Laura Davis

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EU

This paper, the EU and peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is published as part of a series of Civil Society Dialogue Network discussion papers by the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office.

In it, I reflect on the EU’s trackrecord in contributing to peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly through its involvement in security sector reform, justice initiatives and peace mediation. The DRC is, after all, one of the few places where the EU has had a foreign policy, one which has been largely based on an accurate conflict analysis (with the glaring exception of the extreme structural and physical violence men mete out on women across the country).

The EU has made considerable investment in both innovative and tried-and-tested approaches to peacebuilding. The approach has had its flaws: for example, a stronger commitment to the Treaty values, particularly on human rights and women’s rights, might have given the EU both more clout and more impact. Greater political engagement, rather than a ‘technical’ approach, re-conceptualising the CSDP SSR missions as multiyear instruments and measuring their impact could have strengthened the EU’s contribution to peacebuilding in the DRC and the region.

The months leading up to the DRC’s (potentially) first democratic change of head of state – the presidential elections are scheduled for November 2016- are likely to be rocky. The EU, like many other democratic donors, is in an invidious position regarding the elections. There is a strong case that the EU should not have to finance the third democratic elections in the country and that, by now, these should be a sovereign affair. It is a difficult decision to take: if the ‘international community’ does fund the elections, donors are likely to face criticism at home and accusations of interference in Congo; if they do not, they are likely to be blamed for a sliding electoral calendar. Whatever the EU and its member states decide to do, clear communication on the decision and its reasons will be necessary. The EU should also clearly communicate its position, grounded firmly in the Treaty values, on how the elections should be run and, in particular, how the government and security services should behave. It should fund credible research into the links between armed groups and politicians, as well as civil society monitoring projects, follow closely what happens to human rights defenders and actively promote women’s empowerment.

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 This book analyses how the European Union translates its principles of peace and justice into policy and puts them into practice, particularly in societies in or emerging from violent conflict.

The European Union treaty states that in its relations with the wider world, the EU is to promote peace, security, the protection of human rights, and the strict observance and the development of international law. The EU is active in peace processes around the world, yet its role in international peace mediation is largely ignored.

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This article, published in European Security (2014), assesses whether the EU contributes to long-term positive change in societies emerging from violent conflict, helping them ‘mend’ or whether it simply encourages societies to ‘make do’ with the     status quo. To do so, the article focuses on two of the principles found in the EU Treaty, peace and justice for human rights violations. It examines how the EU translates the principles of peace and justice into policy and puts them into practice by analyzing EU engagement in peace mediation, transitional justice, and security sector reform in general and through in-depth examination of EU engagement in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the article, I question the prevailing discourse that greater inter-institutional coherence would improve EU security provision and considers whether and how the EU prioritizes between peace and justice. I find that principles may be translated into policy and put into practice, and practice is often ahead of policy. But this is uneven within as well as across the institutions. Greater coherence between principle, policy, and practice, rather than between institutions, would improve EU security provision and enable prioritization. If the EU settles for making do, it undermines its considerable potential to contribute to long-term solutions to complex conflicts.

 

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The EU’s Nobel Peace Prize is well-deserved.  The EU has transformed most of Europe from a continent of war to one of peace, as the committee said. It has done so by supporting democracy, human rights and the rule of law, building interdependent economies and institutions. Far from the spotlight of high-level peace negotiations, this is the slow slog of peacebuilding. Peace by bureaucratisation, as Catherine Woollard calls it.

This is not a technocratic exercise. Far from it. The belief in the EU as a peace project is alive and well – and much debated (as at the recent EPLO event). The European project was driven by the conviction that the contintent must never be devastated by war and genocide again. It is a profoundly political project. When driven by politics (Enlargement),  the project is successful. When passed off as a technocratic exercise (the Euro), less so.

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In this letter to the European Voice (published 11 October 2012), I argue that the EU has the instruments to build peace but tends not to use them effectively.

Any future European Institute of Peace should harness the wealth of experience and expertise in the EU institutions and in think-tanks, NGOs and academia, to strengthen the European External Action Service.  It should not add yet another layer of bureaucracy or undermine the EEAS or existing practitioners.

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EU foreign policy chiefs were unusually quick off the mark to comment on the fall of Sirte and reported death of Colonel Gaddafi today. Presidents Van Rompuy and Barrosso called on the National Transitional Council (NTC) to ‘pursue a broad-based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country.’ High Representative Ashton said ‘It is important that [Libya’s] leadership unite to build a democratic future for the country in full respect of human rights. While the crimes of the past must be addressed, the leadership must also seek a path of national reconciliation… The EU will remain a strong and committed partner in the future’.

The emphasis on human rights and transitional justice in Ashton’s statement is important (interestingly, this is lacking from van Rompuy’s and Barrosso’s); the EU has also repeatedly stated its commitment to supporting human rights, civil society and security sector reform in Libya. Experts argue that transitional justice is more effective when trials, truth commissions and security sector reform are complementary. Yet – as I have argued elsewhere , the EU’s extensive support to transitional justice in other parts of the world has been largely ad hoc:  the EU has no policy guidance on supporting transitional justice. A key question will be how will the new government addresses not only the legacy of the Gaddafi regime, but also atrocities allegedly committed by both sides during the recent conflict. What will the EU do to support this?

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The EU has become increasingly engaged in peace processes, which is welcome. This engagement has often been through the European Union Special Representatives (EUSRs), and has tended to be ad hoc. In this Security Policy Brief for Egmont, the Royal Institute for Foreign Affairs  I argue that the External Action Service (EAS) should address the role the EU could and should play early on in peace processes. It is not a role that can develop organically anymore; it is time for strategic decision-making. Ten years on, the review of the Gothenburg programme on conflict prevention has been shelved, and the direction of the so-called ‘horizontal’ issues – like peace mediation – in the EAS are still under consideration.. This presents an ideal opportunity to assess what EU diplomats should be contributing to peace processes, and for making the necessary support available to them. After all, interventions of this kind affect not only the EU’s external action and its intended beneficiaries, but also the Union’s identity on the world stage.

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Transitional justice can help societies address the legacy of systematic human rights violations committed during violent conflict and repressive rule through prosecutions, truth-seeking, reparations and institutional reform. Transitional justice is not a new field for the EU, and the EU is a major contributor to transitional justice initiatives, especially international criminal justice. This paper, published by the Initiative for Peacebuilding analyses EU policy provisions for transitional justice. In it, I argue that rather than simply support endeavours undertaken by others, the EU should draw on its experience and international best practice to develop a holistic EU approach to transitional justice to help it meet its foreign policy objectives.

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As the EU becomes increasingly engaged in peace mediation, in this paper published by the Initiative for Peacebuilding, I compare how justice issues have been handled in four mediation processes in Indonesia (Maluku and Aceh), Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Eight key issues emerged from this comparison concerning the role of the mediator, technical support and assistance to negotiations, and engaging more actors than the mediators and their advisors in peace processes. This paper argues that the EU will need to be able to address these types of questions in order to support durable peace by promoting justice and human rights in peacemaking.

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Reforming the security system in postconflict environments to ensure security agents become protectors of the population is vital for peacebuilding and state-building. Justice-sensitive SSR aims to prevent recurrence and repetition of human rights violations by reforming abusive institutions, increasing their integrity, accountability and legitimacy, and transforming the institution’s role in society, including by empowering the citizens.

In this paper, publishd by the Initiative for Peacebuilding, I draw on research into SSR and transitional justice in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Timor-Leste, and suggest ways in which the EU could improve the substance of its SSR programming and implementation by drawing on lessons from these cases.

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