Peacekeeping operations have grown in number exponentially since the end of the Cold War, while also being transformed into what has been termed Peacebuilding 2.0 or the next generation of peacekeeping. A More Coherent EU “Peace Policy”, organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German political foundation with a social democratic agenda, brought together experts from four continents to discuss the EU’s role in peacebuilding, possible regional-EU cooperation as well as EU-UN cooperation, present and future challenges to peacebuilding, and increased participation of non-Western states in peacebuilding.
The EU – a behind-the-desk peacekeeper?
Overall, there was a sense of optimism with regards to the recent development of the EU’s role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Speakers highlighted the significant cooperation between the EU and the UN and the efforts made by the EEAS. However, Jair van der Lijn of SIPRI elaborated on the fact that the EU’s support for peacekeeping missions is principally financial: while 41% of UN operations budgets come from EU Member States, of 53 operations worldwide only 12 are led by the EU, and only 7% of peacekeeping personnel come from EU Member States. One reason, according to Lucas Rezende, Professor of International Relations at the Faculdades de Campinas Sao Paulo, may be that sending EU troops to former colonies can be seen as neo-imperialist. Another reason is that the UN reimbursement to countries volunteering soldiers (US$1 028) is more lucrative for developing countries.
Solving the unsolvable
A significant number of challenges were discussed but categorised as “too difficult to solve”. Such challenges include unanimity in the Security Council and “decentralisation”, understood as “delegating more authority to the field”. Timothy Clarke of the EEAS’s Crisis Management and Planning Directorate said that these difficult issues are vital for improving peacekeeping missions. He added “information sharing” to the list as a tool to improve cooperation, saying “90% of documents could be shared”. In addition, he held that serious political will, especially from Member States, could make a difference.
Emerging powers take centre stage
As political power is becoming more multipolar emerging powers such as Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa are playing more important roles in peacebuilding missions; Brazil spearheaded MINUSTAH in Haiti, South Africa’s development involvement in Africa has ranged from peacekeeping missions, electoral reform and post-conflict reconstruction to strengthening regional and continental institutions. Turkey’s strategy has been to restructure its relationship with states to which it gives aid, from aid recipients to business partners, illustrated most clearly in the relationship between Turkey and Somalia. Finally, China is increasing its engagement with UN operations and is the biggest troop supplier in the Security Council.