The European Union’s declarations of its commitment to conflict prevention have been welcomed because development and poverty reduction are unsustainable in the face of ongoing or renewed violent conflict.A comprehensive prevention approach and emphasis on tackling root causes of conflict are vital not only for improving the lives and livelihoods of directly affected populations, but also because instability and war can often spill across regions. They can have global ramifications on security and prosperity.
Among the many areas in which work has been advanced in the EU during 2006, important headline initiatives should be noted in the following three areas:
- Adoption in June of Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform (SSR) and the follow-up action to develop a comprehensive EU approach to SSR in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- Communication on Governance: “Governance in the European Consensus on Development” in August and subsequent work to develop Governance Profiles.
- Adoption in November by the Council of a document on gender mainstreaming in crisis management
- Approval in December of a Joint concept for support to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR).
In addition, some advances were made in the vital area of ‘conflict’ resources, such as in the cooperation between public authorities and the private sector in the Kimberley Process on diamonds. An initial step was also taken in recognising the wider implications of the EU’s energy interests on conflict dynamics. A joint EU paper on “An external policy to serve Europe’s energy interests” stated that policy “must also be consistent with the EU's broader foreign policy objectives such as conflict prevention and resolution, non-proliferation and promoting human rights.”
- Commission strategy set out in March for the Horn of Africa.
- Discussions on draft Country and Regional Strategy Papers (CSPs & RSPs) and the integration of conflict issues into some of the drafts.
- Agreement on a new Instrument for Stability including conflict prevention elements and a Peacebuilding Partnership, as well as a small number of positive developments in financial strategy papers under some of the other financial instruments.
- Commitment of almost €3 billion to an incentive tranche for good governance under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).
- Replenishment and future funding to the Africa Peace Facility agreed.
It is crucial that the EU builds on this progress and 2007 will be a critical year for determining and refining effective approaches to peacebuilding.
This paper focuses on three major challenges for the EU in 2007 and beyond:
- Achieving coherence among the different aspects of EU action. This involves aligning political dialogue, economic incentives and external assistance so as to make them mutually reinforcing.
- Finalising CSPs, RSPs National Indicative Programming plans and Economic Partnership Agreements which are conflict sensitive - minimising negative effects and maximising positive impacts in conflict-prone and affected contexts. After its failure to reaffirm its 2001 conflict prevention commitments through all the new Financial Instruments, the EU needs to ensure that its programming addresses the root causes of violent conflict and lays the foundations for sustainable peace and poverty reduction.
- Following through on policy commitments already made. Much progress has been made in the field of security, but it remains for the EU to implement action to ensure better outcomes for those who suffer from violence and human rights abuses.