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The European Union, Civil Society and Conflict Transformation: A Conceptual Framework


The European Union considers conflict resolution as a cardinal objective of its foreign policy. It makes use of a number of policy instruments to promote conflict transformation through ‘constructive engagement’, which cover a range of sectors affecting conditions and incentives at the micro level. The EU has recognised the importance of engaging with civil society in situations of violent conflict, but needs to engage more with local civil society to make its policies more effective. This paper provides a conceptual framework and discussion to analyse which local civil society actors play a role in conflict and conflict transformation, through which activities they impact on conflicts and how, what determines their effectiveness, and finally how EU neighbourhood policies can enhance their constructive impact in peacefully transforming conflicts in its near abroad by engaging with civil society.

Paper produced in the context of the MICROCON project (Work Package 11, "Conflict in the European Neighbourhood"), funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Research Programme. Subsequent versions: "The European Union, Civil Society and Conflict: An Analytical Framework", in Nathalie Tocci (ed.), The European Union, Civil Society and Conflict, London and New York, Routledge, 2011, p. 1-27 (Routledge/UACES contemporary European studies ; 19); "EU, Conflict Transformation, and Civil Society: Promoting Peace from the Bottom Up?", in Patricia Justino, Tilman Brück, and Philip Verwimp (eds.), A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence, and Development, Oxford, Oxford University Press, December 2013, p. 269-289

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