By including field work through case studies, the project will assess the EU's conflict prevention and peacebuilding capabilities in a real life context where the ideas, principles, policies and interventions based thereon meet the challenges of the complex realities of conflict-prone or conflict-affected regions and countries.
This provides a concrete evidence-base to formulate lessons learned and recommendations. The project will carry out case studies in four different countries: Georgia, Ukraine, Mali and Yemen.

Case 1: Georgia

On its path of democratisation since the nineties, Georgia has become a signatory to a number of international and European conventions on the protection and promotion of human rights. The parliamentary elections of 2012 saw the Georgian Dream coalition winning a majority. Despite these encouraging developments, making their voices heard with the authorities, shaping decision-making processes sufficiently, and rights being trespassed without effective recourse are among the struggles people in Georgia are facing today (Alliances Kvemo Khartli 2009:6).

Due to the pro-Western rhetoric of the previous and current Georgian governments, Georgian perceptions of the EU are generally positive. The 2008 Russian-Georgian War demonstrated EU's capacities to resolve the conflict, for example the military hostilities that were resolved by EU's mediation (Simons 2012: 282). Since August 2008, governance in Georgia has been directed at reconciliation, rapprochement and improvement of conditions of people affected by the war.

With regard to multi-track diplomacy, after the 2008 Russo-Georgian War EU's mediation aided the signing of the Six-point Peace Plan for the Russo-Georgian conflict, in which Russia and Georgia agreed to diffuse their military conflict in South Ossetia. EU's monitoring mission (EUMM) was part of maintaining peace in the aftermaths of the war (Simons 2012: 282). EUMM is the only mission in the country that is officially allowed to monitor and report about conflict and former buffer zones in Georgia, especially after the cessation of the UN and OSCE missions. Unfortunately, the EUMM is not allowed to enter South Ossetia nor Abkhazia, leaving the EUMM lacking possibilities  to access and monitor these regions (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia 2009). One of the advantages of choosing the EU as a partner is the positive opinion Georgian citizens have of the EU (Simons 2012: 281). This sense of trust is a good precondition, and may translate into popular support for the reform process (Simons 2012: 281). 

What comes to the security sector reform process, the EU would need to establish a mechanism to oversee it by managing, developing and implementing the process and to ensure its accountability and transparency. By bringing about economic development and sustainability and political stability, the reform should aim at ensuring a democratic and steady Georgia. Considering Georgia's complex situation is necessary when realizing the reform's objectives. (Simons 2012: 281.) 

A closer relation in terms of security and defence between the EU and Russia could allow Russia to make more flexible decisions in the Caucasus region. Both Russia and Georgia acknowledge that ignoring their bilateral relations is not an option. Despite the fact that Russia's investment in Georgia reached its peak just after the war in 2009, trade relations are by no means sufficient for Russia to have influence on Georgia. Allegedly, in case Russia feels its national interests are at stake, the Kremlin may not be hesitating in its decision to use hard power. Therefore, for EU to pressure Russia to allow EUMM access to the conflict zones would increase transparency and security in the region. (Calleja 2013.)


Case 2: Mali

The multi-dimensional nature of the crisis in Mali has posed particular problems for the international community to design a response strategy. From the outset, the primary problem underlying the Mali crisis has been poor governance and a lack of human security. The French-led military intervention in early 2012 pushed back violent extremism, which can be considered as an outcome rather than as a root-cause of the crisis. Without disregarding the importance of diminishing the violent extremists' threat, a bigger challenge is how to focus on the restoration of the unity of the Malian State between the Southern and Northern communities based on credible national institutions working for all Malians. 

With regard to multi-track diplomacy, while a common European position on Mali has progressively developed, varying roles of distinct European member states persist. Considering the fact that the responsibility for the case of Mali has been subject to shifting regional and sub-regional arrangements, there is a need to look at the role of the EU in relation to the United Nations on the one hand and the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the other. In this regard, the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA was conceived in July 2013 as a ‘re-hatting' of the AU and ECOWAS led mission. Since the Brussels donor conference of April 2013 was a key moment in this process, its preparation, specific recommendations and their effective implementation have to be considered more closely.

By establishing a designated EU Military Training Mission  (EUTM) in February 2013, the security sector reform has been at the heart of the EU response in the case of Mali. Equipping and training a military apparatus, which has recently been a cause of political instability, and turning it into being part of the solution would not only require a collection of public and civil society perceptions of the success of the security sector reform, but also perceptions of Malinese soldiers and officers trained by the EU. The role of the EUTM has to be reviewed in conjunction with the role of MINUSMA, including  different EU member states' contribution to it, as this may help to understand  a trade off in the effectiveness of EU conflict prevention policies at member state level. 

Therefore, it is crucial to identify the main aspects of the governance support provided by the EU at state level, which has included support for the elections in June 2013 as well as budget and sector support at the level of decentralised local governance structures and civil society. On a more general level, the proposed research will also assess how far the Paris declaration on development and the framework developed by the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS) have been taken into consideration in EU's interventions. The proposed research will further provide suggestions on how the quality of the governance support provided by the EU could be improved and which new approaches and areas of support could be explored to improve aid effectiveness and efficiency.


Case 3: Ukraine

The EU and Russian involvement in Ukraine has been very important in recent years. The deep division between the EU and Russia over the signature of the Association Agreement of Ukraine with the EU generated  a significant source of instability in the region. Taking advantage of the political crisis in Ukraine and weak political control of the new power, Russia has annexed Crimea and backed up the separatist groups in the Eastern Ukraine. At the same time, the EU was struggling with either having to "accept" the gross violation of human rights and international law for the sake of stability in the region, or act as a political actor and defend the EU principles, which narrowed down the EU's conflict prevention role.

As concerns multi-track diplomacy, the EU's attempts to prevent a violent conflict in Ukraine came after the violence had already started. The leading role was taken by the EU member states that took the form of the "Weimar Triangle" (France, Germany and Poland) who brokered a deal between the incumbent and the opposition. This was however, too late and the EU was accused by Russia of being one-sided.
Following the armed conflict between the constitutional authorities in Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists the EU got involved in the so-called Geneva format in which Russia, the US and Ukraine also participated and which was largely useless, as the Geneva agreement  was not fulfilled.

In parallel the OSCE was given a serious role in the mediating and monitoring of the situation, while the UN was also involved. Despite the efforts to involve multi-track diplomacy, the results have been very modest and the EU had no other choice than to deal directly with the issue in Ukraine and rely less on other "tracks" for the settlement process. Another dilemma is that on the one side there is a need to minimise and neutralise the destabilisation of Ukraine but at the same time there is a need to raise the issue of Crimea which will again create new tensions.

Ukraine's security sector reform was intentionally overlooked especially during the last 4 years and despite the government's commitments to proceed with the reform, no progress was registered. The Russian-backed separatists movements in Ukraine have demonstrated that the security sector's main problem is an almost total loss of integrity and lack of proper infrastructure. As the conflict evolved, the EU appointed a CSDP Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine that will support the government in Kyiv to reform the security sector by the western model. However, the main demand from EU (and NATO) in Ukraine is to ask for new security guarantees. 

The endemic corruption and low institutional capacity is heavily influencing the rule of law in Ukraine. In recent years, an alleged consensus between opinion leaders and the experts is that the best option to reform the governance, fight corruption and build effective institutions is to "Europeanise" the country by adopting the model of the EU. The problem however is that it is not possible to fight corruption and build effective institutions with corrupted officials who follow rent-seeking interests.

Case 4: Yemen

Peacebuilding in Yemen started in 2011 as a regional and international response to the crises in the country. In 2010, large parts of the Yemeni population had lost the trust in the political and social legitimacy of the regime's governance. Following the onset of the Arab Spring, a non-violent movement was mobilized among the Yemeni youth. In early 2011 the capital Sana'a and other cities faced large- scale pro-democracy demonstrations. An international response was consolidated following the
growing instability in the region that had caused concerns about Yemen being exposed to extremist organizations such as al-Qaeda. International partners, including the EU, succeeded in persuading a myriad of the conflicting parties to enter talks. (Hassan 2014.) 

On March 2013, Yemen declared it was about to have a national dialogue bringing together all major factions in the country. The National Dialogue Conference (NDC) ended in January 2014 and its outcomes are supposed to be the means for forming a new social contract and a new Yemen. The rise of such large-scale, public National Dialogue processes evidences that behind-the-doors,  limited and elite-focused peace talks are falling short of expectations and needs on the ground. The proposed research will therefore critically assess to what extent the diplomatic efforts and dialogue mechanisms are engaging all stakeholders that are affected by the conflict, including those who have capacity to either impede or promote social change. The inclusion of women was welcomed by the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative (GCC) and NDC: "Yemen's  efforts to strengthen  women's participation in political and public life, including through measures to ensure at least 30 per cent women candidates for national legislative elections and elected councils" (UN Security Council). The role of the GCC initiative has been crucial in its efforts to initiate peaceful elections in February 2014. Between the years 2011-2014, EU's support in the peacebuilding efforts in Yemen has been pivotal and the case study will further look into the Yemen - EU partnership in the time spam of 2011-2014 with regard to the GCC initiative and the NDC. 

With regard to multi-track diplomacy, the spheres of politics have been accompanied by international support. Members of the UN Security Council visited Sana'a in January 2013 demonstrating the attention  the Security Council gave Yemen. According to the UN Security Council "the situation in Yemen constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region". Considering the importance of local ownership in guiding EU's multi-track diplomacy efforts, the UN Security Council further stressed the importance of a locally-led peaceful political transition in order to achieve meaningful reforms in the society as well as in the spheres of economics and politics as spelled out in the GCC Initiative and the NDC. 

The unified position of the international community towards Yemen has been one of the strongest guarantees  for a peaceful transition. For EU, the key political priority in Yemen is to support a peaceful transition process and good governance. With regard to Yemen's security sector reform, the research will look into the most recent EU support towards a comprehensive SSR plan. By integrating some parts of the SSR activities into the section on governance and multi-annual planning, the research will help ensure the long-term commitment of the government to its implementation.