Guest lecture: What happens when they leave? Evaluating outcome sustainability of ESDP civilian missions

On Thursday 26 November 2009 Elena B. Stavrevska, SPES fellow from Macedonia, was invited to the research collo­quium of the MA Military Studies at Potsdam University. Her guest lecture focused on the assessment of outcome sustaina­bility of ESDP civilian missions in the Western Balkans.

The presen­tation began with an overview of post-Cold War conflict management. Stavrevska pointed out that in contrast to the bipolar era, the current situation is charac­te­rized by the dominance of civil wars over inter­state wars, the lack of decisive victories, high civilian casualties, and an increased role of multi­la­teral organiz­a­tions in conflict management. The European Union (EU) has evolved into an important conflict manager. While its military missions aim at peace­keeping, European civilian missions are geared towards peace­building. According to Stavrevska, the criteria for success of peace opera­tions are unclear: Is mandate fulfilment suffi­cient for success? Does negative peace, i.e. the prevention of renewed hosti­lities, mean success? Is a mission successful if it improves the situation? Or can only conflict resolution be the aim of a truly successful mission? Stavrevska proposed another criterion to evaluate the success of ESDP civilian missions: the durability of reforms after mandate completion.
She selected the Western Balkans as empirical cases, because the region consti­tutes a “Sinatra test” for ESDP civilian missions: if ESDP cannot succeed there, it will not make it anywhere. Stavrevska presented her two cases, the European police mission to Bosnia and Herze­gowina (EUPM BiH) and EUPOL Proxima in Macedonia and pointed to caveats that make a compa­rison difficult, namely the different size of the conflicts, different mission mandates, and different state struc­tures. In conclusion, Stavrevska identified local ownership at the opera­tional level as an important factor for the sustaina­bility of police reforms. The invol­vement of local actors in the reform-shaping, not only at a political but also at a technical level, is essential for sustaina­bility.

In the following discussion, the problem of corruption was raised. Stavrevska stated that while in Macedonia it is beyond the EU’s power to fight corruption, in the case of Bosnia, the High Repre­sen­tative might intervene, though here, too, there is hardly any progress. Moreover, the general conflict situation in Bosnia was addressed. Stavrevska pointed out that in most cases, there is a relapse into violent conflict after a short period of stability. What if the EU were to retreat from Bosnia? Although a severe outbreak of violence is unlikely, due to the persisting ethnic tensions in the country a sudden retreat of the High Repre­sen­tative might cause desta­bi­li­sation.
Von: Mariella Falkenhain, Daniel Matteo