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LOCAL OWNERSHIP IN SECURITY SECTOR REFORM ACTIVITIES WITHIN CSDP OPERATIONS OF THE EU

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EU and SSR (LOCAL OWNERSHIP IN SECURITY SECTOR REFORM ACTIVITIES WITHIN CSDP OPERATIONS OF THE EU)

Reporting period: 2015-10-07 to 2017-10-06

One of the core principles underpinning EU’s crisis management interventions launched as part of its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) has been local ownership, meaning that local agents should internalize principles and objectives of externally driven reforms. Local ownership, however, remained a neglected concept, both theoretically and practically. The theoretical and policy gap informed three aims of this project. First, the project adopted a fresh theoretical framework for the study of local ownership. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, the project conceptualised local ownership as a technology of international “governmentality” wherein external actors employ set of techniques with the aim of turning local agents into subjects responsible for externally-driven agendas. Such an approach situated local ownership of CSDP interventions within a wider context of liberal security governance and helped us understand why it continuously faces implementation difficulties in semi-liberal or illiberal settings. Second, the project obtained new empirical insights into how local ownership is being practiced on the ground within three ongoing civilian CSDP missions (EULEX Kosovo, EUPOL COPPS in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and EUCAP Nestor in the Horn of Africa) and into why these projects continue to face implementation problems. The third objective of the project was to develop a set of policy recommendations that will assist EU policy makers in supporting more sustainable reforms in host states.

The main conclusion of the project is that the local ownership principle, echoing the colonial principle of indirect rule, is driven by the rationality of advanced democracies on how best to govern global insecurities at a distance. Consequently, ownership is operationalized as responsibilization for externally designed objectives. This often gives rise to local resistance which undermines international efforts to achieve ownership. Consequently, majority of CSDP interventions have been externally designed and supply-driven with little local traction. CSDP interventions are conceived, planned and launched by the EU while the role of the local authorities has been reduced to issuing a formal invitation and gradually taking over responsibilities, so that the EU can eventually plan its withdrawal from the theatre of operation. Fact-finding missions are often rushed and cursory exercises that result in mission mandates that are divorced from realities on the ground. There is a strong tendency of member states to micromanage CSDP interventions both during the planning process and once they are launched. This hampers local ownership, by undermining the operational autonomy of CSDP staff and rendering them less able to adjust to quickly changing conditions on the ground. CSDP interventions are supply-driven: the EU and its member states have been more eager to offer the technical assistance they want to provide rather than the capacities needed by host countries to enable their long-term and bottom-up peaceful transformation. Time constraints and high turnover rates push CSDP interventions to focus on readymade tools and quick impact projects. Ownership efforts in CSDP have focused on ensuring a buy-in of powerful gatekeepers within host governments, while sidelining wider governance structures and local communities. Contacts with civil society have been ad hoc and haphazard. As a result, local populations are often either unaware of CSDP interventions or distrustful of them.
I performed work in four working packages (WP). The first one is Theoretical Work (WP1) where I first conducted a literature review and developed a theoretical framework for the analysis of local ownership in CSDP interventions. My book review of “Local Ownership in International Peacebuilding: Key Theoretical and Practical” was published in Global Affairs while my theoretical article on local ownership as international governmentality was published in Contemporary Security Policy. I presented my theoretical ideas at conferences in Atlanta, Edinburg and London. Moreover, I delivered invited presentations at the University of Bristol, Queen Mary University and the University of Oxford. The second domain of my project was related to Empirical Research (WP2) where I conducted four field trips to Kosovo, Brussels, Israel/Palestine and Somalia/Somaliland. During those four field trips I conducted over 100 interviews with EU decision makers, representatives of local authorities and security sectors, NGO activists and experts involved in EU crisis management interventions. Results from my empirical work were presented at academic conferences in Miami, Hong Kong and Manchester. Moreover, the results of my empirical research have been published in European Security and Contemporary Security Policy. The third WP was related to Policy Influence and Public Engagement. To that end, I have published three policy briefs (two with the University of Bristol and one with GPPAC), while my opinion pieces were published in English (Europe's World, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Hebrew (Ynet), French (Chronique de Palestine), Italian (Near East News Agency), Arabic (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Serbian language (European Western Balkans). Moreover, I presented my work at two events with policy makers in Brussels and Belgrade. In addition to this, I presented my project at several events for the wider public in Belgrade and Bristol. Finally, the fourth WP of my project was devoted to Training and Management. As planned by the project, I have attended two postgraduate courses at the University of Bristol: Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods and Philosophy and Research Design, as well as two staff development seminars such as Regular, Productive Academic Writing and Leading Research Teams. These courses and seminars helped me to develop my methodological and leadership skills necessary for the advancement of my career.
The research project advanced our knowledge about local ownership in EU crisis management interventions in three ways. First, the project developed a novel theoretical and historical view on the local ownership principle. By drawing on the work of Mishel Foucault and his concept of governmentality, the work traced the origins of the principle in the late colonial principle of indirect rule and revealed various techniques through which the principle is operationalised on the ground as well as different modes of local resistances to it, Second, the project empirically shed light on previously little known aspects of EU engagement in the Balkans, Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Particularly novel was the empirical insight into the EU mission in Somalia/Somaliland (EUCAP Nestor) which had previously been studied only through desk research.The third objective of the research is to develop a set of policy recommendations that will assist policy planners in conceiving more reflexive, context-sensitive and cost-effective local ownership strategies to be applied in current or future CSDP operations. Third, the project developed a set of policy recommendations for the ongoing and future EU missions which could assist policy makers in conceiving and conducting more reflexive, context-sensitive, cost-effective and most importantly genuinely locally-driven lCSDP interventions.
Photo from the Belgrade Security Forum, where I presented my final results.