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Trapped in the Liberal Peace. The European Union Approach to Peacebuilding via Civil Society


The EU’s involvement in conflict resolution is driven by its belief in the ‘liberal peace’ principle: peace is achieved through the consolidation of democracy and human rights. This has led the EU to pursue peacebuilding also by empowering local civil society actors. However, not all civil society groups are seen as worthy of support. Rather, the EU privileges those groups it sees as ‘civic’ in their orientation, focusing on individual rights, rather than ‘ethnic’ organizations or movements that demand collective rights. This chapter argues that EU experience to date has had limited success in this regard. There are two reasons for this: first, EU funding often leads to an artificial civil society disconnected to its citizens; second, and perhaps more importantly, the approach may at times exacerbate securitization.