The EU Global Strategy combines security, development and diplomatic actions in support of common objectives.
The EU ensures an integrated approach to conflicts and crises by using the comprehensive toolbox at the EU disposal - at all stages of a conflict, from prevention to crisis management - in order to contribute to sustainable peace.
The EU strives to deliver stabilisation and peace, in close coordination with the Member States, combining conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding in an effective way. The EU ensures that EU engagements are conflict sensitive and based on a proper analysis.
With regard to Conflict Prevention, the EU aims at addressing structural risks of violent conflicts through all relevant policies, tools and instruments in a timely and sequenced manner. In addition to carrying out conflict analysis, the EU uses specific tools such as the EU conflict Early Warning System and the Horizon Scanning, to identify countries at risk of instability and/or of violent conflict.
Systematic conflict analyses, at times also realised jointly with external partners as the UN and the AU, of countries at risk of or facing conflict or instability, and where the EU has ongoing or planned significant engagement is essential to play a key role in prevention and peacebuilding.
The EEAS is actively involved in mediation, mediation support activities and dialogue to support the EU’s efforts to preserve and restore peace at any stage of the conflict cycle.
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Conflict Prevention and Early Warning
Conflict prevention and early warning build upon the basic premise that violent conflicts can be prevented before they break out. The European Union itself was created out of conflict and with the core objective to prevent violence.
Responding after the eruption of large-scale violent conflict is second best to prevention—in human, moral, strategic, and financial terms. Failing in conflict prevention undermines the credibility of international diplomacy, reverses years of development, and increases the need for costly reactions. Informed, timely and effective conflict prevention reduces the risk of human suffering, and saves both human lives and financial resources The EU is ready to act preventively at all stages of a conflict, as it works to prevent the eruption, escalation and re-occurrence of violent conflict. Conflict prevention also requires dedicated efforts to ensure that EU engagement in fragile or conflict-affected countries remains conflict sensitive.
The EU external action service has several instruments at its disposal to put conflict prevention into practice.
For the early identification of risk of violent conflict, and closing the gap to early action: Early Warning helps to prioritize countries at risk of violence. The EU Conflict Early Warning System (EWS) is a robust risk management tool that identifies, assesses and helps to prioritise situations at risk of violent conflict for non-EU countries. The EWS draws upon evidence-based risk factors, like an economic shock or shrinking political space, adopting a time horizon of four years. The system also identifies conflict prevention and peace building opportunities. Prioritizing a country allows for a deeper dive into the conflict dynamics, through conflict analysis. The EWS is designed to close the gap between early warning and early action by engaging EU staff across headquarters and in-country in a joint assessment to prepare specific recommendations and follow-up actions.
Effective conflict prevention relies upon a sound understanding of conflict situations (root causes, actors and scenarios). EU conflict analysis offers insight into the drivers of conflict using a structured approach. The EU promotes the systematic use of conflict analysis, notably in fragile and conflict-affected countries. A team of experts advises EU Delegations on conflict sensitivity in fragile contexts, on policy, programming, training, technical support and operational issues. The EU’s conflict analysis methodology is robust yet flexible to accommodate different timelines and environments. Conflict analysis can usefully inform decision-making at different levels, as it facilitates a common understanding of the crises between all EU actors and enhances identification of the range of options for EU action. This way, conflict analysis can make EU diplomacy, missions and development cooperation more relevant, more effective and potentially more influential.
The EEAS promotes the use of mediation and dialogue as a tool of first response to emerging and ongoing crisis.
Mediation is part of the EU’s preventive diplomacy, since the adoption of the 2009 ‘EU Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities.
The EU is constantly enhancing its mediation capacity to be more systematic and strategic in its approach. To achieve this goal, the EEAS has updated the EU Mediation Concept in 2020, and has prepared specific guidelines to support EU mediators and implementing partners.
The EU engages in a range of mediation roles to support peace processes. These include for example leading mediation as a third party, opening up and facilitating spaces for mediation and dialogue and supporting mediation efforts of others through capacity building, training, logistical support and expertise.
The EEAS Mediation Support Team (MST) provides advice on mediation process design and technical expertise. It can be deployed on short notice. The EEAS geographic divisions, EU Special Representatives and EU Delegations can draw on the MST for advice and support with regard to assessing mediation opportunities, supporting existing mediation efforts or building mediation capacity.
The MST not only supports EU institutions, but also actors and partners upon request, with particular attention to inclusivity and gender aspects in peace processes. It provides training, coaching, and assessment of mediation opportunities.
In June 2020, the EEAS established a gender balanced in-house Pool of 20 EU Mediators to strengthen the EU’s mediation outreach and operational capacity. Finally yet importantly, a taskforce was created to exercise political oversight of EU mediation activities.