How can international actors work together effectively towards building peace and preventing conflicts? This question has been at the centre of policy and academic debates for more than twenty years. Because of the uniqueness of its institutional architecture and the level of ambition set by its external action doctrine, the EU provides a strong and compelling model in its integrated approach to external conflicts and crises.
In the aftermath of civil wars, local elections are often viewed as transformative moments when voices from the margins can be heard and where new, more inclusive political settlements can be forged. However, existing academic research has been more cautious about the peacebuilding potential of local government institutions.
Among the instruments that can be exploited for conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities, dual-use technologies are gaining attention in scholarly and technical debates. Born as spin-offs of military projects, dual-use technologies are now developed in both the military and the civilian domain and operate in a vast number of fields, ranging from biology to security.
How do local peacebuilding actors develop their own models of post-conflict reconstruction? This question has been subject to extensive academic discussion since the limitations of mainstream liberal peacebuilding models became evident in the late 1990s. Many local peacebuilders in Cambodia and Mindanao have presented strong potential to promote advanced ownership of their programmes as well as limitations that should be addressed to offer good foundations for stable peace and sustainable development.
The consequences of conflict are far-reaching and clearly threaten the EU’s expressed core values of peace, security, sustainable development, poverty reduction, and human rights. Therefore, all the organs of European Union external action should be concerned with making sure that the EU’s engagement in environments affected by conflict (1) does no harm and (2) is designed to reduce the risks of conflict and maximise sustainable peace.
There is no shortage of challenges to focus on for 2018 when it comes to conflict, peacebuilding, and humanitarian crises. However, one which shouldn’t be forgotten (assuming it ever received much attention) is the war in South Sudan. South Sudan’s conflict highlights the dilemmas surrounding the protection of civilians.