D4.5 IECEU Middle East and Asia Conclusion report
Lead beneficiary: Crisis Management Centre Finland
Delivery date: 02/01/2017
This report draws together information and analyses from the preceding four reports of IECEU Work Package 4 that examine the effectiveness of EU civilian crisis management operations in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Afghanistan. The two cases are examined in separate sections.
The IECEU case study on the occupied Palestinian territories illustrates the great challenges that the international community has in addressing protracted conflict situations. Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories has lasted half a century and the conflict itself even longer. Internationally mediated peace process has repeatedly tumbled onto outbursts of violence in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. A key element for a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the internationally supported process of building a Palestinian state. Establishing and strengthening Palestinian security sector under the Palestinian Authority (PA) is one of the fundaments of Palestinian statebuilding process.
The two EU civilian crisis management missions that have been present in the OPTs for a decade focus on supporting the SSR. Examination of the two EU missions in the OPTs reveals how the European Union crisis management instrument’s functionality is severely restricted by the political realities in a protracted conflict situation, as well as by the prevailing liberal peace paradigm. The EU border management mission EUBAM Rafah that back in 2005 was mandated to support the management of Rafah Crossing Point between Gaza and Egypt has been unable to carry out its mandated tasks since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007. The EU police mission EUPOL COPPS has also been unable to take up any activities in Gaza since 2007, but during the last decade it has carried out major support efforts benefiting the Palestinian civilian police (PCP) in the West Bank. Interviewees of IECEU study as well as other observers agree that the PCP is the best functioning part of Palestinian Authority security sector, and that this achievement has been made possible through EUPOL COPPS’s work.
This report summarises some key developments in the Palestinian security sector since the 1990s: the security sector agencies have become more streamlined and technically more advanced; the civilian oversight of security sector and the related criminal justice sector has somewhat improved though most recently observers have pointed out to alarming signs of growing authoritarianism within the PA structures; the limitations in territorial control and jurisdiction set to the PA police forces by the Oslo Accords are still at place, and; the intra-Palestinian division between the West Bank and Gaza has greatly deepened. While the EU through material and capacity-building assistance has been able to have positive impact on security sector development, and has at least to a limited extent managed to improve the oversight of security sector, it has not been able to address the two latter features of Palestinian security sector. In fact, as some observers have stated, the EU’s weakness in utilising its political and economic tools has supported the status quo of Israeli occupation and even contributed to intra-Palestinian division.
The above observations highlight the necessity to take into consideration the limitations of depoliticized, technical assistance offered through EU crisis management instrument that supports security sector and justice sector reforms. The EU crisis management missions like EUPOL COPPS have made a move towards more strategic assistance in recent years, but the EU needs to determine whether it wants to develop the CSDP instrument towards more long term developmental assistance direction, or to prepare proper handover mechanisms from CSDP technical assistance phase to the EU’s other developmental instruments. The EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis management must be clarified. Other questions that arose from IECEU interviews as crucial were related to the local ownership, and the dilemma between democracy and security approaches in conflict prevention and crisis management. As this research has focused on the current CSDP missions’ effectiveness its recommendations highlight a few aspects that can improve the ways CSDP missions like EUPOL COPPS and EUBAM Rafah function.
The second case study that this report covers is Afghanistan. The effectiveness or otherwise of an EU police mission in a developing nation suffering an ideology-based threat like Islamic State, is in many ways a microcosm of the political turmoil in Europe. Deeds that bring about stability need to replace words that excuse instability. The stage has passed where member states can view a mission as symbolic. This is no longer enough. A mission has to be practical. Meaningful tangibles are needed.
If US president-elect Donald Trump holds to his promises, the US will no longer be the world’s policeman. This makes it even more crucial for the EU to get it right in the field of SSR, an area in which it has not done itself justice to date. It has under-used a rich array of police practices and experienced people across Europe uniquely suited to implementing an effective police mission in Afghanistan. There is huge potential waiting to be exploited if EU institutions can include security in its Crisis Management Concept approach and develop closer co-operation with the military.
This report provides 25 recommendations for a way forward. Where issues have been identified, a corresponding solution is offered. The majority relate to EU bodies like the CPCC and PSC responsible for setting up and managing a police mission. Change needs to come from the centre. To do this, these bodies need more political support and resources if they are to be the ‘change champions’ capable of persuading member states that a fundamental shift in mindset is required. Otherwise the next mission will follow the same pattern as Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this achievable? Can Brussels lead the way for the international community in this field without a change in approach? Can the EU brand a police model for such a mission in the future? These are the key questions.
In going forward a mission must select the right people, be bureaucratically lean, unified in the police model and practices it promotes, and realistic in its duration and scope. It also has to be clever in how it mainstreams human rights and gender equality, how it is aligned with a military force and most of all; it must be relevant to the environment. This will give it the best chance of strategic success, strategic success being defined as increased stability. Only then will politics, economics, good governance, social justice issues and other aspects of civil society important for a nation’s development gain traction. This is the desired end state. But to get there an effective security effort is essential and cannot be left out of either planning or implementation.
Historically, either the police or military can lead a security effort. The EU, as with the rest of the international community, prefers police primacy – a rule of law approach. A rule of law approach in an armed conflict has been done before. It can be done again. And herein lies the challenge for the EU.