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Preventing and responding to conflict: developing EU CIVilian CAPabilities for a sustainable peace

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EU-CIVCAP (Preventing and responding to conflict: developing EU CIVilian CAPabilities for a sustainable peace)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-11-30

The goals of preventing the outbreak of conflict and promoting sustainable peace remain a fundamental challenge to policymakers and analysts alike. Although the number of total armed conflicts has declined in recent years, the consequences of ongoing conflicts remain devastating, as illustrated by the cases of Syria or Ukraine. The impact of conflicts extends from direct civilian casualties, internally displaced persons and human rights violations to regional and international security threats such as humanitarian crises and refugee flows. They also constitute a breeding ground for international organised crime and terrorism. Given the scale and the nature of the consequences of conflicts, the European Union (EU) and its Member States require an adequate set of capabilities if they are to address these challenges in a timely and effective manner. The research project 'EU-CIVCAP: Improving EU capabilities for peacebuilding' provides a comprehensive, comparative and multidisciplinary analysis of EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding in order to enhance the EU's capabilities. More specifically, the objectives of this project are threefold:
1) To assess EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
2) To identify and document lessons learned and best practices in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
3) To enhance future policy practice and research on EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
First, the EU-CIVCAP project has contributed to a better understanding of key shortfalls in EU civilian capabilities by conducting broader capability-based assessments. EU-CIVCAP reports examined the EU’s record in conflict prevention and peacebuilding to date by focusing on different phases of the conflict (from early warning to post-conflict capacity building) and by drawing on a comparative approach which provided a comprehensive overview of EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The second phase of this evaluation entailed the analysis of specific issues relating to EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding, such as dual use technologies, pooling and sharing of capabilities, conflict prevention and specific EU policies (trade, development, CSDP and gender), the implementation of the comprehensive approach, civil-military synergies, and local capacity building. EU-CIVCAP has also contributed to addressing four cross-cutting challenges: filling the early warning-response gap; combining short term versus long term approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding; enhancing civil-military coordination in conflict prevention and peacebuilding; and ensuring local ownership.
Drawing on the critical assessment of the EU’s peacebuilding efforts outlined above, EU-CIVCAP has identified and documented empirically-grounded lessons, best practices and policy recommendations to better address key challenges in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The 34 lessons learned gathered by the project's work packages were compiled into an online catalogue of lessons identified and a best practices report was also produced.
Finally, based on the assessment of the EU’s activities and the identification of lessons learned and best practices in this area, the project has provided research-based policy recommendations to guide the EU’s future priorities and research in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. This has proved particularly relevant in the period following the publication of the EU Global Strategy (2016), which has provided new impetus for the strengthening of EU civilian capabilities for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. In this context, the project has contributed to policy discussions about the establishment of a civilian CSDP Compact, the implementation of the Integrated Approach, the prioritisation of conflict prevention and early warning, and the development of a new EU approach to resilience-building in the neighbourhood.
The project has disseminated its results by organising numerous face-to-face meetings and events targeted at key stakeholders, including policy workshops, Peacebuilding Forums and Research Meets Policy Seminars . The EU-CIVCAP Final Conference in September 2018 successfully showcased the project’s research findings to an audience of over a 100 policy-makers, academics and NGO representatives. Finally, the project has disseminated its findings to academic audiences, with over a dozen of peer-review articles published. The project findings will continue to feedback directly and indirectly to policy and academic debates, through the research, teaching and outreach activities of the EU-CIVCAP partners.
This project moves beyond the state-of-the-art in several ways. First, the EU-CIVCAP project examines EU civilian capabilities through the entire conflict cycle in order to provide a holistic assessment of exiting capabilities and potential capability shortfalls. It goes beyond the current focus on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the extant literature to include other areas of external action such as preventative diplomacy, development or trade. Second, the project advances innovative ways of studying EU capabilities by using a Capability-Based Assessment (CBA). This framework allows for the identification of existing and required capabilities in order for the EU to achieve its goals in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Third, EU-CIVCAP advances the empirical study of EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding by examining EU capabilities from a comparative perspective (comparing EU, UN and OSCE capabilities), by examining Member State capabilities available for conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and by focusing on two key regions of EU engagement, the Western Balkans and the Horn of Africa.
EU-CIVCAP has sought to have an enduring and sustained policy impact in supporting the EU’s external security policies. Through a capability-based and comparative analysis, this research has identified key capability shortfalls in EU peacebuilding. By regularly engaging in dialogue with EU and national policy-makers, developing a catalogue of lessons identified (DL 7.1) a best practices report (DL 7.2) and guidance for policy-makers (DL1.2) this research has also provided tailor-made support to policy knowledge needs in this area. The empirical findings have highlighted key lessons which have contributed to: 1) the improvement and strengthening of existing civilian capabilities, policies and procedures (with specific reference to the civilian CSDP Compact); 2) the prioritization of conflict prevention in EU policies; 3) the implementation of the integrated approach; 4) and the promotion of more inclusive and sustainable peacebuilding processes (particularly, regarding the implementation of EU resilience-building policies in the neighbourhood).
Furthermore, EU-CIVCAP has had societal and academic impact in the following ways. Through its Expert Network (49 members) and the organisation of several events (workshops, Peacebuilding Fora and Research Meets Policy seminars), the project has consolidated new linkages between the policy community, academia and stakeholders from the NGO and think-tank sphere; and by gathering novel empirical data about lessons learned and best practices in civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding, the project has contributed to academic debates about the EU’s role in promoting sustainable peace.
EC Photo/Elvis Barukcic
European Union EC Photo/Christian Lambiotte