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Learning from the UN, NATO and OSCE
Loes Debuysere and Steven Blockmans

The EU aims at being a prominent global crisis responder, but its member states act also through the UN, NATO and OSCE to achieve both short-term stabilisation by military and/or civilian means, and longer-term conflict prevention and transformation. By comparing the policy approaches of these four multilateral organisations to conflicts and crises, this contribution shows how the broad principle of comprehensiveness has been developed to fit different institutional logics, thus leading to divergences in approach. Distilling findings from empirical research conducted in the framework of the Horizon 2020-funded EUNPACK project in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Mali and Ukraine, this chapter synthesises lessons about varying levels of the EU’s and the other organisations’ conflict sensitivity, effective multilateralism, value-based approach and application of the principle of local ownership in theatre.

in The EU and crisis response
Open Access (free)
Controversies over gaps within EU crisis management policy
Roger Mac Ginty, Sandra Pogodda, and Oliver P. Richmond

The Introduction sets out the structure and essential purpose of the book, and explains EUNPACK – the comparative study on which the book is based. It asks what EU crisis management seeks to address; introduces the innovative typology for crisis response that lies at the heart of the book; and highlights how much of the book is based on fieldwork, while being careful to note how difficult it is for outside researchers to authentically reflect the voices of local populations. The key findings of the book are presented, including the trend identified in a number of later chapters towards security-led approaches in the EU’s crisis response activities in its neighbourhood and further afield. The conclusion offers further thoughts on how EU crisis response has evolved and on its future role.

in The EU and crisis response
Mørten Bøås, Bård Drange, Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, Abdoul Wahab Cissé, and Qayoom Suroush

Based on extensive fieldwork and perception surveys, this chapter examines the nature of the EU’s crisis response in the extended neighbourhood. It finds that interventions have a significant security element leading to questions about the ultimate aim of EU crisis response interventions: stabilisation or something more emancipatory. The chapter also shows how the EU is often insulated in-country and has difficulty connecting with the wider populations and their aspirations.

in The EU and crisis response
Pernille Rieker and Kristian L. Gjerde

The aim of this chapter is to identify the potential and limits of the EU’s external crisis response. Rather than focusing on the character of the EU as a foreign policy actor, it concentrates on the EU toolbox or repertoire applied in EU missions and activities in various external crises and conflicts in the near and extended neighbourhood, and also how the Union’s activities are perceived by local stakeholders. A key question is whether there is a match or mismatch between EU intentions, the implementation, and the perceptions of local stakeholders. The analysis in this article draws on both a series of qualitative case studies and a quantitative analysis of a large number of EU documents and statements. This mixed method has enabled us to explore the EU’s crisis response repertoire systematically and from various angles.

in The EU and crisis response
From conflict transformation to crisis management
Kari M. Osland and Mateja Peter

This chapter looks at the implementation and perception of the EU’s largest investment into the rule of law sector in the Western Balkans: the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX). EU judges, prosecutors, investigators and customs officials were embedded into Kosovo’s rule of law institutions, directly dispensing justice in the most sensitive criminal proceedings. We argue that while the design of EULEX suffers from problems typically associated with liberal peacebuilding operations – lack of local ownership, technocratic approaches, and lack of accountability – the mission mandate embodied ambitions for conflict transformation. We build our argument by drawing on experiences of those most directly responsible for the execution of the EULEX mandate and those directly affected by its outcomes. Our data was collected as part of the EU Horizon 2020-funded EUNPACK project and comes from twenty-five in-depth interviews with practitioners familiar with the day-to-day work of the mission and its reception on the ground.

in The EU and crisis response
Open Access (free)
The Politics of Information and Analysis in Food Security Crises
Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey

Famine means destitution, increased severe malnutrition, disease, excess death and the breakdown of institutions and social norms. Politically, it means a failure of governance – a failure to provide the most basic of protections. Because of both its human and political meanings, ‘famine’ can be a shocking term. This is turn makes the analysis – and especially declaration – of famine a very sensitive subject. This paper synthesises the findings from six case studies of the analysis of extreme food insecurity and famine to identify the political constraints to data collection and analysis, the ways in which these are manifested, and emergent good practice to manage these influences. The politics of information and analysis are the most fraught where technical capacity and data quality are the weakest. Politics will not be eradicated from analysis but can and must be better managed.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Sean Healy and Victoria Russell

The search and rescue of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants on the Mediterranean has become a site of major political contestation in Europe, on the seas, in parliaments and government offices and in online public opinion. This article summarises one particular set of controversies, namely, false claims that the non-government organisations conducting such search and rescue operations are actively ‘colluding’ with people smugglers to ferry people into Europe. In spring and summer 2017, these claims of ‘collusion’ emerged from state agencies and from anti-immigration groups, became viral on social media platforms and rapidly moved into mainstream media coverage, criminal investigations by prosecutors and the speech and laws of politicians across the continent. These claims were in turn connected to far-right conspiracy theories about ‘flooding’ Europe with ‘invaders’. By looking at the experience of one particular ship, the MV Aquarius, run in partnership by MSF and SOS Méditerranée, the authors detail the risks that humanitarian organisations now face from such types of disinformation campaign. If humanitarian organisations do not prepare themselves against this risk, they will find themselves in a world turned upside-down, in which their efforts to help people in distress become evidence of criminal activity.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
A Belated but Welcome Theory of Change on Mental Health and Development
Laura Davidson

This article critiques the new Theory of Change (ToC) on mental health published by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) in the last fortnight of its existence. The ToC offers development actors a framework for better support of beneficiaries with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities – given disappointingly scant attention by the sector to date. Yet, 70 per cent of mental disorders occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with a 22 per cent prevalence in fragile and conflict-affected states. Globally, mental ill-health is estimated to affect almost one billion people. Its intersectionality with poverty and physical health has been brought into sharp focus by the current COVID-19 pandemic which has magnified the underlying social and environmental stressors of mental health. DfID’s ToC provides a conceptual framework for improving mental health globally, with an overarching vision of the full and equal exercise of all human rights by those affected by mental health conditions and psychosocial disability. The framework incorporates a rights-based approach with user-participation embedded in five critical change pathways to outcomes. The article analyses the ToC, provides an overview, highlights gaps and comments upon how DfID might have improved clarity for development actors seeking to realise its vision.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Humanity and Solidarity
Tanja R. Müller and Róisín Read
Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Middle-Aged Syrian Women’s Contributions to Family Livelihoods during Protracted Displacement in Jordan
Dina Sidhva, Ann-Christin Zuntz, Ruba al Akash, Ayat Nashwan, and Areej Al-Majali

This article explores the intersections of generational and gender dynamics with humanitarian governance in Jordan that cause shifts in the division of labour within displaced families. Drawing on life history interviews and focus group discussions with seventeen Syrian women in Jordan in spring 2019, we explore the monetary and non-monetary contributions of middle-aged females to the livelihoods of refugee households. Older women’s paid and unpaid labour holds together dispersed families whose fathers have been killed or incapacitated, or remain in Syria or in the Gulf. In doing so, many women draw on their pre-war experience of living with – or rather apart from – migrant husbands. Increased economic and social responsibilities coincide with a phase in our interviewees’ lifecycle in which they traditionally acquire greater authority as elders, especially as mothers-in-law. While power inequalities between older and younger Syrian women are not new, they have been exacerbated by the loss of resources in displacement. Our insights offer a counterpoint to humanitarian attempts at increasing refugees’ ‘self-reliance’ through small-scale entrepreneurship. For now, culturally appropriate and practically feasible jobs for middle-aged women are found in their living rooms. Supportive humanitarian action should allow them to upscale their businesses and address power dynamics within families.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs