QCEA Peace Programme
About the Peace Programme
In October 2016, QCEA launched the Peace Programme that seeks to bring a new approach to the daunting security challenges that Europe faces today. It aims at offering a comprehensive approach to security, where society is at the centre, and providing alternative views and solutions to conflict prevention and resolution to policy and decision makers. At the heart of this new vision of security is non-military peacebuilding.
Like conflict prevention and crisis management, ‘peacebuilding' forms an integral part of the European Union's (EU) external policy efforts to address security challenges and its causes. The EU has historically played different roles in conflict resolution, in some cases that of mediator, bringing opposing actors around the negotiating table, such as in Israel-Palestine, in others supporting negotiations as was the case with Colombia. Senior EU policy makers have admitted that one of the EU's biggest assets is its civilian response tools. A number of research organisations have analysed the role of the EU in these different circumstances and shown that non-violent solutions to conflict lead to long-term peacebuilding.
The reputation of the EU as a peacebuilder and promoter of soft power is currently being tested by a number of security issues which have challenged its integration and safety within its borders. Terrorist attacks in European cities, namely Paris, Brussels and Berlin have caused European citizens to feel unsafe in Europe. The migration crisis has often been portrayed as security challenge by EU policy makers. Brexit highlighted a need to find a niche where Europe could reinstate a level of cooperation and integration, and it appears defence has been identified as the issue around which Member States would rally. This was further exacerbated in the face of incumbent US president Donald Trump’s allegations that Europe should no longer rely on the US to provide for its security.
In response, the European Union has been strengthening its defence sector and rhetoric. The June 2016 EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) responded to pressure to increase the credibility of EU security and defense by including an implementation plan focused on cooperation between Member States and strengthened ties with NATO. While the EU has no army, there have been calls to streamline the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), the bureaucracy that coordinates security and defense. In July 2016 the instrument contributing to stability and peace (IcSP) was amended to include Capacity Building for Security and Development (CBSD) which prioritizes security and potentially diverts funds from development cooperation. Addionally, the Defence Action Plan reinforces the EU cooperation on security and defence, and proposes a European Research Defence Fund that will cost 3.5 billion Euros for the period 2021-2027 which will lead to the creation and export of more weapons. Furthermore, PRISM is the merger of two civilian divisions, shrinking the space for non-military institutions and expertise.
In an environment where Europe is increasingly turning towards further militarization in its response to social, political and security challenges, the QCEA Peace Programme will seek to address how European countries and EU institutions could respond to these challenges in a sustainable, long-term, and non-violent manner. The programme will seek to address the different layers involved in answering to insecurity: what does addressing the root causes of conflict mean? How can the international response address all aspects involved in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, including the social, economic, political and development aspects? What non-violent alternatives are available to Member States and regional organizations such as the EU?
The Peace Programme will aim at offering a comprehensive approach to security and providing alternative views and solutions to conflict prevention and resolution to policy and decision makers. By providing visibility to research, actors, and events that demonstrate the potential of the EU as negotiator, diplomatic actor, and mediator, the program aspires to show that these alternatives will provide long-term safer environments, and a space for the EU to play a credible role in non-military conflict resolution.