Examination of Witnesses (Questions 262-279)|
Mr Nicholas Grono, Mr Gareth Evans AO QC and Mr Romit
21 MARCH 2006
Q262Chairman: Thank you very much indeed for
seeing us. As you already know, we are conducting an inquiry into
the European Union Strategy for Africa and, in particular, its
implementation. We are not really questioning the strategy. As
I say, it is the implementation aspect that we are looking at.
I do not know whether there is anything that you want to say in
general, or whether we should proceed to questions.
Mr Grono: I have no general comments. The only
point we should make at the outset is that obviously our expertise
and focus is on conflict and conflict prevention. I am certainly
no development expert, although we come across those issues and
grapple with them.
Q263 Chairman: Accepting that is
your particular area of expertise, do you nevertheless agree that
that is probably the most urgent priority within the strategy?
Mr Grono: Yes.
Q264 Lord Lea of Crondall: If you
say that it is an emphasis on conflict prevention rather than
dealing with conflicts, there is perhaps a question that it would
be useful to have your take on. In terms of financial resources
and in terms of the policies, the governance questions and other
questions about the failed states phenomenon explain why the fire
brigade has to be called out so often. So conflict prevention
is not just a question of what you do when there is a conflict.
Mr Grono: That's correct. We traditionally analyse
conflict as a cycle, in the sense that you can have instability
and your actions are geared towards long-term peace-building activities;
but if that process fails, the country becomes less stable, you
may engage in short-term conflict prevention measures. If you
fail on that, you have your conflict; you have the measures you
might take to resolve conflict and, post-conflict, you have the
long-term reconstruction. If you are unsuccessful in your post-conflict
reconstruction efforts, then there is a risk of countries slipping
back into conflict. There is a very disturbing statistic, which
the World Bank cites on a regular basis, that half the countries
coming out of civil war will fall back into conflict within five
years. Hence, one of the key indicators of future conflict is
past conflict, and so long-term conflict prevention measures are
Q265 Lord Lea of Crondall: How many
of the conflicts would you say are territorial between states
these days and how many are domestic? When I say "between
states", I mean an Eritrea type of idea, and perhaps one
or two in West Africa; but all the rest are what you might call
civil conflicts. Would you say that is broadly the position?
Mr Grono: Less than five per cent are what are
classified as inter-state conflicts. There was an excellent report
put out last year called the Human Security Report, put
together by an academic, Andy Mack, at University of British Columbia.
I have put together some slides, where you see internal conflicts,
civil wars in which the state is a party, and inter-state conflicts.
It is a very low number.
Q266 Lord Lea of Crondall: (Pointing
to slide) Is that 1952?
Mr Grono: Up to 2002. So fairly steady in terms
of inter-state conflict; a peak of internal conflict, civil wars
in the early 1990s.
Q267 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: That
Mr Grono: Bosnia, and Africa immediately post-Cold
War. Lots of proxy support from Russia, and so on. You have the
Congo. What we have seenand it is quite a nice statisticis
a 40 per cent decline in these civil conflicts over the last 15
Q268 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: But
still at a high level.
Mr Grono: Still at a high level, and these are
the statistics for Africa. But these statistics are only where
a party is a state. It is still internal, but it is government
versus insurgency group or rebels. In fact, if you take into account
conflicts where you have two non-state parties, like militias
in the Congo, or rebel groups and militias, you have as many conflicts
againalthough still showing that long-term-trend decline.
I will pull out one other statistic from this. It is battle deaths.
You will see that most of the deaths in these conflicts are in
Africa. At the turn of the century there were more battle deaths
in Africa than the rest of the world combined, in these predominantly
civil conflicts. There is a falling-off in 2002, but then you
will have to take into account Darfur, for which the statistics
are not captured here. It is just a snapshot of some of the conflict
issues in Africa.
Q269 Chairman: The strategy seems
to be saying that what the EU should do is channel resources through
the Africa Peace Facility and the African Union, to enable them
to respond themselves. Do you think the strategy is soundly based
in that way?
Mr Grono: It is difficult. There will always
be this mix of measures that needs to be adopted. A strategy,
in so far as it approaches the problem with the perspective of
African ownership, understandably focuses on things like the Peace
Facility, which is squarely in the ambit of African ownership.
However, any strategy that is looking at Africa and looking at
peace and security up front has to be broader than that. Some
of the issues that struck me were about EU direct involvement.
We see perhaps one of the most valuable roles that the EU can
play as being in this issue of direct involvement in peacekeeping
missions. We have seen it with ARTEMIS. This is the EU and the
Member States that I am talking about. We have seen it with the
French going into Côte d'Ivoire. We have seen talk of the
Germans leading an EU battle group into the Congo, Kinshasa. What
you have in Africa in terms of the peace architecture is the desire
of Africans to have effective peacekeeping capabilities. So they
are seeking to develop their capabilities in terms of the Standby
Force; they are seeking to develop their internal capacity to
deal with this, but it will be a long time until they can do that.
They are talking of the African peacekeeping force being operational
by 2010. I doubt very much whether that will be the case: in which
case there is lack of capabilities to intervene in conflicts like
the Congo, Darfurand we are seeing that right now, whereby
the Darfur mission is soon to be re-hatted, one hopes, as a UN
mission. So there is a willingness and capabilities that can be
supported by the EU, and that is absolutely key if you want African
solutions, but there is still a lack of capability, and the EU
and the West can effectively support African solutions by directly
intervening where appropriate.
Q270 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I take
what you say and rather agree with it, but do you not think that
one way through this is to think more in terms of integrated operations
that involve not just Africa but also the Europeans, rather than
the Europeans themselves operating on their own? There are problems
about this because of the EU command and control arrangements,
and so on, which are very tricky in this respect. However, I keep
asking people why we cannot move closer to an integrated approach
in which the EU, the UN and the AU all play to their comparative
advantages. There are all sorts of areas in which the Europeans
do have comparative advantages, the civilian aspects being obviously
the heavy lift, but also logistics, and so on. On the other hand,
the Africans do not have too much problem finding infantry battalions.
It strikes meI do not know what you think about thisthat
one of the directions we ought to be pushing the European Union
along, and the UN for that matter, is a greater capacity to integrate
operations in that way. Does that make sense to you?
Mr Grono: It makes absolute sense. You will
not have African ownership until you have African capability.
You will not get African capability without extensive support.
We have seen in the AU mission in Sudan, AMIS in Darfur, a beginning
of this exercise. In some ways it is a little unfortunate, because
you have the newly established AU coming into place in 2002, and
its Peace and Security Council in 2004. Then suddenly it is thrust
into Darfur, which it seizes as an opportunity because it wants
to demonstrate its capability. However, Darfur is way beyond the
capabilities of a fledgling AU mission. You have had some EU support
logistically and NATO support, and a lot of it is taking place
by placing EU military officers in with African officers in AMIS.
We did a report on it late last year and the feedback we had was
that this was effectively capability development on the run, by
necessity. As I said, this mission was probably too big for the
AU to cope with, but they were learning on the ground and the
interaction with NATO and EU officers was an effective process.
Sometimes you will still have difficulties. If you need to intervene
within a month or within 10 days, you may not immediately be able
to arrange this merging of African capabilities with EU capabilities;
but in the long term that is a very effective way of getting there.
When it comes to development policy, one of the challenges is
that there is often this desire for short-term results, which
means that you go in, completely take over the operationbe
it peacekeeping or be it institution-buildingand then pull
out, on the basis that you have a stable situation or you have
an institution handed over to key Africans, only to find that
in fact you have not built the capacity in the process and therefore
there is no long-term sustainability.
Q271 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I think
that is what several people who have talked to us have said, in
the same sense. The other thing, however, is that at the moment
it seems that everything is being done on an ad hoc, one-off basis.
Each time, whether it is Aceh, helping AMIS, or whatever it is,
you start from the ground upwards, and no attempt so far seems
to have been made to approach this at all systematically; to work
up building blocks, as it were, that can be fitted into each other;
to work out how each other's accounting systems, for example,
are to mesh togetherand all sorts of nitty-gritty things
like that, without which you just have endless difficulty, grinding
in the gearbox, improvisation, and so on. Do you think that is
a direction which we ought to be recommending people should push
a bit more?
Mr Grono: Yes, but it is always problematic.
A different but related problem is to call for better co-ordination.
Everyone talks about the need to improve this. It is mentioned
throughout the strategyimproved co-ordinationyet
I am astounded by the utter lack of co-ordination we so often
see and in so many ways. I am not just talking about the EU here,
although it can happen in the EU at the most basic levels. We
looked at the EU in Afghanistan and were astounded to find that
there were not regular meetings between the EU Special Representative
and the delegation in Kabul, and that the EU Special Representative
had not seen the draft Country Paper being prepared by the delegation.
We put this in our report. They now have weekly meetings. However,
you would not have thought that it would take an ICG report to
encourage co-operation at that level.
Q272 Lord Lea of Crondall: No, but
is that not because the analysis of what you have just been saying
is not quite accurate? We have been discussing "ownership".
It is a word which we thought we would ban from our vocabulary,
but now, from Solana downwards, everybody is using it all the
time, so we have to use it about Africa. It is true in Brussels
as well, is it not? Is not what we are talking about here the
different grabs at ownership of the policy? Ownership therefore
begs the question about people's political necessity to get ownership.
I am slightly over-egging the pudding, but could you comment on
the fact that there is no point in our criticising Africa pointing
out that they have conflicts of ownership of the policy when there
are conflicts of ownership of the policy in Brussels.
Mr Grono: Issues around who owns the policy?
Q273 Lord Lea of Crondall: Yes.
Mr Grono: Yes, there are big issues.
Q274 Lord Lea of Crondall: And totally
analogous. It is not just an African problem; it is the European
Mr Grono: Absolutely.
Q275 Lord Lea of Crondall: It is
not just a question that some idiot is not co-ordinating with
somebody else and showing them the documentalthough we
can understand why people do not show people documents. It is
a question of who owns the policy.
Mr Grono: And that is a reflection of lack of
ownership of the policy and it has to be determined at the highest
political levels. If you cannot get EU bodies to co-operate in
a country, then it will be difficult to expect co-ordination
Q276 Lord Lea of Crondall: No, I
am not talking about EU bodies taking all the rap here; I am talking
about national governments not transferring ownership, any more
than Liberia wants to transfer ownership.
Mr Grono: Again, you can look at it in various
ways. If you are talking about ownership at the EU and Member
State level, so between these, there are big problems. We are
going to see it in Guinea any time now. This is something we have
just been looking at very closely. The President of Guinea was
MedEvac'd on Friday to Switzerland. Guinea is a transitional state;
the EU is very actively involved there, and in fact has played
a pretty productive role, with conditionality on aid which has
begun to lead to political changes. However, EU policy and certain
Member States' policy are quite different in Guinea, as they were
in Togo when we had a coup and a transition process. Some Member
States take the approach that stability is best guaranteed by
dealing with those parties in power or close to power. The EU
is taking an approach in Togo, and in Guinea, that you need a
democratic transition. There is a conflict there. Because many
of the European states have close ties to former colonies or to
regions, there will be a disconnectnot always, but often
there will be a disconnect at some levelbetween Member
State policy and EU policy. I do not know how that gets resolved.
I know that there is talk of developing grand strategies, but
Q277 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: In
that case, when you say "EU" you mean the Commission,
Mr Grono: EU Commission in Guinea?
Q278 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Yes.
Mr Grono: Yes. I talk about it very loosely,
but also the political direction provided by the Council. If there
is a threatened coup or something, the Council and Solana will
be out there
Q279 Lord Hannay of Chiswick: When
you said that there was a disconnect between some Member States,
presumably France in particular
Mr Grono: On West Africa, yes.