Jaakko Blomberg, Under-Secretary of State: Non-Military Crisis Management as a Security Means in the EU

Seminar on Non-Military Crisis Management Helsinki 20-21 April 2001

Crisis management is a concept that can be read in a narrow or in a broad way. If we take crisis as a broad concept, much of politics, internal or external, can be seen as crisis management. That would not make sense.

Yet there is a current tendency to widen the scope of concepts like security and peace. I fully understand this tendency. The cold war forced a narrow view of what peace and security means: it was the absence of war in the traditional, military sense. Security was freedom from coercion or balance of military power.

In today´s Europe, there is no overall confrontation of hostile political and ideological camps. Instead, there are local or regional situations, where the threat of war is present. True, the potential of a deep confrontation and conflict between Russia and NATO is there and provision is still being made for the deterring or winning of such a conflict. But as the causes for such a conflict are rather theoretical and remote there is a wide area of normal international exchange which is free from the threat or use of force. In other words, in Europe of today, security is not threatened, except in certain reagional or local contexts where an ethnic conflict may be the source of tension. This, of course, is not a small exception.

Today, peace and security is seen as a web of interaction and co-operation, as fullfilment of positive goals and prevention of fundamental conflicts of interest. The focus is increasingly in fighting problems that are common to all: trans-border criminality, drug trafficking, communicable diseases, environmental hazards etc. Societies and economies cannot function properly if those prolems are rampant. Today, security involves the individual as never before: he or she is entitled to be free from such international disturbances.

Hence, the international community - admittedly, a tricky concept - is now pursuing security in this broad sence. Peace and security is not complete or satisfactory if it is not broadly based. On this there is a wide consensus, more solid perhaps in Europe than in some other geopolitical situations. Policies and approaches are being developed keeping this concept of comprehensive security in mind. Much of it consists in learning from experience, too often learning from mistakes.

The European union has accepted the challenge. Within it is developing common policies of freedom and justice, relevant for the citizens. The summit of Tampere in October 1999 remains a landmark in this respect. And as a broad embodiment of the international community the union has a vested interest in preserving peace and security in its neighbourhood and beyond. It is by nature interested in peace and security in the comprehensive sense. In its vocabulary, stability is a key word. One can perhaps say that the union aims at spreading its own image, that is, integration, democracy, freedom and justice and the related goals. It is promoting economic and social progress which is balanced and sustainable.

From what I have just explained, it follows naturally that the union has interest, understanding and capabilities in developing the methods of crisis management in the broad sense, both civilian and military.

In relation to conflicts or crises, the external crisis-related activities of the EU can be divided in three: prevention, management and post-conflict action. In what follows, I am offering a few comments on each of these.

In the broad sense, much of the external policies of the union falls under the concept of prevention. Here, the emphasis is in the civilian, non-military aspects, but not exclusively so. In essence, it is about demonstrating to all of its partners that it pays to observe common rules of human rights, rule of law, good governance and peaceful settlement of disputes.

Yet crisis prevention should be seen as an activity focused on indentifiable sources of conflict or crisis. This is of course often easier said than done. It is not always easy to identify and determine at an early stage the source of the trouble. And it is not always a simple task to intervene from outside in an intra-state or even inter-state conflict. There are norms of international law that govern such situations. In case of a failed state or the collapse of an organised government, an international intervention might make common sense, but legal grounds are missing or underdeveloped. Kosovo in the spring 1999 was a case in point and remains probably for a long time a subject of study and bitter controversy.

On this point, the research community has an opportunity to contribute with clear and sound ideas.

Without making judgment on any current efforts, one can perhaps say that the international community is often more applying the concepts and methods used in the previous conflict than facing the realities of the new one.

Despite a plenty of lessons learned in the Balkans during the past decade, there are few reliable methods to draw from when the international community - and the EU in particular - is now coping with the current issues in the Federal Rebuplic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Montenegro) and Macedonia.

The importance of these situations cannot be over-estimated. There are good reasons to stick to the principle of respecting the existing state borders. But, like in case of the Albanian peoples, this principle comes with a cost. Consistency in international affairs is a hard rule to apply. Theory is no good guide.

If prevention from outside fails, methods of crisis management must be resorted to. The principal asset of the EU will be in the variety of the instruments it can apply in any given situation. Understanding that many of the instruments are still to be trained and developed, the EU will be a versatile actor. It will have a rich toolbox. Beside the military, work is under way in four civilian areas: policing, strengthening the rule of law, strengthening of civilian administration and civil protection. It will be years to reach the targets that have been set but the determination to do it is there.

It is sometimes said that non-military, civilian methods are always to be preferred - they are less expensive than the military - but in real life this is rarther senseless. The relative significance of the military and non-military instruments of crisis management always depends on the nature of the crisis. It is clear that if the crisis gets violent, military means may be needed. And it is equally clear that if the origin of the crisis is, say, of an ethnic kind, non-military methods are needed. Naturally, civilian methods should always be preferred if there is a choice.

The relationship between the civilian method and the military method is a crucial factor, but it will have to be determined according to the character and needs of the crisis at hand. Coordination of the overall action is another key function.

The third phase of crisis management is post-conflict action. It has become a commonplace to stress the need for the international community to be able to find an exit from a crisis situation, the termination of the operation. In practice, this has proven to be difficult indeed.

The parties to the conflict tend to develop a dependency on the outside operators or managers. The role of the managers provide the parties an excuse not to face the realities of the settlement of the conflict.

The European union has a unique asset in that it can provide the parties of the conflict an real incentive to settlement. The union can promise the parties that they will become partners with the union, including assistance in reconstruction and general economic and social development. And like in the case of the Western Balkans, the union can open the prospect of membership.

In all of the stages of crisis operation the union would benefit from relying on cooperation with third parties, non-member states, international and non-governmental organisations. And depending on the nature of the crisis, the union need not necessarily be the lead operator.

In previous remarks the crisis in question has been a social or political conflict, a man made crisis. It can also be a crisis originating from a natural disaster. The significance of such crises to the society concerned can be enormous and therefore calling for broad external assistance. And as the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece in 1999 demonstrated, management of relief operations with international involvement had a profound impact on the relations between Turkey and Greece as well as Turkey´s standing as a member of the European family.

By way of conclusion one can stress that a pointed distinction between military and civilian in crisis management is not useful. While resource development must focus on each speciality, policy planning must be comprehensive. The European union has the benefit of a broad competence although some of the assets are still underdeveloped and the decision making is still cumbersome. Planning and management must be crisis oriented, not resource oriented.

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