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Cordaid NL

‘Towards a Comprehensive Approach’ – New Report on Civil-Military Relations

On 24 February 2015, Cordaid, GPPAC and PAX convened a discussion in The Hague, focusing on Dutch and international interventions in fragile and conflict-affected areas. The event brought together 40 officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security & Justice, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, academia and think tank participants. The participants contrasted the different perspectives, identified areas of common understanding and opportunities, and reviewed the contextual and institutional dynamics framing the civil-military roles and relationships.

The report of this event has now been published. It summarizes the main discussion points from the presentations, plenary and break-out sessions, as well as the follow-up suggestions and recommendations that emerged from the event.

The meeting was structured around case studies of Dutch missions in Afghanistan, Mali and South Sudan, as seen from civil society and security sector perspectives respectively. By exploring the key issues and operational realities through the lens of lived experiences, the discussion managed to compare and contrast military/police and civil society approaches to identify potential areas of collaboration as well as challenges and risks. Furthermore, zooming in on concrete cases led to the formulation of practical approaches to coordination and cooperation between civilian and military actors.

Strengthening skills and training

On July 8 2015, the Knowledge Platform for Security & Rule of Law hosted an informal follow-up discussion to the February 24th event, convened by Cordaid and GPPAC. A small group drawn from the participants of the latter event met to share reflections on the February event, to provide updates on related activities and to discuss possible ways forward. Key points that came out of the discussion reflected the need to focus more on conflict prevention, and on early warning systems along with an emphasis on strengthening skills and training.

Cross-training with different stakeholders (CSOs both in the Netherlands and in countries of intervention, Military, Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, NATO etc.) was seen as crucial to build mutual understanding, trust and collaboration capabilities. One interesting suggestion was to build on a ‘coalition of the willing’ to form the basis of a joint training/skills platform. These ideas are to be further developed with input from a broader group.

In the meantime, Cordaid remained very active in the domain of civil-military interaction. Cordaid CEO Simone Filippini delivered a key note speech during the Distinguished Visitors Day of the Common Effort 2 exercise in Berlin, organized by the 1st German-Netherlands Corps.

Clarifying the roles

Education-wise Cordaid Security & Justice staff participate as guest-lecturers for the Dutch Army, Military police, CIMIC Centre of Excellence (CCOE) and others on a more structural basis to ensure more cross-pollination. On the research side Cordaid and Coventry University (UK) are looking into possible cooperation of clarifying the roles of CSO’s within the execution of UN mission mandates with regard to the Secretary General’s 2015 report on small arms and light weapons and the UN Security Council resolution 2220 of 22 May 2015 on small arms. Cordaid feels that especially within UN missions the civil and military realities can strengthen each other in the effort the ensure more effective implementation of the UN missions’ mandates.

Please click here to download the report ‘Towards a comprehensive approach – civil society and security sector perspectives on Dutch missions’.