D4.4 Discussion Report on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan

D4.4 Discussion Report on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan 

Lead beneficiary: Crisis Management Centre Finland

Delivery date: 8/11/2016

Revision: 2.0

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Executive Summary:

Two roundtable events were organised in the framework of Work Package 4 of IECEU project. The events focused on the WP4’s two case studies on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Afghanistan. This report provides information on the roundtable events, and presents the main points of discussion during the events.

The roundtable discussion on Effectiveness of International Assistance and Local Ownership in the Occupied Palestinian Territories was organised jointly by the Crisis Management Centre Finland and the University of Tampere on 16 September 2016. The roundtable participants included experts on the Middle East, on peace and conflict studies as well as practitioners of crisis management. Five speakers explored the effectiveness of international assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territories from different perspectives, drawing a rather desolate picture of the current situation. Palestinians are among the highest per capita recipients of international aid in the world. But due to inability to address the prevailing political problems, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the intra-Palestinian conflict, this massive aid remains largely ineffective. In fact, the aid has left Palestinians aid-dependent and their economy weak. The aid to Palestinians has also directly or indirectly benefited the Israeli occupying force. Technical assistance that has been preferred aid model since the second Palestinian intifada, channeling aid funds to budget support instead of development programs, and most recently prioritization of strategic, high-level assistance by donors like the EU carry also other risks. It may lead the aid further away from the everyday situation of Palestinian population, and ignore the fact that specific social groups like refugees, as well as men and women, have different needs and for example different perceptions on security. To avoid such risks the EU aid efforts must adopt inclusive approach with broad understanding of local ownership in both design and implementation. This is particularly important in the current Palestinian situation where there is no functioning parliament and the Palestinian Authority is becoming increasingly autocratic in its actions. To find ways to better support conflict resolution and make aid more effective the EU was urged by the roundtable participants to make better use of its political and economic leverage towards the PA and Israel, and to look for and develop game-changers at various levels in order to get away from the current status quo.

The National University Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) held a roundtable event on 5 October 2016, during which the results of IECEU study on EUPOL Afghanistan were presented and discussed. The findings in the study report on Afghanistan were widely accepted. Some, like gender, corruption and terrorism comprising the threat were new to most. That is, the threat is more than physical violence designed to intimidate the population and overthrow an existing government. It was universally agreed that excluding security from the mandate was a strategic shortcoming that no amount of tactical success could overcome. There was similar concurrence that EUPOL was a political mission with an operational capacity and that the Crisis Management Concept (CMC) is not geared for an acute conflict environment.

It was broadly viewed that improved co-operation in military and civil institutions in the EU would benefit the CMC. EU procedures are cumbersome, over-prescriptive and there is too much central control. But there is no need for drastic structural reform. What is in place can be developed. There were shortfalls in the mission’s preparation and planning, especially in situational awareness and the security context. EUPOL was under-resourced, too short, too late to deploy and too early to leave. NATO was a central security actor, yet there was minimal agreement with it and the EU.

Civilian policing vis-à-vis EUPOL was unsuited to a war environment. This had implications for the practicalities of delivery. The type of conventional policing promoted differed to mainstream US programmes and what was historically successful in an unconventional armed conflict setting.

Most people, in general, do not understand “Brussels.” And in the context of the EEAS and CSDP, it appears that this also applied to mission members. This is compounded by the study report on Afghanistan being canted toward the practitioner’s perspective. It would have benefited from ‘field visits’ to Brussels and some member states. This would have better represented these viewpoints. Visits to the European Gendarmerie HQ and European Police College (CEPOL) would also have been beneficial. Disclosing these shortcomings will give the research more chance of being accepted by the EU institutions responsible for missions like EUPOL Afghanistan.