Local ownership and the warning-response gap are two of the four central cross-cutting issues targeted by the EU-CIVCAP project. These components of our research attempt to respect the critical role of host country stakeholders in helping to manage all phases of the conflict cycle and highlight the importance of early warning in preventing or mitigating the effects of a conflict. In this light, it makes sense to examine closely the specific role of local owners in the conflict prevention process in hopes of drawing lessons and best practices from recent experience in the field.
This is the central objective of DL 3.5, which builds upon Lessons 13, 14, 30 and 33 on local capacity building. This research also summarises evidence from three cases (Nigeria Plateau State; the Democratic Republic of the Congo/South Sudan; and Mindanao in the Philippines) to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities for involving local owners in conflict prevention. On the positive side, the EU often does have a strong reputation as a fair, neutral, and effective outside interlocutor, and it has gained a great deal of operational experience over more than two decades. The EU’s claims about respecting human rights can also enhance its attractiveness to those seeking outside assistance with conflict prevention/management. However, it is also true that the EU is not always consistent in its practices; nor does the involvement of local actors ensure a positive outcome in the conflict resolution process.
Based on the three cases noted above, several specific lessons can be drawn regarding local ownership and conflict prevention: 1) Support to capacity building in the security sector must place as much importance on relational aspects as it does for logistical and material considerations; 2) The EU should use its convening power to promote greater coordination and engagement with local actors in response to the LRA conflict; and 3) The EU should strengthen the capacity of EEAS Regional Teams (mainly regarding the team in Nairobi, to ensure the coordination of action with the EU Delegations in Juba and Kinshasa). More generally, the central lesson here is that local communities often can provide better conflict analysis and early warning capacities, as well as help to build trust among local parties in ways that outside actors cannot.
To ensure local ownership and stronger partnership with local actors, the EU needs to ensure that conflict analysis is a continuous process across external action and that it provides local actors with the space and the means required to carry it out themselves. The EU also needs to prioritise support for community-centred and -led conflict prevention initiatives. In this regard, the capacity of EU Delegations to build relationships with and support local peacebuilders could be strengthened. Finally, the EU needs to ensure that EU assistance supports and is supported by a political process and dialogue and that it conducts institutionalised, regular conflict analysis exercises.
Published: 30 September 2018
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Published: 25 May 2017
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Published: 24 September 2018
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