Security and development, conflict prevention and the comprehensive approach

Security and development, conflict prevention and the comprehensive approach

There are clear links between security and development.  Conflicts have an enormous cost in terms of human, financial and infrastructure resources. Development cooperation must tackle the root causes of conflict and use development aid as a tool to reduce conflict.

Addressing the security-development nexus is a moral and political imperative guiding EU action for some years already.  The 2003 European Security Strategy and the 2005 European Consensus on Development acknowledge that there cannot be sustainable development without peace and security, and that without development and poverty eradication there will be no sustainable peace. The security-development nexus is reinforced in the Agenda for change.

Conflict prevention and peace building

Instability, conflict, insecurity, violence, organised crime, corruption, etc., not only deter investment, hinder trade, divert public social expenditure, and hamper access to education, health and other basic services; they also severely weaken democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which are the very core values we aim to promote.

The Lisbon Treaty has - for the first time - explicitly enshrined, as one of the objectives of the EU’s external action “to preserve peace, prevent conflicts and strengthen international security, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter (Article 21(c) TEU). This new development needs also to be seen against a wider picture of global instability where - according to the World Development Report 2011 on Conflict, Security and Development - approximately 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence. Such a lack of stability in one country or region is detrimental to our development efforts there.

Building peace, preventing conflicts and strengthening international security is therefore not only a Treaty obligation or a political commitment; it also enhances the effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of our development, neighbourhood and pre-accession policies.

In a Communication of 2001, the Commission stressed the importance of conflict prevention. More specifically, the Council Conclusions of 2007 on security and development state that "conflict prevention should be pursued as a priority goal in particular by fostering and strengthening development cooperation".  In addition, the Council Conclusions of June 2011 stressed the improvement of instruments to achieve this goal with - for example - the establishment of the Instrument for Stability or the sending of EU Special Representative in fragile situations.  The Conclusions emphasize the need for early warning, conflict risk analysis and mediation.

In order to address these challenges, the EU has a wide array of external policies, instruments and tools at its disposal, ranging from diplomacy (statements, demarches, mediation, facilitation of dialogue, participation in relevant international fora…) and EU external cooperation instruments (both thematic and geographical), to actions under the Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP), including regular political dialogues with third countries and international organisations, restrictive measures (sanctions), EU Special Representatives, disarmament and non-proliferation activities, and civilian and military crisis management missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), etc.

The Commission works in close coordination with the relevant European External Action Service (EEAS) divisions and increasingly works with the CSDP structures in order to better coordinate our respective interventions.

A comprehensive approach to conflicts and crises

As preventative action may not always be possible or successful, advancing a truly comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises is critical for an effective EU response in fragile and conflict affected contexts and will be essential to operationalise the security-development nexus.  This implies improving coordination and joint deployment of various EU external action instruments (humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, underpinning CSDP and diplomatic action and political dialogue) and modalities throughout the whole spectrum of the crisis cycle.

On the ground

On the ground implementation is driven by the EU delegations. Please refer to the relevant websites for more information.