dinsdag 14 december 2010

International Conflict Prevention Policy



©   J. Michael Heynen | Brussels, 07.2010
Cetamorphosys International Relations Institute

I   Analysis of 'Conflict Prevention'

 For over 10 years, 'Conflict Prevention' (particularly in response to the Yugoslavian crisis), has been an integral part of policy planning and implementation, at least in the UN system and in European politics.This policy implies good intentions however, compensating rhetoric hides the fact of a huge lack of true 'good will' to perform timely, constructive and sustainable conflict regulation. Moreover, the rich tools and experiences have been undermined by unilateral, political,or at least by threatening approaches of directly involved parties, and by the purely reactive, (even military) intervention of third parties indirectly "affected” or concerned.

The current state of 'International Conflict Prevention' policy is therefore cursorily described as follows:

- the currently existing tools and procedures, or their application in the international system, for solving inner-| inter-societal conflicts, do not effect satisfactory results because they are usually applied too late, often resulting in intractability of conflicts, high costs of reconstruction, the rebuilding of mutual trust and efficient relationships;

- it's far more the exception than the rule, that conflicts can be resolved effectively and sustainably; even the outbreak of violence and prevention of escalations cannot reasonably be avoided or contained, although conflict prevention is generally understood and operated as violence prevention;

- conflict prevention, in fact being reduced to violence avoidance, still seems necessary on a technically-pragmatic level; but due to that it's purely performed in a rather reactive and finally intervening way (especially militarily), it doesn't solve, but almost deepens the actual conflict situations (the intervening party thus changes to be perceived as an "attacker" and therefore as, provoking the conflict escalation instead of being involved as a real neutral peacemaker),

- no efficient and coherent policy coordination exists among the international bureaucracies: the parallel structures, being simultaneously engaged in competing (re-) actions (for Europe: NATO, OSCE, EU Commission, EU Council of Europe);

- even the most developed efforts of conflict governance in the frame of the OSCE ('Conflict Prevention Center') is self-critically described as failing, which justifies doubts on the raison d' ĂȘtre of the OSCE, as the main reason is particularly ...

- the conflicting parties' lack of adequate and consequent political will for exclusively prioritizing constructive conflict resolution and peaceful change;

- international conflicts are observed and analyzed, but the international authorities mostly remain on a level of a kind of "wait-and-see" policy, and a true and even sustainable security in the international system is not being created. Instead of that, the responsible authorities - based on maintained perceptions of threats and uncertainty – mainly invest in infrastructural security and control systems in a kind of "fortress mentality" (at least in the defense budget), which however, limits freedom and stresses the strained public budgets;

- overwhelmed by day-to-day operations, political bureaucracies have no reasonable anticipation of, or appropriate access to the development of equivalent learning | training systems for timely and sustainable conflict-governance;

- mediation | conciliation procedures are mostly and purely focused on ceasefire positions or post-conflict needs, which usually are too late and not used sufficiently for effective and sustainable conflict treatment;

- the services of the OSCE Conciliation and Arbitration Court in Geneva have not been used for more than 30 years;

- finally and in particular, the UN system for actions in the field of peace-keeping | -building have reached the margins of human capacity (including UN-soldiers) and affordability.

The current application of international conflict prevention policy, with a narrow, small-focused logical definition and pure binary-functional causality, is at least just fixed on avoidance, and thus is principally much more conflict-exacerbating in the way of "self-fulfilling prophecy”.

And: The requirement “technically” to control the deescalation of violence is likely regarded as an error and is destructive for ruling and managing international crises and conflicts: conflict prevention, being driven as avoidance of violence and conflicts, ignores the roots and reasons of conflicts (e.g., societal needs of reforms) and leaves transformational potentials unused. This blocks the inner- | inter-societal (peaceful targeting) development – with long-term damage to the international system.

II   Approach of a Solution: 'Preventive Conciliation'

For several years, a so-called 'Preventive Diplomacy' has been developed, which was also in response to 'preemptive-action' policy . As much as it describes a significant development of diplomatic mechanisms in the right direction, it cannot exclude the risk of persistence in the use of traditional diplomacy tools with the high tendency toward fall-back into "wait-and-see" - positions. Therefore, the only truly promising approach to dissolve this dilemma, is an early, pro-active, and direct conflict facilitation: 'Preventive Conciliation', offering conflict-catalytic procedures, while being self-contained, directly focused and controlled.

By definition, 'Preventive Conciliation' can be classified as a special scope of 'Preventive Diplomacy'. All relevant instruments of diplomacy, law and justice, conflict prevention and especially coaching and psychology, are equivalently integrated.

Based on the earliest possible precise, pro-active perception and awareness of impacts on international and inner-societal development, the causes and risks of potential failure in dealing with political opposites, polarities, and in particular, with aggression and violence-provoking conflict potentials, are to be identified and verified timely and reliably (regarding political indicators: the areas of mutual security, human rights and rule of law, internal | external governance, internal and public communications).

Thus, preventive conciliation procedures are not only to be used in the early stages of open conflicts, but also much earlier, i. e. already at the time of latent danger and destructive tendencies especially in the phase of “typical” conflicting interaction and communication crisis: 'Preventive Conciliation' procedures are the 'ex ante' extension of communication instruments and diplomatic interaction mechanisms, like classical conciliation | mediation.

Based on currently available information, preventive conciliation as a complete method has not been established and applied in international relations, although up to 90% of conflicts being treated in such procedures – e. g., 'Preventive Mediation' in the areas of work, society, family, etc., - could be sustainably resolved. Facing the complexity, fragility, and sensitivity of the globalizing development and therewith enhanced interdependence of the international societies, there are enough challenges and strong evidence for the implementation and application of 'Preventive Conciliation' procedures in the international system.

Rational: The earlier and the more alert 'Preventive Conciliation' will be applied, the

- broader is the range of temporal-factual, non-violent, creative, innovative and unconventional options for conflict solutions;

- more intensive rational reflection will be undertaken, actual and subtle causes analyzed, impact assessment conducted and mutual consideration of political will and action applied, especially with respect to the disadvantages as a result of violent escalation;

- more political dynamics can be precisely communicated and visibly positioned, which means to reach a higher degree of motivation and facilitation of (principal) good-will, but also destructive tendencies can be identified in time, including potential threats of violence | application (this kind of earliest-possible catalytic communication works incomparably much better than the actual 'early-warning');

- more balanced out and in-depth reach is the appropriate participation of societal stakeholders, in particular, to ensure the efficiency and sustainability of conflict regulation;

- higher is the degree of reducing the inner emotional “barriers” and resistance in international communication (autonomy and sovereignty instead of far-reaching loss of control in escalating conflicts), and thus the ...

- higher is the acceptance of a neutral conciliator, i. e., “inter-fusion” instead of confusion and confrontation, conviction rather than intervention;

- more intense conflicting positions can be mutually internalized and transformational potentials can be developed, exposed, and utilized;

- more promising is the early involvement of constructive non-political professionals and experts in the fields of international culture and economy;

- higher is, in particular, the preservation of human life, natural resources, as well as economic factor allocation processes would be sustained;

- higher are the chances of sustained success for a (re-) generation of mutual trust, in order to turn confrontation into cooperation, and to establish permanent joint problem- | conflict-solving procedures for extending the “common ground”;

- more promising are the prospects of non-escalation towards intractability, but the earliest possible to convert conflicting diversity into complementarity and mutual synergistic development targeting transformational pacification.

Details on 'Preventive Conciliation' - procedures are not fully outlined here, but the following note has to be added regarding its entire methodical approach: Unlike so-called 'Preventive Mediation' (where the parties meet under the guidance of a mediator who simply moderates) 'Preventive Conciliation' implies that the conciliator operates in a way of "shuttle diplomacy" in order to exchange, negotiate, clarify and coach, but in particular, substantially to facilitate the conflicting positions, which also means to strongly propose a balanced solution.

As such, 'Preventive Conciliation' is therefore systematically highly suitable to be introduced and implemented in international relations as an innovative instrument and procedure in international conflict prevention policy.

III    Recommendations for Implementation

Exclusion of violence, but also peaceful conflict resolution are a constitutive condition of human dignity and in particular, the foundation of an open international value system of freedom and transformational development. Therewith, international conflict prevention policy is a constitutive and decisive determining function of global governance, as well as a central interface between diplomacy and security policy, between failure and progress.

Therefore, only the earliest conflict identification, verification, conflict development alertness ('Preventive Diplomacy') and sustained conflict facilitation ('Preventive Conciliation') are capable of converting the current international conflict prevention policy from a "dead-end" to its real determination.

A gradual "to the front" or “ex ante” focus shift of existing conflict prevention mechanisms does not overcome this"point-of-no-return". Therefore, it's recommended, on the one hand, to consolidate and assess the knowledge and experience from recent conflict prevention practice, on the other hand, to qualitatively initiate a reform change in international conflict prevention policy. This change should be achieved and understood as a paradigmatic one, to be implemented in the international system with high priority: to be regarded as a principal, normative change of paradigm, from purely reactive conflict prevention to pro-active, offensive and catalytic crisis governance and conflict facilitation.

In addition, the intensely urgent need for a paradigmatic change in prevention policy, is especially due to the fact that identifiable potential conflicts disclose 'conflict potentials' as transformational potentials, which are to be consistently utilized and managed towards a safe and sustained future, developing and progressing in the regional and international systems of societies.

For implementing these objectives, following measures are recommended as a“first step”:

- establishing of a working-group (in cooperation with the UN, NATO, OSCE, the EU Council and EU Commission) for implementing and coordinating assessments regarding conflict prevention and developing appropriate policy conclusions and recommendations; and

- for the implementation and coordination of assessments of conflict prevention and the development of appropriate policy conclusions and recommendations; and

- strategy building, for the introduction and implementation of necessary change potentials (as above mentioned);

- review and improvement of existing international agreements of risks in cases of conflict situations and the introduction of preventive conciliation mechanisms | modalities, in cases of negotiating new or renewing international treaties;

- initiating and enforcing the foundation of "International [Preventive] Conciliation Regimes", such as for the European framework, through

- the establishment of an independent EU Agency | Institute | Center, based on the inter-governmental | -institutional cooperation of international organizations (NATO, OSCE, EU, Council of Europe);

- the involvement | inclusion of NGOs and think-tanks, business associations and companies, as well as the founding of a 'Council of Elders' (in the form of a supervisory board).

Such an agency | institute for 'European [Preventive] Conciliation' should integrate in particular, the following functions (to be understood as out-sourced support functions, not as a public authority action):

- identifying and verifying potential conflict development;

- creating networks and syndicating radar and alert messaging functions to increase earliest awareness;

- continuous reporting on potential conflicts | conflict potentials and dynamics of development;

- strategic planning and development of options (Policy Papers), for the treatment of conflicting positions and situations in inner- | inter-societal developments;

- exploration, identification, verification and clearing of "common ground" in a way of an unofficial, “silent” diplomacy;

- initiation and moderation of inner- | inter-societal | international dialogs and consultations (“convocation”;);

- development of policy options for the earliest possible preventive measures and coordination of joint-committees, targeting (transformational) conciliation procedures;

- communication management of issues and positions, also if necessary, for public opinion building;

- information coordination between public diplomacy, intelligence services and “on-the-ground” conciliation procedures;

- political advisory for the integration of preventive conciliation modalities and rulings in international agreements and treaties;

- building up international networks of internationally acting public authorities, professionals, Elders and other stakeholders, in particular, to establish independently acting “International Conciliation and Pacification Preventive Regimes”, in close coordination with the respective regional and international organizations, based on international treaties.

The specific recommendation for the foundation of 'International Conciliation Regimes' is primarily based on the need for the above-described paradigmatic change in international conflict prevention policy and the highest possible consensus, also implying a "robust" design for a coherent and well-processed normative implementation. In this way, it should succeed in implementing and further developing a long-overdue innovative culture of conflict management and thus, a sustainable transformational pacification in international relations.

©   J. Michael Heynen / Director, Brussels, 13.11.2010
Cetamorphosys International Relations Institute