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.
By: Mariella Falkenhain, Daniel Matteo