is the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for children in school – in Burundi there has been an increase in educational provision while exclusion continues for some communities. A focus on outcomes rather than outputs demands better strategic coordination of roles and responsibilities. Fortunately, the government departments concerned recognise the need to adopt this perspective.

Another challenge is to present these intangibles to the wider public in an accessible way. The MDGs did have an impact despite their drawbacks – they captured the public imagination and provided understandable targets, which do not currently exist for conflict prevention.

Kenya community

policing training

Photo: Saferworld

New thinking

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding demand a new approach, which is difficult to achieve if it involves institutions, especially if it is happening without a pre-existing structure to support it. It also requires that alternative ways of thinking about the issues are more widely absorbed in government. Such thinking includes the following understandings:

Sound economic development leading to long-term growth in prosperity is widely agreed to be one part of the basis for sustainable peace. Yet the process of development itself often generates conflict. Thus when war-torn societies are urged to push forward economic development they are being asked to take risks.

While sound economic development is widely agreed to be a basis for sustainable peace, the process of development itself risks generating conflict in divided and war-torn societies.

Royal Navy Lt David Joyce, responsible for the UK element of the Military Stabilisation Support Team, Helmand at work speaking with local Afghans Photo: ISAF

Fully democratic systems appear to be more resistant to conflicts turning violent than other political systems, but the process of democratisation is fraught with the danger of violent conflict. Thus when societies are urged to democratise themselves as well as to push economic development forward, they are being asked to take further risks – and to do so when the institutions of governance are likely to be particularly weak.

This indicates that attention must be paid to the quality, as well as the quantity, of aid: how

it is used, to what end and with what effect.

The emphasis has to fall on helping to build the conditions that enable development, good governance, security and reconciliation to move forward.

A suggested model rests on developing good community relations through dialogue and establishing different activities that build

community security. For example, Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration (DDR) programmes have to include strategies for developing infrastructure and moving the economy forward. Outsiders cannot make peace – the people involved make peace between themselves. The key is the relationship between state and society and the need for strong civil society. Democratic, responsive and resilient states do not get built primarily by strengthening the capacity of government departments, but in the relationship between state institutions and

a strong civil society.


Achieving and maintaining stability are not just short-term goals. A short-term approach risks creating only the trappings of peace, as has happened in Sierra Leone. Stability entails more than dominating the security space. Experience in Afghanistan has led to an acknowledgement that the military is a lesser part of the solution than was envisaged. The political dimension now being discussed in Whitehall is how to deal with a centralised state with little or no power in provinces that are largely dominated by war lords. The international nature of the forces involved complicates the issue of how to engage with military, civilian and development issues outside the centre.

Addressing some of these issues will require collective UK government approaches to international institutions and recognition at the political level of the need to work to common objectives. The UK works with UN and EU offices that often lack the will or capacity to address the long-term underlying issues in peacebuilding. The UK must engage in efforts to improve the quality of thinking in international organisations. However, the focus should not just be on harmonisation, but on creative thinking about alignment at a societal as well as a government level. At the same time it has to be understood that international organisations have a limited role when it comes to robust political pressure – this is currently the role of member states.

pressure – this is currently the role of member states. 3 Securing Peace - Preventing conflict

2. Empowering local capacity in post-conflict situations: lessons from Afghanistan

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 20 February 2008 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by Oxford Research Group and Peace Direct. Local empowerment is crucial to building post- conflict societies but donor countries often concentrate their resources through international agencies instead. This meeting explored what would need to change for local capacity to be given a stronger role in post-conflict situations.

The international approach

Lasting reconstruction and peacebuilding in post-conflict situations must be rooted in local decision-making and actions. Yet the way post-conflict reconstruction is handled by Western donors has often not taken sufficient account of local capacity and privileges international agencies in allocating resources. This international approach is almost certainly not the most cost effective in the short term. More importantly, it does little to strengthen local capacity for the long term. Nonetheless, there are clearly strong institutional and political reasons why this international approach is adopted.

Local empowerment has now become widely accepted as crucial to building post-conflict societies. The meaning of the term is understood, but there is less knowledge of how to put it into practice. While there is now more funding available for work of this kind, a number of factors conspire to make it less effective than it could be: lack of interest domestically in the UK because the work is long-term; skills shortages in conflict zones; and a lack of knowledge of available donors. In addition, there is always pressure for rapid responses and instant results.

Local development capacity

There are two models for peace agreements:

the first is donor-driven and devised at a distance in foreign capitals. The second is a domestically-driven and nationally-owned process. The Bonn Agreement in Afghanistan was supposed to fall into the second category. However, the UN peace process was put together very quickly, with little guidance available on how best to do it and with little time made for local engagement, despite the aim being greater inclusion.

In Afghanistan there has been a disconnect between the UN agencies’ planning processes and the planning and financial structures of the Afghan government. For example, the World Bank initially informed the Afghan government that, in order to keep inflation down, it could not pay doctors or teachers more than $50 a month. At the same time, UN agencies were paying $800 for local drivers. The consequence was a drain of skilled Afghans to unskilled work in the vast network of donor organisations working in Afghanistan, to the detriment of the domestic civil service. Despite some successes, donors were therefore undermining local capacity building efforts.

Research shows similar patterns in other post-conflict situations where domestic actors are marginalised by technical assistance, and there is a mismatch between local and international systems. For example, while a key to successful post-conflict reconstruction is an effective domestic construction sector, in reality foreign firms and NGOs often get construction jobs that could be carried out by domestic agents. There is a failure of donor systems to configure and mesh with domestic capacity. Technical assistance contracts are a particular problem as they actively discourage foreign contractors from investing in local capacity.

Local empowerment has now become widely accepted as crucial to building post-conflict societies.

Local conflict resolution capacity

War and conflict have led to the breakdown of social links and ties in Afghan society, weakening the traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution. The result is proliferation of local conflicts and disputes that are not dealt with. Community-level conflicts add to political instability – they affect the overall security environment by driving a wedge between communities. Despite this, efforts remain limited at the local level and donor- driven at the wider political level.

Peacebuilding at the national political level is necessary but not sufficient. There is a need for bottom-up peacebuilding and support for local peacebuilding initiatives. There also needs to be a better balance between social and physical infrastructure building. Development currently emphasises physical reconstruction rather than social building, peacebuilding and relationship building.

These are harder to measure and produce less obvious results, but they are crucial to strengthen the social fabric of a country. Community-based peacebuilding should be integrated as a national programme – similar to a national solidarity programme.

Currently there is a lack of understanding of these processes, and a lack of interest on the part of the international community. On the part of the Afghan government, there is a failure to get information out to local people with the result that the communications strategies of the insurgent groups are more effective than those of the government.

Ways forward in local capacity building

Developing local capacity in development and conflict resolution presents a series of ways forward as well as obstacles for the UK government and international community.

for the UK government and international community. Local peacebuilding: an Afghan NGO working with a local

Local peacebuilding: an Afghan NGO working with a local peace council

near Kabul

Photo: Peace Direct

UK government


• FCO officials spend a relatively short time in post in Afghanistan – between six months to two years. They are not trained in the local languages – Dari or Pashto. There is a lack of high-level translators with an understanding of the culture and linguistic nuances. At large formal meetings, documents are often produced in English and are therefore not accessible to Afghan officials, let alone local people.

• FCO staff members’ first obligation is to their managers and to meet the targets expected of them, not to adjust and adapt to their surroundings and environment, meaning that they often gain little understanding of the country they are working in.

Ways forward:

• The UK government has made the positive step of channelling 80 per cent of its assistance through the Afghan government, thereby strengthening the domestic administration. The UK has an important role to play in persuading other donor countries to follow suit (currently 77 per cent of other donors channel their development budgets outside the Afghan government). However, most of this money only covers recurring costs – mainly salaries. Once these are covered little is left to carry out development projects. This arrangement maintains the status quo but does not add anything extra.

• The UK should be supporting NGOs financially until the Afghan government can take over the functions that NGOs are fulfilling. The UK government should also make sure that the NGOs it supports can pass their capacity on to local people. It is crucial to build capacity at the local and national levels as they are mutually reinforcing.

• The UK’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) is the only one to have a civilian rather than a military leader, which sets a different tone and emphasis, and can build better relationships. The UK needs to persuade other countries to do the same.

The international community


• There is an international politics of intervention, with different vested interests and drivers (including counter-narcotics and counter- terrorism), which can marginalise local actors.

• The militarisation of aid creates a blurred distinction between development workers and the military on the ground, so that local people often do not see the difference between them.

• Top-down approaches that focus on institutional processes emphasise structures rather than citizens.

• There is a fragmentation of donor effort and lack of leadership and effective management of mechanisms for donating international aid.

Ways forward:

• Collective accountability.

• Countries should be open about their national interests and clear about their priorities.

• Build on the successes in public financial management (such as the Afghan Trust Fund) by promoting local ownership, and extend the period over which aid funds flow though the system – if there is a longer window of time, it is possible to work through local mechanisms.

• Work more with regional neighbours and those affected by the conflict, rather than relying solely on the international capabilities of major states.

• There should be a longer tenure for officials and other international staff working in the country.

• The UK should use its leverage with the World Bank as the largest donor to the IDA facility to increase the Bank’s presence in fragile states.

• Rethink performance indicators, especially on the impact of technical assistance contracts. There should also be more research on perverse technical assistance mechanisms that undermine domestic capacity.

• For conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, there should be an international conference table, which is open to all interested parties to discuss key issues related to that conflict.

3. Incentives, sanctions and conditionality in peacemaking

The measures taken should strengthen societal support and encourage more inclusive and comprehensive processes.

Bush school programme in Central African Republic supported by DfID allows children in conflict zones to resume their education Photo: DfID / Simon Davis

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 31 March 2008 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by Conciliation Resources in collaboration with International Alert. Incentives, sanctions and conditionality are frequent features of government policy responses to countries experiencing violent conflict. This meeting explored the ways in which these measures can positively or negatively influence a peace process.

Carrots and sticks

Incentives and sanctions – often applied conditionally – are usually the primary means external actors use to respond to violent conflicts and encourage the parties involved to engage in peace negotiations. There is a spectrum of modes of influence from the most coercive forms of sanctions to non-coercive positive incentives to engage in negotiations.

Sanctions can be a catalyst for change, raising the costs of intransigence, deterring negative behaviour and inducing parties to talk. Though frequently applied, they are seen to be of questionable effectiveness, with little evidence of impact and with the potential to have unintended and negative effects. Where there are multiple agendas and contending priorities, they can result in strategy gridlock and risk fuelling conflict.

can result in strategy gridlock and risk fuelling conflict. There are three principal sets of incentives:

There are three principal sets of incentives:

(1) economic gains; (2) political legitimacy and recognition; and (3) guarantees and assurances. These can foster favourable conditions, encourage progress, generate public support and aid implementation. However, the success of external incentives depends on the capacity to encourage and amplify parties’ own motivations to make peace with adversaries.

In general, policies need to be attuned to the factors driving conflict and what is likely to modify its course and anticipate the effects of policies on intra-party dynamics and decision- making. The measures taken should strengthen societal support and encourage more inclusive and comprehensive processes.

Competing priorities in government

Peace negotiations are often launched on ‘our’ timetable, but some moments are better than others for encouraging the parties to make peace, and there are lots of intrinsic uncertainties. Humanitarian and human rights considerations are very important to the government. Rather than terrorist proscription versus peacebuilding, the greater tension is usually between the importance of stopping the immediate humanitarian crises versus the necessity for long-term peacebuilding. The difficulty is the long-term nature of peacebuilding and the need to engage with abusers, which may be in contradiction with, for example, the rules of the International Criminal Court.

It is very difficult for governments to get this right. There is insufficient access to knowledge and that knowledge is not well distributed within government. Officials working on a particular conflict are not necessarily those who know about conflict in general.

Even if they are knowledgeable about a specific conflict there is a tendency to assume that senior officials will have access to better information.

There is also a tendency to overemphasise the leverage of aid, particularly when it is on a large scale. Instead, it might be useful to think about how smaller scale aid to activities that stimulate peace processes – such as civil society capacity building and advocacy projects – are in effect incentivising peace, and have the potential to be more effective than using aid as a ‘stick’.

Sanctions and signalling are tied up with big questions such as sovereignty and maintaining the international order. Multilateral instruments are held in high regard – but they are very slow and often not that nuanced. Handling the multilateral aspect is very difficult because of competing interests, often not related to the specific conflict, and how conflict actors themselves respond to the dynamics of international discussions. The conflict parties are often better at playing these politics than the international organisations. The UN reflects the views of member states and their interests, even in the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). The UN’s capacity to function depends on political will and acceptance that the UN has a mandate to act. As such, action depends on the interests of UN members relative to the conflict actors. This is complicated by different fault lines within the UN, including the question of resources.

It is important to recognise the real world of government, international politics and policy alignments, and the complexity of conflict must be acknowledged. Even the best designed strategies are not guaranteed to have the intended positive effect: there is a fine line, often in retrospect, between having a positive impact, ‘doing no harm’, or having a negative impact. For example, the UK government could appear to be incentivising ‘bad’ behaviour through a history of increasing aid to governments committing human rights violations, such as Somalia and Rwanda.

Dilemmas for development and humanitarian agencies

There are a number of dilemmas that have difficult implications for development and humanitarian agencies:

• Will external attempts to secure an immediate end to violent conflict on humanitarian grounds jeopardise the achievement of a transformative peace for the longer term, based on a locally- owned, locally-appropriate and locally-paced peace process?

• The provision of humanitarian aid in conflict situations is inherently political, however much it seeks to maintain impartiality and neutrality.

• There are associated risks in setting conditionalities:

in particular, holding development and reconstruction for ordinary people hostage to the interests of the conflict parties who are likely to have a different set of calculations.

• Donors have an inherent bias towards engaging with national governments. Although there are ways to work around governments to deliver aid, there is rarely space to engage in aid delivery with armed groups – especially those designated as ‘terrorists’ – even those who are most effectively placed to deliver basic services to people on the ground.

• The OECD-DAC (Development Assistance Committee) ‘Principles for Engaging in Fragile States’ may create some tensions for donors – for example, the logic that aid unpredictability feeds instability is difficult to square with the idea that aid conditionality can be used to respond to short- term lack of progress in a peace process.

DfID has put a lot of effort into developing a shared conflict analysis among donors, for example in Sri Lanka, helping to challenge some of the assumptions about the role of aid in peace processes. DfID is piloting ‘conflict audits’ to assess the degree to which country programmes are integrating conflict sensitivity into their policy work. This offers a potentially useful avenue for considering how DfID’s aid programmes and policies act to incentivise peace and disincentivise violence. Conflict analysis approaches could place more emphasis on mapping international aid actors in terms of the effect of their aid policies in incentivising peace and disincentivising violence.

International participants in peace processes often do not look from both ends of the telescope.

The importance of perception

There is an ongoing gap between understanding and action, and a great complexity of motives in peace processes. Perception is of great importance and mistrust can undermine a ‘rational approach’.

International participants in peace processes often do not look from both ends of the telescope. They have a relatively complete analysis from the London end, but they often do not have a sufficiently nuanced appreciation of how protagonists will respond to their interventions. Protagonists are also operating in a wider societal environment, and this interaction influences, and is influenced by, responses to international interventions. It is also important that the parties understand each others’ stories and responses to the use of incentives and sanctions. Local mediators can often play a crucial role in helping each side to interpret and understand the other party's behaviour.

Aid donors can exaggerate the impact of what aid can do and sometimes this is counter-productive (for example, the impact of aid in war economies is actually quite marginal).

Furthermore, the largest USAID recipients in the 1960s and 1970s were disastrously unrepresentative governments and there is a worry that the Cold War view of ‘aiding friends’ has been reproduced by the ‘war on terror’ priorities.


There are several lessons that government and NGOs can learn in relation to policy-making on incentives and sanctions in peacebuilding:

• Thematic conflict advisers are one way to bridge the gap between thematic and practical decision-making.

• Competition between sound analysis and political priorities creates an opportunity to challenge governments on their decisions.

• Those who undertake thematic work often have difficulties getting the information to the right decision-makers. NGOs need to understand how decision-making is carried out.

• It is a mistake to see conflict prevention as a separate policy as it is not carried out in isolation.

a separate policy as it is not carried out in isolation. Civilians displaced from LTTE-controlled by

Civilians displaced from LTTE-controlled by the Sri Lankan Army's military offensive January 2009 Photo: trokilinochchi

4. Delivering health care in unstable environments:

roles, capacities and consequences

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 24 June 2008 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by Medact, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Merlin. Delivering health care and supporting health systems are important aspects of humanitarian activity in areas of violent conflict. This meeting explored the relationships between the military, humanitarian and health workers and communities, with a particular focus on Quick Impact Projects.

Quick Impact Projects

Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) have replaced ‘hearts and minds’ activities in the military vocabulary. However, humanitarian best practice indicates that sustainability and long- term outcomes should be addressed even in the acute stage of an emergency. It is often said that military involvement will ‘contaminate’ health care but the reality is more complex. If military actors are involved in local health services it does not necessarily create problems. In any case, the military does have a role to play under International Humanitarian Law (IHL): an injured civilian should receive the same treatment as injured military personnel if brought to a military facility. The military have always treated civilians in this way; what is being discussed now is a concerted and planned strategy to increase military involvement in health care.

In post-conflict situations of asymmetric warfare, such as Iraq from 2004, non- adherence to IHL creates a security vacuum, making it difficult for NGOs to operate and deliver health care. This leads to military involvement so as to allow NGOs to operate.

In the Basra region of Iraq, UK armed forces worked with the Director General of Public Health to provide local services, and provided security for some senior health staff who were under threat. They also carried out Quick Impact Projects involving infrastructure and utilities. In northern Afghanistan from 2002 onwards healthcare was likewise supported by the UK armed forces.

QIPs have always been part of providing a basic package of drugs, training staff, reconstructing facilities and taking health care to unsafe areas. Considerations include the type of QIPs being implemented, their rationale and how they link to longer term strategies and meet community needs. Depending on different contexts, QIPs involving health and health relationships can be defensible – for example, in Liberia and Ethiopia QIPs were useful for a quick start to fill gaps. It depends how they relate to wider Health Systems Strengthening (HSS). Tensions around the delivery of QIPs include whether they are a quick response, whether they fill a gap, or whether they are primarily for force protection (but hide behind the humanitarian label).

There is currently no MoD or NATO doctrine as to how military medical services relate to local communities – it is the responsibility of local commanders. There is some good practice, but the ways in which some QIPs and other practices have been implemented have been unethical – particularly on the part of the US. Health professionals in the military operate on the same ethical basis as others and have ignored the idea that they should not assist civilians. However, the military is now under pressure to contribute to health care primarily because it improves security.

There is currently no MoD or NATO doctrine as to how military medical services relate to local communities.

At the NATO summit in Riga in November 2006, the heads of state instructed the armed forces to develop their ideas on how health services fitted into what they did. However, assistance should be provided impartially according to need – so talk of ‘hearts and minds’ changes the nature of the intervention. Health care was, in the past, a widely accepted activity in humanitarian emergencies. The current problem is the blurring of humanitarian space because of political / military objectives.

Evaluating quick impact projects

At what point does a QIP become something else, become too entrenched? Are there benchmarks that measure progress and make it possible to judge this? What role do QIPs have in restoring a level of trust and building for the longer term? Careful consideration of the objectives and the resources entailed is needed, as well as how to link them to ongoing projects. It is necessary to measure the process as well as the impact, and they are often needed over a long period to ensure adequate health care provision. However, they are more often seen as quick fix, and in this case they have a very limited role.

In one view, the military’s efforts to evaluate this work have not been successful in this particular area, though they are good at measuring progress in other areas.

though they are good at measuring progress in other areas. US Marine medic gives a brief

US Marine medic gives a brief health check to an Afghan child in 2006

Photo: MoD /

John Smith

More effort should go into developing ways of assessing effectiveness. It is important that QIPs do not end up as white elephants – for example, providing equipment which cannot work because there is no electricity supply. The FCO is trying to encourage benchmarks at the UN to measure effectiveness and possibly to judge the success of QIPs.

The interpretation of QIPs and how they relate to hearts and minds needs consideration. The International Development Act specifies impartial humanitarian objectives, but in the hearts and minds approach a military organisation living in a village with its own medical support would find it difficult not to offer assistance. DfID, the MoD and the FCO have an implicit agreement about QIPs. However, the exact nature of QIPs is not explicitly understood between them or in the UK’s relationship with others. There is also a wider lack of explicitness – discussions have begun within NATO but quite a few nations have given no thought to it.

Health services for the longer term

The implications of the international support given to the Afghan government meant some organisations chose not to remain in the country, particularly because of the way the US positioned itself in relation to the Afghan state. The move from providing acute to longer-term services through strengthening health systems needs strong community engagement, and is not going to happen overnight – realistically it could take three decades.

Of the three generic principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, neutrality is often not practically possible. Often NGOs are not seen as impartial. The concept of participation is critical and any health programme needs to support the national strategy. In Congo and Liberia conditions were slightly different as there was a policy vacuum and it would have taken far too long to wait to provide an effective and coordinated response. Political drive is useful, as is engagement with the community.

For example, high profile input into the central midwifery training facility in Afghanistan also reflected community priorities.

Local participation and good community relations are the key factor for security, while prioritising relations with the Ministry of Health is also important. People make choices about which services to use and community perceptions of risk are not yet fully understood. However unstable the situation is, there is a need to provide quality services (over and above basic health needs) otherwise people become disgruntled. Evidence on the relationship between health and state building is anecdotal but there is an intuitive recognition of the stabilising effect of providing services and meeting people’s needs.

Iraq: local perceptions of different actors

After three wars and thirteen years of sanctions, the Iraqi health system is at a massive disadvantage, and this neglect resonates with Iraqi civilians. Sanctions removed their control over public services and seriously damaged delivery. The static health budget under sanctions led to financial corruption, a rise in black market activity and loss of health personnel through emigration. Before this, Iraq’s health services were considered to be the best in the region. Iraqi health professionals are still taught best practice, but the medium in which to practice is no longer there. The public have lost their trust in the government and the public sector, and also in the international community: they saw an opportunity to respond to their needs in 2003 wasted and feel let down.

In the early days, before the bombing of UN headquarters, there was an optimistic feeling about the way the UN was operating. Since then there has been a high degree of interference and difficulties created by faith- based political parties. Following the looting of health facilities immediately after the invasion there was an expectation that the NGO community would help, when in fact they soon withdrew due to increasing insecurity.

Restricted access to health care in a situation of increased trauma has meant higher death rates. People are fearful of making use of NGO facilities, as they do not know who may be watching them. In the early days after the 2003 invasion, a military role could have been effective. But now, events of the last five years have influenced the way people see military involvement, creating distrust of the military.

So where does this leave the Iraqi people? They have unmet needs and they no longer trust the different actors. One possibility would be to reintroduce the old actors – the UN agencies. While some in the UN are not as innocent as one would like to expect, the UN umbrella is still trusted to a certain extent. There also needs to be trust in Iraqi NGOs from the international community, as there are many examples of their effective work. In short, the humanitarian approach is tainted but trust can be revived.

Trust and community engagement

Trust needs to be restored if the population is to be helped. QIPs can sometimes restore confidence so that it is possible to operate, therefore encouraging NGOs and others. However, organisations can be targeted if treatment is supplied in the ‘wrong’ facility. This is a practical problem – it would not, for example, be appropriate for the military to provide services to civilians returning to their villages. People who return to their home areas having been treated by the international military may be in danger because of this.

QIPs are often of more benefit to the international community than to local people; in situations of suspicion the ulterior motives for providing them can be clearly seen by the community.

UN peacekeeping forces, the UK military and NATO all need to consider what they do, and where. UN peacekeepers are perceived differently to NATO or UK troops. All should follow existing good practice guidelines, and if QIPs are undertaken, they should be part of an overall plan and direction.

QIPs are often of more benefit to the international community than to local people.

5. The National Security Strategy:

implementing an integrated approach

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 7 July 2008 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), Oxford Research Group and Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) in collaboration with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). The UK National Security Strategy is a serious attempt to integrate a wider view of security than previous Defence Reviews. However, it is still a work in progress and this meeting explored the relevance of the strategy to the broad security agenda.

The NSS is a powerful example of the growing recognition of complexity.

Developing the National Security Strategy

The UK National Security Strategy (NSS) published by the Cabinet Office in March 2008 attempts to set a framework to take forward security issues across government departments. It was an effort to shift the paradigm for the way government thinks about security and to start a debate with the public about what security is. There was an internal debate inside government on what should be in, and what outside of, the NSS. There was no hard and fast rule, and no one definition was widely accepted. What was produced was the result of a set of deliberate choices, one of which was that counter- terrorism was not the defining criterion, but that the focus should be on identifying the security challenges.

There was a recognition that there are different groups of challenges: some are as yet unknown quantities; others, such as globalisation, climate change, poverty and inequality, and resource competition, are well- known but it is not yet entirely clear how they might manifest themselves as security concerns.

Implementation is a different sort of challenge. There is good, but not good enough, coordination between departments that have traditionally had security as their concern, but not very good progress at bringing in new actors – in government, public bodies, the private sector and the third sector.

The challenges are about how the system works and, more narrowly, how government works. The Ministerial Committee on National Security, International Relations and Development (NSID) was set up in a conscious effort to create a ‘broad chapeau’ committee, which thinks about these issues together (and through its specific subcommittees). The final chapter of the NSS sets down markers – a National Risk Register, new Parliamentary structures, a National Security Forum and horizon scanning. There is also a commitment to an annual NSS review to look at the progress on implementation (with the first update published in June 2009). These reviews will play into discussion on future plans for resource allocation.

The Cabinet Office has taken on cross- Whitehall work with strong support from the FCO, working on what the Prime Minister has described as ‘deliverables’, including:

• How to respond to post-conflict situations

• How to respond to global economic shocks – especially establishing early warning mechanisms

• How to improve environmental responses to climate change, including making the World Bank a bank for the environment as well as for development.

The culture needs to move beyond traditional processes. The Capability Reviews carried out by the Cabinet Office implied departmental limitations on sharing. The alternatives are command and control, which would be easier, or a shared agenda and buy- in, which is more desirable but far more difficult to achieve.

Public understanding of the issues surrounding the NSS is more limited than hoped for. When officials were working with the media on the NSS, journalists wanted the story, not the analysis. Generating a debate is a challenge, but the National Security Forum will have a role in this.

Conflict prevention and national security

The first draft of the proposed cross- departmental conflict strategy was circulating in August/September 2007 but not much has happened with it since, though it will be revisited. Conflict policy needs to be mainstreamed beyond the ‘first rank’ of countries (including Iraq, Afghanistan and DRC). The decisions made regarding the Conflict Prevention Pool and the Stabilisation Aid Fund are component parts of the NSS, at different levels and stages of implementation. But this is seen as a linked process, not a set of silos.

DfID’s budget is not securitised but it can influence other areas, including security. For example, DfID’s strategy for Pakistan may be expected to have a beneficial impact on security. The government does have some country strategies on conflict prevention and security, but there are so many different funding streams that it is difficult to know whether in totality the whole is greater or lesser than the sum of the parts.

Missing the links

The government does not acknowledge the link between its foreign policy and its counter- terrorism strategy, making joined-up long-term thinking very difficult. After 7/7, No 10’s line was that there was no link between foreign policy and ‘home grown’ terrorism. This view does not convince British Muslims: they may condemn 7/7 entirely, but then they look at Iraq. The increased focus on counter-terrorism has also seen huge resources diverted to domestic counter-terrorism. The NSS fails to address these links.

Despite good strategies on the Chemical Weapons Convention, for example, the government’s strategy on nuclear weapons is problematic. The NSS makes strong statements about proliferation but it is difficult to argue that the UK is committed to non-proliferation when it is not taking more serious steps towards disarmament itself. If nuclear weapons are considered important to the UK’s security, it is very difficult to argue for others not to seek to obtain them.

The NSS addresses climate change and inequality as key issues, but does not make sufficient links between the two. Climate change and inequality, combined with global communications mean that communities are increasingly aware of their own marginalisation, but the NSS does not acknowledge this. If climate change is the greatest long-term threat to stability and survival, it needs to be treated as such. In the short-term, we need to secure access to energy supplies but in the long-term it makes much more sense to focus on energy conservation (in addition to renewables).

The NSS is a powerful example of the growing recognition of complexity and the importance of seeing the links in new ways. Some important steps forward have been made toward greater collaboration and a willingness to understand that these are complex issues. However, despite recognising the new security challenges, the NSS still responds in outdated terms. There is a further question of why some issues were ‘securitised’ in the NSS and others not? If, for example, the NSS was written now, would economic issues receive far greater attention?

Public understanding of the issues surrounding the NSS is more limited than hoped for.

The NSS does not take into account possible threats created by the UK’s alliances.

US ballistic missiles, Huntsville Alabama,

Budgetary implications

The NSS has budgetary implications, when military expenditure still makes up the vast majority of security spending. There is only one sentence on nuclear power in the NSS and hardly any mention of the two new aircraft carriers, which will have a huge impact on procurement and defence policies in the future. The ‘prevent’ strategy, especially engagement with marginalised communities, is grossly under-resourced.

Spending on the military and on aid is currently overstretched because of competing priorities, but there is also confusion over what the threats are – for example, are the aircraft carriers capable of working independently? If they’re not, then why not work with the US, whose capabilities will always be much greater? This is an example of the way the political element in decisions about national security encourages short-term responses to long-term issues (the aircraft carrier decision has long-term implications but is regarded as positive because of short- term employment considerations).

In prioritising between interconnected issues, there needs to be consideration of why money is being spent. On climate change, if the consequences are as bad as even medium- range predictions in the Stern report suggest, then even the combined UK, US and European armed forces could have zero

2006 impact.

Photo: if winter ends

forces could have zero 2006 impact. Photo: if winter ends Rather than thinking about military responses,

Rather than thinking about military responses, we need to focus on prevention and on strengthening other countries’ responses to it. Climate change needs to be integrated into UK foreign policy (as the ‘war on terror’ has been). That means strengthening the response at home, but also promoting integrated responses in relations with other countries.

On Trident, expense should not be the key – probably only a minimum deterrent is needed, if at all. Dependence on the US keeps the UK hostage to US policy. This runs contrary to the whole point of a UK security policy. If the UK is serious about the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), rather than making a 20 per cent reduction in the number of warheads, it should be making at least an 80 per cent reduction and retaining no ballistic missiles.

The problem of alliances

The NSS fails to make sufficiently clear links between UK foreign policy and its security. It asserts that the UK faces no state threats but does not take into account possible threats created by the UK’s alliances, particularly with the US and NATO. It is not set out publicly what these alliances are for, and what the limits are to the UK’s loyalty. For example, although Russia poses no direct threat to the UK, it does pose a threat to Georgia. Is the UK prepared to send NATO forces to Georgia to ward off a Russian attack or to defend Georgia’s claim to Abkhazia? If not, it could render the UK’s security and defence strategy useless. Likewise, how far does the alliance with the US extend? What are the implications for UK policy on Iran or Pakistan and Afghanistan, when the impact of policy and actions in one country undermines objectives in another? There are difficulties in including such issues in the NSS, but these are exactly the kinds of questions an effective strategy needs to address.

6. Building community capacity to engage in early recovery in conflict-affected countries:

perspectives from peacebuilders from D.R. Congo

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 13 February 2009 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by Gender Action on Peace and Security (GAPS) and International Alert. Early recovery is a label that covers a complex territory of early efforts to establish peace and restore systems. The aim is rapid recovery and an exit from cycles of intractable crisis. This meeting shifted the early recovery debate away from state building by the international community to focus on local peacebuilders and locally-owned and locally-driven early recovery processes.

The failure of early recovery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

There is growing consensus around the need to address identified gaps in international support for early recovery and post-conflict stabilisation. The focus is not just on peacebuilding but also on humanitarian actors and services to the population. The challenges discussed here are not special to post-conflict situations; however, misjudgements can have a greater negative impact in such acute situations. DRC is an example of the complexities around early recovery: armed conflict followed by a peace agreement but subsequent government crisis and collapse. In this case, the transition process has been highly flawed.

Ethnic identity has been politicised and used by political leaders on local, provincial, national and even international levels to achieve political legitimacy. The political and military leadership has showed weakness in dealing with migration across borders and ensuring the safety of people and goods, and has not dealt effectively with the issue of land tenure and ownership.

effectively with the issue of land tenure and ownership. Impunity and a lack of respect for

Impunity and a lack of respect for the law make crime and violence commonplace. There has also been a failure at almost every level to recognise sexual violence as a war crime, particularly where violations involving the international community were committed before the adoption of the national law against sexual violence.

Despite positive developments in the DRC’s political process, the provinces of North and South Kivu still face ongoing insecurity and consequently ever-declining living standards for their inhabitants. Despite massive levels of aid, there is little evidence of impact. As a result, there has been a failure to improve conditions despite the cessation of armed conflict.

Donors are impatient and international initiatives often play out poorly on the ground. The international community should be mindful that changes of attitude and behaviour take time, and capacity building is a slow process. One upshot of the lack of local community/civil society participation in early recovery, especially on part of women, is a view of government as not responsive to their needs. The international community is seen as part of the problem rather than the solution.

Angry crowd in eastern DRC disappointed at government failure to achieve peace Photo: Julien Harneis

When local engagement with communities is left out of the early recovery process, progress is not made and the cycle of violence may be compounded.

For eastern DRC, the end of the conflict and recovery presuppose these steps:

Governance: Implement more effective planning linked to regional cooperation and decentralised structures with community participation. Reform the national army and improve management of and adherence to DDR programmes.

Economy: Support spontaneous recovery mechanisms (returning the displaced and refugees and reviving productive activity to generate revenue). Implement planning in participation with local communities to identify sustainable livelihoods. Reinforce control and transparency over the exploitation and commercialisation of natural resources. Create a climate of trust among investors while recognising DRC sovereignty.

Community cohesion: Ensure that humanitarian operations establish stability within communities. Put early recovery initiatives in place in communities with the aim of reducing the threat of violence and the scars of conflict.

Human rights: Ensure transparency when dealing with human rights and integrate women at all levels of the recovery process.

DfID’s view of early recovery

Peacebuilding dynamics are local, national, regional and international. There is a need to link humanitarian, development, security and political actors. However, expectations are huge and have to be managed. This raises important questions: how to support contested peace processes and early efforts to create peace; how to manage security and development; how to support a peace process, or peacebuilding, rather than undermine it?

There is a lot of focus on achieving peace agreements but there is less coherence on what going beyond this stage requires. A focus purely on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Paris Principles, aid effectiveness and technical solutions may not be the right approach.

What needs to happen for early recovery to work and ensure security for the population, basic service delivery from the state, and support for national peacebuilding processes? There is a need to look at how to approach development differently – for example, the DAC principles for good international engagement in fragile states and situations go some way towards this.

The UK government would like to see a much clearer system of accountability, such as exists for the humanitarian and development areas, but currently not for this very complex period that includes peacebuilding with peacekeeping and a humanitarian response. DfID is currently struggling with the issue of whether engaging with communities is better done by multilateral or bilateral agencies. Questions include:

• Are the capacities available?

• Who should be engaging?

• What is the entry point?

• What are the incentives?

The current aid model does not allow for these questions, and focuses on inputs rather than outputs. It is based on an international system that is locked into relations with states, which are often part of the problem. The incentives for the international system and DfID to engage with NGOs are low. Efforts to lower DfID’s transaction costs while at the same time engaging with local communities do not match up. These are very difficult trade-offs, but when local engagement is left out of the process, not only is progress not made, but the cycle of violence can be compounded.

Transparency and accountability

There are a number of approaches to promoting transparency – freedom of information, citizen charters, aid transparency, one-stop shops and user services – but so far no coherent approach has emerged in an early recovery setting. Transparency must start at the local level. Donors and external institutions can best help by encouraging transparency in local institutions. The aim should be to try and reinforce existing local accountability – with a focus on improving local governance, reforming institutions and supporting local actors.

Community-driven reconstruction should lead to community-driven accountability. However, there is a problem in defining what civil society is and recognising local agents of change – INGOs tend to look for local NGOs to relate to, but there may be other members of civil society who could be engaged with. However, the dynamics of bilateral / multilateral funding are problematic and highly politicised. A further challenge is the problem of the local government being responsible more to the donor than to community. Research suggests that local communities’ perception of international donors is that they do not really care what is happening in the country.

There is also a need to ‘disaggregate society’. It is easy to focus on vertical relations while ignoring horizontal relations. When marginalisation and exclusion are at the centre of the conflict, there is a temptation to deal with elites even at local level as other groups are hard to reach. Therefore ‘local’ is not necessarily always a positive thing.


The international community should:

• Seek to ensure that all stakeholders better understand the local context in which recovery occurs; promote the widest possible levels of national and local engagement/ ownership; and work to strengthen the operational synergies between humanitarian and development assistance.

• Build capacity at both at national and local levels. The international community itself needs expertise to do this.

• Better recognise and utilise both national and international NGOs as equal partners to help provide reliable data on what national capacity exists, whether it is being utilised and how it could be strengthened. Successful early recovery entails restoring national as well as local capacity in government and businesses, alongside longer-term physical reconstruction.

• Use its influence to promote greater transparency and accountability for local populations.

• Initiate changes to funding streams to help facilitate a smoother transition from humanitarian assistance to the early recovery and development phases. Currently there is too much donor focus on the emergency phase and service delivery.

• Encourage the PBC to ensure that national early recovery plans closely align local capacity to the priorities of national actors.

• Highlight the gaps in local capacity – especially the role of women. While structures exist for emergency gender-based violence service provision, large gaps remain as donors frequently fail to recognise the importance of longer-term engagement and funding commitments to sexual violence response and prevention.

commitments to sexual violence response and prevention. Militia members in Sierra Leone being demobilised Photo:

Militia members in Sierra Leone being demobilised Photo: Travlr

7. The EU’s approach to conflict prevention and peacebuilding: current developments and the role of member states

The EU has been most successful in peacebuilding close to home. In more distant geographical areas it is less effective.

The following summary is based on the findings of a roundtable meeting convened on 6 May 2009 under the auspices of PSLG and organised by Saferworld in cooperation with the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO). The EU has a wide range of policies, strategies, processes and programmes in place to address conflict outside its borders – together these make up the EU’s ‘conflict prevention and peacebuilding architecture’. This meeting explored developments in this architecture and identified opportunities for Member States, particularly the UK, to improve the EU’s response to conflict.

Peacebuilding and the European Union

The EU was created with the aim of developing a peaceful community. In the past it has been seen mainly as a donor; now its role is expanding into peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Europe is becoming a serious player in thinking on how to address all stages of conflict.

The EU’s great success story is integration and the wider neighbourhood policy. It has been most successful in peacebuilding close to home. Among the 27 Member States there have been quarrels but no wars between them since joining the EU. In more distant geographical areas it is less effective – for example, in Afghanistan where the EU is struggling to build peace but not succeeding. For the European neighbourhood the EU offers a blueprint and strong incentives. Beyond the European neighbourhood, where EU membership is not an incentive, the situation is more complex, with competing uncertainties.

The European Mediterranean Union (Euro- Med) is the least successful of its projects. The aim of spreading peace and prosperity beyond the EU borders – starting with the Barcelona Process in 1993 – has not worked. Euro-Med now covers 60 countries, but in at least half of these there are no structures and no budgets or programmes.

In general, there is a lack of coherence in EU actions:

• Its responsibilities are currently split between Pillar 2 – Intergovernmental; and Pillar 1 – Communities, which often operate separately and in parallel.

• There are concerns about civilian capacity being absorbed into military capability. There are also tensions between the EU and NATO and the EU and UN, and with the governments of the countries where missions are deployed.

• The EU needs to evaluate peacebuilding more broadly by consulting more with civil society. Evaluation tends to look at the mission’s mandate rather than the context in the countries concerned, and lacks local community feedback. The question arises – who should EU peacebuilders be accountable to? To EU citizens or to the countries they are working in?

• The Lisbon Treaty, if ratified, will provide an External Action Service (EAS) to bring together staff from Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. It will also create a high representative to provide leadership. However, the treaty commits to increasing military, but not civilian, peacebuilding.

The Role of the European Security and Defence Policy

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) developed from the St Malo declaration in 1998 and is one of the more dynamic aspects of EU architecture. There is increasing demand for the EU to intervene internationally. However, until now, the ESDP has depended on US approval, especially in relation to NATO – it cannot be seen to be having a negative effect on NATO members that are not in the EU. There is also a question over how to integrate EU and NATO command capacity.

Several obstacles to the ESDP are being removed. The new US administration is much more open to multilateral cooperation. Furthermore, France under President Sarkozy is now reintegrating into the EU and the NATO command structure. Politicians are also realising that human security issues outside the EU affect Member States too.

The ESDP has sent out over twenty missions, both military and civilian, varying in size from 3,500 peacekeepers sent to Chad to ten people sent on a rule of law mission in Georgia. Most personnel are engaged in civilian tasks – rule of law, policing capabilities, Security Sector Reform (SSR), DDR, and mediation work. Over 2,000 EU staff currently work for the EULEX mission in Kosovo, which is the EU’s largest experiment in state building. Nonetheless, the UN is still the peacekeeper and security provider of choice, though the EU can play a bridging role, as in the Artemis mission to DRC. Beyond the European neighbourhood the EU is only one of a number of international actors and not always the most important.

The EU is clearly raising its peacebuilding capability, but Member States, including the UK, are in a learning process in relation to conflict prevention and there are still considerable gaps and problems, including:

• The nature of defence budgets, which still focus on defence of territorial borders. Some Member States have not met their commitments as certain defence ministries do not want to commit much money to peacekeeping. In any case, the EU spends only €240 million for civilian peacebuilding out of €7 billion for EU external action.

• The EU is good as a civilian actor but recruiting skilled civilians and providing good quality training is difficult. For example, civilians were deployed to the EULEX mission without training of any kind, let alone in conflict prevention.

• The time the EU devotes to external policy is considerably less than the time individual Member States devote to it. Instead, the main focus is still on maintaining the peace between the increasing number of members.

• The ESDP is dependent on lead nations (for example, France led the Chad mission and the UK led the Somalia mission) and questions remain over how to multinationalise individual interventions.

over how to multinationalise individual interventions. Soldier from EUFOR Chad / Central African Republic based in

Soldier from EUFOR Chad / Central African Republic based in north-east CAR, affected by violence from Darfur and Chad, 2008 Photo: Pierre Holtz for UNICEF /

The key question is how to translate EU policy and rhetoric into conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities on the ground?

The capacity to undertake systematic conflict prevention depends on political will from the top decision makers.

Accession to the European Union

The stages of accession for EU candidate countries are designed to stimulate state building. The EU’s foreign affairs committee focuses on issues of integration. It has the power to oversee and regulate countries’ accession process and so can help promote stability in those countries.

The EU works with these countries and provides personnel to train police and judges and monitor elections. Partnership and association agreements can be seen as opening the door, providing progressively more money, staffing and involvement of the European Parliament and other institutions – providing a body of law, institution building and personnel.

The door should be kept open to any state that wants to join the EU but the EU should be united by common values, not just geographical proximity. It is good for states to aspire to be members, as a very high level of cooperation is required before they are allowed to join.

cooperation is required before they are allowed to join. Award for Brig. Gen. Miller who led

Award for Brig. Gen. Miller who led the European Command Joint Assessment Team (EJAT) humanitarian assistance

mission in Georgia 2008

Photo: Herald Post

However, enlargement is not always an ideal tool. If membership is being offered as an incentive, the relationship can be more problematic – for example, Georgia being offered EU membership instead of NATO membership. The expectations of aspiring members, such as Georgia, should be better managed. When a state joins the EU, the impact of entering the EU market, for example, can create a lot of poverty internally as well as wealth. Furthermore, the conditionalities imposed by the EU on aspiring members, together with the control of immigration, sometimes make it appear effectively to be an unequal partnership.

Selling the European Union

When the UK government wants to collaborate at the EU level – either in military or civilian roles – there are always objections from Eurosceptics. UK citizens need to understand why being part of the EU is so important and how conflict prevention globally can affect the UK domestically. It needs to be personalised: raising awareness of the benefits for families in the UK. Confronting organised crime is one possible entry point to show the links to conflict and terrorism. The role of civilian peacebuilders also needs to be highlighted.

Selling the EU is difficult. Not many people care about EU external policy, especially conflict prevention and peacebuilding – whereas humanitarian work creates a more positive response. The capacity to undertake systematic conflict prevention depends on political will from the top decision makers. It may take a longer period to build support for EU action outside its borders, especially further afield. This is, after all, a relatively new role compared with the length of time the EU has been in existence.

8. Building a spirit of cooperation for NPT 2010

The following summary is based on a roundtable meeting convened on 2 June 2009 under the auspices of PSLG, and organised by BASIC, QPSW and Medact in cooperation with the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy. A successful NPT Review Conference in 2010 would represent just one step towards the longer-term goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. This meeting explored ways of achieving a spirit of cooperation ahead of the conference, including how to align government and NGO perspectives.

Eliminating nuclear weapons

Recent support for the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons has been boosted by President Obama’s initiative, but it did not start there. Before that, there was bipartisan growth of interest in nuclear disarmament – not just on the part of long-term supporters, but also people who had previously been strong defenders of the need for nuclear weapons.

There are several reasons for this:

• The debate is now about multilateral – not unilateral – disarmament.

• The world has changed significantly since the Cold War – there is no serious possibility of a world war breaking out, but regional conflicts are conceivable, making the case for reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons more persuasive.

• In Cold War times there were only five nuclear weapons states (NWS), but now that there are more, and the discipline of states has reduced, the risk of the spread of fissile materials has increased.

Reaching Zero

The Global Zero movement aims to reach zero nuclear weapons. However, even if the prospect of achieving this ultimate objective is beyond current lifetimes, any progress made will be worthwhile, though this will be complex and raises a number of issues, including:

• Reduction is infinitely easier than elimination as it does not require a change in the strategic relationship between the US and Russia. There is a need to reach global zero together to avoid other Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) gaining an advantage in weapons numbers.

• Security assurances will be required from the NWS for Japan, South Korea and most of Western Europe, which do not possess nuclear weapons but are dependent on US security assurances to defend them against attack. The question is what will happen once the nuclear umbrella disappears?

• Currently the US has an enormous advantage in conventional weapons. There is a danger that the end of nuclear weapons could lead to a very serious conventional arms race as former NWS try to close this gap.

A welcome marriage of factors is providing new energy to efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. There are opportunities, not just on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but on related issues: for example, the establishment of a Conference on Disarmament (CD) working group focussing on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) after 12 years of deadlock, and a new deal between the US and Russia on a START follow-up.

There are also challenges, including the recent test by North Korea and the problems over several years with Iran and Syria. The challenges are often linked to wider global security issues – for example, the Israel- Palestine conflict and the rise of China. These are difficult but surmountable issues that must be addressed to maintain international peace and security.

A Trident submarine is escorted out to sea from Barrow Photo: Bob Stroughton Disarmament is


Trident submarine


escorted out to sea

from Barrow Photo: Bob Stroughton

Disarmament is as much a political issue as a technical issue and progress must be built on the principles of collaboration, trust-building, transparency and timing. The immediate steps are to negotiate a follow-on treaty to START; to ensure US Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); and to secure greater control over fissile materials, including getting agreement on an FMCT.

Building cooperation

Most countries see the common interest in a world free of nuclear weapons. However, some governments still take an approach that puts national security first, above all other international priorities. Such an approach undermines progress. France is the least willing amongst the NWS to play a full part in the disarmament debate. However, it is likely they will come on board when there is a clear multilateral consensus, as they will not want to be left outside the process. There is a perception, if not reality, that the UK takes the ‘national security first’ approach too.

There are challenges for the disarmament optimists. Possession of nuclear weapons is often not about the weapons systems themselves but about identity, respect and recognition.

Policy-makers in Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan have heard it all before and will not necessarily be convinced by this ‘moment of hope’. Why should they believe anything is different this time round? One way to overcome the notion that the current optimism is just US propaganda would be to find state champions – for example, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and Nigeria – which would push this view within the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM).

NWS are stuck in the Cold War concept of disarmament in which relinquishing nuclear weapons is seen as giving up a form of security. The debate needs to move beyond this and frame the issue instead as 'eliminating nuclear dangers'. In that way, nuclear weapons are dealt with in terms of the dangers they pose to the countries that possess them as well as countries that do not. There is also a need to identify nuclear weapons as security problems, not security incentives, and diminish the association of nuclear weapons with power projection. This is a challenge for the UK, where the arguments put forward on Trident are much the same as those of, for example, Iran. This is not missed by the Non- Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS).

The aim must be to emerge from the 2010 Review Conference (RevCon) with a more robust NPT regime. Clear mechanisms for

enforcing verification need to be sold to other states, including the P5 (who need to develop

a more coherent approach). Work on

verification, such as has been put into place by

a UK/Norway initiative can help to build

confidence, for example in verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). There is also work to be done with the NAM, which showed itself fractured at the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), by reaching out to those states that want to see the NPT strong in all three pillars, such as South Africa and Brazil.

However, there are still huge differences between the NWS and some of the NNWS.

Priorities for NWS and non-NAM NNWS are:

• Identifying an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary approach to disarmament and to the fuel cycle

• Ensuring that the nuclear energy renaissance takes place securely.

Whereas the three priorities for the NAM NNWS are:

• Building treaties

• Unrestricted access to nuclear technologies with little emphasis on non-proliferation

• A Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.

A positive role for the UK government

The British government approach is to produce a roadmap to 2010 and beyond for the longer term.

There are some key challenges:

• The civil nuclear energy renaissance raises questions about the security of fissile material.

• There is a need to prevent proliferation and to ensure the NWS are genuinely committed to disarmament.

• It is necessary to develop credible multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, in order to achieve the needs of those with a legitimate desire for nuclear power without allowing proliferation.

The CD agreement to start work on the FMCT is welcome but how can the UK use its interest and expertise in this area to address the issue of stocks? And as the US moves to ratify the CTBT, what role can the UK government play in promoting confidence in verification of this treaty? The UK could play a ‘hub’ role in facilitating constructive progress in these regards, and on the issue of verifying warhead destruction in particular. However, this role will be limited unless the government can clearly explain the rationale behind its policy of replacing Trident.

The role of civil society organisations

The relationship between government and civil society organisations (CSOs) must be one of partnership – not one between ‘dominant, expert government’ and ‘non-expert’ CSOs who need ‘to come on board' the government agenda.

Progress happens when sectors of civil society and government come together to move forward on shared objectives. Government and CSOs agree that they want success at the 2010 RevCon, but disagree on what success looks like. Part of the role of CSOs is to also challenge the government. For example, the UK is prepared to commit billions of pounds to Trident, which it regards as indispensable for security, even though it argues that Iran has no legitimate reason to want nuclear weapons. CSOs can try to highlight such discrepancies in ways that allow the government to see its own inconsistencies.

CSOs can also say things to other governments that the UK government cannot. The biggest challenges are entrenched positions – CSOs can help in terms of breaking down these positions and changing the terms of the debate.


At the heart of the NPT are disarmament, non-proliferation and access to nuclear energy. There needs to be a genuine attempt to see different perspectives. There are systemic drivers that prevent movement towards a world without nuclear weapons: there is pessimism around outcomes and a fundamental lack of trust – gamesmanship and the continued possession of nuclear weapons by NWS contribute to undermining trust. We therefore need to build on the drivers that will encourage trust.

Progress happens when civil society and government come together to move forward on shared objectives.

Securing Peace

Preventing cconflict aand building ppeace: tthe UUK’s role iin aa cchanging wworld

This report addresses difficult but vital issues that will continue to challenge governments in future, whatever their policy agenda. With an increasingly tight economic climate, how can national and international security best be achieved? What is the added value of investment in preventing conflict and building peace, particularly in relation to defence expenditure? How does climate change impact on security policy?

Based on a series of roundtable meetings held between 2007 and 2009, the report examines aspects of peace and security policies from both Whitehall and civil society perspectives. Roundtable participants included officials from across the relevant government departments, academics, and members of think tanks and NGOs. UK government polices on peace and security issues have developed significantly since 2000. Greater attention is now given to the UK’s international role in preventing and resolving violent conflict, with an acknowledgement that military solutions alone are not appropriate or effective in the face of complex conflicts which can afflict whole regions. Challenges are identified for policymakers and practitioners alike. Highly complex situations require extended attention, in-depth engagement and consistent investment of economic and human resources. How can we build understanding of the nature of intractable conflicts? How should we deal with the pressure to deliver short term results rather than invest in long term solutions?

The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group

short term results rather than invest in long term solutions? The NGO Peace and Security Liaison
short term results rather than invest in long term solutions? The NGO Peace and Security Liaison
short term results rather than invest in long term solutions? The NGO Peace and Security Liaison
short term results rather than invest in long term solutions? The NGO Peace and Security Liaison
short term results rather than invest in long term solutions? The NGO Peace and Security Liaison