The European Institute of Peace engages in mediation, facilitated dialogue, and private diplomacy in Europe's neighbourhood as well as inside Europe. Our flexible structure allows us to act swiftly and engage in complex negotiations to prevent and resolve conflicts. We tailor our interventions geographically, or thematically. Geographic interventions apply one or more of the abovementioned conflict prevention and resolution techniques. Thematic interventions such as addressing violent extremism, preventing electoral violence, and natural resources-based conflicts, are coupled with additional technical thematic expertise. Our approach to mediation and facilitated dialogue is informed by principles such as consent, impartiality, and inclusivity. Learn more about our interventions…
EIP continues to contribute to peace efforts for Syria by generating innovative solutions to the conflict and helping to maintain momentum for a political settlement. As such we seek to (i) contribute to a more favourable environment for a political settlement by discreet dialogues with influential Syrians and with regional actors; (ii) broaden the inclusion of Syrian voices in the peace process; and (iii) facilitating coordination between the UN-led official peace negotiations and peacemaking organisations working on Syria at international, national and local levels. EIP considers it essential to support the UN and European Track 1 actors in keeping the need for a political solution in Syria on the table, and sourcing Syrians’ perspectives to feed into Track 1 processes in a bid to make these as rights-based and sustainable as possible. With many decisions being taken outside of the Geneva framework, with minimal genuine involvement of Syrian men and women, we have dedicated efforts to anticipate outcomes of Astana, Riyadh and Sochi to identify opportunities to strengthen these outcomes for the rights-based benefit of Syrian men and women and the ultimate goal of a political settlement.
Avenues of work include Arab-Kurdish dialogues, to mitigate the risks of ethnic strife in eastern and north-eastern Syria and contribute to the overall resolution of the conflict; consultations with Syrians for post-conflict planning on issues related to housing, land and property, and conditions for the safe and dignified return of refugees and IDPs; and developing workable policies on Security Sector Reform which enable voluntary return of displaced persons and free-and-fair elections together with representatives of the Syrian people. In addition, EIP conveys perspectives from our interactions with Syrians and powerful actors in the region directly to Track 1 actors to serve as a reference for their peace efforts.
Stability in Iraq is not only important for its citizens, it is also imperative for regional stability. EIP’s strategy is to contribute to stability and security by increasing the inclusion of marginalised groups. EIP is bringing together key Iraqi leaders for a practical discussion of policies that can be implemented to stabilise liberated areas, to prevent resurgent extremism, and to advance political inclusion in the medium term. These leaders include the main Shi’a political figures in government and Sunni leaders currently inside and outside of the formal political process. Other population groups may be added at a later stage.
Upon request in 2015 of the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (UNOSESGY) EIP assisted the UN-led mediation process seeking to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen. EIP continues to (i) engage the leaderships of the Ansar Allah and the General People’s Conference (GPC) alliance, and to help them convey their positions and approach for the peace process back to the UNOSESGY. In the context of rapid fragmentation of southern Yemen, EIP (ii) supports an informed understanding of the issues and actors that affect the south of Yemen by ensuring that Track 1 can call on southern leaders to participate in the official peace process.
In line with EIP’s commitment to inclusion and gender, we have a dedicated women’s track – southern women for peace – which has emerged through our strategic dialogue process. The women’s track is fostered by EIP and will receive direct support from the UN for their peacebuilding plans. The UN has committed to work with several of the Yemeni groups which EIP engages with and to include Track 2 and Track 3 roles in the UN peace plan.
EIP has been contributing to a more conducive environment for nationwide peace in Libya by increasing Kufra District’s stability and readiness for the implementation of a comprehensive national peace agreement. This includes (i) mediation to resolve a sub-national conflict along the south-eastern border of Libya (Kufra District); and (ii) connecting Libyans from Kufra District to the Track 1 peace efforts by convening meetings with the UN, European and international diplomatic community. While oft-forgotten, Kufra is of direct importance to the national peace process and Libya’s economic recovery: it hosts vast natural resources (oil, water, minerals, agricultural products) which pre-war supplied the coastal urban areas of the country and instability has been exacerbated by the presence of Haftar-affiliated militia forces in the region. For Europe the zone is critical as it is an important transit route for migrants from East Africa, as well as for illicit trade and trafficking. It is a playing ground for proxy warfare and regional tensions.
To date our efforts have contributed to a ceasefire and we continue to accompany this sub-national peace and reconciliation process. Meanwhile, UNSMIL and the humanitarian community are increasingly integrating Kufra in their planning, thus contributing to greater inclusion.
EIP’s first interventions in the Horn of Africa and West Africa have focused on preventing and mitigating violent extremism in three countries in the Horn, and in coastal West Africa. This is described in more detail in the section Addressing Violent Radicalisation. We have furthermore used our analyses and preventive diplomacy to contribute to electoral violence prevention, for instance by scenario-building and contingency planning recommendations. The relationships and reputation developed through these interventions will underpin future conflict prevention and resolution in the region.
As part of EIP’s preventive diplomacy efforts, EIP supported social cohesion in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) by helping the country manage ethnic diversity in the context of political tensions. This comprised support to the Government in generating the participatory qualitative review of implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which was completed in 2015. Since then, we have been following-through with the Government for the formal adoption of the report findings and the implementation of recommendations towards greater cohesion within society.
As part of positioning EIP for preventive diplomacy and peacemaking in the EU-Russia neighbourhood, EIP prepped to establish cooperation with the Belarusian diplomatic and academic community. EIP will facilitate peer-to-peer experience-sharing of good practices in conflict prevention and mediation in the Eastern European geographic and cultural space. This initiative will inspire knowledge exchanges with other countries in the region, with a view to further enhancing conflict prevention and response capacities.
The Black Sea has emerged as a fragile and high-risk security space that brings together a complex set of challenges including rising asymmetric warfare, militarisation, and hybrid threats. In-depth and triangulated understanding are essential to help shape governments’ and institutions’ response to these challenges. At the end of 2016, EIP combined its diplomatic access and mediation expertise with the research expertise of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). EIP designed an intervention to improve conditions for transparency and risks reduction to promote peace and security in the Black Sea region. Having completed phase one of the project in March 2017, in which EIP and SIPRI gathered preliminary information on Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and Georgia, as well as international staff at NATO and the EU, EIP stepped back while SIPRI conducted further research. Findings were presented at a conference in Stockholm in December 2017 and will be published in 2018.
Knowledge-sharing on preventing electoral violence
On a case-by-case basis, EIP supports the process design, and provides expert opinion to international actors on the role of political mediation and dialogue in the prevention of electoral violence. This includes reflection on the timing of elections as part of conflict resolution; and matters such as integrated approaches, and collaboration between intergovernmental actors as the EU, UN, IGAD, and specialist entities such as democratic support institutes and peacemaking organisations. In many peace processes and post-conflict settings, elections are introduced as a means of legitimising leadership. This is often done prematurely, to the detriment of its stabilising potential.
Direct involvement in stabilising the electoral context
In certain countries the electoral climate is so fragile that pre-emptive dialogue is advisable to avert tensions. EIP therefore constantly scans socio-political climates to gage the need for preventive diplomacy and mediation. This can range from forging inter-party codes of conduct, to agreements on how to deal with disputes over election results, and mediation in electoral crises. In cases of extreme violence, EIP can accompany former armed groups to disarm and for movements to transform into political entities. Other preventive action includes tailored briefings to Electoral Observation Missions. Given the highly technical nature of the electoral process, EIP calls on experts on democratisation and elections to support us in this work.
In 2016, EIP conducted participatory research in Molenbeek (Belgium) to analyse the social patterns which enabled violent radicalisation to take hold, and to provide data for the design of an integrated approach to the prevention of violent radicalisation at the local level. The analysis of radicalisation drivers and resilience undertaken in May-December 2016 furthermore demonstrated that without a granular knowledge of the local context and of the conducive environment that permit radicalisation to grow, intervention to prevent and counter violent extremism (PCVE). The methodology, the research findings, and policy recommendations published in June 2017, have been endorsed by PCVE experts and continue to generate interest from local, EU and US institutions. Policy recommendation and actions recommended by respectively the Molenbeekois and the EIP, were conveyed to local and national authorities, local civil society, EU institutions, the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), and the media. Building on the recommendations from the participatory research, EIP intends to set up a new cadre of local peacemakers or insiders able to serve as trusted intermediaries to help restore confidence and dialogue between the citizens, and also with the political sphere.
EIP also assists in strengthening PCVE efforts in Europe on a case-by-case basis: for instance, in 2017 we hosted USIP’s CVE Directorate and senior representatives of the Albanian and Kosovo Governments for peer learning on PCVE. This focused specifically on reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters. EIP assisted the city of Milan (Italy) on developing a PCVE coalition with other European cities seeking EU funding for reconciliation: engaging families of victims of terrorism with families of radicalised individuals. We also continue to serve as a sounding board and give advice to Belgian authorities tasked with dealing with violent extremists.
Upon the request of the EU, EIP is providing support to three governments to overcome violent extremism. The programme assists these governments through providing advisory services and technical expertise related to preventing radicalisation and countering violent extremism. We help deepening and broadening understanding of radicalisation and adopting or enhancing appropriate responses to all forms of violent extremism at senior political levels, to foster political buy-in for tailored, holistic PCVE approaches. The movement of people linked to extremist groups is particularly pertinent for both the security and stability of the region. Consequently, we aim to build a better understanding and response to people moving across the region as part of, or to join extremist groups. The service will contribute to enhancing the stability across the Horn of Africa region, promoting cooperation and coordination between states, and emphasising a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach within states.
The rationale of our PCVE approach in West Africa is to reduce the threat of regional destabilisation linked to the growth of religious fundamentalism in coastal West African countries. With preventive diplomacy, we have helped prompt early action by Governments in coastal West Africa on what is driving the spike in religious fundamentalism. Advice was given on how to equip themselves with a thorough analysis of what is contributing to violent radicalisation locally to inform in-country and regional steps to address it. We furthermore offered peer and experts’ advice to tailor PCVE approaches.
This diplomacy also culminated in request for support from Togo (ECOWAS President in June 2017-May 2018). In response, EIP designed a methodology to support ECOWAS with technical advice and support on mobilising political will for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). This would help ensure high-level political buy-in and regional coordination to reinvigorate West African approaches to overcoming violent extremism and include ensuring complementarity with the efforts of others such as the Sahel G5 and entities offering bilateral PCVE support in the ECOWAS region. Togo announced the plans for an Extraordinary ECOWAS Summit on radicalisation and violent extremism adopting EIP’s recommended roadmap and methodology. We are now providing technical expertise on PCVE to inform policy discussions and decisions at the Extraordinary Summit of ECOWAS.
EIP is a strategic network partner of RESOLVE; a global consortium of researchers, research organisations, policymakers and practitioners committed to empirically driven, locally-defined research on the drivers of violent extremism and sources of community resilience. Herein we contribute to effective and innovative approaches to extremism, and sharing of lessons learned.
War economies take root in any society at conflict. Mediators need to know how to manoeuvre the peace process so that those in control of the war economy, and those that rely on it, are taken into account. With this in mind, EIP has been analysing the effects of war economies and criminal networks on the reconciliation process in Kufra, Libya. The aim is to (1) refine recommendations for EIP’s reconciliation work in Kufra, as well as UN and EU efforts in Libya (whether related to conflict negotiations, migration, or border management); (2) contribute to the EIP’s work on curbing violent radicalisation in West Africa, and; (3) assess how a more systematic understanding of the dynamics of war economies can be integrated into peace-making strategies and inform mediation practice.
Similar analysis has begun for the Yemen peace process and potential for enhancing security in the Red Sea region. In Yemen a particular focus is on how to ease access for humanitarian aid, and how war economies can positively and negatively impact humanitarian access.
Seizing the opportunity of the discovery of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, EIP in 2015-16 sought to encourage regional cooperation. Of specific interest was to use this as an avenue for constructive engagement between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Following shuttle missions, EIP convened a group of international energy experts from the two parts of Cyprus, Israel and Turkey. The workshop and consultations culminated in a roadmap with concrete steps for natural gas management through a regional dialogue process which were followed-up with further shuttle diplomacy. Given the resumption of UN-led talks on Cyprus, EIP opted to halt its Mediterranean Gas project at the start of 2016 so as not to influence the negotiations.
EIP’s approach to inclusive peacemaking: We try to challenge mediation practices to make them more inclusive and through that more sustainable, by:
• challenging current political norms and rethinking who is seen as eligible for inclusion;
• trying to ensure that the voices of groups and individuals who have been excluded from the peace process are being heard;
• acting as a bridge between those excluded actors and the official processes, thus anchoring the process in the wider population.
EIP Programmes have adopted internal peer-critique to enhance programme methodologies, including integration of inclusion and gender. Dedicated programme design and monitoring tools have been developed.
EIP applies mediation, facilitated dialogue, and preventive diplomacy techniques throughout its programmes. Yet for preventive diplomacy we have bolstered existing EIP capacity with the Preventive Diplomacy Group (PDG). To help address the gap between early warning and early action, this group of senior diplomats – together with EIP staff – increase, refine and enhance preventive diplomatic efforts of Europe. The PDG identifies and executes timely and precise diplomatic interventions to prevent and contain violent crises; it also disseminates executive analyses of conflict risks and possible responses by policy makers as the EU and its Member States.
The Preventive Diplomacy Group is currently composed of ambassadors Gerard Stoudmann, Bruno Joubert, Pieter Feith, Anders Bjurner, and Sir Derek Plumbly. Female members are actively sought.
Previously, EIP has applied its preventive diplomacy techniques in Coastal West Africa, Gabon, Ethiopia, the Black Sea Region, Macedonia/fYROM, and the Mediterranean.