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Regional integration

Networks for peace and security

by Christine Bigdon, Andrea von Rauch
Developments in the European Union and other regional organi­sations show that regional governance contributes to peace and security. InWEnt promotes cooperation networks to support regional integration. [ By Christine Bigdon and Andrea von Rauch ]

In absolute figures, the number of wars waged worldwide in the past ten years has decreased. In sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, however, there continues to be a disproportionately large number of crises and war-like clashes – from national ethno-political and classic international conflicts to terrorist attacks. These require cross-border solutions.

Regional governance has become more important throughout the world as an instrument of security policy. Regional integration communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America no longer consider themselves to be “economic communities” but increasingly see themselves as “security communities”.

Peace and security were also always key factors in European integration. However, despite fantastic conditions, it took decades for the security community to become institutionalised by stages. The EU is seen as a community of values; its democratic member states are looking for peaceful cooperation and democratic conflict resolution.

Today the EU is often portrayed as an organic, democratic security community, which proves that regional organisations are better equipped to prevent violent conflicts and to overcome existing ones.

Networks create trust

Regional cooperation structures promote peace and security – even without being geared specifically towards security issues. Regional governance paves the way for these structures, as is apparent with the European Union and other regional organisations. This process is often stimulated by the desire to distance oneself from the outside. Initial economic cooperation usually develops into cooperation in other areas too.

International relationships change through common interests and increasing trust towards one another. Thus security communities can emerge from regional ­alliances. In the EU, deliberate economic networking after World War II helped create mechanisms which largely supported the prevention and mitigation of bilateral conflicts within the EU. In Southern Africa, successful regional cooperation in transboundary water management is considered one reason why there have been hardly any conflicts over water there to date.

InWEnt supports regional integration processes via cooperative networks. Employees and institutions of regional organisations (secretariats) and representatives from the government agencies of member states, the private sector and civil society are involved in capacity building processes.

The example of Asia

The Association of South East Asian ­Nations (ASEAN) – the most important ­regional organisation in South East Asia which promotes economic integration and cooperation – is another example of how increased cooperation can contribute to security. When ten members joined ­together to form ASEAN in 1967, they wanted more economic, technological, ­social and cultural cooperation. A security dimension was only added in 1976.

Political systems, religious orientation and economic development of the member states vary greatly. Nevertheless, ASEAN has been very successful in contributing to cooperation and increased stability in Southeast Asia. The regional alliance established common principles with the ratification of the ASEAN Charter at the end of 2008.

On behalf of the German Foreign ­Office, InWEnt supports regional integration there through capacity building. Secretariat (ASEC) staff is provided with advanced training and prepared for effectively implementing the ASEAN Charter. Administrative structures are to be built systematically, structures of economic integration are to be strengthened and media and public relations work by the community of states is to be professionalised. In addition, InWEnt supports better networking with decision makers and civil society in the individual member states.

The example of Africa

The African Union (AU) was founded in 2002 and has since become the most important security institution on the continent. The peace and security architecture in Africa – which also includes the Peace and Security Council, a continental early warning system, and the African Rapid ­Response Force – is still based on the institutions within regional organisations.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was founded in 1975, transformed itself from an economic community into a political one. Since 1999, conflict prevention measures have been agreed on in various protocols. In addition to the ECOWAS-Standby-Force currently being established, the regional early warning system ECOWARN is leading the way in Africa.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which was originally set up in the Horn of Africa to deal with ecological issues, now also focuses on ­security issues. However, CEWARN, their regional Conflict Early Warning and ­Response Mechanism, is currently also concentrating on conflicts that result from cross-border pastoral nomadism.

On behalf of the German Development Ministry and in conjunction with other German organisations, InWEnt supports these two regional organisations in the further development of their early warning systems. Employees of the regional organisations and representatives from the member countries participate in advanced training and appropriate training courses are developed. Cooperation with civil so­ciety is a key factor.

Cooperation between InWEnt, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Ghana is useful for network building. The KAIPTC was founded in 2003 and since then has become one of the most important institutions for crisis prevention and peace ­research in West Africa. Every year, InWEnt and KAIPTC jointly run a five-week training course for employees of African ­governments and regional organisations and civil society representatives. Apart from new skills, this provides African institutions with the opportunity to exchange experiences.

Regional cooperation for peace and ­security only works through the networking and capacity building of different ­actors. Obai Taylor-Kamara, who works in the Office of the President in Sierra Leone, said after participating in an InWEnt training course: “We were able to converse with high-ranking academics and security ­experts from Germany and Ghana, which expanded my horizon tremendously.
I hope I can now use the initiatives for peace to contribute more effectively to lasting peace in my country.”