The EU and conflict prevention in Jordan

20/06/2017

This Civil Society Dialogue Network discussion paper by Laura Davis and Fatima Ayub is intended to stimulate discussion and reflection on what lessons for EU contributions to conflict prevention can be drawn from the case of Jordan.

Jordan is a good example of an important but not urgent situation where incremental efforts to prevent conflict may well yield greater returns over time than responding to crises when they become visible. But as these problems are not urgent, they require considerable political leadership and capital because success is less evident.

Jordan is seen by its partners, with the support of the Jordanian government, as the stable partner in a volatile region. Whether as part of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), as a partner against Da’esh and in counter-terrorism, as a haven for refugees, Jordan’s role as a “Western ally” overshadows Jordan-as-Jordan. This paper argues that Jordan’s internal situation should be taken into consideration more effectively. It discusses four key drivers of conflict in Jordan, and the EU’s responses to them:

  • Rapidly changing demography, particularly owing to the resettlement of refugees;
  • Diplomatic relations and the geopolitics of the region;
  • Domestic political freedoms; and
  • Domestic fiscal management and economic policy.

The paper shows that EU programming documents repeatedly identify and address these key drivers of conflict. Yet by the EU’s own evaluation, Jordan is not working to mitigate the challenges related to inclusive and responsive governance and economic growth. Despite its extensive aid packages and trade arrangements, the EU has not been able to negotiate improvement on Jordan’s domestic conflict drivers.

A key obstacle is Jordan’s status as a lynchpin in regional stability and security, and here Jordan’s security and the security of the regime are seen as synonymous. Within this context, reforms that could lead to political instability may seem high-risk. On the other hand, doing nothing allows the problem to fester and also carries risk. Since the ‘Arab Spring’ Jordanians are more aware of the possibilities of challenging the existing order and the possibility that this discontent will manifest violently cannot be dismissed.

The EU could contribute to preventing conflict in Jordan if the EEAS facilitates, quietly, a better strategy for the country, supported by a good implementation plan led and owned by key Jordanian reformers and institutions for building a better, more inclusive society.

The EEAS could also muster political support from the relevant parts of the EU machinery and Member States to invest resources in supporting the reforms necessary to reduce the risk of violent endogenous conflict in Jordan. To build resilience, the EU – through the EEAS and/or well-positioned MS – needs to find a way to work with the Jordanian government, particularly the Royal Court and the security services, to build on the limited political and economic reforms it has achieved to date and extend them in the future. It should also find a way to support bridges between reformers and civil society to help develop a national dialogue for inclusive reform.

This would not necessarily require a change in EU policy or instruments, but the assumption of a quiet leadership role, using the tools at its disposal – such as political dialogue – more effectively.

The EC should use its funds more effectively before they shrink. The solution to Jordan’s serious and deepening fiscal crisis is significant political reform, rather than continuing to provide budgetary support or trying to build the private sector. The EU is presumably expecting to write off the loans it has made as the cost of keeping Syrian migrants out of Europe. This will not alleviate the problems: Jordan will share borders with highly unstable neighbours in Syria and Iraq for some time, but eventually international attention and funding will presumably turn towards reconstruction in these countries as Jordan’s regional role (and donor support) diminishes. There will likely be less funding available for Jordan in the future, but this may also provide the opportunity for the EC, EEAS and concerned EU MS to plan for new scenarios.

The EEAS and the EU Delegation to Jordan should also monitor closely the outcomes of their current governance and reform programming and align future funding to reflect progress made, as it is already supposed to do. The EU should not just seek to strengthen its partnership solely in the security arena, but should also stay attuned to meaningful if small measures that the government initiates (such as the recent proposals from a royal committee for justice sector reforms is a good example) and direct their political and financial support to encourage those reforms.

In this way, the EU could demonstrate leadership in preventing violent conflict, with results in Jordan and beyond.

This post gives the views of the author and does not represent the position of EPLO as a whole.

Click here to download the Civil Society Dialogue Network Discussion
Paper No. 11: The EU and conflict prevention in Jordan.


Countering Violent Extremism: A Peacebuilding Perspective

04/10/2016

Over the past decade, countering violent extremism (CVE) has emerged as a major global security concern and a key theme within governments’ counter-terrorism (CT) strategies throughout the world. The rise of terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere has prompted the European Union (EU) to acknowledge the importance of addressing VE and radicalisation as key components of the preventive aspects of its CT efforts.

A growing number of EPLO member organisations (MOs) have raised concerns that the mobilisation of domestic and international resources to tackle VE is often shortsightedly focused on reinforcing ‘hard’ security measures and response capabilities, and thus failing to acknowledge the need for a multi-dimensional approach in which emphasis is placed on prevention and the enabling conditions for VE are addressed.

Many EPLO MOs are working on preventing VE (PVE)/CVE as part of their broader approach to peacebuilding without necessarily labelling their work as such. They are contributing to the PVE agenda through programmes designed to prevent conflict, strengthen human rights and the rule of law, and promote peace, tolerance and community resilience. A number of EPLO MOs take the view that applying a peacebuilding lens to the CVE agenda is vital to the effectiveness and sustainability of these efforts. This will require coordinated, context-specific responses which address the root causes of conflict and embrace a whole-of-society approach.

With VE ideologies gaining an unprecedented level of traction in different parts of the world, some EPLO MOs have called for an approach to PVE/CVE which includes efforts to understand how and why individuals become radicalised and turn to VE, and which attempts to identify and address the interplay of ‘push’ factors (e.g. structural conditions such as poverty, inequality, grievances, lack of access to justice and limited political participation etc.) and ‘pull’ factors (e.g. appealing extremist messaging which instills a sense of belonging, charismatic recruiters etc.).

The EPLO office has prepared a briefing paper on the EU’s policy and programming priorities regarding PVE/CVE. The paper outlines key developments since the adoption of the EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2005 until the presentation of the EU Global Strategy in 2016. It explains the way in which different policy documents have been revised and updated during this time to address new means and patterns of radicalisation, including issues posed by individuals supporting extremist ideology linked to terrorism, lone actors, homegrown terrorists and foreign fighters, as well as the role of the internet and social media for mobilisation and communication. The paper presents the EU’s approach to addressing both the internal and external dimensions of VE and radicalisation, and the core issues framing the EU debate on the need for a more coherent approach to the different dimensions of action underlying the internal-external security nexus. It also highlights links between PVE/CVE and traditional development co-operation, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected countries and regions.

The paper also includes an overview of EU’s programming priorities on PVE/CVE, both outside and inside the EU, and information about key institutional interlocutors and the main lines of cooperation at inter- and intra-institutional levels.

Click here to download the paper.


International Day of Peace 2016

21/09/2016

Today events are taking place all over the world to mark the International Day of Peace. Following the adoption of United Nations (UN) Resolution 36/37 in 1981, the 21st of September was designated by the UN General Assembly as a day devoted to ‘commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.’

The theme of this year’s International Peace Day is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.’

A number of EPLO’s member organisations are organising events to celebrate the International Day of Peace:

In addition to the above-mentioned events, several EPLO member organisations have also marked the International Day of Peace by publishing a joint civil society statement entitled ‘Embracing the New Global Framework for Peace: A shared statement by peacebuilding organizations’.


EPLO Newsletter Volume 11 Issue 1

16/09/2016

Click here to download the latest issue of the EPLO Newsletter.


EPLO Conflict Prevention Newsletter Volume 10 Issue 1

31/07/2015

Click here to download the latest issue of the EPLO Conflict Prevention Newsletter.


2014 Overview

02/04/2015

EPLO has published an overview of its activities in 2014.


EPLO Conflict Prevention Newsletter Volume 9 Issue 6

23/12/2014

Click here to download the latest issue of the EPLO Conflict Prevention Newsletter.