The EU has set itself the goal of using mediation in a more systematic way as an efficient instrument to prevent
and resolve conflicts. This objective established in the 2009 “Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation
and Dialogue Capacities” was reiterated in the 2011 Council Conclusions on Conflict Prevention. The EU is
to become more actively involved in mediation, facilitation and dialogue processes. The European External
Action Service has a new unit for Conflict Prevention, Peace-building and Mediation, and there is also a
discussion going on whether it would be a good idea to establish a European Institute of Peace.
In a closed expert roundtable we will discuss each other’s thoughts on the role of the EU in peace mediation
and we will ask ourselves how the EU could best use its leverage for sustainable peace processes. This
event will be used to strengthen our cooperation and to support our joint efforts in writing a report on
the subject. The manuscript of the report is expected to be ready by the end of the summer. All of us have
already accepted to join the meeting, but nevertheless I would ask you to fulfill the participation form
through the link below. In the participation form you can specify your title and institution as well as inform
us of any dietary restrictions you may have.
Josephine Liebl, Senior Policy Officer, European Peacebuilding Liaison Office
Brenda Daly, Lecturer in Law, Dublin City University, Ireland
Johannes Schachinger, Mediation Support Team, European External Action Service, Division for Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Mediation
Anne Kraus, Co-director, Center for Peace Mediation
Catriona Gourlay, PeaceNexus, Research & Knowledge Manager
Tarja Väyrynen, Academy Research Fellow, University of Tampere
Andrew Sherriff, Head of Programme, Eu External Action, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ecdpm)
Chair: Tanja Tamminen, Researcher, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Summary of the seminar
The seminar gathered several experts around one table to collect fresh ideas for the future of EU Peace Mediation. The seminar was opened by Tanja Tamminen, who presented the joint peace mediation project organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and Crisis Management Initiative.
The first speaker was Johannes Schachinger, who presented the past and the current situation in the EU peace mediation from an EU representative’s point of view. He analysed some of the challenges that the EU faces in the field of peace mediation and gave further ideas on what the EU’s role in peace mediation could be in the future.
Mr Schachinger was followed by Josephine Liebl, who further analysed the EU’s role in peace mediation, but from an NGO point of view. She discussed the positive things that came out of the creation of the EEAS, as well as from the EU involvement in the field of peace mediation, but also the challenges of the EU’s role in mediation. She noted that although conflict prevention is now dealt with by a specific unit in the new organigram, there still seEms to be more focus on conflict response.
The third speaker, Andrew Sherriff elaborated on the role of mediation in relation to theEC conflict prevention and peace building (CPPB). He encouraged the creation of a comprehensive approach when further developing the EU’s role in mediation.
Fourth, Anne Kraus gave an academic point of view on the recent developments in the field of EU peace mediation. She highlighted some open conceptual questions that need to be clarified in order to translate the EU Mediation Concept into an operational guideline for the further development and rollout of EU mediation capacities and actual mediation activities.
The fifth presenter was Brenda Daly, who offered the participants a different view point on the issue of mediation by introducing the process of mediation in the field of law and discussed the possibility of applying this into the field of peace mediation.
Sixth was Catriona Gourlay from Peacenexus who brought up in her comments the role of indigenous mediators. She pointed out that the EU should take into account also those local actors, who can be better placed for mediation in the conflict areas.
In her comments, Tarja Väyrynen touched upon the identity of the EU, as well as the norms it wishes to promote, and analysed how this can affect the EU’s role in peace mediation.
The second part of the seminar was an open discussion between the speakers and the participants of the round table. It was opened by a discussion on the identity of the EU, and the effects its colonial legacy might have on its role in the field. However, as was pointed out, in addition to its colonial legacy, the EU’s history also offers a positive and encouraging example in the field of peace mediation: the EU could promote itself more visibly as a peace project, and as such a success story. It has managed to bring together a variety of nationalities without threatening their national identities. It has offered some countries, such as Germany, a means to re-invent themselves, to create a new European identity. It was suggested, that with the help of this past, the EU could and also possibly should distinguish itself.
The bureaucratic nature of the EU as an actor was also discussed. Some of the problems created by its non-flexibility could possibly be avoided by the linking of external expertise into the EU peace mediation framework. The mechanism for this was further elaborated on. Also the role of the External Action Service in relation to the member states was discussed, as well as the capabilities of the member states to act alone in peace mediation, in comparison to the Union acting as a whole through its institutions. The need for a coordinating body for EU mediation engagement and its institutional status was also raised into debate. Is the EEAS’ role enough in the coordination?
It was pointed out that the role of the Common Security and Defence Policy missions are limited in the field of mediation, since they are engaged in conflict situations. However, the need to connect all the parties involved in the different stages of conflict resolution was acknowledged. Coordination between the EU and the NGOs was seen as necessary. Both actors have their strengths and weaknesses, which should be taken into account. The Aceh process gave a good example on how public and private actors can successfully work together in peace processes. The cooperation helps the NGOs with funding and offers the EU as an actor the transparency it needs for its projects. In addition, the visibility of the EU in peace processes is not always positive and sometimes it is necessary to keep a low profile. Also sometimes the parties of the conflict do not want to be known to participate in mediation processes, and thus the transparency required from the EU can cause problems for the goals of the peace process. It was noted as well that also non-mediators can play key roles.
The topic of the EU and norms was raised again when talking about what preconditions the EU should have, when it becomes involved in peace mediation processes. Some issues such as women’s role in the mediation process should always be taken into account, and it was even suggested that the involvement of women should be a precondition for funding from the EU.
Finally, the importance of clear concepts was underlined by some participants, who would like to see a clear definition of peace mediation in the EU, as this would be vital for the EU’s engagement in the field. It is also necessary to translate the concepts into practice. Clear guidelines are needed, and the results need to be clear also at operational basis.