Memorandum submitted by Saferworld
This submission focuses on the impact of the
reforms of European development assistance for the effectiveness
of conflict prevention. The EU has the world's biggest single
market and second most generous provider of development assistance.
However, its influence and impact as a global player, both as
a political power and as a donor, are far below its potential.
The failure of the European Union to take effective action to
prevent violent conflict in the Balkans, Middle East, Central
Africa and other regions of the world, demonstrates the urgent
need to ensure that conflict prevention is effectively integrated
into EU development assistance and the Common Foreign and Security
Policy. With the agreement of the EU Programme for the Prevention
of Violent Conflicts at the Gothenburg Summit in June 2001 and
the publication of the European Commission Communication on Conflict
Prevention in April 2001, conflict prevention is at last firmly
on the EU's political agenda. The immediate challenge is to build
on and implement these initiatives.
The EU reform process represents a significant
opportunity for the EU to adapt the way it works in order to effectively
tackle the root causes of conflict and mainstream conflict prevention
within strategies and programmes. Whilst there have been some
positive developments, a lot more remains to be done.
1. HAVE THE
Despite an enhanced policy framework for conflict
prevention, the range of instruments available and the ongoing
reform process, recent experience in terms of implementation of
conflict prevention policies by the Commission is not positive.
The institutional, decision-making, management and financial set-up
remains poorly adapted to the provision of assistance that targets
the root causes of conflict in a flexible and coherent way and
which recognises the regional nature of conflicts.
Aid management and decision-making
The new Cotonou Agreement has been accompanied
by a rationalisation of cooperation instruments and the introduction
of more flexibility in the use of European Development Fund (EDF)
assistance. However, a serious weakness remains in the complex,
bureaucratic and burdensome financial control procedures governing
aid disbursement. The European Commission (EC) has been hampered
in its efforts by over-centralised decision-making procedures
and restrictions imposed by Member States. Subsequent delays hamper
implementation and can increase tensions on the ground. Whilst
the reform process is attempting to address these issues through
a delegation of authority to the field level, a number of issues
The EC should streamline and adapt
decision-making procedures and funding systems further in order
to create the flexibility and adaptability required when working
in conflict-prone or affected areas.
It is vital that the proposed decentralisation
of authority to the delegation level is matched by adequate levels
of staffing from the outset.
Concerning trends in the targeting of development
There is a move to concentrate development assistance
(eg EDF assistance) on a limited number of sectors within a country
or region. However, there is a real concern that this may lead
to interventions failing to address the full range of conflict
risks. Parallel to this, the increase in the scale of interventions
mitigates against the implementation of small-scale activities
which build local ownership and can positively influence local
initiatives and dynamics in support of peace-building and conflict
prevention. Finally, increased emphasis on budgetary support increases
the risks the diversion of funds for belligerent purposes or in
favour of particular regions within the recipient country. This
can increase the risk of EU development assistance exacerbating
conflict risks, rather than addressing root causes.
The EC should strengthen mechanisms
for ensuring complementarity with other donors, in particular
EU Member States to ensure that even where interventions focus
on a limited number of sectors, the full range of conflict risks
The EC should ensure that small-scale
interventions are not overlooked and that a proportion of financial
support (eg EDF) is allocated towards such interventions.
Delegations should ensure that solid
and transparent accountability systems are in place to prevent
the diversion of funds where budgetary support is provided.
An integrated approach to conflict prevention
at the regional level is vital if regional conflict dynamics,
risks and issues such as cross border arms trafficking are to
be addressed. There have been examples of activities at the regional
level by the EC, such as support to the Inter-Governmental Authority
on Development (IGAD) in the Horn of Africa, yet the EC's structures
and mechanisms for the provision of support at a regional level,
and ensuring the complementarity of regional support with national
support, are still inadequate.
The EC needs to develop and strengthen
structures and mechanisms which facilitate the development of
strategies, programming and implementation at a regional level
and which ensure complimentarity and coherence with national strategies
Policy priorities: Security sector reform
Countries with unaccountable or abusive security
forces, weak justice systems and inappropriate levels of military
expenditure are particularly susceptible to violent conflict.
There is increasing recognition in the donor community that tackling
these issues is vital for conflict prevention and sustainable
development. The OECD has recently published a policy paper on
the issue entitled "Security Sector Reform and Development
Co-operation: A Conceptual Framework for Enhancing Policy Coherence."
Yet, some Member States remain reluctant to target development
assistance to security sector reform and are resistant to the
Commission playing a substantial role in this.
The EU should take an integrated
approach to security and development and recognise that security
sector reform is fundamental to conflict prevention and development.
The EU Development Council should
agree a Resolution stating that it is appropriate to use resources
from the EC development budget for security sector reform and
agree guidelines for this support.
2. IS THERE
Institutional reforms and capacity building
The effective implementation of EC-funded programmes
in conflict areas requires capacity building at all levels. In
particular, it requires skilled human resource capacity. However,
despite the reform process, the EU has not prioritised the enhancement
of delegation capacity in relation to tasks or the employment
of country delegation staff with experience and expertise in conflict
prevention and engagement with local authorities. Partly as a
result, projects have often failed to take account of the priorities
of local populations, increasing the risks of violent conflict
emerging between them. It has also restricted the EU's ability
to assess the impact that previous development programmes have
had on conflict and to feed the results into the formation of
new projects. The small size and limited capacities of many country
delegations feeds the trend of supporting large-scale projects
as the funds are easier to disburse and mitigates against EC support
for smaller community-focused projects which could help prevent
The EC should enhance the size and
capacity of country delegations to enable conflict prevention
and peace-building practices to be carried out in line with policy.
The EC should introduce training
for delegation staff in mainstreaming conflict prevention into
EU policies and programmes, including the development of Peace
and Conflict Impact Assessments. Training should be based on existing
good practice and experiences, and should be developed in collaboration
with those whose capacity they are designed to enhance.
The EC should enhance the capacity
of delegations to identify a broad range of legitimate and credible
non-state actors which can contribute to conflict prevention and
peace-building (for example through research, employing staff
with specific experience in this area).
The European Commission should pool
knowledge and expertise with other donors, Member Sates and local
Financial resources to conflict prevention
There is a serious mismatch between the commitment
to conflict prevention at a policy level and the levels of funding
allocated to implement these policies. For example under the "European
Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights" (EIDHR) funds
of a mere 4 million euros have been allocated for conflict prevention
and resolution, the same amount as for support for the abolition
of the death penalty.
It is vital EIDHR funds allocated
to conflict prevention and resolution are enhanced.
3. TO WHAT
Aid to least developed countries
Many violent conflicts take place in the poorest
countries of the developing world, particularly where there has
been a break down in state authority. However, there is reason
for concern about the long-term trend in the reduced proportion
of EU development aid going to ACP countries, which constitute
the largest number of least developed countries. This is at a
time when the proportion of assistance directed to the regions
in the immediate vicinity of Europe is increasing dramatically.
While 51.3 per cent of all community aid went to less developed
countries (LDCs) in 1986-87, it was only 33.6 per cent in 1996-97.
Furthermore, funds from the EC's 2001 draft budget that were originally
set aside for LDCs have been reallocated to the reconstruction
of Kosovo. Support to the Balkans is vital but it must not be
at the expense of support to the world's poorest countries. The
Commission's funding pattern for 2002 continues to be significantly
predisposed towards the near abroad.
The EU should increase the proportion
of development assistance it provides to LDCs, especially those
threatened by violent conflict.
Requirement of sustained political will
Political will is vital, on the part of the
Commission and the Member States, to sustain engagement in conflict-affected
and prone areas and to ensure that such engagement targets the
root causes of conflict. Shifting priorities in terms of sectors
and regions risks undermining this will. This is an issue of particular
concern as international attention shifts towards central asia
and the fight against terrorism.
It is vital that the EU promotes
and maintain a constructive engagement by the Commission in conflict
affected areas, particularly in Africa.
4. HAVE REFORMS
Coherence and co-ordination
The EU has made some progress in establishing
new mechanisms for the management of the EU's external aid budget
under the new EuropeAid Co-operation office. Another aspect of
recent EU reforms is the initiative to decentralise decision-making
to EU delegations in recipient countries. Furthermore, a Policy
Planning Unit (PPU) has been established in the Council Secretariat.
However, the EU needs to ensure that these institutional changes
maximise its capacity to prevent violent conflict.
Links and coherence between DG-Development,
RELEX, EuropeAid and the Council Secretariat should be enhanced.
Coordination between the Commission
and member states needs to be enhanced at the delegation level
to increase coherence and the pooling of resources.
The Policy Planning Unit should concentrate
on developing non-military mechanisms for conflict prevention
and response, and should ensure that the current resource emphasis
on military response is shifted to prioritise conflict prevention.
9 November 2001