Ålands fredsinstitut
The Åland Islands Peace Institute

Hamngatan 4
AX-22100 Mariehamn, Åland, Finland
Tel. +358 18 15570
peace@peace.ax
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The Åland Peace Blog

Since the very beginning (in 1992) the Åland Islands Peace Institute has
worked with questions of security, minorities and autonomy. The purpose is
to prevent and manage conflicts, always with a gender awareness. Throughout
the years we have gathered knowledge and strengthened expertise within these
areas, and a new phase was initiated in 2007 with the development of the
Peace Institute's research and investigation capacity. The Peace Institute
arranges seminars, conferences and courses within these areas and regularly
publishes reports and books. We believe that some of the knowledge and
the insights that we acquire should be disseminated to a wider public in a
shorter and quicker form. This is why we are creating the blog. It is
knowledge-oriented and analyzes or comments briefly - but quickly -
news, events and phenomena with the purpose of providing deeper
understanding. The staff and the board of the Peace Institute will
contribute to the blog.

Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark
Director of the Peace Institute, Associate Professor in International Law



Sia_nu

Dr. Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark, Ass. prof. in International law, is the Director of the ÅIPI and responsible for its research activities.

Mariehamn, September 2012

The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament organised a workshop on the establishment of a possible (EU?) institute for peace in Brussels on September 20, 2012. Originally and in its current form, the initiative had been taken by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Alexander Stubb. The Workshop in Brussels took place at the initiative and in the presence of Carl Bildt and a numerous delegation from Sweden, while official Finland kept now a much lower profile emphasizing in final comments that any new initiative should not be developed at the expense of the recently created European External Action Service (EEAS) which is headed by Catherine Ashton, while at the same time Finland emphasized the crucial role of non-governmental organizations in peace processes. The Committee on Foreign Affairs has earlier initiated important studies in matters of EU external action and in particular about the dilemmas and needs in peace mediation efforts (EU, 2011).

After an initial presentation by Carl Bildt on the necessity and timeliness of the Swedish initiative, presentations were held by a number of expert contributors from within and outside the EU, namely by Alexander Rondos EU special representative in the Horn of Africa, Roeland Van De Geer, Head of the EEAS delegation to South Africa, Laurent Goetschel, director of Swiss Peace, Antje Herrberg, director of mediatEUr and Scott Weber, Director-general of Interpeace.  Comments were later made by a number of other participants coming from non-governmental organizations as well as parliamentarians and government representatives.

Two distinct lines of discussion and concern were formed during the debates. On the one hand there is an urgent need to coordinate and give support to already existing EU efforts in conflict situations and in conflict prevention. EU special representatives and EEAS delegations need specialized and speedy expertise on the ground, often on matters contextually pressing, including policy analysis, legislative drafts and overview of and coordination with the activities of other actors in the regions in conflict or unrest. Several comments concerned aspects of institutional setup of a possible European peace institute and its links and relations to other existing institutions.

On the other hand many comments gave evidence of the fact that there is a persistent and troubling absence of a common vision, a coherent policy and a common legal and moral foundation for actions that the EU wants to take in this field. The difficulties in developing such ideas further in the absence of a common foreign and security policy are stark. What are the goals of European member states and the EU as a whole in peace efforts, in general as well as in specific contexts such as so called failed states and frozen conflicts? Is it primarily to achieve an end in hostilities? Or a comprehensive conflict settlement or even to work towards the processes of transformative empowerment which may create conditions for longstanding, positive peace and human security? How can the experiences of Europe itself, in creating peace in the European continent, for instance through regional integration within the EU, multilateral cooperation, the peace settlement in Northern Ireland or the regime of the Åland Islands, be used in such efforts? 

The Åland Islands Peace Institute emphasized in its intervention (ÅIPI, 2012) the need to create exceptions in the EU resolutions of terrorist listings in order to allow for direct contact with any organization when engaged in peace talks and mediation efforts. Further, EU coordination is needed not only internally within the EU, but even more so vis à vis those involved in conflicts and the local populations in conflict regions. The Åland Islands Peace Institute supported the view held also by other participants that conflicts today are often seen as broader, regional and trans-border processes involving a wide variety of actors and issues and changing character over time.

Two consultants have now been engaged by the European Parliament on Foreign Affairs in order to gather views and questions regarding the question of a European peace institute and European peace promoting efforts. They are expected to present their results by end of October 2012.

Sources:

The Åland Islands Peace Institute 2012, General reflections and possible problems, Issues for the Discussion re. a European peace institute and EU efforts for mediation, Submitted at European Parliament 20/09/2012. (Downloadeable in pdf here)

EU, 2011, European Parliament, Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Policy Department, Implementing the EU concept on mediation: learning from the cases of Sudan and the Great Lakes. Downloadeble in pdf here. (http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/0611eu_sudan.pdf. Accessed 21.9.2012)


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Bloggen skrivs av Fredsinstitutets nuvarande eller tidigare personal, gästforskare och styrelseledamöter eller av inbjudna gästskribenter. Åsikterna är författarens egna.

The blog pieces are written by the peace institute's present or former staff, guest researchers, board members or invited guest writers. The opinions are the author's own.
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