“Resilience” – A new approach to EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding?


Defined by the EU as “the ability of states and societies to reform, thus withstanding and recovering from internal and external crises”, resilience has been gaining currency among policy-makers and practitioners dealing with conflict and peacebuilding. Yet the concept has invited various understandings, not all of them compatible, from various constituencies in the fields of security, development, humanitarian aid and others.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission have now launched a public consultation for a future joint communication that is supposed to translate the concept – one of five priorities of the EU’s Global Strategy – into concrete policy initiatives. In this context, CEPS held the third Peacebuilding Forum on March 16th under the EU-CIVCAP project financed by the Horizon 2020 programme. (The two previous forums, also held at CEPS, concerned post-conflict Syria and implementation of the Global Strategy.)  

Elisabeth Pape from the European Commission’s DG for Development outlined the process of consultation with NGOs, international organisations, member states and think tanks, followed by an overview of the future communication’s content by Tim Heath from the EEAS. Lembit Uido, Estonia’s ambassador to the Political and Security Committee, presented a more security-focused view of resilience that appears quite typical for member states, while Kathrin Schick, Director of VOICE, expressed a certain scepticism that the notion of resilience would really one day guide the EU’s action in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.