Workshop 1 – “Technologies, personnel and procedures in conflict prevention and peacebuilding”

Correspondents: Cristian Barbieri and Francesca Sparaci
Host: Istituto Affari Internazionali
Location: Rome, Italy
Date: 18 November 2016


Executive Summary

On 18 November 2016, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) hosted a workshop on EU technologies, personnel and procedures in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, bringing together experts from the consortium partners, external practitioners and researchers. The workshop was an occasion to present and discuss the results of the report on technologies, personnel and procedures produced by IAI (DL 2.1). The fruitful comments made by the workshop participants positively contributed to enhancing and deepening the findings the deliverable. Further, the report on dual-use technologies (DL 2.4) and the policy paper on pooling and sharing of capabilities (DL 2.5), expected in 2017, will also benefit from the outcomes of the workshop.

The findings of session I underlined that technological tools would help the EU to strengthen its early warning system to swiftly assess crises, provide a more solid foundation for conflict analysis, and gain better situational awareness. However, when it comes to fully exploiting the potential of technologies in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, three key problems remain: i) technical: the level of development of specific technologies, especially dual-use technologies, ii) political: the willingness of the member states to share capabilities and data; and iii) human: the ‘dark side of technology’, meaning the potential to misuse these tools.

Regarding Personnel and Procedures, session II reflected the shared vision that the EU needs to improve its training system, particularly in two key areas. First, the EU must request and support context-based pre-deployment training courses for all personnel in CSDP missions. Second, the Union needs to develop greater coordination among its member states to achieve highly specialised courses and ‘qualitatively relevant’ seconded personnel, working within conflict prevention and peacebuilding-related positions.


Full Report

Technologies, personnel and procedures are three fundamental capabilities that the European Union (EU) Member States can develop to face the challenges of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The future success of EU actions in these sectors will depend on the quality of personnel, procedures and technologies that Member States are willing to share within the EU framework.

On 18 November 2016, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) hosted a workshop on technologies, personnel and procedures of the EU Member States, bringing together experts from the eleven consortium partners, external practitioners and researchers. The workshop served as an opportunity to present and discuss the results of the report on technologies, personnel and procedures produced by IAI, submitted to the European Commission on 30 November 2016 (DL 2.1). The valuable comments made by the workshop participants positively contributed to enhancing and deepening the findings of the deliverable. Further, the report on dual-use technologies (DL 2.4) and the policy paper on pooling and sharing of capabilities (DL 2.5), expected in 2017, will also benefit from the outcomes of the workshop as detailed below

During the first part of the workshop, Bernardo Venturi (IAI) and Tommaso De Zan (IAI) presented the research findings, while the second part split into two separate thematic sessions. The first of these centred on the use of technologies for the EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding and was chaired by Christian Bueger (Cardiff University) with the participation of Silvio Rossignoli (Aero Sekur) and Nicolò Sartori (IAI) as key speakers. The second thematic session focused on personnel and procedures in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and was chaired by Ana E. Juncos (University of Bristol). Thierry Tardy (EU Institute for Security Studies – EU-ISS), Annalisa Creta and Leonardo Nader (both Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna – SSSUP) shared their insights on the topic, drawing the workshop’s attention to possible developments and recommendations.

Thematic Session I on Technologies

The EU and its Member States need adequate capabilities to prevent the outbreak of conflicts and to promote sustainable peace. Preventing wars and fostering peace are two of the most important goals of the EU, as set out in the EU Global Strategy (EUGS –June 2016) and in the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence (November 2016).

Can technology help prevent conflicts? What kind of technologies can Member States share with the EU to enhance cooperation in peacebuilding? These questions were addressed in the first session of the workshop, in which Mr Tommaso De Zan presented an analysis of the technologies that may be used in the context of EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Mr De Zan focused on the application of technologies such as satellites and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) and on their contribution to facilitating early warning and situational awareness for the prevention of crises and in post-conflict contexts.

Despite having received little attention in the academic literature, the use of technology in conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities is not a new issue for practitioners. Relevant actors at the national level have already developed technological tools and these technologies can respond to the EU’s objectives in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

This is particularly evident in the case of satellite systems and UASs, as argued Mr De Zan. However, ‘less complex’ systems such as phones, tablets, PCs and related applications/software are not particularly used as tools for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Awareness of the possible use and impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on conflict prevention and peacebuilding is still limited at the member state level.

Mr De Zan concluded that the use of technological tools would help the EU to strengthen its early warning system to swiftly assess crises, provide a more solid foundation for conflict analysis, and gain better situational awareness. However, when it comes to fully exploiting the potential of technologies in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, three key problems remain: i) technical: the level of development of specific technologies, especially dual-use technologies; ii) political: the willingness of Member States to share capabilities and data; and iii) human: the ‘dark side of technology’, meaning the potential to misuse these tools. He finally added that, no matter the level of sophistication of the early warning/situational awareness system the EU can put in place, the political willingness to prevent a crisis will always be the key element in determining the EU’s ability to reach its heralded goals in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

The first question was discussed by the panellists, Mr Nicolò Sartori, Senior Researcher at IAI, and Mr Silvio Rossignoli, President of Aerosekur. Mr Sartori underlined the importance of satellite data reaching remote conflict areas and described the EU projects COPERNICUS and GALILEO and their possible contribution to EU’s overall conflict prevention and peacebuilding. On the other side, Mr Rossignoli cautioned participants about the effective use of satellites for conflict prevention: a satellite can cover specific zones for a given period only; it then loses coverage of the area for at least the following five days. A similar difficulty arises with the use of UASs – tools that have a short operating mission range and that require ground personnel close to the target. Despite its potential technical issues, Mr Rossignoli recognised the positive role of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to cover remote areas. These systems require less funding and fewer men on the field, but can fly for just a few hours.

Lastly, Mr Rossignoli recognised the role that CCTV systems, reconnaissance planes and lighter drones might also have in CSDP missions, or more general in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The possibility to use of these technologies will be further explored in the report on dual-use technologies (DL 2.4), which is due by the end of January 2018.

Another problem, raised by Dr Christian Bueger from Cardiff University, was the ownership of the assets: would Member States be willing to share costly technologies in the EU framework? Expensive national programmes are often implemented with the support of private industries that are less inclined to share know-how with competitors in other countries. The EU should tackle this issue by enhancing research programmes to reach a sufficient level of EU-based assets. How Member States might be encouraged to “pool and share” their assets and technologies will be investigated in DL 2.5, which is due by the end of September 2018. Moreover, Dr Bueger’s intervention was instrumental to reinforce the link between relevant technology and selected goals in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in Deliverable 2.1.

More generally, Bueger, Rossignoli and Sartori underlined a variety of situations and challenges, ranging from technical, legal and financial issues, deriving from the use of the aforementioned technologies in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. While being a stocktaking exercise on EU Member States’ capabilities, Deliverable 2.1 integrated the useful comments made by the discussants, with a view to develop a longer and more comprehensive analysis on the use, conditions and implications of dual-use technologies in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in DL 2.4, which is due by the end of January 2018.

In the context of the use of technology for conflict prevention and peacebuilding, it is also important to consider data security. Ms Sonja Stojanovic Gajic from the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) argued that in a sensitive context that may lead to crisis, the protection of data and the security of communications should not be undervalued. Security of data is an essential element to consider if new programs involving technology are implemented. This will also be examined in more detail in the deliverable exploring dual use technologies (DL 2.4).

The third set of issues raised by the panellists relates to the dangers that can arise from the misuse of technologies, also referred to as the ‘dark side of technology’. Protection of personal data and privacy, the use of technology by actors with the potential to aggravate conflicts, and the manipulation of information through social media are just some of the issues that illustrate the inherent risks of these tools in such sensitive environments. An interesting point was raised by Mr Khadir Abdi from Transparency Solutions, who underlined the importance of different perceptions of technologies. He cited an example from his country, Somalia, where UASs are viewed negatively because in the past they were used more as instruments of war than to prevent conflicts. The EU’s outreach activities in risk areas may be translated into a more positive approach of local population towards technologies. Technologies as laptops, Smartphone and satellites are widely used and can be crucial to mitigate possibly critical situations in remote areas. Comments and insights on the ‘dark side of technology’ were promptly added to DL 2.1, under section 3.3.4. Again, even though this will be fully addressed in deliverable DL 2.4, DL 2.1 briefly summarised the topical challenges that practitioners need to envisage when designing programs which features the use of technologies in conflict prevention and peacebuilding: the ability of early warning systems to predict conflicts, unequal access to technology and the ‘digital divide’ in war-torn countries, the misuse of technology by malicious actors, privacy and data protection issues and finally the need to secure the transmission and storage of data.

Thematic Session II on Personnel and Procedures

Dr Bernardo Venturi presented the main findings on personnel and procedures for EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding, following an introduction outlining the research methodology. Dr Venturi highlighted the need for a coherent EU political strategy with a common understanding of the situation and challenges at stake among the Member States. This is mainly due to the lack of a common European procedure in the selection process of personnel to be deployed within the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions, which should be remedied. The EU therefore needs to develop a common European framework for the personnel training and selection process.

The necessary drive to improve the system should come from the EU, mainly by requiring its Member States to contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive approach through appointing high-quality personnel.

In this context, the implementation of the ‘Goalkeeper project’ constitutes a potential solution to issues about recruitment procedures. The Goalkeeper project started in 2007 in the General Secretariat of the Council, and was transferred to the EEAS in April 2013, where it is now managed by the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) 2 – Capabilities, Concepts, Training and Exercises Division – and developed by the EEAS IT Division. The full adoption of the Goalkeeper system could considerably facilitate the civilian capability development process, but its successful implementation will depend on the buy-in of both EU actors – CPCC and Human Resources officers in CSDP missions – and national authorities, beyond the Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

The recruitment of seconded national experts (SNEs) is linked to the Goalkeeper project. As highlighted by Ms Anna Penfrat and Ms Nabila Habbida, both from EPLO, the secondment procedures vary from state to state and the implementation of different national policies means that the quality of SNEs is diminished. Seconded personnel from Member States to EU institutions play an important role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. For instance, Finland and Sweden contribute to SECOPOL.2 with specialised seconded personnel. This issue of national rosters will be further developed by the report on interaction between EU, UN and OSCE in conflict prevention and peacebuilding (DL 4.2). Discussions with EPLO at the workshop were also particularly fruitful: EPLO is to follow up on some of these issues in DL 3.2 (Report on the EU’s capacities for conflict prevention) and in DL 3.3 (Reports on integrating conflict prevention in different policy areas including CSDP, EU trade policy and EU development policy).

Personnel training is one of the key elements to consider when assessing whether the EU’s action requires reinforcement and should not be neglected. As argued by Dr Thierry Tardy from the EU-ISS, the current obstacles in terms of training coordination among different countries and Ministries should be overcome by common EU action. The link between the November 2016 Action Plan and the need to review the Feira priorities clearly shows that the current categories of civilian crisis management operations are perceived as outdated.

Dr Annalisa Creta further stressed that the absence of a centralised system for training provisions at EU level prevents the development of a common approach and a continuum of activities encompassing all stages in the lifecycle of conflicts. Dr Creta pointed out that the draft document on training, recently drawn up by the CMPD to update the 2004 concept, fails to integrate lessons learned on the ground. With a view to Work Package 2 (WP2) future deliverables, and in particular regarding the policy paper on pooling and sharing of capabilities (DL 2.5), she cited four key documents released by the EU: i) the Joint Communication on Conflict Prevention (2013); ii) the Joint Communication on the Use of Conflict Analysis (2013); iii) the EU Security Sector Reform (SSR) Communications (2016); iv) the Joint Communication on the Comprehensive Approach (2016). For example, the Joint Communication on Conflict Prevention (2013) identifies as concrete action to be taken strengthening the mechanisms for pooling and sharing European capacities and expertise. Dr Creta’s comments and insights on training and recruitment were promptly added to DL 2.1, sections 3.2.1 and 3.2.2.

As for the preparation and training of civilians that are either going to, or are already working in crisis management missions, Europe’s New Training Initiative for Civilian Crisis Management (ENTRi) has been identified by participants as an asset in covering the basic needs of CSDP personnel trainings. At the Member State level, the absence of an overall programme and funds for the provision of specific courses still constitutes a problem. Although the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) has provided strategic-level training to CSDP missions personnel, it has not yet realised its full potential. It has to be underlined that DL 2.1 has a focus on Member States level, while issues concerning personnel, procedures and technologies in use at the EU level are further analysed in DL 4.1 (and compared to those of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

The promotion of local ownership and a deeper understanding of the specific context were critical issues highlighted by Mr Leonardo Nader. He stressed the need to reinforce the knowledge of local culture, history and traditions among recruited personnel whenever acting in a different context. Furthermore, after sharing his field experience as part of numerous UN missions, he argued that associating UN and EU mission training might be detrimental, as the former have often proved to be excessively UN tailored.

In conclusion, Session II reflected the shared view that the EU needs to improve its training system in two key areas. First, the EU must request and support context-based pre-deployment training courses for all personnel in CSDP missions. Second, the Union needs to develop greater coordination among its Member States to achieve highly specialised courses and ‘qualitatively relevant’ seconded personnel, working within conflict prevention and peacebuilding-related positions. The session provided numerous key points that were incorporated into the report on technologies, personnel and procedures produced by IAI (DL 2.1) and will be further developed in DL 2.4 and DL2.5.

As a whole, the workshop allowed the achievement of Milestone 2 (MS2): Capability-based analysis of EU conflict prevention technologies, personnel and procedures. As anticipated in MS2, the Workshop on Technologies, personnel and procedures (Workshop 1) provided with an opportunity to present, discuss and improve DL 2.1 (Report on capability-based analysis of technologies, personnel and procedures) before submission. After the workshop, feedback from workshop participants was incorporated into the Summary report on workshop on technologies, personnel and procedures (DL 2.3). This feedback will also inform future EUCIVCAP deliverables as noted in this report.


Related Deliverables

dl_2-1DL 2.1: Procedures, Personnel and Technologies for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding: An Assessment of EU Member States’ Capabilities

Authors: De Zan, T., P. Tessari and B. Venturi
Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali

Published: 30 November 2016

[PDF, ~2.1MB; click to access]

 


People Involved

Ana E. Juncos

Ana E. Juncos is the EU-CIVCAP Consortium Co-ordinator and team leader at the University of Bristol. She is a Reader in European Politics at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies.

Anna Penfrat

Anna Penfrat is Project Officer at EPLO. She coordinates the work of EPLO on EU institutions and policies, including the Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as on EU-Africa relations.

Annalisa Creta

Annalisa Creta is currently a research fellow at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa where she focuses on issues related to civilian crisis management, with a particular emphasis on training related matters.

Bernardo Venturi

Bernardo Venturi is a researcher in the European Affairs area. He works mainly on EU civilian crisis management, CFSP/CSDP, development cooperation and African affairs.

Christian Bueger

Christian Bueger is Reader in International Relations at Cardiff University. He is a specialist in maritime security and international governance.

Khadir Abdi

Khadir Abdi has lived and worked in Somaliland, Somalia and the UK and has deep local insight into Somali military and civil society with a global perspective supported by professional experience abroad.

Nabila Habbida

Nabila Habbida joined EPLO in June 2013 to support EPLO’s analysis and advocacy towards EU Member States on EU policy and thematic issues related to peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

Sonja Stojanović Gajić

Sonja Stojanović Gajić has been BCSP Director since 2006. She holds an MA in Politics, Security and Integration with distinction from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, University College London.

Thierry Tardy

Thierry Tardy is a Senior Analyst at the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS).

Tommaso De Zan

Tommaso De Zan is a former EU-CIVCAP Staff Member. This profile represents his biography at the time he worked for the project.

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