Recommendations for EU security policy based on peace building experience from countries formed by the disintegration of Yugoslavia
Introduction by Lana Vego and Gordan BosanacThe publication before you is a result of an attempt to collect and articulate basic (or so called grass root) experiences in peace building on the territory of the former Yugoslavia and to formulate and shape those experiences into recommendations for EU security policy.
Our primary standpoint is that, once the countries formed after the disintegration of Yugoslavia have become full members of the European Union, they will be the only member states with recent war past and with direct experience in peace building. This opens the possibility to “exploit” and use their war past through lessons learned, good or bad experiences, attempts and mistakes, in order to learn from our own experiences in peace building and to formulate this experience into contribution to security policy. Now, the countries formed after the disintegration of Yugoslavia are going through the process of accession to the European Union. This process is seen as moving mostly in one direction — candidate countries need to reform their legislation and political practices to fit the requirements of the European Union, which is a very important process that contributes to democratization and stabilization of the region. At the same time, candidate countries need to be aware of their potential to enrich the European Union by making their own contribution. In this sense, paradoxically, the negative experience of war becomes an opportunity to embed our direct peace building experiences into EU security policy, and thus work together toward conflict prevention. This publication represents a small attempt to make this one-way process a two-way one.
In our opinion, the notion of peace encompasses much more than the absence of armed conflict between two sides at war with each other, and the mere lowering of weapons in a conflict does not imply the beginning of peace, especially not sustainable peace. The notion of peace has a broad meaning which often causes wrong and contradictory interpretations. Peace building implies those processes which take place after the end of a violent conflict and include a wide array of activities, such as capacity building, establishing truce, and social transformation. This kind of peace building represents a phase that follows the end of an armed conflict. A somewhat broader peace building concept encompasses all the activities that lead to the end of a conflict, i.e. the restoration of peace, and than all the efforts to maintain that peace. Thus early warnings, prevention of violence, advocation, civic and military preservation of peace, military intervention and humanitarian aid are all considered to be peace building activities.
Besides stressing the broad meaning of the notion of peace building, it is also important to mention the changes in the very nature of conflict. Conflicts between two states — state against state - are very rare today, there is a far greater number of those conflicts that appear within the boundaries of a particular state and which have extremely destructive effect. Only after the end of the conflict in the sense of physical violence does the ‘real work’ begin: persistent and systematic efforts towards rebuilding completely (physically) destroyed communities and human relationships. In this context, peace building becomes a relatively new notion in which we have lately become actively engaged, not out of pure scientific curiosity, but, unfortunately, by direct experience of war. In the last several years, armed conflicts added a new dimension to the perception of terrorism as an occurrence to which military structures of a state react. While terrorism should primarily belong to the province of police intelligence, the use of military infrastructure has become a popular response to terrorist attacks. This has led to the loss of clear line dividing the responsibilities and jurisdictions of military, police and intelligence. This context imposes new forms of escalations of violence and of violating human rights, but that is in fact irrelevant for peace building itself, which, in the newly formed circumstances, still possesses the same old goals: working towards decreasing social injustice and towards transforming and solving conflicts. For this reason, peace building today is equally important to us as it was on the territory of the former Yugoslavia when the war began. Although the conflict in Yugoslavia was different from present day conflicts, still it may serve as an important source of valuable lessons in decreasing violence.
This publication places grass root experiences in peace building in the centre and uses those experiences to articulate recommendations for security policies. When we talk about grass root experiences, we talk about all the activities on the territory of the former Yugoslavia coming from an individual or an organized group of individuals in a war or post-war community that requires strengthening and reconstruction of its broken social relations. By that, we imply those activities that are not the result of a political decision or part of a broader peace building strategy composed by states from this region, nor do they belong to the attempts of international community to stop conflicts. The sources of these activities are individuals who are rarely experienced professionals; people caught in a bloody and extremely destructive conflict who felt a strong need to act and had courage and ideas enough to do it. These people and their experiences represent unrecognized and neglected capacity for local, regional and European security policies. We believe that those experiences hide a great potential to become part of global security policies, which is, in a way, a reason for putting together this publication. Experiences of people in devastated places throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Croatia could be the foundation upon which we would build any policy referring to the development of security, economic sustainability or any other aspect of human security.
This publication has two purposes. First — it serves as a document, the record of past peace building activities. In order to successfully incorporate those experiences into security policy, it is necessary to gather, document and articulate peace building activities in this region. Research and various round table discussions that were part of this project often revealed a certain lack of effort to gather and articulate those activities. Due to restrictions of space and time, it is impossible to cover all the valuable and important experiences, and we are highly aware of the inadequacy of this type of publication in that context. On the other hand, the unique value of this publication lies exactly in forming the enumerated experiences into recommendations for security policy, in activists’ discussions of the context of the European Union and of creation of Common Foreign and Security Policy in relation to the Balkans, in the ways of integrating peace building experiences into policies, in live debates developing at round tables, in critical thinking and in peace activism itself.
Lana Vego and Gordan Bosanac work for the Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) - a human rights and peace building NGO in Croatia established in the 1996 (during the post–war reconstruction of the divided communities) with the mission of promoting non-violence, human rights and social change through combining education, research and activism.
Download the Publication in English / Croatian (pdf, 138 pages, 1.02 MB)