The current German EU Presidency plans to further develop the project "Role of Civil Society – European Civilian Crisis Management (RoCS)". Drawing on these efforts, the Conference on "Civil Society and Civilian Crisis Management: Enhancing Cooperation and Coherence by Multi-level Dialogues" that took place 2- 4 February 2007 in Berlin provided a platform for representatives of European civil society organisations and political actors to discuss the importance that conflict prevention, civilian crisis management and peacebuilding efforts have (and should have) at the EU-level, as well as how cooperation with civil society in these areas might be improved.
It became clear that conflict prevention is still an area neglected by the EU and its Member States. Coordination especially among the EU Council and the European Commission is impeded by competence quarrels. Although presentations showed that much remains to be done, initial steps are taken by the EU to account for a more structured dialogue with civil society, not only through RoCS, but also a new initiative to be established: the Peacebuilding Partnership. The cooperation within RoCS will focus on pilot projects in the DRC and Somalia, addressing transitional justice issues and security sector reform, the results of which are supposed to inform the work of the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM). The RoCS report will be presented at a conference of the German Federal Foreign Service in June this year and consequently made public.
To include the view of practitioners in the field, speakers from developing countries were invited to share their experience. Some stressed that the civil societies in donor countries should strengthen partnerships with civil societies in countries receiving aid. Participants emphasized, that those partnerships are not mainly "about money", but rather "about supporting a shared vision of a civil society and democratic structures". In many countries, civil society organisations play a major role in supporting democratisation, human rights and peacebuilding. For them, the dialogue with Northern NGOs is an important way to learn and exchange ideas, but this must not be a one-way street. Instead, both sides can and should learn from each other. However, a major hindrance to the capacity building of local NGOs is, that quite often only short-term projects are supported and not the long-term task of building up administrative capacities and human resources. An important lesson learned is that the funding of individual projects does not automatically create local ownership, sustainable structures for capacity building and the much needed dialogue beyond a mere donor-recipient relationship. (by Katja Hummel)
For more information, please see www.konfliktbearbeitung.net
Published in: ECC-Newsletter, Februar 2007