Blogging on Issues of International and European Security

Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), Ethics and Moral Values – commentary

ISIS Europe was invited on 7th July 2011 to a seminar on ethics and moral values in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), which was jointly organised in the Berlaymont building of the European Commission in Brussels by the French Institute for Higher International Studies (IHEDN), THALES and the European Commission. You can find the link to the programme of the seminar here.

This blog highlights some of the presentations and discussion. Ms Veronica Cody, Head of Unit, Horizontal Issues, Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) in the EEAS, who replaced Pierre Vimont, Executive Secretary General, EEAS, presented the legal basis that Articles 2, 21 and 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provide for the implementation of a value and ethics based approach towards the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Cody mentioned a number of other texts that have to be considered as part of this legal basis, such as: universal values other than EU norms; customary international law; agreements by Member States and the EU; and the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, which became legally binding with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Of particular interest were Cody’s remarks on a recent decision by Member States to use for pre-deployment training three training packages – on human rights, gender and the rights of the child – that are currently being established at the EU-level on the basis of the first EU thematic lessons learnt report on CSDP missions in 2010. This is an important step towards enhancing coherence of training inside the Member States which are responsible for pre-deployment training of the personnel they second as staff in CSDP missions and operations.

According to the author of this blog, as a next step, the EU’s European Security and Defence College (ESDC) should be given a new mandate to enable it to play a stronger role in the coordination and implementation of EU-level training on ethical aspects of CSDP missions. Moreover, the use by Member States of common training modules that introduce EU-wide standards in these areas should be encouraged further.

Talking more from the point of view of the populations receiving CSDP mission in “host
countries” i.e. countries that CSDP missions are targeting and/or where they are based, ISIS Europe Executive Director, Giji Gya, promoted two rules of thumb for the EU and its Member States when discussing ethics in the context of CSDP. Firstly, any intervention should aim to do as little harm as possible to the local population. Secondly, any action under CSDP should enhance local ownership, be it in the framework of a non-executive police reform or other kind of civilian mission or in the context of a mission with an executive mandate such as the EU’s Rule of Law Mission in
Kosovo (EULEX). Such aspects of ethics –can be encompassed in nine normative principles of the EU (based on Ian Manners’ 2008 thesis[1]). These are: sustainable peace; freedom; democracy; human rights, rule-of law; equality; social solidarity; sustainable development and good governance.

Ms Gya further pointed out that the EU needs to reflect on both parliamentary and
civilian oversight and accountability of CSDP missions, as well as accountability for Codes of Conduct and Standards of Behavior to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse and gender based violence.  What is more, if the EU does not adhere to its own standards on human rights in the conduct of CSDP missions and operations, there is a strong risk that it loses its credibility as a (relatively) neutral actor in crisis management and other related external policy fields.

Orientating the moral debate towards how CSDP is received by local stakeholders, Ms Gya related the 9 normative principles of the EU to nine aspects related to the work of CSDP missions[2]. Firstly, EU’s efforts of promoting ‘deep democracy’ must relate to sustainable peace and local ownership. Secondly, EU Security Sector Reform (SSR) advice must adhere to good governance and ensure that all local stakeholders are
involved in design and implementation. Thirdly, we must avoid dehumanisation in conflict by enforcing the importance of womens’ roles and participation and combating impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence, to thus reach the principle of equality. Fourthly, we must be careful to avoid donor driven actions that compromise principles for the sake of donor visibility. Fifthly, it is essential to incorporate cultural aspects and gender perspectives to ensure the concepts of equality are implementable for the local stakeholders – for example, how do we sensitise our advice on justice reform. Sixth, consultation for local ownership, and definitions of human rights and security must be from a basis of consensual democracy, with adequate and constant local consultation
as well as asking local stakeholders how they define their needs for human rights, security and justice. Seventh, causal and contributing effects to conflict – such as the negative aspects of arms trade, and exploitation of natural resources must be addressed through strengthening international law and social solidarity. Eighth, the EU must investigate links of its policies to hindering factors such as the ethics of the international global economy, free versus fair trade and procurement for CSDP missions – to ascertain how are they affecting the principle of sustainable peace. Finally, to bring to recent events of the Arab Spring and response to Libya, the ethical aspect of militarisation of aid must be debated, as it puts both aid workers and local populations at risk. To conclude, Ms Gya noted that the EU needs to strengthen justice, rule-of-law and efforts for: dignity; freedom; democracy; truth and equality, to achieve a moral and ethical CSDP ad to reach sustainable peace. Coupled with this, we need transparent explanation of CSDP actions to parliaments, the public and above all to those on the ground we are aiming to help and do least harm.

In the general debate, the need for the EU to take into account the interests of the locals when designing, conducting and evaluating CSDP missions was repeated. At the same time, one of the participants stipulated that the EU should not be afraid to promote its own values in joint operations with other organisations or countries that have lower human rights standards. In addition to this, the EU should put more effort into implementing its ethics-related concepts and guidelines. One participant stressed that such transformation of values and standards into practical policy was also important for the military that is tasked with the implementation of CSDP, as the implementation of ethical standards and gender (based on UNSCR 1325 on women peace and security) is relevant strategically, operationally and in terms of force protection. Also of importance is strengthening education to implement values in CSDP and the EU needs to put more effort into this in its structures and invest in having constant and standardised education so that personnel and troops are primed on morals and ethics before having to make snap decisions in the field without time or recourse to referring to documentation.

While participants disagreed on the nature of the relationship that values and
interests should occupy in the EU’s foreign policies, including CSDP, there seemed to be general agreement that there is ever more questioning on the side of EU citizens, as well as European soldiers and personnel that are sent on missions, with regards to the reasons for their deployment. EU Member States should therefore provide their soldiers and personnel with sufficiently clear mandates that mention the political reasons for the intervention as well as consistent and continuous political backup from Brussels and Member States and leadership from Commanders and governments alike.


[1]Manners, Ian, “The
normative ethics of the European Union” International Affairs 84: 1 (2008). The Royal Institute of International
Affairs, UK. http://www.diis.dk/graphics/_Staff/ima/Ian%20Manners%20-%20The%20Normative%20Ethics%20of%20the%20EU%20-%20International%20Affairs%202008.pdf

[2] For more resources on CSDP
missions see www.csdpmap.eu

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