Center for Strategic Decision Research


Crisis Management: What Shall Be Done?

Mr. Espen Barth Eide
State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Norway

In trying to address the topic of "Crisis Management: NATO, EU, and the UN," one can focus either on "Who shall do it?" or "What shall be done?" Though some discussions start by looking at specific organizations and then arguing that a particular organization should do a particular thing, I will follow in the footsteps of my fellow panelists in the belief that we should first and foremost concentrate on "What shall be done?" and find out later who is going to do it.


General Naumann addressed, very adequately and very eloquently, the changing nature of crisis. I will add to his comments that, as the nature of crisis has changed, crisis management has changed with it. In my opinion, the main difference between Cold War crisis management and post-Cold War crisis management is that we have moved from a static to a dynamic perspective. During the Cold War, the best we could hope for was to maintain the status quo, so we focused on such things as containment, balance of power, and preventing escalation. Today's thinking, fortunately, focuses on such things as transition, integration, and enlargement, which are process-oriented approaches.

However, despite this change in approach, we still use some of the tools and mental maps that were created in the old period of static rather than dynamic peacekeeping. But I think the most recent peace operations or transitional peace operations have very much taken into account the concept of being open to change and the goal of managing change. Now we need to learn how to direct that change-how to achieve it without further violence or without any violence in the case of conflict prevention.

We also must determine how to prepare to hand governance back to the local authorities, or to local authorities we create. UNTAET, UNMIK and the UNMIK/KFOR duality, and UNTAES in Eastern Slavonia are prime examples of managed transitions. Each, however, went in a different direction. UNTAES brought parts of Croatia that had been run by a renegade Serb group back into Croatia. Of course, UNTAET is about bringing East Timor out of Indonesia. And the main problem facing UNMIK, the people administering Kosovo, is that, except for the obvious need for democracy and peace, they don't really know in which direction it is supposed to go.

In all three situations, however, we see the need for at least three on-site groups. We need the military, whose relative importance may have been reduced because of growth in other sectors, but it is as important as ever. We need the civilian sector. And, very importantly, we need the law-and-order sector, which is not only the police but the civilian police authority. This sector, of course, requires a judiciary system, a legal structure, and a correctional service, because there is not much use in having police if there is no judge to send delinquents to prison and no prison to put them in. Equally important is to begin early on how to prepare for the transition from international authority to local authority. In this regard, one of the many small successes within the slight chaos of Kosovo is the Kosovo Police School, which has been training a local police corps that can eventually police Kosovo and is gradually being integrated into activities that will be run by the United Nations for many years. So in this complex picture, military force is being applied to support political processes, which is very different from winning wars. That, of course, is a big challenge to generals and to security-policy decision makers.


I believe it is important to recognize the rather obvious fact that the region of the world that unifies the organizations we have just been speaking about is the Balkans. Indeed, the Balkans have become, over the last 10 years, the security laboratory of Europe. We have reached the 10-year anniversary of our attempts to deal with the Balkans crisis, the 10th anniversary of the Brioni Agreement, which was supposed to prove there was no longer a need for war in modern Europe because of the integrated approach that everyone shared. But we are still in the Balkans, and we are probably looking at the beginning of a fifth Balkans war in only 10 years. So there is still a way to go.

But it is important to remember that it was not the UN that rushed into the Balkans. The United Nations and UNPROFOR eventually became established there because the regional organizations in Europe were not ready or willing to take on the mission. However, involvement by the regional organizations has gradually been increasing, first and foremost by NATO, which came to the Balkans in '92 in a support role for UNPROFOR, sent in IFOR and SFOR from '95 onward, and then in '99 came to Kosovo. But the EU has also had the Balkans as a backdrop for its thinking about developments in Europe and how to create a crisis-management capacity.

So if we want to learn anything about the EU and NATO and the way they work together, we should just look at the Balkans. The Balkans are Europe's problem more than anyone else's. They are on Europe's frontier, which makes it understandable when our American friends ask, sometimes politely, sometimes less politely,"What are we doing there? It's your backyard," because indeed it is. The Balkans are Europe's responsibility, but fortunately the Americans share our belief that we have to do something about it, because the Balkans are not going to leave Europe. Our only choice is to influence the region by becoming an integrated part of Europe or to have the area become the Colombia of Europe. Both options remain open, and I know which I prefer.


If there is one thing we should learn, and, fortunately, in my view, we have learned it through our attempt to manage crises in the Balkans and elsewhere, it is that we need policy coherence, clear messages, and to avoid creating false expectations. In the initial run-up to the Slovenian crisis, and in particular the Croatian and Bosnian crises, one of the first things we did as an international community was to Balkanize ourselves. We quarreled about the right strategy to pursue: "Should we recognize new states or shouldn't we?" The jury is still out on what we should have done, but it is quite clear that the divergence of views was, in itself, unhelpful. This has been the case for many years. But I think that a lot of well-intended though uncoordinated attempts do little more than fuel local parties' perception of the world, so that one actor says, "Look, I've got friends in the West, and my friends in the West are stronger than your friends in the West (or in the international community)."

This is something we should avoid, and something that the current management of the Macedonian crisis appears to be avoiding. I believe the development of joint EU-NATO mediation and joint strategy has been extremely successful. I am not saying it will succeed in preventing war, but it has been successful, at least in presenting a clear international-community message to both the governments and the rebels in Macedonia. The message says: "The international community supports the Macedonian state construction; we support the political project; and we will clearly disregard any attempts to change that by force." Now we must avoid any deviation from that main line. So other organizations in Europe would do well to adapt to NATO and the EU's leadership in this regard. From my many years of involvement in the peace process, I know there is one thing that is certain: there are always people who are willing to support peace as long as it is their peace. The problem is, they don't like the peace of the other side, because their peace is just but the other side's peace is unjust. So if several suggestions are made as to what peace could entail, you would normally choose the one that is closest to your heart. A real settlement normally is not very popular with anyone but the peacemakers.


In my view, NATO has transformed itself quite successfully into a very different organization than it was in '92, when it began its engagement in the Balkans. Crisis management has come to the fore. Rapid learning has taken place, and NATO has moved from a very narrow interpretation of military mandates to a very broad interpretation of them. One interesting point is that a development within NATO's peace operations is clearly moving them in Europe's direction: all KFOR commanders have been European, the vast majority of troops have been European, and the operational concepts are arguably more European than American. Reaching this point has been smooth, and I have not seen much resistance to it.


I believe the EU is wrong to think about the ESDP/ESDI initiative as a question of 60,000 troops or not. This is an expression of a long-held European political ambition to become something more than a common market. Norway, despite being an outsider and a non-EU member, recognizes this as something that has come to stay, and something that we and other countries that are members of NATO but not members of the EU have to adapt to in a constructive way, together with our American friends. We think that this is the best we can do as non-members: try to avoid any unnecessary duplication of efforts and try to use the ESDP ambition to form a new platform for a sound and working transatlantic relationship. The U.S. critique of the ESDP is sound regarding capabilities, but sometimes misses the point that this is a political rather than a military ambition.

A military component may be added to the many other components the EU can control today if it so wishes: trade agreements, promises of future membership, economic aid, diplomatic efforts, and so on. As it becomes more of a political actor, it appears to want to have a military dimension too, but that does not mean that it intends to transform itself into a military actor.


I believe that everybody who likes the UN (and Norway is currently a member of the Security Council) should recognize that we will hardly ever see a new military peacekeeping operation run by the UN as such in Europe. I don't think there is much reason to be sad about that, because I think that Europe is precisely the region in the world that is now rich enough in institutions to run its own business and take care of its own problems. But it is very important that Europe do so with the UN as a higher guarantor of some general standards and in such a way that we do not decouple European states' interests from those represented in the UN. I think it is a good idea to at least have a formal backing by the UN and to put a UN person on top. I also see something much more positive when we talk about EU-NATO-UN relations in 2001 than what was apparent two or three years ago. Then, the question everybody asked was, "Who can do the job better than the UN?" The question now being asked is, "How can the UN do its job better?" That is an improvement, and I think we can all contribute to the answer, because none of us is good enough on our own. We must find a way to work together.



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