EU support to Women Mediators: Moving beyond Stereotypes


By Dr Laura Davis


EPLO recently brought together 15 women mediators from very different contexts to discuss how the EU could move beyond the stereotypes and better support women in mediation. The day-long expert meeting was organised as part of the Civil Society Dialogue Network (CSDN) project and culminated with the mediators presenting their conclusions to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.

The mediators had a broad range of experience, from the highest diplomatic circles to long-term grassroots engagements, from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. Despite the differences in their experiences, it soon emerged that most of them had got involved in mediation because it was necessary: it was the right and the only thing to do to try and stop the violence. It was only later, after they had been mediating for some time that people told them that this was ‘mediation’ (although others would stick to outdated definitions of mediation and insist that their work was not mediation at all).

While many of them had been praised privately for their courageous work, very few received the public recognition their mediation justified. As soon as talks became more formal, they became ‘men’s business’ and the women were pushed out.

They also found that their perceived weakness as women could be a source of strength as mediators. Men would lose face, be thought cowards or traitors if they tried to communicate with the other side; women were not so constrained. Some of the mediators shared their experiences of working in traditional societies, which may offer different, or even more opportunities for women mediators than more ‘modern’ societies.

The abuse that women mediators receive as a result of their work is often much worse than that experienced by their male counterparts. They can be threatened and intimidated by the parties, or people with a stake in the conflict.  Often these threats are very gender-specific: they may include rape threats against the women. Others aim to bring dishonour on the woman, her family and community and so increase the pressure on the mediator to step away. The psychological effect of mediation on mediators is not always recognised yet.

The mediators reflected on their experience to make the following recommendations to the EU:

  1. Modelling inclusion. To be credible, the EU must ensure that all EU mediation and support teams, and other mediation teams supported by the EU, include a significant proportion of women – at least 30% women;
  2. Insist that the UN quota of 30% women participants in talks is met by all parties in all processes the EU supports; and
  3. Ensure that gender analysis is a key component of all conflict/context analysis so that mediation outcomes are based on understanding how power works in the society and so are likely to have better results.

Strengthening mediation practice is a long-term undertaking, and the EU should prioritise supporting the following activities:

  1. Training and networking of women and men mediators, to professionalise mediation practice in general and to connect women to opportunities;
  2. Recovery retreats for mediators in burnout, similar to those offered to human rights activists; and
  3. Projects that portray different roles that women play in conflict and in peace to help change stereotypes that portray women as only victims in conflict and not agents.

The full report of the CSDN meeting is available here.


Dr Laura Davis is the Senior Associate responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 4 (To strengthen the implementation of a gender-sensitive approach in EU policy and practice which enables the EU to be more inclusive and effective in promoting peace).


Peacebuilding and conflict prevention in the NDICI: An assessment of the European Parliament’s position


By Ben Moore and Colin Cogitore

On 27 March 2019, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a legislative resolution on the European Commission’s (EC) proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation (NDICI).

In this blog post, we try to assess what it might mean for the future of the EU’s support to peacebuilding and conflict prevention in its external relations and reflect on the extent to which it follows EPLO’s overarching recommendations on the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

An increase in the overall amount for the NDICI and support for the continuation of ‘crisis response’ actions but no increase in funding for the crucial thematic programme

We welcome the EP’s intention to increase slightly (+4%) the NDICI’s overall financial allocation above the level proposed by the EC and we hope that this can be translated into increased support for civilian peacebuilding activities. Similarly, we welcome the EP’s proposal to allocate € 2 billion from the NDICI’s rapid response actions pillar for ‘stability and conflict prevention’ as this should ensure the continuation of the ‘crisis response’ actions which are currently funded under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). Regarding the NDICI’s thematic pillar, we welcome the EP’s proposal to increase the financial allocation for ‘Human Rights and Democracy’ (+33%) but we are disappointed that it did not propose an equivalent increase for ‘Stability and Peace’ (i.e. the NDICI’s equivalent of the IcSP’s long-term actions).

Inclusion of a specific objective on conflict prevention

Since the EC published its proposal for the NDICI in June 2018, we have been concerned that it did not foresee the inclusion of the IcSP’s specific objective to build peace and prevent conflict. We therefore welcome the EP’s intention to include a specific objective on conflict prevention alongside the other objectives and hope that this will ensure that support for long-term civilian peacebuilding is not subjugated to other objectives such as migration management.

Reintroduction of specific peacebuilding actions across the instrument

Another cause for concern in the EC’s proposal for the NDICI was the lack of detail provided about the types of peacebuilding actions which might be supported under the geographic programmes, the ‘Stability and Peace’ thematic programme or the rapid response actions. In this context, we welcome the EP’s intention to re-introduce most of the specific actions which are currently set out in the IcSP (e.g. mediation, transitional justice, the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda, the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda etc.) in the various pillars of the NDICI.

More focus on conflict- and gender sensitivity, and a greater role for civil society 

We welcome the EP’s proposal to include definitions of conflict sensitivity and gender sensitivity in the NDICI as well as its intention to ensure that conflict prevention, peacebuilding and the empowerment of women are all mainstreamed in NDICI programmes and actions. Similarly, we welcome the EP’s proposal for conflict- and gender analysis to be undertaken before the adoption of NDICI action plans and measures, and its intention to increase the conflict sensitivity of capacity building of military actors in support of development and security for development (CBSD). Finally, we welcome the EP’s various proposals to increase the involvement of civil society actors in the design and implementation of NDICI programmes and actions, which should help to increase their effectiveness.

Next steps?

The legislative resolution marks the end of the EP’s first reading of the NDICI proposal. EU Member States now have to adopt their position before inter-institutional negotiations (trilogue) can begin (possibly in early autumn). In the meantime, EPLO will continue to engage with the co-legislators to ensure that the EU maximises its support for peacebuilding and conflict prevention after 2020.


Ben Moore coordinates EPLO’s Funding for Peace Working Group.

Colin Cogitore is providing support to EPLO’s Funding for Peace Working Group.

Time to engage, empower, protect and support women and girls in peacebuilding


By Dr Laura Davis

On 10 December 2018, the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on women, peace and security (WPS). This includes a new policy, the EU Strategic Approach to WPS.

The process for drafting the new Strategic Approach, led by the EU’s Principal Adviser on Gender and on the implementation of United Nationals Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS, was consultative and EPLO has been closely involved in it both through our Working Group on Gender, Peace and Security (GPS WG) and through a Civil Society Dialogue Network (CSDN) expert working meeting in September that brought together civil society experts and the penholder.

The Strategic Approach is a much stronger policy than the 2008 EU Comprehensive Approach to WPS, which it replaces. In particular, it underlines the importance of preventing violent conflict. It stresses that all EU external action must be based on robust gender and conflict analysis that identify and address gendered root causes of violence. This is important as key priority areas for the EU – such as preventing/countering violent extremism (P/CVE), counter-terrorism (CT) and responding to migration – have been largely gender-blind to date, and therefore likely to do harm and unlikely to be effective in their own terms.

The Strategy recognises the importance of international, national and local civil society in transforming gender norms and building peace – as well as the particular strategies of repression that opponents use to target women peace activists and human rights defenders face as civic space shrinks. The Strategy commits the EU to engage with inclusive civil society and women leaders throughout the policy and programming cycle – and to engage women from diverse backgrounds on the whole range of issues facing their societies, not just ‘women’s issues’. However, it does not go far enough in guaranteeing adequate and predictable financing for civil society organisations (CSOs), even though it acknowledges the importance of this funding particularly in places at risk of violent conflict.

The Strategy prioritises women’s leadership and agency over victimhood – which is welcome. Women, men, boys and girls must be protected from atrocities, including sexual violence, and impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes must end. Recognising women’s and girl’s leadership and agency throughout society and at all stages of peacebuilding, mediation and public life, and working with men and boys to change gender norms are important steps in addressing gendered root causes of violence and inequality. It is regrettable, however, that the Strategy does not explicitly mention sexual and gender minorities, who are too often at extreme risk during conflict and marginalised in peacebuilding, or indeed the EU’s own 2013 guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.  It is also a missed opportunity for underscoring women’s sexual and reproductive rights as well as information and healthcare.

Overall, the policy is strong, but the main challenge will be in implementation and in particular ensuring that the commitments the Council has made to ensuring gender and conflict analysis informs all EU external action, for example, is followed through. The Strategy needs to be complemented as soon as possible with an action plan that assigns responsibility for tasks to the various EU actors involved, and that these are held accountable for progress. At the same time, the Council needs to ensure that in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework there is adequate, ring-fenced financing for conflict prevention and for inclusive CSOs building peace and working towards gender equality worldwide.

Dr Laura Davis is the Senior Associate responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 4 (To strengthen the implementation of a gender-sensitive approach in EU policy and practice which enables the EU to be more inclusive and effective in promoting peace).

‘Against School Aggression Partnership’: A community-based school programme to reduce school violence and conflicts


EPLO Member Organisation Blog Post No. 10

By Dr Daniela Kolarova

The values of freedom, tolerance, respect for diversity and non-discrimination are fundamental for European societies. There are alarming proportions of bullying and violence in European schools which is a worrying signal for educators, civil society and communities. Bullying has serious and long-term effects for both victims and perpetrators. It affects mental and physical health as well as the academic performance of students.

From a policy point of view, if not addressed, bullying corrupts the school environment, poisons the climate and, in the long-term, can create a generation of apathetic citizens, bystanders of political processes and non-believers in the significance of actions for change.  The lack of will to combat bullying at school maintains the impunity of perpetrators, rewards those irresponsible for their actions and sows the seeds of cynicism, antisocial attitudes and disrespect for law and order and for the school institution as a whole. It also undermines the values of equality, dignity and liberty.

In 2015, three organisations – Partners Hungary Foundation, Partners Bulgaria Foundation and SOS Malta – joined forces to launch a pilot project aimed at developing and testing a community-based school programme for effective prevention and treatment of aggression and bullying, based on alternative conflict resolution methods. The long-term goal of the project was to achieve cultural change in schools through the dissemination of nonviolent communication, the introduction of alternative conflict resolution practices, the prevention of bullying and school conflicts, and a decrease in aggressive and other risk-related behaviour.

The research results in the pilot schools demonstrated that one of the programme’s important effects was an increase in respondents’ awareness. Bullying and aggression have been recognised as a problem and many of its aspects (i.e. types, scope, frequency etc.) have been addressed. The programme contributed to a better understanding of these phenomena and the schools’ sensitivity towards them increased. This can be seen in various suggestions for improving the school climate, measures and policies. Students’ proposals showed that they wanted a safer and child-friendly environment at school:

  • “We have to talk normally and understand each other
  • Some students must stop making themselves interesting by spoiling the atmosphere
  • “Teachers have to try to understand us better”.

Some students insisted on stronger disciplinary measures, including suspension and/or exclusion for those who engaged in bullying. A notable finding was the extent to which students insisted on the implementation of rules of co-existence at school and of their active reinforcement by adults. As a result, the suggested interventions reinforced school rules and encouraged students to think about ways to manage their relationships and disputes in a nonviolent way. A number of recommendations were prepared in order to engage educational authorities in conflict prevention and anti-bullying policies. The project showed that co-operative efforts to promote a child-friendly environment at school can be effective in stimulating learning and ensuring the well-being of all involved in the school system. The school educational process should accommodate measures and activities focused on maintaining co-operative and friendly relationships. In short, students need to learn how to co-exist with others in a peaceful way and to embrace their diversities. As the results demonstrated, dislike of others who are different, was shown to be one of the most common reasons for bullying and aggression. There is a strong argument for academic curricula to be taught in a culture of human rights, solidarity, co-operation and civility.

The programme contributed to the reduction of school aggression and bullying by establishing and strengthening co-operation between different institutions. It provided accessible and easy to adopt tools to reduce school violence and bullying. These tools were tested and further developed in three secondary schools in Bulgaria, Hungary and Malta. The programme also promoted alternative conflict resolution, anti-bullying procedures and restorative methods to be used in schools. These practices could help to prevent conflicts and minimise the occurrence of aggression, bullying and other behaviour, as risk factors for potential future criminality. They could also provide support for teachers and other educators when they need to tackle such cases.

Dr Daniela Kolarova is the Executive Director of EPLO member organisation the Partners Bulgaria Foundation.

For more information about the ‘Against School Aggression Partnership’, please visit the project website.

The project was funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

Capacity building in support of development and security for development: Recommendations for implementation


By Lorenzo Angelini

In December 2017, the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament (EP) adopted a regulation amending the Regulation establishing the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)[1] in order to enable the EU to provide support for ‘Capacity building of military actors in support of development and security for development’ (CBSD). The same provisions were included in the proposal for a Regulation establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) put forward in June 2018 by the European Commission (EC) for the EU’s next Multiannual financial framework (2021-2027).[2]

In a contribution to the 2016 public consultation on CBSD, EPLO highlighted a number of risks involved in the initiative, including risks to human rights and peace, the risk of reinforcing oppressive and illegitimate power structures, and the risk of diverting human and financial resources away from existing civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding measures.

Following the adoption of the new regulation, EPLO published a statement to provide recommendations to the EC, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU delegations (EUDs) on how to minimise the risks involved in the implementation of CBSD measures in partner countries in the coming years. The points raised in the statement included that:

  • CBSD measures must be context-specific and part of a broader EU political strategy for long-term peace and development. They must facilitate longer-term reform processes in order to improve human security.
  • The EU must ensure that CBSD measures do not strengthen unaccountable and corrupt institutions and their capacity for violence. The provision of IcSP support for CBSD should thus be conditional, inter alia, on:
    • binding commitments from partner governments and military forces to adhere strictly to human rights standards regarding the treatment of all men, women, boys and girls coming under their jurisdiction;[3]
    • the existence of EU transparency and accountability mechanisms, and of robust civilian oversight of military forces in partner countries;
    • the establishment of mechanisms allowing all members of the population, and especially the marginalised, to voice grievances, to engage with their security providers in order to communicate their needs and concerns, to develop solutions with them and to monitor the implementation of these solutions.
  • The EU should design CBSD measures with the primary objective of reforming military forces to make them more transparent, accountable and respectful of the human rights of all people coming under their jurisdiction.
  • The EU should also use CBSD assistance to provide support and training to civil society actors, including men, women, boys and girls from diverse segments of society, to develop their capacity to monitor the actions of military forces.
  • During each of the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) phases of CBSD measures, the EU should systematically:
    • conduct rigorous conflict analysis which integrates gender analysis;
    • assess the (potential) impact of each CBSD measure beyond immediate military capabilities in order to ensure that it is conflict- and gender-sensitive, that it does no harm and that it actively contributes to human security and sustainable peace;
    • actively involve inclusive civil society, ensuring the full participation of diverse women, men, girls and boys, including in the above-mentioned conflict analyses.
  • The EU should monitor and evaluate CBSD measures based on their broader impact, and assess in particular whether they contribute to improving people’s perceptions and experiences of security (i.e. M&E processes should not simply describe how many members of the military forces were trained or how much equipment was provided to them).
  • When engaging in CBSD measures with a training component, the EU should insist on the inclusion of male and female civilian expertise, and should involve inclusive civil society organisations when possible.
  • Article 3a of the amended IcSP Regulation prohibits the use of IcSP funding to finance ‘the procurement of arms and ammunition, or any other equipment designed to deliver lethal force’. In addition to respecting this legal requirement, the EU should clarify the types of equipment which can be provided as part of CBSD in general and as part of each CBSD measure, in order to ensure transparency and to facilitate monitoring by civil society. The EU should also ensure that IcSP funding is not used to finance the provision of equipment which can be used to violate human rights. Similarly, it should clarify how it will ensure that the equipment will only be used by the intended recipients, and it should lay out what measures are foreseen in cases when the said equipment is not used by the intended recipients and/or for approved uses.

If you would like to read these (and other) recommendations in more detail, please consult the above-mentioned EPLO statement on CBSD. As the EU is looking to maintain CBSD in its next Multiannual financial framework – and possibly to expand the scope of EU capacity building activities through the European Peace Facility[4] –, it is essential for the EU to ensure that CBSD measures do no harm and contribute positively to human security and sustainable peace in the contexts in which they are implemented.

Lorenzo Angelini is the Policy Officer responsible for EPLO’s work in pursuit of its Policy Objective 3 (To integrate peacebuilding into EU development policy, programmes and approaches).

[1] Regulation (EU) 2017/2306 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 amending Regulation (EU) No 230/2014 establishing an instrument contributing to stability and peace.

[2] Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, COM(2018) 460 final (see Title I, Article 9), pp. 31-32.

[3] This also includes non-binary people.

[4] One of the three pillars of High Representative Mogherini’s Proposal for a Council Decision establishing a European Peace Facility would consist in “capacity building activities in support of third countries’ armed forces in pursuit of CFSP objectives” (p. 2).

The next EU Multiannual Financial Framework

On 2 May, the European Commission (EC) published its overall proposal for the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027. According to the EC’s proposal:

  • Current Heading 3 (Security and Citizenship) would be replaced with Heading 4 (Migration & Border Management) and Heading 5 (Security &  Defence)
  • Current Heading 4 (Global Europe) would be renamed Heading 6 (Neighbourhood & the World)
  • The European Development Fund (EDF), which is currently off-budget, would be integrated into Heading 6
  • The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) should not be maintained as a separate instrument. However, a new ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ (€89.5 billion) would include, inter alia, thematic pillars on ‘Stability and Peace’ and ‘Democracy & Human Rights / Civil Society in Development’,  and a ‘rapid response’ pillar for ‘quick response capacity for crisis management and conflict prevention, resilience building, including liking relief, rehabilitation and development, and short term foreign policy reaction’
  • There would be an off-budget ‘European Peace Facility’ to ‘close the current gap in the EU’s ability to conduct Common Security and Defence Policy missions and to provide military and defence assistance to relevant third countries, international and regional organisations’ (€10.5 billion)
  • There would be a ‘European Defence Fund’ (€ 13 billion) and a ‘Connecting Europe Facility – Military Mobility’ (€ 6.5 billion) under Heading 3.

Several organisations have published their initial reactions to the EC’s proposal:

In June 2018, the EC will publish legislative proposals for all of the financing instruments which are foreseen under the overall MFF proposal.

EPLO will publish its initial reaction to the EC’s legislative proposals in July 2018 based on the initial position which was set out in our February 2018 statement entitled ‘How will the EU support peacebuilding after 2020?’.

For more information about EPLO’s work on the next EU MFF, please contact Ben Moore.

Doing what is reasonable and routine: EU trade, development and due diligence in conflict-affected contexts


By Terri Beswick

Conflicts cost

The cost of conflict is undeniable. Counting the number of people who lose their lives from conflict, however, only tells part of the story. Those living with violence also face the additional costs of protracted psychological trauma, physical injury, sexual violence, destroyed infrastructure, mass displacement, divided families, homes lost and polarisation among societies. The consequences of conflict are far-reaching and clearly threaten the EU’s expressed core values of peace, security, sustainable development, poverty reduction, and human rights. Therefore, all the organs of European Union external action should be concerned with making sure that the EU’s engagement in environments affected by conflict (1) does no harm and (2) is designed to reduce the risks of conflict and maximise sustainable peace. For European populations funding development or delegating responsibility for EU trade relations through their governments, being aware of how the EU does ‘due diligence’ in such high-risk contexts is an important element of accountability.


Due diligence is often associated with a legal liability argument, as it places responsibility on actors to demonstrate that they did all that was reasonable in advance to avoid causing harm or damage. It is also associated with commercial contexts, where thorough research and analysis of the market, significant players, and consumer behaviour is seen as a reasonable and even routine step in order to avoid future losses and protect investments. The legal liability and commercial framing for due diligence maps neatly onto two EU responsibilities: (1) to do no harm and (2) to maximise the effectiveness of the time, human resources and financial investment in development and trade engagements. As a global actor with approximately 140 delegations and offices around the world, the EU is big business. It disbursed 10.3 billion EUR of overseas development aid in 2015 and represented around 60% of the world’s foreign direct investment for that year.

What would ‘due diligence’ look like in EU development and trade? 

In order to be precise about what to do and what to avoid doing to meet its responsibilities, the EU needs a broad and deepanalysis of the conflict context that incorporates the root causes, contemporary drivers, and the obvious and less obvious stakeholders, and covers the many facets of the conflict. To meet the criterion of being ‘due’ and ‘diligent’, this kind of analysis cannot be ad hoc, optional or superficial.

  1. The first component of due diligence in conflict-affected environments is an obligation to analyse the political, economic, social, environmental and security aspects of the context and to explicitly make the link to the risks of violence. If a commercial actor were entering such an uncertain and high-risk context, it would be remiss for it to focus purely on economic, financial or business analysis while disregarding the broader factors that influence and interact with those sectors. Likewise, though the central government and security sector may appear to be the most relevant sectors for analysis at first glance, conflict requires a much broader lens. Analysis of economic mismanagement in Venezuela, the geopolitics of trade in Ukraine, demographic shifts in South Africa, divided households and gender roles in Kyrgyzstan, drought and rural-urban migration in Syria, and the abuse of security forces and the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria all make the case for analysing multiple facets of a context.
  2. The second component of due diligence relates to a need to understand the full spectrum of conflict stakeholders at various levels, including non-state actors and population groups. In commercial terms this would be the equivalent of being able to identify the key players in a market, as well as those with the capacity to influence it, and importantly the behaviours and preferences of consumers. Conflict stakeholders could be (directly and indirectly) affected population groups, those most active in the conflict, those carrying out violence, allies, spoilers, and even the international and regional actors with aid engagements in the context. The term ‘conflict stakeholders’ should quite literally encompass all those who have a ‘stake’ in the conflict. Without this clarification, the term ‘stakeholder’ in isolation has little meaning. Consequently, analysis of conflict stakeholders is clearly a more expansive task than what is understood by more commonly used aid language, which only extends to mean ‘vulnerable groups’, ‘civil society’, ‘leaders’ or ‘local communities’.
  3. At some point, thorough analysis of the context has to be linked to more reflective assessment to identify the opportunities and limitations of the EU as an actor. This generated a third component: reflection on the position and perceptions of the EU in the conflict context. After all, the messenger can be as important as the message. This aspect of due diligence analysis would look at whether the EU is best positioned to engage, which is just as relevant for development and trade as it would be for other foreign policy engagements such as diplomacy. Though this is more likely to be factored in at the initial strategic decision-making stage, the speed with which dynamics evolve in conflict-affected contexts recommends a frequent process that is tied to flexible decision-making, for example on the adaptation of development programmes, as is foreseen to some degree in the EU’s risk management framework for budget support.
  4. The fourth component is designed to probe theories of change that overestimate positive effects or overlook conflict risk in the design, implementation or evaluation of development programming or trade. While there is global recognition of (and increasingly data that demonstrate) the economic and developmental damage resulting from conflict, the relationship is not unidirectional. Unequal development and economic marginalisation can themselves drive conflict. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the potential positive and negative interactions between the EU’s development and trade engagements and the conflict dynamics in the given context(s) to maximise effectiveness (commercial due diligence) and to avoid harm (legal due diligence). This would mean a shift to assessing impact in a way that can reveal when even ‘successful’ development programming or access to international trade might have a negative effect on a conflict, for example by shifting the dynamics of political or economic power in a context, and triggering a negative reaction from one or more conflict stakeholders.
  5. Ultimately, due diligence is not research in a vacuum: it is undertaken for the sole purpose of making decisions or adjusting a course of action to be more prudent and to be better able to avoid possible harm. This means that a due diligence process is only complete if and when it shapes real decisions. The fifth component, therefore, relates to opportunities embedded in EU development programming cycles and the milestones of EU trade relations to review whether the instrument or approach is appropriate and able to meet conflict prevention and/or peacebuilding objectives given the analysis revealed by due diligence research. Or more simply, whether the structure of EU development and trade instruments allows for failing interventions to be either abandoned or adapted in the interest of reducing the risks of violence occurring.

The ambition to prevent conflict and promote peace in EU development and trade

According to the European Centre for Development Policy Management, the EU’s institutions and selected EU Member States are among the biggest supporters of peacebuilding, representing five out of the top ten conflict, peace and security donors (measured in terms of aid contributions). At the same time, the EU has reiterated its commitment to conflict prevention and peace in treaties, policies, statements, and speeches for more than 15 years. Expertise in managing conflict and promoting peace is presented as an intrinsic characteristic of the European Union project. Thus, the analysis of the EU’s due diligence with regard to key development and trade instruments given in the EU-CIVCAP report ‘Due Diligence in Contexts Affected by Conflict: EU Development Aid and Trade’ offers a systematic analysis of how the EU seeks to meet its commitments to preventing conflict and promoting peace in practice. The proposed due diligence framework may be ambitious, but with so much at stake it does not make sense to set the bar low.