Limited appetite for confrontation
The EU was forced to enter into post-conflict peace-building by the experience of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. In the years since the start of the European Security and Defence Policy in 2001, the EU has launched more than 20 missions around the world, from police and military to rule-of-law operations. “Post-conflict stabilisation” – peace-building by another name – is now enshrined in the EU’s Lisbon treaty. But as this collection makes clear, the policy is still under development, and its results to date have been mixed.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the western Balkans. Steven Blockmans, in his chapter on enlargement as a peace-building tool, writes that the EU – together with the wider “international community” – has “bred an unsustainable status quo that might drive parts of the region towards a new period of highly dangerous instability”, especially as joining the EU appears more distant.
Stephan Keukeleire and Robin Thiers, writing on Eulex Kosovo, find that the EU’s concern for stability tends to trump the mission’s concern for the rule of law. Tonny Brems Knudsen and Christian Axboe Nielsen, on trusteeship in the Balkans, show how
politicians in Bosnia sense that the EU’s limited appetite for confrontation allows wide scope for irresponsible behaviour.
Michael Humphreys – a former head of the Commission’s delegation in Sarajevo – and Jasna Jelisic describe the backsliding that has taken place since the high point of peace-building in Bosnia, around 2002-04.
Some of the chapters in this excellent collection are mainly of historical interest, following the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty. But the lessons that emerge from the focus on the Balkans and case studies of Chad, Georgia, Afghanistan and other conflict areas, are of enduring relevance.
The European Union and peacebuilding: policy and legal aspects
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Editors: Steven Blockmans, Jan Wouters and Tom Ruys (540 pages)
T.M.C. Asser Press, 2010. €99.95