Preventing Violent Conflicts : EU Early Warning Initiatives and the Role of Scenario Analysis

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This thesis examines to what extent scenario analysis can improve the European Union’s early warning initiatives to prevent violent conflicts. There are four reasons which made this study relevant: (1) conflict prevention is a significant part in the peace keeping process, (2) the prevention of violent conflicts reduces the financial costs and enhances the standard of living, (3) the EU committed itself to conflict prevention and is therefore obligated to improve its early warning system, and (4) the EU is considering to create a new early warning institute; it is thus necessary to research how this institute should be given shape. The study starts by discussing the shortcomings of the current EU early warning initiatives on the basis of several case studies and numerous articles and books. It continues by examining the advantages and disadvantages of foresight and the scenario method and how the scenario method would be applicable to the EU early warning system. The conclusion shows to what extent the scenario method can improve the current early warning initiatives of the European Union; an implementation of the scenario method would (1) implement more analysis in the system, (2) provide the early warning system with more long-term analysis, (3) include more local and ‘weak’ signals to the analysis, (4) narrow down the information that is derived from the analysis, (5) make the system adaptable to different conflict situations, (6) educate the EU staff in early warning and their specific place in the early warning chain, and (7) limit the gap between early warning and early response. Unfortunately, it would leave two shortcomings unimproved: (1) ‘complicated’ countries would still be excluded from the early warning system, and (2) the relation between the EU and other security organizations would still be weak. In addition, there is no remedy against the main downside of the scenario method, namely: it requires a high capacity of the European Union in the form of time and human resources.
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