E. Cooperation and coordination approaches

Crises with military, social and economic causes and symptoms require the coordinated use of political, diplomatic, military, humanitarian and development-related instruments. Examples such as Afghanistan show that the success of crisis management is endangered if a dimension is neglected or overvalued and an overarching strategy is missing. Comprehensive crisis management is a complex undertaking with manifold tasks, a great number of actors that are involved and commitments that take time. Additionally, diverse interests of the various actors (such as states and international organisations) often give rise to conflicting opinions on the objectives of an operation.

Coordinated cooperation and coherent measures are, however, essential preconditions for effective crisis management. Thus, an early definition of common objectives and coordination of all actors (e.g. national ministries, international organisations, NGOs and donors) and instruments (military, police and civilian), both in the field as well as in political centres, is needed at different stages of the conflict. Appropriate and timely action is also important. The broad participation of actors ensures lasting results and contributes to shared burdens and increased legitimacy. Comprehensive or integrated approaches, as they are also called, should provide the necessary coordination capacity; they should offer a conceptual and organisational basis for cooperation, encourage the establishment of new structures (e.g. cross-departmental bodies), and regulate the distribution of resources.

Different approaches exist at the international level, such as the EU’s comprehensive approach, UN integrated missions and the UN cluster approach, and NATO’s comprehensive approach.

1. The European Union’s comprehensive approach (CA)

The Council of the European Union decided that alongside civilian CSDP missions and military CSDP operations, the EU should use all its available tools as coherent parts of EU action to tackle crises in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. This includes the improvement of its ability to foster civilian-military cooperation as well as the coordinated use of diplomatic, legal, development, trade and economic tools of the EU Commission.

The Treaty of Lisbon offered an opportunity for reinforcing the comprehensive approach, calling for the use of the various policies and instruments at the EU’s disposal in a more coherent manner in order to address the whole cycle, from preparedness and preventive action through crisis response and management, including stabilisation, peacemaking and peacekeeping, to peacebuilding, recovery, reconstruction and a return to longer-term development. Furthermore, in December 2013, the High Representative/Vice-President and the European Commission released a Joint Communication on the EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises.

The main challenge to the comprehensive approach, however, is its translation into concrete action in the field. Crisis areas are usually characterised by simultaneous action by different players. In Afghanistan, for example, an EU Special Representative (EUSR) and a civilian CSDP mission (EUPOL Afghanistan) are present in addition to the EU Delegation. So a key challenge for the comprehensive approach is its successful implementation in crisis areas where several EU instruments are employed, not to mention coordination with all the other international and local actors.

2. UN Policy on Integrated Assessment and Planning

Following the Brahimi Report and building on lessons learned in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and others, the Department of Peace keeping Operations (DPKO) made further efforts to improve and develop its operational planning capacity by creating new structures, plans and standard procedures. The Integrated Missions Planning Process (IMPP) was developed to ensure a transparent and
inclusive approach in the planning of multidimensional operations. The AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was the first UN mission that was planned using the IMPP in 2007. This process was then developed further and became the UN Policy on Integrated Assessment and Planning (IAP). The IAP moves away from the mission-centric nature of previous guidelines and focuses on designing a UN-wide response in conflict and post-conflict situations, where multidimensional peacekeeping or field-based special political missions are under consideration or being deployed to operate alongside UN agencies, funds and programmes.

3. The UN’s cluster approach

The cluster approach is a mechanism endorsed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) in 2005 with the aim of establishing more coordination within UN integrated missions to enable more efficient humanitarian aid and disaster response. Operating at the global and country level, the cluster approach aims to strengthen system-wide preparedness and technical capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies and improve in-country coordination and response capacity by mobilising clusters of organisations to respond in particular areas of activity.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has the role of ensuring the establishment of the cluster approach in a sudden-onset disaster and providing inter-cluster coordination, overall guidance and monitoring of the process, as well as advocacy to support the work of the clusters. Examples of clusters can range from emergency shelter, education, inter-cluster coordination and early recovery to health, logistics, nutrition and protection.