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Lessons from EU Peace Operations

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image of Journal of International Peacekeeping

In 1999, few people would have predicted that the EU would send ships to Somalia, police to Afghanistan, judges to Kosovo and soldiers to Chad. Yet, that is exactly what the EU has been doing. The European Security and Defence policy (ESDP) –since renamed the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – was launched shortly after NATO’s war in Kosovo in June 1999, to ensure that Europeans could respond to international crises, including launching operations, without depending on the US (via NATO). Since 2003 the EU has initiated some 24 peace-support operations in Europe, Africa and Asia, using both civil and military resources, and some of these missions have had impressive results. However, at times there have been some real difficulties with CSDP operations, ranging from resource shortages, intermittent political support from Member States, and a lack of coordination between EU actors. Lessons already identified in the crisis management debate point to two fundamental factors of success. First, a comprehensive approach that brings together the different actors deployed in the field. Second, the resilience of the political and material commitment of crisis management actors, possibly over many years. Both these factors pose important questions for the future of EU peace operations.


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