Day: June 25, 2012

Towards reconciliation

Here I am still at the OSCE’s Security Days, which in its third session is turning towards the question of reconciliation, “addressing the protracted conflicts and revitalizing dialogue.”

Janez Lenarčič, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions (ODIHR) opens suggesting that it is obvious OSCE needs to move in this direction, since anything else raises risks of reigniting conflicts.

Erwan Fouéré, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the Transdniestrian Settlement Process:

  1. We need to devote more attention to learning from other experiences.  South Africa offers many lessons about the need to negotiate with your enemies and the role of women.  The Northern Ireland process illustrates the need for patience and partnerhsip.
  2. The vital ingredient for success is trust between the sides.  This is only achieved through dialogue.  This is the prerequisite for taking risk and compromising.
  3. Peace implementation is as important as peace negotiation.  Irreversibility should not be taken for granted.  Much work still needed in Northern Ireland and Macedonia.
  4. A peace process requires reconciliation.  It is difficult to build this into the settlement.  South Africa is a good example.  Northern Ireland still has a long way to go.  Reconciliation cannot be imposed but needs to come from the region:  Rekom, for example, in former Yugoslavia.
  5. It is vital to involve civil society.  The earlier civil society is involved, the more likely a peace process will result in reconciliation.

Kai Eide, former UN Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), underlines the gap between the deep level of engagement in Afghanistan and the little understanding of the situation.  Confidence building measures (CBMs) have not yet convinced the parties that talk is better than fight.  We need to look at time-limited, space-limited ceasefires.  OSCE has the kind of experience with CBMs that is needed in Afghanistan.  The conflict has deepened fissures in Afghan society–internationals need to pay attention to this.  There are too many actors trying to get a negotiation process started.  The internationals should not try to impose a solution.  The Afghans need to deal with each other on issues like decentralization and division.  Eventually there will have to be reintegration of former fighters.  That requires confidence in the settlement.  Does the OSCE have relevant experience?  There are two other issues:  political reform and accountability for past behavior.  Does the OSCE have experience in these areas?  Even within its own area, does the OSCE complete the job?

Aleksandr Nikitin, Director for Euro-atlantic Security at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, notes the relatively small financial and manpower contributions of Russia to UN peacekeeping operations, which is inconsistent with Putin’s global power ambitions.  The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CTSO) is one of the answers.  It is the West that expanded the UN mandate in Libya to regime change.

CTSO can provide interoperable and jointly trained forces.  This follows the precedent of the EU Combined Joint Task Forces.  Russia has contributed to a number of peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Moldova, Abkhazia, Ossetia, Tajikistan, and elsewhere.  CIS has delegated authority in some of these operations; impartiality has not been observed at all stages.  Peace enforcement has sometimes been involved.

NATO-Russia Council mechanism has not worked well.  The international community needs crisi response forces.  NATO has 20,000.  The EU has 1500.  CSTO has 15,000, plus another 1500 peacekeepers.  NATO and CSTO forces should exercise together and develop interoperability.  There is a need for a coordination council of international organizations:  NATO, CSTO and OSCE.

Jonathan Sisson, a former adviser to the Swiss Foreign Ministry for the Balkans and Caucusus, underlines the importance of the human rights legacy of protracted armed conflict.  Most victims suffer long term health and social welfare impacts, they live in close proximity to perpetrators, the state is often corrupt and weak, there are parallel power structures with links to organized crime, a culture of violence and militarism prevails.  Realizing the rights of victims and ensuring accountability are vital pieces of reconciliation.

Dealing with the past is a prerequisite for reconcilation. The guiding principles (“Joinet/Orentlicher”) are

  • The right to know
  • The right to justice
  • The right to reparations
  • Guarantees of non-reccurrence

Reconciliation is a process of conflict transformation.  Dialogue should focus on acknowledging and addressing past absues, developing a shared vision, building a new basis for social identity, transforming oppressive structures and ideologies, and creating conditions for behavioral and attitudinal change.

There is a need to focus on the paradoxes of reconciliation:

  • recognition of pain and articulation of a common future;
  • concerns for exposing what happened and for letting go in favor of a renewed relationship;
  • redressing wrongs balanced against the need for stability of the status quo;
  • the burden of reconciliation is placed on the shoulders of victims.

The Turkish ambassador appeals for more attention to conflict resolution, which requires political will.  The OSCE can help to trigger political will by creating long-term perspectives for the countries of the region.  Regional actors need to initiate the reconciliation process.  OSCE can contribute in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan cannot be OSCE’s raison d’être.

A Georgian expert wonders whether there is really a need for reconciliation.  The local people don’t feel much need for it.  The conflict had little to do with their needs.  Settlement is required before reconciliation. The Armenian representative suggests briefings on conflict resolution and reconciliation in cases not under OSCE auspices.  It is important to understand that human rights, especially non-discrimination and freedom of expression, are a prerequisite to reconciliation.  Which reparations, collective or individual, are most effective?

The chair offers a Twitter/Facebook question:  is reconciliation a grass roots affair, or is it between states?  The Croatian ambassador doubts whether the new generation of leaders will be interested in reconciliation in former Yugoslavia.  A Greek representative asks about what instruments the OSCE can offer by way of mediation support.

Sisson underlines the difference between post-conflict reconciliation and reconciliation attempted before a conflict settlement.  But there are things that can be addressed before settlement:  documentation and missing persons, for example. Reparations should be on the table from the first, even if it is not decided until after settlement.  Witness protection is a vital component of ensuring the right to know, which also involves access to information in the state’s files.  Collective reparations can be problematic because victims may not accept them as as a benefit.  Both top-down and bottom-up efforts are needed.

Nikitin suggests international organizations may be satisfied with freezing conflict.  Reconciliation is not always or immediately necessary.  There may be a postponed solution.  In Afghanistan half the population is under 15, so methods for reconciliation may have to be different.  There is no need for reconciliation yet between Russia and Georgia.  Reconciliation is a broader issue than between warring parties:  we are still doing it for the Cold War.

Kai Eide notes that reconciliation is hard in a situation like Kosovo where there were no institutions at the end of the war.  Likewise in Afghanistan, where there are no functioning legal institutions.  This cements a situation that makes it hard to undertake reconciliation, which is necessarily both top-down and bottom-up.  Facilitation is a better concept than mediation.

Fouéré underlines that reconciliation efforts are difficult and may have only limited impacts, but they are still necessary.  In the Balkans there is an enormous amount of work still to be done, but the effort has to come from the region.

Lenarcic in closing underlines the importance of trust, ownership and inclusiveness (women and civil society) as prerequisites for reconciliation.  Truth, justice and forgiveness (not revenge) are essential to successful reconciliation.  If the international community wants to contribute it needs to be knowledgeable and have the confidence of the parties to the conflict.

I am not going to post on the fourth session, which is when I will present.  My contribution has  been posted below.



Tags :

Reconciliation: a new vision for OSCE?

I am speaking at the OSCE “Security Days” today in Vienna on a panel devoted to this topic.  Here is what I plan to say, more or less:

Reconciliation is hard.  Do I want to be reconciled to someone who has done me harm?  I may want an apology, compensation, an eye for an eye, but why would I want to be reconciled to something I regard as wrong, harmful, and even evil?

At the personal level, I may be able to escape the need for reconciliation.  I can harbor continuing resentment, emigrate, join a veterans’ organization and continue to dislike my enemy.  I can hope that my enemy is prosecuted for his crimes and is sent away for a long time.  I don’t really have to accept his behavior.  Many don’t.

But at the societal level lack of reconciliation has consequences.  It is a formula for more violence.  We remain trapped in the inner circle of this classic diagram, in a cycle of violence.  Victims, feeling loss and desire for revenge, end up attacking those they believe to be perpetrators, who eventually react with violence:

What takes us out of the cycle of violence and retaliation?  The critical step is acknowledging wrong doing, a step full of risk for perpetrators and meaning for victims.  But once wrong doing is acknowledged, victims can begin to accept loss, manage anger and confront fears.  This initiates a virtuous cycle of mutual understanding, re-engagement, admission of guilt, steps toward justice and writing a common history.

What has all this got to do with OSCE?  Some OSCE countries are still stuck in the inner cycle of violence, despite dialogue focused on practical confidence-building measures that moves the parties closer.  But the vital step of acknowledging wrong has either been skipped entirely or given short shrift.  Conflict management is a core OSCE function.  The job will not be complete until OSCE re-discovers its role in reconciliation.

I know the Balkans best.  We aren’t past the step of acknowledging wrongdoing in Bosnia and Kosovo.  Even Greece and Macedonia are trapped in a cycle that could become violent.  The situation is less than fully reconciled in Turkey, the Caucasus, Moldova and I imagine other places I know less well.  Is there a good example of Balkans reconciliation?  The best I know is Montenegro’s apology to Croatia for shelling Dubrovnik.  That allowed them to build the positive relationship they have today.

Should reconciliation be a new OSCE vision?  Its leadership and member states will decide, but here are questions I would ask if I were considering the proposition:

  1. How pervasive is the need for reconciliation in the OSCE?
  2. Would it make a real difference if reconciliation could be established as a norm?
  3. If it did become a new norm, how would we know when it is achieved?
  4. What would we do differently from what we do today?

I was in Kosovo earlier this month.  There is little sign there of reconciliation:  it is difficult for Belgrade and Pristina to talk with each other, they have reached agreements under pressure that are largely unimplemented, OSCE and other international organizations maintain operations there because of the risk of violence.  There is little acknowledgement of wrong doing.  The memorials are all one-sided:  I drove past many well-marked KLA graveyards.  We have definitely not reached the outer circle yet.

Would it make a difference if there were acknowledgement of wrong doing?  Yes, it would.  It would have to be mutual, since a good deal of harm has been done on both sides, even if the magnitude of the harm differs.  Self-sustaining security in Kosovo will not be possible until that step has been taken.  I would say the same thing about Bosnia, Kyrgystan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Turkey and Armenia.  Your North African partners might benefit from focus on reconciliation.

Dialogue is good.  Reconciliation is better.  Maybe OSCE should take the next difficult but logical step.


Tags : , , , ,

More shaping a security community

In a second session at the OSCE Security Days devoted to “Shaping a Security Community,” moderator Adam Kobieracki, Director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre, opens with the comment that OSCE is not in crisis but needs to adapt to the new security environment and establish or develop appropriate security institutions.

Steven Pifer, Director of the Brookings Arms Control Initiative and Senior Advisor at CSIS, notes the absence of Russia from the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE).  Has the treaty in fact served its purposes?  Is there any need for new limits?  The real issue is subregions within the OSCE.  It might be best to develop a general set of rules for subregions.  Do you want limits on forces or transparency and confidence building measures?  If there are to be limits, what should they be on?  Tanks are far less important than the past.  Unmanned aerial vehicles and surface to surface missiles are much important.  So too are offensive capabilities.  How do you deal with forces on the territory of states that do not want them there?  This is not really an arms control issue.  It is going to be hard to get traction on conventional arms control with political leaders in the OSCE area.

Adam Rotfeld, Co-chair of the Polish-Russian Working Group on Difficult Matters of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, notes that Europe has rarely been so free of threats, but there are still problems of trust and confidence.  Fiscal problems are the big ones.  Security issues are now not between states but within.  OSCE initially helped to stabilize existing states.  Then in the 1980s it managed to play a strong role in reducing armaments.  Then it focused on conflict management.  What is the new stage?  What is needed is mutually assured stability.

General Vincenzo Comporini of the Italian Institute for International Affairs underlines growing global complexity.  Growing populations, better health care, improved education and political awareness are challenging regimes that had appeared stable.  Cheap availability of weapons is a complicating factor.  First step should be analysis, including a clearinghouse for open intelligence.  This intelligence should be shared in open dialogue with the states that are under challenge.  This may appear utopian, but no more so than earlier OSCE goals.

Daniel Mockli, head of strategic trends analysis at the Center for Security Studies, notes fatigue with military intervention and looks forward to softer approaches.  OSCE should focus on what it can really do.  A security community may be too difficult.  But there is a need for adaptation and for cooperative security efforts.  OSCE should be about managing diversity, reassurance, engagement.  There is a culture of dialogue, transparency and mutual learning that should guide the OSCE.  Conventional arms control has crumbled.  The political climate has deteriorated, threats have shifted to non-European sources, protracted conflicts have damaged the arms control regime.  The goal should not be a new legal framework but rather a more political approach.  Can we come up with a status neutral regime?  No new regime will emerge overnight.  Both limitations and transparency will be needed.  We may be too confident about living in stability.  There is still a need for predictability and mutual trust, which is what the OSCE should be about.  The way forward is to manage protracted conflicts in a way that reduces their impact within the OSCE.

The Turkish ambassador underlines that security is indivisible.  The protracted conflicts should not be separated out.  Limitations, transparency and information exchange, as in the original CFE treaty, should continue to go together in future arrangements.  The heart of the matter is deficit of confidence and trust.  That is what we need to boost, so as to ensure predictability.

A Russian participant notes the need for impetus to generate political will.  The negotiation process itself is an important part of the picture.  The ongoing dialogue is itself valuable.  We need to return to a culture of political-military dialogue.  The Dutch ambassador suggests any OSCE member who wants be involved in new talks on conventional arms control.  Focus should be on confidence-building.  Protracted conflicts play an important role; we need to find a formula to handle them.

Mockli suggests the problem is not political will but political fragmentation. It is important to start a process even if the outcome is uncertain.  OSCE has a unique toolbox for democratization issues that should be applied to the Arab awakening, but also inside the OSCE region.  Camporini underlines that security is a real issue in the Mediterranean because of the Arab awakening.  Syria is increasing tensions within the OSCE, which needs to pay attention to that crisis and offer itself as a model. 

Rotfeld suggests OSCE is vulnerable because of renewed geopolitical bipolarity.  But it is values that are important in the Arab awakening.  Nongovernmental institutions are playing a key role today, especially in confronting unconventional risks.  Government institutions are less relevant.  The OSCE area is heterogeneous; security is not the same throughout.  It is divisible and we need to be prepared to recognize that.  Flexibility is key.  There is no single recipe for building confidence.  Pifer reiterates need for focus on subregions and need for first focus to be on confidence-building measures and transparency.  Missile defense is a strategic offensive balance issue, but it won’t be decisive for ten years or more.  He questions whether the Russian justification of its nuclear forces on the basis of the conventional imbalance is really sensible.


Tags :

Shaping a security community

István Gyarmati (Professor and President of the Center for Democracy Public Foundation in Budapest) opens the first panel session of the OSCE Security Days conference noting the increasing division between East and West but also underlines that there is less substance in trans-Atlantic relations.  OSCE has been important in putting forward a broad concept of security, now including transnational threats.  There are increasing challenges to democracy even in Europe.  Francis Fukuyama notes that the crisis of democracy is due in part to shrinkage of the middle class.

Heather Conley of CSIS asks how the OSCE can be effective.  The OSCE needs to be on the side of the global political awakening.  She offers a SLOT analysis:

  • Strengths:  The OSCE has institutions concerned with conflict prevention and resolution, press freedom and minorities that are well-adapted to the current situation.
  • Limitations:  The OSCE is too widely spread.  Needs to focus to excel.  The economic dimension is not strong.  Is the political military dimension strong, or should it yield to other organization?
  • Opportunities:  OSCE can help with democratization, especially in free and tolerant media.  Combating discrimination and promoting tolerance will be important even within Europe.
  • Threats:  There is a sense of drift, lack of political will, dispersion of effort, need for consensus.

Here are things the OSCE can do:

  1. Promoting tolerance and non-discrimination in an era of social media and economic crisis.
  2. Exploring freedom of the media.  OSCE may not be the best vehicle for cybersecurity.
  3. Strengthening civil society, with a focus on European youth, who are alienated.
  4. Resolving conflict.  OSCE needs to make sure it is not part of the problem, and distinct from the UN and EU.
  5. Monitoring mission.  But how does it differentiate itself?
  6. Strengthening linkage to Mediterranean partners.  But beware of distraction from primary goals.

Igor Yurgens, Director of the Institut Sovremenogo Razvitiya, opens underlining that we are living in an unusally safe world.  OSCE is not much of a player on security or economy.  It should beef up on economic issues.  It is already important to democracy and human rights, which is where it should concentrate its efforts.  Frozen conflicts are a major issue, because that is where trust is lost (trans-Dniester, Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia).  There is no substitute for civil society engagement.  He worked for 15 years on reconciliation with Latvia, engaging civil society and business.  This is the kind of effort that is needed:  nongovernmental organizations, experts and business can do more than diplomats.  OSCE should create a “network of the willing.”

Professor Alyson Bailes of the University of Iceland focuses on transnational non-military threats.  Common exposure to these threats does not necessarily mean common experience.  Economic instability, terrorists, cyberthreats, natural disasters vary a good deal across the OSCE.  Not everyone has security forces that they trust, or security forces from neighbor countries that they would trust.  Nor is political will necessarily there to respond to other countries’ problems.  The legal basis may be lacking, even within the European Union.  The OSCE cannot fix all this.  It has limits to its funding, limits to its expertise, and limits to its legal authority. The problems often extend beyond the OSCE area or strike only a part of the OSCE area.  Other organizations may be more appropriate.

What can OSCE do?  Analysis, development of norms, a clearing house for expertise.  OSCE is a relatively privileged area that can set a good model.

A Georgia representative  underlines OSCE’s weakness in the security dimension.  Inviolability of borders and respect for human rights were the pillars of the Helsinki agreement.  The former is obviously a problem for Georgia, 20% of whose territory is occupied by another power.  OSCE as an organization is still strong on human rights, but not all member states welcome that focus.  Are transnational threats attracting attention because they are easier to deal with than the human rights issues that remain important in some OSCE member states?

Ukrainian representative from an institute for research puts emphasis on OSCE values and civil society engagement.  The Polish ambassador to the OSCE  notes there is pressure on all multilateral institutions, which are having difficulty meeting challenges like youth unemployment.  Core contributions of the OSCE have been conceptual innovations in response to new challenges, including engagement of civil society.  Gyarmati notes a tweet that identifies OSCE’s search for easy transational issues as a mistake.  The U.S. amabassdor underlines the OSCE role in promoting security transparency and confidence, including confidence building measures in the cybersecurity area.

The Canadian ambassador says three quarters of the OSCE iceberg is in the field, Warsaw and The Hague.  Vienna is a hub for expertise on convential arms control.  Shouldn’t we underline the early warning and mediation functions outside Vienna?  The French ambassador underlines that OSCE does not exist in isolation and needs to coordinate with other organizations.  Shaping the security environment is a goal that extends beyond the OSCE.  A German foreign ministry official, noting the safer security environment, asks how OSCE can preserve and improve it.  OSCE has competitive advantage in arms control and disarmament.  In cybersecurity, OSCE can develop confidence building measures.  The Turkish ambassador underlines the value added of a comprehensive security approach that unites East and West.

Conley emphasizes networks in civil society and business.  Yurgens welcomes the idea of OSCE accrediting civil society and thinktanks so that they can be heard by their governments. OSCE should also welcome the professional peacekeeping capacity of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).   Bailes recognizes the importance of resolving the basic security issues but also thinks it is possible to sometimes focus on “easier” issues.  CSTO should be heard at OSCE.

Tags :

What good is the OSCE?

I’m at the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s “Security Days” conference in Vienna (Austria, not Virginia) today.  This is an effort to open up discussion of OSCE’s future to broader than the usual governmental participation.  OSCE’s origins are in the Helsinki agreement of 1975, which at the time represented an important breach in what we termed then the Iron Curtain.  I’ll speak later in the day on reconciliation as a possible new vision for the organization, which is feeling a bit lacking in this department 24 years after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Ambassador Eoin O’Leary, representing the current chair of the OSCE, opens with emphasis on unresolved security problems and new challenges like terrorism and organized crime, which have to be resolved in an atmosphere of financial stringency.  He is doubtful an overall vision is what is needed.  OSCE needs to solve concrete problems, as it did in Kosovo recently by arranging voting by Serbs in the presidential elections.  Consensus is not always the right way to go–it leads to the lowest common denominator.

Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, now president of the Foreign Policy and United Nations Association of Austria, underlines the financial crisis, which has relegated security concerns to secondary priority.  There is a need to understand the added value of our security organizations.  The big problem is lack of trust.  There is the re-emergence of separate security communities in the West and the East.  The need is to focus on what unites, not divides.  There are both traditional and new, trans-national challenges.  He emphasizes the role of robots, which make it easier to start conflicts and harder to end them.

We need a bridge to future world governance, built on regional structures.  The OSCE is a natural for building trust in the Euro-atlantic space.  It needs a roadmap to 2015, when OSCE will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Helsinki.  He suggests in particular a code of conduct for state behavior in cyberspace.  He also emphasizes the importance of adapting conventional arms control to 21st century requirements.  Frozen conflicts are a big obstacle to progress in the OSCE area:  trans-Dniester is on the way to resolution, but Nagorno-Karabakh remains a problem, as does Georgia, where the OSCE mission should be deployed in the whole territory.

OSCE has done well to appoint three women as heads of mission this year.  It needs to keep its focus on pluralism and conflict resolution.  Religion is exploited in many situations where the underlying issues are really not religious.  Religion can also have a positive influence.  OSCE can play a positive role in North Africa and Afghanistan.  Mongolia is interested in joining.  Should there be an Asian Pacific version of Helsinki?

The 150 million euros that the OSCE costs represent a minimal expense.  It has lost one third of its budget during the last decade.  There is no good reason to continue in this direction:  OSCE can and should add far more value than its expenses.

That’s the end of the opening session.  Next up:  Shaping a Security Community:  Thematic and Geographic Issues Within a Comprehensive Security Agenda (where do they get so many words?).


Tags :