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Research Report

Prevention better than cure:: the EU’s quiet diplomacy in Asia

Guy Banim
Eva Pejsova
Bernt Berger
Jakob Bund
Matthieu Burnay
Marta Hermez
Stine Lehmann-Larsen
Ingrid Magnusson
Garima Mohan
Gareth Price
May-Britt Stumbaum
Plamen Tonchev
Anouk van den Akker
Copyright Date: May. 1, 2017
Pages: 72
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 3-6)
    Eva Pejsova

    Ever since the EU announced its willingness to play a more active security role in Asia (as proclaimed by the EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2014), apprehensions concerning its motivation and capacity to deliver on its promise have animated academic and policy debates on both ends of the Eurasian landmass.

    Most often, however, the debates tend to omit one fundamental question: what does it mean to be a ‘security actor’? The overwhelming perception is that such a role implies a degree of geographic proximity, sustained presence on the region’s strategic chessboard, and above all a...

  2. (pp. 7-20)
    Guy Banim and Eva Pejsova

    Since the end of the Cold War, preventive diplomacy has become something of a buzzword in international security circles, often interchangeably used with similar terminology of ‘conflict prevention’ or ‘structural peacebuilding’. Preventive diplomacy is here understood as comprising diplomatic and peaceful methods such as negotiation, enquiry, mediation and conciliation deployed to ‘ease tensions before they result in conflict or, if conflict breaks out, to act swiftly to contain it and resolve its underlying causes.’¹ Its most common manifestation is ‘found in the work of diplomatic envoys dispatched to crisis areas to encourage dialogue, compromise and the peaceful resolution of tensions.’²...

  3. (pp. 21-46)

    As demonstrated in the first section, concepts, tools, and political willingness to promote preventive diplomacy are not lacking on the EU side, at least not at the institutional level. The question is: does it work in practice? The study of several successful examples of preventive diplomacy intervention points out the crucial importance of context. The combination of a right time, right place and right actors often creates a unique momentum that ultimately enables a lasting crisis to be resolved. This was for instance the case of the settlement of the protracted conflict in Aceh in 2005. While the EU Monitoring...

  4. (pp. 47-64)

    Regardless of the degree of interest of an external actor in a specific crisis or conflict, the essential prerequisite for any successful preventive diplomacy intervention is the acceptance of the country or countries concerned. One of the core obstacles to the EU’s greater preventive diplomacy role in the region is the insistence on the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs, which is at the heart of Asia’s diplomatic culture, visible in all bilateral and multilateral interactions with and within the region. A case in point is presented here by Gareth Price, in his analysis of the conflict dynamics in South...