The EU has developed a number of policies in response to the complexity of operating in situations of fragility and conflict. These policies are founded on the EU’s commitment to “preserve peace, prevent conflict and strengthen international security” now enshrined in the Treaty on the European Union (2012) as part of its foreign policy (art. 21.2). This policy framework is based on the understanding that fragility and conflict are interlinked in relation to the consequences they yield, the causes they are rooted in and the complexity of the cycles of fragility, violence and conflict.
In relation to any of the other 16 SDGs, depending of the dimension of resilience that is addressed.
Resilience, Conflict Sensitivity and Peace
Strengthening resilience has emerged as an EU priority to address the multidimensional challenges of fragility. The 2012 EU definition of resilience refers to the “ability of an individual, a household, a community, a country or a region to withstand, adapt and quickly recover from shocks and pressures in a manner that reduces vulnerabilities and risks”.
The 2017 Joint Communication on Resilience has expanded very clearly this notion to all dimensions of fragility and resilience (social/political/economic/environmental and security-related, see OECD framework, States of Fragility reports).
The EU’s strategic approach in this key Communication aims at achieving and sustaining the ambitious set of objectives of all EU’s external action, by strengthening:
The 2017 New European Consensus on Development (Consensus) recognises that “[p]overty, conflict, fragility and forced displacement are deeply interlinked and must be addressed in a coherent and comprehensive way” and that EU and its Member States should “address their root causes at all levels”, ranging e.g. from exclusion, inequality, human rights violations, absence of the rule of law to environmental degradation and climate change.
The 2016 EU Global Strategy (EUGS) acknowledges that fragile states increasingly break down in violent conflict and that “once a conflict does erupt, it typically becomes ever more intractable over time”. In January 2018, the Council of the European Union adopted the EU Integrated Approach to External Conflicts and Crises, stressing the need to mainstream conflict sensitivity into EU’s engagement in fragile contexts (as already stated in the Consensus in relation to conflict-sensitive approaches to development). The Council also emphasized the importance of the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the Responsibility to Protect. It further stressed the importance of local ownership, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainability of supported actors by engaging with national and local authorities, community and civil society.
The New European Consensus on Development (2017) also recognises that the “nexus between sustainable development, humanitarian action, peace and security” should be part of the comprehensive approach to conflict and crises, and this in turn should aim to address the root causes of fragility and conflict as part of the humanitarian-development nexus. This need to be supported by joint analysis (including conflict analyses) or assessments (including resilience and/or conflict sensitivity assessments) and joint planning and monitoring exercises throughout which stakeholders from all fields are integrated and represented.
Conflict Sensitivity and Conflict Analysis
A central element of the Integrated Approach is that “joint conflict analyses are systematically carried out and updated for countries that are at risk of or facing conflict or instability and where the EU has a significant engagement” and that these analyses inform also the process of strategic engagement of the EU such as regional and Joint Programming. The Integrated Approach demands therefore that “EU’s engagement in fragile contexts [should] work in a conflict sensitive manner”. Likewise, in the Consensus for Development, the EU and its Member States commit to pursue synergies in fragile and conflict affected countries through shared knowledge and analysis, including joint conflict analysis, and to “integrate conflict sensitivity in all their work, to maximise the positive impact on peace”.
The EU Strategic Approach to Women, Peace and Security
The European Union has made policy commitments to promote the role of women in peace building and to enhance the implementation of United Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1325 and 1820 and related resolutions in its external actions and has developed a strategic approach to their implementation. This approach recognises the close links between the issues of peace, security, development and gender equality. This means that beyond promoting the participation and the protection of women in conflict situations and peace building, the EU should strive to consider long-term development and human security concerns and the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality in conflict affected countries at all stages of the conflict cycle, including recovery. The creation of the Results Chain was particularly challenging due to the fact that the dimensions of resilience are all-encompassing and need to consider different levels of resilience such as individual/household/community/state. The Resilience dimensions were used to guide the outcome levels:
Another dimension (Partnerships and Integrated Approaches) has been added with regard to the essential requirement of joint, shared analysis and the development of analytical tools and processes used in different settings to promote resilience and conflict sensitivity. This dimension also reflects the need to operationalise more consistently the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus among EU and international actors, and to ensure the integration of disaster risk management, reduction and preparedness. The sample indicators drew on already existing Results Chain as well as specific indicators related to EU and other international indexes and frameworks (EU Global Conflict Risk Index, Sendai Framework, OECD framework on fragility dimensions, etc.) As per other Results Chain, the proposed indicators are just sample indicators and need to be adapted to the specific context and circumstances of each country, programme and intervention. They will be changed and improved over time through the feedback of the users.
- the adaptability of states, societies, communities and individuals to political, economic, environmental, demographic or societal pressures, in order to sustain progress towards national development goals.
- the capacity of a state - in the face of significant pressures to build, maintain or restore its core functions, and basic social and political cohesion, in a manner that ensures respect for democracy, rule of law, human and fundamental rights and fosters inclusive long-term security and progress;
- the capacity of societies, communities and individuals to manage opportunities and risks in a peaceful and stable manner, and to build, maintain or restore livelihoods in the face of major pressures.
- People and Societal Resilience
- Political Resilience and Peacebuilding
- Economic Resilience
- Environmental Resilience
- Security Resilience
Policy and Strategic Documents
- Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) (2021)
- GAP III objectives and indicators (SWD2020 - 284 final)
- EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024
- Sendai Framework (2015-2030)
- OECD framework (2020)
- States of Fragility reports (2020)
- EU Global Conflict Risk Index (2019)
- EU Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security 2019-2024(July 2019).
- EU Integrated Approach to External Conflicts and Crises (2018)
- General Secretariat of the Council conclusions on Women, Peace and Security (2018)
- The Joint Communication on Resilience (2017)
- New European Consensus on Development (2017)
- EU Global Strategy (EUGS) (2016)
- OECD framework on fragility dimensions (2016)
- Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on Capacity building in support of security and development - Enabling partners to prevent and manage crises (2015).
- SWD Action Plan for Resilience in Crisis Prone Countries 2013-2020 (2013).
- Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the EU's comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises (2013).
- Treaty on the European Union (2012)
- The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises (2012)
- Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Towards an EU response to situations of fragility - engaging in difficult environments for sustainable development, stability and peace (2007).