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Whole-of-Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WOSCAP (Whole-of-Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-11-30

The EU’s ability to address contemporary security challenges is both contingent on context-specific and operational challenges in the field, and subject to its own internal political and policy dynamics. Demands for better EU-wide responses to regional and global conflict trends are at the top of Europe’s political agendas, as the costs of dealing with violent conflicts and instability hit home. Frequent criticisms include the reactive/ad hoc nature of interventions and insufficient anticipation of crises. Another challenge is derived from an overlap in competences across the institutions. These are challenges inherent to international peacebuilding interventions. The central question of the WOSCAP project is: what are the current EU civilian capabilities in the fields of conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and how can these be enhanced in order to make policies more inclusive and sustainable? Given the salience of these challenges in current policy practice and agenda, the research approach was based on a Whole-of-Society approach which we identified as combining greater inclusivity with improved integration of policy choices. The project has brought together academic researchers and policy-makers, civilian and military practitioners, and beneficiaries of EU interventions.
Objective: to enhance the capabilities of the EU for implementing conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions through sustainable, comprehensive and innovative civilian means. This was done through the main sub-objectives which were to Review conflict prevention and peacebuilding initiatives, to Reflect on best practices and lessons learned, to Recommend to complement and adjust existing practices and Innovate by identifying future research priorities.

The WOSCAP project provided extensive analysis and reflection on several key themes through the engagement in the so-called “Communities of Practice”, producing an overview of the EU’s potential capabilities. It also reviewed the new strategic priorities of the EU and its impact on peacebuilding. This led to a series fruitful policy dialogues and roundtables that were organized in and outside of the EU. The Final Conference brought together all relevant stakeholders and end-users in the field to present research results, discuss recommendations and contribute to further debates and improvements. Lastly, we have innovated when we consolidated the intellectual coherence, innovation and value–added of the project, building on a unique bottom-up methodological framework. We have contributed to deepening and strengthening the overall impact of the project research, and ensuring its potential with academic, practice and policy audiences, by refining the Whole of Society Approach.
From June 2015 until November of 2017, the WOSCAP project activities focused on evidence-based research, producing a number of research reports on specific countries and key thematic areas. To assess the EU’s past and ongoing conflict prevention and peacebuilding initiatives, it looked at three types of existing EU interventions, namely multi-track diplomacy, security sector reform, and governance reform. This was done through a combination of desk and field research in case study countries: Mali, Yemen, Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Honduras. These reports provided the EU institutions with evidence-based inputs from the field. It developed a theoretical and methodological framework and conducted methodology workshops with four local case study research teams who led the research in their respective countries, embedding it in a bottom-up methodology.

Thematic reports focused on a number of principles, processes and tools that support context-specific whole of society peacebuilding interventions on local ownership, gender, civil-military synergies, multi-stakeholder coherence and ICTs were published. The Comparative Analysis Workshop conducted a cross-thematic and clusters-based analysis, identifying the challenges, opportunities and risks for the EU, and the results are reflected in the project’s main Research Report. The project has made significant progress in identifying future research priorities, and potential use of technologies for peace. Debates with policy experts, practitioners and civil society reflected on key issues. Engagements on good practices and lessons learned with a variety of actors contributed to better understanding the EU’s potential peacebuilding capabilities. The project informed and fed into policy processes at the EU level but also other international actors and regional organizations (UN, AU). This brought together top down and bottom up perspectives, integrated conclusions, identified capability gaps, needs and challenges.

A policy recommendations paper & engagement strategy was formulated, proposing a systematic approach for the implementation of EU’s new strategic priorities.Also the policy recommendations were debated in a series of nine fruitful policy dialogues and roundtables, organised in and outside of the EU (The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Kyiv, Tbilisi, Bamako, Sana’a). The final conference of the project was successfully organised in Brussels, jointly with another H2020 project (IECEU). The Final Conference presented the policy recommendations paper and research results. This outreach to policymakers led to an interest in the project’s findings and revealed their support for the project’s inclusive, bottom-up, and whole-of-society approach. Reports and results were widely shared, including through animated videos and local media interviews.
The project has produced the following results:
1) An assessment of past and potential civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding capabilities of the EU, validated and supported by stakeholder engagement and a community of practice.
This assessment includes these conclusions:
- Overall, the EU’s SSR efforts show a tendency towards applying the traditional, short-term, “train and equip” approach. This focuses on improving the technical capacity of security forces instead of on the society/context.
- Coordination and coherence problems are rife at different levels of EU interventions. The relations between civil and military actors, and the relations between EU Member States stand out.
- The EU presence on the ground enables it to operate as a repository of knowledge about other actors, but that knowledge is at present insufficiently utilized, but also in relation to local constituencies.

2) A tailored set of recommendations on what policy priorities and ICTs are needed for effective civilian conflict prevention, enhanced by policy engagement.
These recommendations if adopted would have a significant impact. They include:
- The EU should institutionalise regular interactions with the EU Member States involved on the ground, based on the added value of regular meetings
- Local civil society actors – beyond the national government – should be involved in all stages of EU interventions
- The EU should take on a comprehensive, governance-development focused approach to SSR.
- The EU should encourage the promotion of training mechanisms to actively support and increase EU staff awareness of multitrack diplomacy and SSR capabilities and their knowledge of how to use and mobilise them.