Mediation Workshop on Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)  Course

The Edward M Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention conducted a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Orientation Course in Brussels in June 2013 for public servants from all over the EU.  The Course was held in association with the Irish Presidency of the EU Council and was part of the European Security and Defence College’s (ESDC) annual schedule of courses.

The Course involved providing tuition to EU diplomat,; EU Member State civil servants, police and military officers and selected Third Countries diplomats, including one from the USA.  The Course took place in Brussels.  
The Kennedy Institute put its distinctive stamp on the proceedings by including a workshop over two days on Mediation, Facilitation and Dialogue Skills for Crisis Management Operations.  The Mediation Workshop constituted an important part of the ESDC’s support to EU mediation capacity-building by providing mediation-related training to EU actors. 
The focus of the Course was to provide training in CSDP for personnel who are taking over CSDP appointments in the EU Member States, at the permanent representations in Brussels or in EU Institutions and Agencies.
The objective of the Course was to promote a better understanding of CSDP as an essential part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Union. The CSDP Orientation Course is an important element of EU educational and training activities in this field.   The Orientation Course provided an excellent general overview of CSDP at the strategic and EU institutional level. It was also a good opportunity to gain a first-rate understanding of CSDP in the global security environment and its involvement with partners.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Strategies to resolve conflict include coercion, diplomacy, negotiation, mediation and peacebuilding. The focus of the special workshop on the Orientation Course is on mediation, facilitation and dialogue strategies. The EU has identified mediation as a tool to be mainstreamed and used, when relevant, in all EU conflict prevention and crisis management activities.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a way of assisting negotiations between conflict parties to resolve a conflict situation, with the support of an acceptable third party. The general goal of mediation is to enable parties in conflict to reach agreements they find satisfactory and are willing to implement. The specific goals depend on the nature of the conflict and the expectations of the parties and the mediator. Mediation is usually based on a formal mandate from the parties to a conflict, and the mediator gets involved both in the process and substance of the negotiations by making suggestions and proposals.

Facilitation is similar to mediation, but less directive, and less involved in shaping the substance of the negotiations.

Dialogue is an open-ended process which aims primarily to create a culture of communication and a search for common ground. This builds confidence and improves relations among parties in a conflict situation. This in turn can help to calm, defuse, avert or prevent violent escalations and help reconciliation and peace-building processes. Successful dialogue can de-escalate conflict and thus render more coercive methods unnecessary.

Mediation, facilitation and dialogue are distinct but closely related and complementary tools for dealing with conflicts and crises. These tools have in common that they apply third party assistance to support communication between the conflict parties and, in doing so, each tool uses similar communication techniques and methods.

What is the relevance of Mediation to CSDP?

Mediation capability and tools are relevant to CSDP in a number of ways and at multiple levels. Some CSDP missions support formal dispute-resolution mechanisms relating to security. In other cases, mission leadership has been engaged in informal high-level dispute resolution. In addition, practically all CSDP missions engage in informal dialogue, mediation and sometimes dispute resolution at the working level.

The EU’s three military CSDP operations in Africa all depended on dialogue to forge strong working relationships within the mission and with local and external stakeholders, including the UN, humanitarian agencies and international NGOs, as well as the other security and community actors in the Mission area.Mediation is a cost-effective way of managing crises and a vital and useful approach at different levels of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. Mediation is relevant to CSDP crisis management training for civilian or military personnel because friction inevitably arises on the ground. It is vital that our crisis management missions do not make crises situations worse because of a lack of appropriate resolution skills, while at the same time they are ready to apply force when mandated, justified and necessary.

Models of Mediation

Mediation processes differ depending on the objectives and style of mediation being used. Three principal models of mediation can be readily identified from the literature:

  • Power-based, deal-brokering mediation. In this model, mediators bring their power to bear on the parties by threatening punishments and promising rewards (“sticks and carrots”) in order to broker a deal. Power-based mediators usually direct the process resolutely and use manipulative tactics to get the parties to reach an agreement.
  • Interest-based, problem-solving mediation. In this model, the mediator uses a more facilitative style and often promotes the ownership of the process by the parties. Interest-based mediators focus on generating creative options for an agreement that satisfies the underlying interests of all parties as a basis for conflict resolution.
  • Transformative, long-term mediation. In this model, mediators intervene on different levels with the aim of changing the relationship between the parties, as well as their perceptions of themselves and of other parties.

Scenario for Mediation Workshop

The Kennedy Institute mediation Workshop looked at how mediation might work on the ground in a CSDP mission area to help resolve causes of friction and destabilisation. It was a scenario where the personnel of a civilian, police or military CSDP mission might use their ‘good offices’ and their influential position in the area, representing the international community,to engage parties in dialogue and seek to meditate a solution to a local dispute. The Workshop involved the Course participants in a mediation role-play. This gave an opportunity to get a sense of what it might be like to be involved in a mediation process on the ground and from all perspectives. It was a valuable learning experience. The Course participants took away from the Workshop a good understanding of how a mediation process might work and a better understanding of its value in the spectrum of tools available in crisis management situations.

For further information- contact Kieran Doyle, Project Manager, Edward M Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention