13 April 2018

Closed workshop: Is Stabilisation a Panacea for Violent Conflicts?

Stabilisation is regaining currency as a policy paradigm, as present interventions for example in Iraq, Syria, and Mali show. Instruments to achieve stabilization include Train and Equip programmes, Security Sector Reform and peacekeeping missions (military components), as well as development and humanitarian aid in general, and forced displacement programmes in particular (civilian components). Dialogue between these approaches and their proponents is largely lacking, as is a critical assessment of the implementation of stabilization programmes.

In this senior-level closed workshop, hosted by the Global Migration Centre (GMC) on Monday 9 April 2018, the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) brought together academics and practitioners from DCAF, Geneva Call, IOM, MINUSMA, Swisspeace, and OHCHR. In the morning session, participants discussed in breakout groups how the concept of stabilization is understood and operationalized among military and civilian actors. In the afternoon, the group highlighted different modes and goals of stabilization programmes and challenges that arise from a lack of distinction from other concepts (building resilience, reconstruction). The concluding session was devoted to a scenario building exercise for stabilization programming in Syria. As a result, it became evident that the choice of instruments and the risks these incur differ depending on military-political control on the ground in conflict contexts and the stabilization goals that donors and implementers envisage.

The exercise showed that despite diverse donors from different sectors and programmes all working "for stabilization", these produce contradictory effects at the implementation level. For example, in present circumstances in Syria, interest-led reconstruction emerged as incompatible with creating accountable governance and protection against persecution of civilians that is a pre-condition for safe refugee/IDP return. Thus, cross-sectoral coordination, awareness of risks and red lines were identified as key concerns that have to be followed up.