Held on 18-19 March 2019, near the end of the EUNPACK project, the Final Conference provided an opportunity to look back at three years of research and fieldwork and to consider the policy implications of the findings. The conference provided an opportunity for EUNPACK researchers to share insights and discuss findings with relevant policymakers, other scholars as well as representatives from civil society. Project co-ordinator Morten Bøås (NUPI) opened the event, presenting key findings from the three years of research.

The EU seeks a more prominent role in peace and security worldwide. One means is smaller-scale peace operations – three of which are in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali. Our research suggests that despite good intentions, results are mixed. These are five paradoxes that hinder greater impact on the ground.

The EU’s crisis response

Picture: Head of EU Advisory Mission Dr. Markus Ritter meets Deputy Governor of Anbar, Chief of Police, and other key officials in Anbar Province. Source: EEAS


From left to right, Ulf Sverdrup (Director of NUPI), Kari Osland (Senior Researcher and Head of Research Group on Peace, Conflict, and Development, NUPI), Ivan Krastev (Chairman at the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna), Pernille Rieker (Research Professor, NUPI), and Morten Bøås (Research Professor at NUPI and Project Leader of EUNPACK). Photograph: NUPI


On 20 November, members of our EUNPACK team visited the EU Training Mission’s (EUTM) headquarters in Bamako for a second time. Here we met with Brigadier General Peter Mirow, newly appointed Mission Force Commander for the EUTM, as well as political advisor Marlène Dupouy and the executive officer (XO) of the headquarters. While we in the first visit in 2017 gathered data, this time around we presented some of the key findings from the project.

This year’s Belgrade Security Forum started on 17 October with a full day of debates organised as part of the Horizon 2020 ‘EUNPACK’ project. The BSF, in its eight edition, is the leading international affairs conference in the Western Balkans and was attended by hundreds of policymakers, diplomats, businesspeople, civil society representatives and academics from more than 30 countries.

On 23-24 October 2018, researchers from the EUNPACK project attended the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) Forum 2018: ‘Visions for Stabilizing the Middle East’ in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.   EUNPACK co-hosted a panel titled ‘EU in the Middle East: Responsive State-building to Prevent Violent Extremism’. The panel consisted of chair Morten Bøås (NUPI), Kamaran Palani Mohammed (MERI), Tine Gade (NUPI), Steven Blockmans (CEPS), and Roman Blecua (EU Ambassador to Iraq).

It is with much sadness that we received the news that our friend and colleague Ambroise Dakouo was killed in a traffic accident  this morning near the town of Segou in Mali. Ambroise had contributed greatly to our EUNPACK project and we had come to know him as a very professional, dedicated and talented researcher. His untimely death is clearly a loss to us all. Or thoughts in this difficult period goes to Ambroise's family and loved ones.

Picture: one of the demonstrations in 2011 that toppled the Gaddafi regime. Source: Wikipedia


The situation in Syria is desperate, while the diplomacy surrounding it is getting more tangled by the day. Is there a role for the European Union in the quest for a settlement to the Syrian war, in line with its commitment to crisis management?


On 8-10 November, EUNPACK held a workshop in Bamako, Mali. In this workshop, Morten Bøås and Silje Skøien from NUPI met with the ARGA team led by Abdoul Wahab Cisse and Ambroise Dakouo for two days of discussions about the implementation of the field work in Mali. Among the items discussed was the question what sectors we should target in this case. We decided to focus on the EU's support to Security Sector Reform through the EUTM and the EU's approach to rule of law programmes in Mali.


In an opinion piece for Norwegian daily Dagsavisen, EUNPACK project manager Morten Bøås and Tina Gade ask what will happen after Islamic State are driven out of Mosul. They argue that an apparent lack of planning on the part of the anti-IS forces currently attacking Mosul makes it likely that they will win the war, but lose the peace in the city. "The coalition now fighting against IS is a short-term military coalition that has an interest in chasing IS out of Mosul but has little else that unites them," they write.

External crisis response in the form of peacekeeping and peacebuilding has never been easy, but the current context of broad and ambitious mandates combined with robust instructions to use force may provide for further challenges. If we take recent conflict trends as a guide to ongoing and future externally-driven crisis response operations, the field is and will continue to be characterised by complex missions in politically difficult terrains.

In today’s world, efficient crisis response is much needed and often attempted. Yet after more than two decades of heavy international engagement in various types of external third-party crisis response, we still do not know much about what works, what does not, and under what type of conditions. New tools are constantly being added to the international crisis response toolbox, resulting in missions with ever-expanding mandates that are not met by more resources. Rather, the opposite seems to be the case.

The revolution will not be televised

It has been five years since the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohammed Bouazizi sparked a series of uprisings against authoritarian rule in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In contrast to the crowds celebrating the transition to democracy in Tunisia, there were no mass ceremonies on the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. After having arrested activists and shut down cultural spaces, security personnel were out in force. Only a handful of regime supporters were allowed to organise a low-key gathering, not to celebrate the instigators of the revolution, but to praise the police who tried to stop them. All other demonstrations were banned. The social media networks were silent. Egypt has been thrown back to the darkest days under former President Hosni Mubarak.