GEC/CARC Thematic Research Programme on The European Union in Crisis Management: Mediation Capabilities
Research on the European Union’s role as a meditator is nascent. It predominantly focuses on case studies or is cursorily embedded within wider studies of the role of the European Union (EU) as a crisis manager. Moreover, there is a significant disconnect between the established studies on conflict mediation (based in Conflict Studies) and the EU’s foreign and security policy (based in Security Studies). Therefore, while the EU often uses the language of meditation as a key component of its external commitments to political dialogue, there is a dearth of systematic engagement on the issue of EU mediation.
This thematic project seeks to bring together the wider corpus of understanding on mediation as an initial step to the study of the EU’s developing role as mediator as a component of its wider foreign and security policy. The thematic project will allow for a conversation between scholarship seeking to understand mediation and mediation processes, together with those seeking to account for emergent external relations actions conducted by the EU. While advancements in mediation research suggests that there are certain determinants of conflict mediation, and highlight key features that support and impede actors during conflict, this has not been systematically applied to the EU. Consequently, a key task of this project is to establish conceptual clarity and develop theoretical sophistication on the EU’s mediation roles.
The gap in this area provides a significant opportunity for developing a research agenda that connects established understandings of mediation as found in the conflict management literature, with the increasingly role of the EU in crisis management. With expertise in EU external relations and crisis management in GEC, and well-established research strength within conflict studies and mediation within CARC, the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) is ideally placed to undertake this innovative research agenda. The core aim of this agenda is to ‘unpack’ the role of the EU as a crisis manager. Importantly, we seek to develop (a) clear conceptualization(s) of what the EU considers conflict mediation, and how this process fits into the broader tool-box of conflict management initiatives. In order to do this, we will critical engage with:
- Instruments that purportedly support the EU’s mediation agenda.
- Actors including, policymakers, practitioners and external third parties, to determine the various narratives of ‘mediation’ that influence the EU’s crisis management framework.
- How the EU considers mediation in terms of timings (e.g. conflict phase) and outcomes (e.g. prevention, management, resolution) and actors.
In addressing instruments and actors, this research agenda is able to establish the EU’s comparative advantage or added-value in crisis management if any, and uncover the gaps in EU conceptualization and practice of crisis management in order to inform peace policy. Beyond the policy applications, this research agenda will enable the development of a rigorous theory of EU’s role in international crisis management by assessing how various narratives of mediation within EU’s foreign and security architecture translate into conventional studies of conflict resolution. Drawing on the expertise at Kent, this cutting-edge research agenda will help to clarify and shape the EU’s understanding of, and role within, international mediation, and crisis management more broadly.