The EU and Peacebuilding
More and more peace and development-related decision-making and agenda-setting are taking place in Brussels, New York or other international arenas. Over the last few years, the European Union in particular has become an increasingly important and major player in development cooperation and peace building. Since the mid 1990s, the EU has been dealing intensively with the questions of conflict prevention and peace building. With the Göteborg Programme, adopted in 2001, conflict prevention has become one of the EU’s central objectives in its external relations.
In the EU concept, development cooperation plays a central role for conflict prevention and peace building and is intended to tackle the root causes of conflict and promote peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms. One of the basic documents in this regard is the Cotonou Agreement between the European Community, its members and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP States), which demands peaceful conflict resolution from all of its signatories.
At the same time, the EU is strengthening its capacity in civilian and military crisis management and enhancing its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The entry into force of the Lisbon Trety and the ongoing establishment of the European External Action Service offer the opportunity for the EU to develop a more coherent EU policy in security and development and to avoid goal conflicts between these areas.
Development and peace organisations, both on the governmental and non-governmental side, face the challenge of following the international debate – which is often perceived to be lacking in transparency – as well as the complex institutional processes on EU level. This can lead to an increased engagement with the EU and to a sustainable dialogue with the institutions. Of course, institutional and policy change on EU level as well as a general international shift of decision-making structures will have impacts on the framework of development- oriented peace work on the national level as well as in the field. The EU, for example, has developed new financial instruments to support the peace building activities of Northern and Southern NGOs.
In addition, the international debate on aid effectiveness, donor harmonisation and alignment will have effects on the development-oriented peace work of governmental organisations and NGOs. By signing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, donors committed to increase their engagement in fragile states, to harmonise their efforts and to align their strategies to the systems of the partner countries. However, the Paris Declaration fails to integrate a conflict-sensitive design and a reference to security needs of the target groups into its mechanisms. The lack of a conflict-sensitive perspective contains the risk that improvements in aid effectiveness will fail. The EU plays a crucial role in this discourse as well. The European Council and the Commission have signed up to an ambitious reform agenda and have pledged to enhance the effectiveness of Community aid and achieve a more efficient division of labour.