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Minutes of the Expert-Meeting on European Civil Peace Services

Brussels, 27 November 2000


General introduction

The Meeting on European Civil Peace Services was organised by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung in collaboration with the European Network for Civil Peace Services (EN.CPS) and the Brussels Representation of the Protestant Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland).

In the past months, the European Union expressed its will to involve civil aspects in the external interventions of the Union. Following the “Helsinki decision” a Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) will be set up, and the Commission is currently implementing a European Police Force. However, these aspects lack to integrate a real civilian dimension in the conflict prevention/resolution, and the only concrete measure proposed by one of the European Institutions, i.e. the European Parliament, is the call for a European Civil Peace Corps. Therefore it is now necessary for the peace services organisations to adopt a common policy at European level.

The objective of the meeting was to


discuss concretely the political dimension of the European Civil Peace Services and its financial aspects;


exchange experience between the different models of peace services;


reinforce the collaboration and the networking between the working partners;


sustain the development of the civil aspects of conflict prevention/resolution in the general context of foreign and security policy.

27 people attended the meeting, mostly from peace services organisations as well as from the European Institutions (Council, Commission, Parliament) and from other institutions active in peace-building and conflict management. Please see participants-list in annex for more details.


Welcome and presentation

Ms Sabine vVon Zanthier, from the Brussels office of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland welcomed the participants of the meeting. She was followed by Mr Frieder Wolf-Buchert, Director of the Brussels Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, who emphasised that this meeting is the first time that people who are active in civil peace services have the opportunity to meet and discuss with representatives of the European Union institutions. The main issue is, of course, the integration of a civilian part into the EU foreign policy. The representatives of the Institutions were present for different parts of the meeting, except Mr Ernst Gülcher, staff member of the Green group of the European Parliament, who attended the whole meeting.

Ms Helga Tempel, from the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst, presented the European Network of Civil Peace Services (EN.CPS). In short, it consists of several organisations of volunteers in the field of civil conflict prevention or resolution. The peace workers are professionals who usually work on the field. Ms Janne Poort-van Eeden explained the functioning of the EN.CPS by indicating that it is a loose network of presently twelve organisations. An important remark is that peace transformation and resolution consists of a whole range of levels, and Peace Services are only one of these elements.

A Civil Peace Service as promoted by the members of the EN.CPS is


a long term work (2 years or more);


made in partnership with the local population;


active at grassroots or medium level;


aimed at transforming reality as well as mentality, through reconciliation and understanding.

The work of the EN.CPS is still progressing. In Germany e.g., a proper structure exists since one year, on the basis of previous tradition of peace promotion organisations, which have been created decades ago and even before World War I for some of them. Rationalised in a network and carried out in collaboration with development organisation, the various EN.CPS initiatives are now mature for a dialogue at EU level with the competent persons or bodies in the respective institutions.


Presentationed of two concrete projects:

Peter Girke, Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst, Kosovo

Peter Girke is a peace activist of the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst and is working in PrizrinPrizren, Kosovo. After a 5-month training period, he will stay there for 2 years with another colleague in the framework of a peace service. Similar works are done in the whole Southeast European area (Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia) as part of a programme of the Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst and itsst member organisations.

In Dragash, a small locality near PrizrinPrizren, Albanian and Gorani people live together. However, the Gorani are accused by the Albanians of having collaborated with Serbs during the war. The Balkan-Peace-Team is working since one year on the creation of a youth centre for both communities. The aim is to provide people with a safe place to meet and discuss without the pressure of the members of their own community, which often threatens them to have contacts with the former “enemy”.

The other peace worker is organising workshops and training with local NGOs following the requests and needs of the latter.

Another project in PrizrinPrizren isn the exchange of young people with Northern Ireland, in three steps:


the visit of two Northern Irish people (one catholic and one protestant) to Kosovo;


A meeting in Macedonia with 10 Northern Irish people and 25 Kosovars, scheduled in December;


A common conference to be held in Northern Ireland.

Mr Girke expressed the very difficult conditions of work in Kosovo and the lack of visibility of the results of such actions, and thus the crucial need to inform the public about such initiatives.

Heike Kammer, Peace Brigades International, Chiapas (Mexico/Central America)

Holder of the Human rights prize of the City of Weimar, Heike Kammer has been working for years in Central America. She made clear that the roots of violence often are the injustice in terms of wealth, land property and food self-sufficiency. The actors of the conflicts in Central America, i.e. Chiapas, are the government, the military and the various para-military militias on the one side and peasants on the other. Thus it is of crucial importance for the population to know that there is an international presence and that through the Peace Brigades, the public opinion outside the region can be informed about the situation.

The tension in the Chiapas area is due to fact that the government has recruited militias among peasants, thus creating the violence between the local population. The work of the Peace Brigades is to organise meetings and workshops for a peaceful dialogue and a possible exchange of experiences between people. The action of the Brigades International is always undertaken in collaboration with the local population and in co-operation with the local NGOs.

Heike Kammer also worked as an election observer in the North of ChiapasMexico, in a region of potential conflicts. For most of the voters, it was the first time they came back to a region they had to flee from before. That freedom of vote was the direct result of an international presence and observance of the elections.

Ms Kammer expressed the wish for the political deciders in Europe to be more informed about thisese kind of peacekeeping actions in countries covered by EU development programmes. She also emphasised the need of a real legal status for the peace workers as well as the necessity to sustain financially peace professionals.



The debate following the presentation is not reported in a chronological way, but rather according to main points of discussion.

A Pro-active approach

It has been made clear during the meeting that the action of the civil peace workers has to focus not only on conflict resolution, but also on conflict prevention and ex-post work. The “reconstruction of the mind” is a fundamental aspect of the work of the civilians in conflict areas. A concrete example was made for the accession countries, where the situation of ethnic or cultural minorities could lead to local conflicts and where a preventiveon action cwould be necessary in the near future.

Such a pro-active process can only be made in partnership with the local population and local NGOs.

All participants of the meeting, including institutional ones, agreed on the need to associate conflict prevention/resolution with other ranges of activities such as development policy, humanitarian aid, poverty eradication and security policy (fight against crime and corruption). The collaboration between military and civil institutions still has to be defined and a special effort has to be put on the information on civil peace services in Europe. There is also a significant difference between the national traditions of peace services in the various EU member States.

Public-private partnership

In order to reach quality crisis management, local partners have to be involved in the work. As Mr Burgess (Council of the Ministers) noticed, the European Policy on defence and security is largely focused on military aspects. The civil aspect can only be developed through a better partnership with the civil society. Concretely, this means that firstly the civil society on the field has to be trained and sustained and secondly, intermediate staff has to be involved in the area for a better supervision of local action. In this respect, the structures at European level are literally non-existent.

The European Commission is currently drafting the White Paper on governance in the EU. In this context, NGOs will have a formal right of consultation. The capacity of consultancy will be linked with the competencey and legitimacy of the NGOs in their field of activity. Concerning the financing, the EU is mostly financing NGOs in the beneficiary countries. This is another reason to co-ordinate efficiently the work of the EU peace organisation with local organisations because the request for financing has to come from the field.

Concept-building – transparency

With the exception of the expression of “Civil Peace Corps” itself, very few concepts are developed on that issue. In general terms, as Mr Nemitz (Cabinet Nielson, Commission) said, there is lack of coherence at all levels: between the EU Institutions, within the various EU institutions, between the Member States and finally among the NGOs. Mr Gülcher proposed that a specific report at the European Parliament could deal with civilian aspects of conflicts and external interventions of the Union. Mr Wiersma, MEP, noticed that such a report is in the “project-pipeline” of the EP, but with no precise date scheduled yet. As a matter of fact, there is a very important institutional aspect on that issue since defence and foreign policy is part of the “2nd pillar” of the Union giving the European Parliament and the public at large far less rights in the decision shaping and decision making than in the first pillar. Finally, it is difficult for the time being to identify precisely who is responsible for the external interventions of the EU since several actors are involved: the Council of Ministers, the Presidency, Mr Solana, etc.

The participants have made the following proposals:


elaboration of the concept of Civil Peace Services;


development of peaceful civil instruments of conflict analysis and


a link between various instruments and actors such as civil peace professionals and humanitarian aid organisationspolice force.

The objective is to follow a bottom-up approach for concrete proposals and structures in the field of European civil peace services. This conceptual discussion should take place as soon as possible in order to adopt a coherent and transparent position at both political and civil level.


Conclusions and perspectives

The meeting of 27 November was the first time that professionals involved in peace services had the opportunity to meet representatives of the European Union institutions (Council, Parliament, Commission) and explain their point of view and expectations in the more general context of the external interventions of the Union. The creation of the network and the work in collaboration with development organisations make now the civil peace services mature for a dialogue at EU level, especially since the concept of European Civil Peace Services has been mentioned in several official texts in the past months. Moreover, from 1 January 2001, the European Peace Liaison Office (EPLO) will be opened in Brussels with the aim of promoting and co-ordinating the civil aspects of conflict prevention and resolution.

The members of the EN.CPS are aware that they still need to define concrete proposals to the European Institutions in terms of capacity and mission statements. However, the EN.CPS is convinced that it constitutes already a profound professional basis for a European Civil Peace Service to be developed in the future. For example, the large part dedicated to the civil aspects of the European external interventions in the Lalumière  report shows that this dimension is taken into consideration at theoretical level, but that there is a lack of integration at practical level. An alternative to that situation could be the writing of a separate report dedicated strictly to civilian activities in conflicts and to integrate the Civil Peace Services within the concept of Peace Corps initially suggested by the European Parliament.

All participants of the meeting agreed on the need for further information and discussion in the near future for a better co-operation. This could be done in different ways:


Round Table: such a discussion has to take place in order to clarify the concept of European civil peace services and adopt a common approach towards the European institutions;


Exchange of information: a common information system should be implemented with a short description, activities, name and full address of the organisations;


EPLO should be a common interlocutor and actor at EU level in the future and Heike Schneider (designated EPLO-director) is ready to organise discussions and meeting on specific issues;


The European Commission is waiting for proposals from the NGOs.




Ms Janne Poort-van Eeden, co-ordinator of the EN.CPS (j.poortvaneeden@chello.nl)


 Ms Helga Tempel and Mr Tilman Evers, Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e.V
(TempelAbg@aol.com; tilman.evers@online.de)


Ms Heike Schneider, designated Director of EPLO, Brussels


ANNEX : Participation-list




Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Brussels


Secretariat of the Council of the Ministers, EU Policy Unit

DAVIS, Laura

European Centre for Common Ground


European Commission, Cabinet Schreyer

EVERS, Tilman

Forum Ziviler Friedensdienste

GINET, Bertrand

Conflict Prevention Network

GIRKE, Peter

Forum Ziviler Friedensdienste

GOURLAY, Catriona

ISIS Europe


Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Brussels


Green group of the European Parliament

HILLS, Kirsten

Quaker Council foe European Affairs


Peace Brigades International

KLEE, Mario

Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Brussels

KRAMER, Gudrun

Austrian Peace Service/
Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution

LAI, Michela


LUZI, Stefan

Gruppe Schweiz ohne Armee


International Alert


Member of the German Bundestag, Greens/B90


European Commission, Cabinet Nielsen


European Network for Civil Peace Services

ROPERS, Norbert

Berghof Research Center


European Peace Building Liaison Office


Dienste in Übersee, Konsortium ZFD


Civilian Peace Services, the Netherlands


Forum Ziviler Friedensdienste


Member of the European Parliament, PSE


Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Brussels




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