The issue of refugees, who together with the displaced constitute half of Syria's population before the war, is essential to restoring peace. But the government of Assad blocks the possibility for return.
If not addressed now, Syrian and regional stability will be enduringly improbable, and international security just as much at risk.
The European Institute of Peace (EIP) held its third President’s Roundtable in Brussels on Wednesday 18th of April, focusing on the issues and the possibilities linked to the peace process in Afghanistan. The main purpose of this roundtable was to provide an opportunity for high-level governmental officials from EIP Board members, donors, and EU partners to discuss current challenges in Afghanistan. In particular, the discussion focused on EU engagement in Afghanistan, EIP work within the framework of Afghanistan Peace Support Initiative (APSI) and how cooperation on regional connectivity issues can be a win-win for both Afghanistan and its neighbours.
War means that people are prepared to die for the cause they are defending. Negotiation means that they are prepared to make compromises on the very things they have been prepared to kill and be killed for. It is easy to understand how difficult it is to mediate the end of a conflict
Even if mediation is successful, we know that the prospects of securing lasting peace are not great. Research indicates that anything between 50 and 60 per cent of conflicts relapse. Even for those that do not relapse, the peace is frequently a negative one – “the absence of war”, “non-lethal coexistence”. Securing a negative peace is of course better than no peace at all, but it offers little in the way of hope or progress for the populations in question.
What can be done to enhance the prospects of short and medium term peace so that it offers tangible benefits to those who have suffered, persuading them that peace is not only an end to violence but also offers a genuine prospect of dignity and progress, and that sees a role for them to play in securing those benefits?
The upsurge in violent conflict since 2010 has led to renewed calls for more preventive diplomacy. As part of this, EIP was asked to provide input to a joint World Bank and United Nations report on Prevention and in particular preventive diplomacy. But what do we mean by preventive diplomacy? Who can do it? And what methods are effective?
EIP recently hosted a small group of high-level envoys and mediators from the UN, the EU, and the Swedish and Dutch Governments to discuss support in peace processes. Here are our immediate impressions from the discussions.
On July 7th, the European Institute of Peace (EIP) co-organised and hosted the event “Threats to Stability in Wider Europe – Challenges in the Neighbourhood & Beyond”. The discussion marked the launch of a report produced by the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) in a collaboration with the University of St. Andrews.
EIP recently gathered a group of envoys from the EU, OSCE, UN and Switzerland at Château Jemeppe in Belgium, to discuss the ins and outs of peace processes. The focus lay on support needs, both in political, strategic and technical terms. These are our impressions from the discussions. By Stine Lehmann-Larsen and Ingrid Magnusson
Last week, EIP organised a workshop in Abu Dhabi with a group of senior envoys and mediators to learn more about the interplay between mediation processes and support structures. By Stine Lehmann-Larsen and Lucas van de Vondervoort
This week in Abu Dhabi EIP is kicking off an ambitious project to enhance mediation support. We have written about why we need to improve mediation support and some of the challenges to how this can be done in practice. This week we host the first meeting with a group of experienced envoys and diplomats who will share with us their experiences. By Stine Lehmann-Larsen and Andreas Müllerleile
How do you change someone’s behaviour? The question is as simple as the answer is complex. Human beings are surprisingly reluctant to change their own behaviour, but efforts to elicit change in mediation should be both welcomed and expected. By Arvid Hallberg
Modern peacemaking struggles with the challenge of effectively including women in peace processes. A proper response requires a radical rethink of what a peace process should look like – because in power politics, inclusion does not come naturally. Boosting the link between local insider mediators and their high-level counterparts can be the way forward. By Stine Lehmann-Larsen and Ingrid Magnusson
The EU’s scope for preventive diplomacy in the coming years will be determined by the implementation of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS). And while the EUGS is big on prevention, the direction the Member States are giving it appears to be setting the bar low. How can the peacemaking community support the European External Action Service (EEAS) in keeping the ambitions high, and delivering on a preventive agenda? By Stine Lehmann-Larsen, Anouk van den Akker and Ingrid Magnusson
How do we ensure mediation support actors enjoy the trust of mediators to take on their advice? For them to be accepted to a peace process rather than being kept at bay? And how can they get their message across in a way that mediators understand and welcome? We asked the field’s leading mediation support experts. Here are some of the answers.
Sunday’s referendum could have ended the 52-year long conflict between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). But it did not. 50.2% of Columbia’s population rejected the deal, while 49.8% were in favour. This amounts to a difference of less than 54 000 votes out of 13 million ballots. This begs the question: Are referenda a good way to deal with such momentous decisions? And what options are left for Colombia now? By Stine Lehmann-Larsen and Arvid Hallberg
There is no doubt that the scale of the atrocities being committed in Aleppo are well understood internationally. We got used to the news coverage of the days and nights of misery, the terrible scenes of carnage and of blasted hospitals and houses. But why don't we see more public outrage? By Martin Griffiths
Molenbeek became known as the home of Belgian jihadists. The media portrayed the Brussels commune as a ‘no go area’ and a ‘jihadist hub’. But is this really the whole story? On 6 September 2016 EIP presented the first findings of an ambitious survey carried out in Molenbeek at an event at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
The term mediation conjures up images of high level meetings behind closed doors where in the end, mediators representing different two or three letter organisations come up with creative resolutions and the warring parties sign a peace treaty. In reality, however, mediation is a long process that too often fails to live up to the hopes of the peacemakers and the needs of the parties. This is the second part of a new blog series from the EIP’s Mediation Quality Programme.
Mediating a peace process requires more than a mediator who is winning the trust of conflict parties and guiding them towards an agreement. Successful mediation typically involves a number of experts that support, develop and strengthen the mediation process. Over the past 10 years, mediation support has become an important feature in international conflict mediation. However, to make mediation support more effective we have to address some shortcomings. A new blog series from EIP’s Mediation Quality Programme.
Women remain drastically underrepresented in peace processes. This is not due to lack of capacity, but lack of power and access. We need visionary methods for targeting this problem, one of which is to team them up with power players who can open the right doors. Mobilising the Nordic Women Mediator Network can be a first step in making this happen. By Ingrid Magnusson and Antonia Potter Prentice
Europe can offer a ‘new way’ to solve conflicts. But this requires political will – and creativity to think outside the box. We need to reinvent how to build peace in the 21st century. By Martin Griffiths
The European Institute of Peace (EIP) hosted 20 young political leaders to participate in a mediation simulation and a spirited debate on democratisation, good governance, inclusion and political transitions.
Solving conflicts always begins with analysis and research. Mediators not only need to understand the peace process; they also need to have a good grasp of the conflict itself. What is happening on the ground? What do conflict parties think (and want)? How does it all relate to wider local, regional and international political dynamics? Mediators and their teams spend considerable time to find answers to these sort of questions. Libya is no exception. By Elena Marda
The long-coveted EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy was finally released on Monday, after an intensive process of consultations with EU Member States, academia and civil society. Notably, it was released in the tumultuous wake of the British referendum result on the so-called "Brexit". How does this affect the status of the Global Strategy? And what will this mean for the peace-making community? By Ingrid Magnusson and Anouk van den Akker
We like to think of peace and justice as inseparable twins; two concepts both alike in dignity. Yet, the tension between them is striking when we go into concrete experience. Reconciling peace and justice inevitably invokes the field of transitional justice. Here are some key resources. By Ivan Shalev
Over the past 30 years, over 80% of all conflicts have been solved through negotiation and mediated settlements, but what exactly do we mean when we talk about mediation? How do mediators contribute to the secession of violence and the establishment of durable peace? Here are some of the key readings on mediation. By Anouk van den Akker and Ingrid Magnusson
Preventive diplomacy has been a popular item on the political agenda but policymakers struggle to make sense of its speculative nature. Making preventive diplomacy work requires us to rethink how we measure its impact and how we identify political openings. Using mediation in a preventive context can be the missing link. By Stine Lehmann-Larsen
On 17 May EIP hosted a debate about conflict narratives, journalism and the challenges of war/peace reporting. A media monitoring study on how the global media reported the war in Syria is available for download.
What can we learn from the Schuman declaration? Is a document that was written 66 years ago still relevant in today’s world? And what does it tell us about the state of Europe’s peace agenda? By Andreas Mullerleile
In 2015, the European Institute of Peace was invited by the Macedonian government to facilitate the official review process of the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) – a 2001 peace deal signed in Skopje to govern inter-ethnic relations. EIP now publishes the findings of this process, which examined the progress and the gaps in the implementation of the agreement with the aim to improve social cohesion and inter-ethnic relations.
Peace-making is the art of the almost-impossible, the art of the very-unlikely. It requires of the mediator - at vital moments - the willing suspension of belief. The mediator must also allow another element to govern his judgment: to leave to fate and chance the possible consequences of present acts. By Martin Griffiths
Mediation support actors provide mediators with advice and expertise both on and off site. 10 years after the setup of the UN mediation support unit, it is time to take stock of where we are today. Is the support provided sufficiently tailored to practitioners? Where is room for improvement? By Stine Lehmann-Larsen
The terrorist attacks in Brussels have resulted in a political debate on how to strengthen police cooperation across Europe and whether European countries need to improve capacities for intelligence sharing. But this is only one side of the story. What's missing from the debate is a better understanding of how prevention works and why we need it. By Camille Schyns and Andreas Müllerleile
Solving conflicts has become increasingly difficult in recent years. But despite the emergence of modern challenges, and a wealth of research on how tackle them, little has changed in terms of how mediation is conducted. There is a gap between mediation guidelines and the actual work carried out in the field. How can we develop the support for mediation practitioners? In short, how can we strengthen the quality of mediation? By Stine Lehmann-Larsen
Conflicts are stories. Stories about what is going on, stories about who does what and why. Conflicts always need to be communicated. How can we make sense of the story unfolding in Syria? By Martin Griffiths
Today’s conflicts cannot be solved with yesterday’s tools. Conflicts are changing. But our approaches of analysing and resolving conflicts are stuck in the past. Mediation, diplomacy, conflict prevention - our toolkit to build sustainable peace - needs an upgrade for the 21st century. By Martin Griffiths
Here are our 10 tips and recommendations how to build peace in 2016.
The year is coming to an end. Time to reflect on what we learnt - and what challenges lie ahead of us. What’s at stake for mediators and conflict resolution professionals in 2016? How shall we respond to new threats and conflicts? And most importantly, how can Europe play a more active role in preventing and resolving conflicts around the world?
By Martin Griffiths, Elena Marda, Antonia Potter Prentice, Ivan Shalev, Peter Brorsen, Maria Chalhoub, Monique Van Es, Evan Tyner, Stine Lehmann and Andreas Müllerleile
Policy-makers across Europe are trapped in a security mindset, causing the conflict in Syria to be viewed primarily through a military and strategic lens. While this is part of the wider picture, it overlooks the fact that Europe’s security is also a question of values. By Maria Chalhoub
Diplomacy is getting more polarised, demonisation is spreading and military solutions are seen as a useful contribution to end the conflict. The perfect recipe to prolong the conflict in Syria. By Martin Griffiths
Few societies and their elites are immediately in favour of reviewing peace agreements. Perhaps they are happy with the status quo or they fear reopening controversial issues and memories. However, it is a key tool for preventive diplomacy and policy planning. By Ivan Shalev
Preventive diplomacy can stop armed conflicts before they escalate. However, we lack real innovation as funders and international organisations tend to avoid anything that turns out to be speculative and risky. By Martin Griffiths
Everything you always wanted to know about ‘preventive diplomacy’’: how it differs from other forms of diplomacy – and why it could be a defining concept for the future of diplomacy. By Andreas Müllerleile
The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize highlights the efficacy of dialogue in countering a lethal combination of cynicism, opportunism and extremism. Above all, it's a prize for civic responsibility and a reminder that peace and dialogue are two sides of the same coin. By Antonia Potter Prentice, Martin Griffiths and Andreas Müllerleile.
The European Institute of Peace (EIP) is facilitating the official review process of the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement - a 2001 peace deal signed in Skopje between the government and representatives of the ethnic Albanian community.
Can all be forgiven and forgotten in war? Amnesties can be a powerful tool to consolidate peace. Nevertheless, their application is rightly limited under international law and European policy. By Ivan Shalev
Cameron’s recent speech shows that the British government sees countering violent extremism (CVE) as a priority. Yet it also reveals that options to fight it are dwindling. What is now required is a strategic framework that goes further than treating the symptoms but neglecting the disease. By Evan Tyner
The deal with Iran may be the beginning of a new time in the Middle East. Iran's decision to limit its nuclear programme and open it up to intrusive inspection is a demonstration of the many virtues associated with a change of mind. The Iran deal also shows that Europe can play the role of an honest broker. By Martin Griffiths
We all know the traditional ingredients of international peace negotiations: diplomats, acronyms of UN frameworks, foreign ministers traveling to Geneva, frantic phone conferences and contradictory press statements. But is this enough to build peace? By Martin Griffiths.
EIP interview with Mahdi Abdile about how to stop people from joining terrorist organisations. Mahdi Abdile is Finn Church Aid’s Regional Representative for East and Southern Africa. He works on diaspora involvement in peacebuilding. He is also the co- author of a paper on 'Radicalisation and al-Shabaab recruitment in Somalia'. We met Mahdi to talk about his research on al-Shabaab but also to learn more about how terrorist groups use social media to recruit foreign fighters - and why people are attracted to join extremist groups in the first place.
Peace is made by the same people who make war - and they tend to be people with blood on their hands. Although mediators know that it would be wrong to dismiss them as criminal psychopaths it still constitutes one of the main dilemmas for peace-makers. By Martin Griffiths.
Last week we traveled to Nicosia, Cyprus for this year’s Build Peace conference to discuss how to build peace through - and with technology. Here are 10 things we learnt (or asked ourselves) at #buildpeace 2015.
The Brussels-based European Institute of Peace will be set up with the participation of eight states, including Hungary, political director at the foreign ministry Szabolcs Takács, who participated in the meeting to elect the new institute’s steering committee, told MTI.