Laura Davis

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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UN Security Council adopts UNSCR 1325 (2000) UN Photo by Milton Grant

 

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security celebrates its 11th birthday this week. In the world of peace and conflict, 1325 finally put women, peace and security as a composite issue on the global policy map.  It instructed the world of diplomats, politicians and generals that women are agents, not only victims, who require their place at negotiating tables as equal partners in the effort to prevent and resolve conflict, protect and promote human rights and end impunity for some of the worst crimes of war, in particular those of a sexual and gender based nature.  But Antonia Potter and I ask: is it so far a triumph of form over substance?  

 
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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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What do they think? Photo of IDPs in Ivory Coast by Sunset Parkerpix

What is the ideal transitional justice scenario in Ivory Coast? the Belgian newspaper De Morgen asked me this week in an interview published on Thursday. It is always impossible to predict these types of questions, but there are some trends we can see from other places, which might help the Ivoriens build peace – in the aftermath of so much violence.

Attention at the moment is focussed on prosecuting former President Laurent Gbabgo, his wife and senior aides. Ideally these trials should take place in Ivory Coast, but in many post-conflict situations, the justice system is unable to guarantee fair trials. If this is the case, the International Criminal Court could step in.  But the ICC is a court of last resort – and there are disadvantages to pursuing alleged human rights violators through it. In DR Congo, for example, the Court is often portrayed as ‘foreign justice’. And when trials take place in The Hague, so far from where the violations have occurred it is difficult for the victims and affected communities to access proceedings.

Between national trials and the ICC, there are other options. In the past, the UN has set up ‘hybrid’ courts, like the Special Court for Sierra Leone and ad hoc tribunals, like the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (ICTR) and for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). But although these courts have made invaluable contributions to combatting impunity for the worst crimes, they are expensive, and slow.  There is little appetite amongst the donors for funding more such courts in the future.  But there are alternatives, such as providing international support for trials within national systems – as in Bosnia. A ‘mixed’ court along these lines is currently in development in DR Congo.

For justice to prevail, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.  The President of the UN Human Rights Council has appointed an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations committed in Ivory Coast, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice.  If the Commission identifies perpetrators who have been loyal to President Ouattara, they must also be prosecuted. The International Community should support the Commission in its work, ensure it has the access it needs in Ivory Coast to conduct a thorough investigation, and follow up on its recommendations.

And justice is not limited to prosecutions. There have been President Outtara has promised to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ivory Coast, which could be a useful complement to (but not a replacement for ) criminal prosecutions.  Where truth commissions have been most successful, there have been widespread popular consultations to determine their purpose, mandate and composition.  At best, truth commissions can contribute to building a peaceful society; at worst they can be a whitewash and leave the roots of the conflict unaddressed.

Finally,  a lesson we can learn from countries like Afghanistan and DRC is that failing to reform public institutions – and particularly the armed forces, police and judiciary – and remove those responsible for human rights violations from public service stores up more problems for later. Fair vetting processes, which remove human rights abusers, install discipline and civilian oversight can make a vital contribution to democracy-building.

Prosecutions alone can’t deliver justice; but combined with truth-seeking , vetting and reform of the public institutions and reparations for victims, they may be able to help address the root causes of the conflict and prevent its recurrence. The Commission of Inquiry is potentially a good start in this direction; engaging the Ivoriens, especially the marginalised, will be crucial in making any of these processes succeed.

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The European Union is increasingly involved in mediating peace deals around the world, and has strong commitments to international justice and human rights. Including justice provisions for the victims of a conflict in the peace agreement may make an important contribution to a durable peace. In this paper published by the Initiative forPeacebuilding, I analyse EU capacities for promoting justice for human rights violations in peacemaking, identify gaps and recommend ways to fill these gaps. I argue that a comprehensive EU approach to transitional justice would make the EU a more credible mediator, and should also improve the impact of post-conflict peace- and democracy-building interventions.

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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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This report Difficult Peace, Limited Justice: Ten Years of Peacemaking in the DRC, co-authored with Priscilla Hayner and published by the International Center for Transitional Justice, reviews the efforts to address justice during ten years of varied peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It takes a close look at the dynamics of peace talks and the resulting accords — including those of Sun City, Ituri, Nairobi, and Goma. Based on extensive interviews of those most closely involved from the national and international communities, it provides an essential backdrop to the current efforts to end fighting in Eastern Congo.

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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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