In November 2004, Minister for Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds submitted a proposal to improve EU capacity to rapidly deploy civilian crisis management resources in conflicts. Despite the need to act quickly, it has previously often taken weeks or months for support to be in place.
"The decision we have taken today means that by the end of next year, the EU will be able to deploy civilian rapid reaction units with only five days notice. The units will include experts in areas such as conflict resolution, human rights and conflict mediation," says Minister for Foreign Affairs Laila Freivalds.
Experience from the Balkans and Africa, for instance, shows that the quicker the international community is in place in an escalating trouble spot, the greater the chances of preventing violent developments.
In crisis situations, civilian experts can play an important role by building up trust between different groups in a community, enhancing local capability to solve conflicts and monitoring the implementation of a peace agreement. Also in cases where a military force has been deployed, civilian supplements are usually needed to help solve the political, economic and legal aspects of the conflict.
EU civilian rapid reaction units will supplement the military rapid reaction capacity that the Union previously decided to establish. Together with Estonia, Finland and Norway, Sweden will contribute to a joint military rapid reaction force.
EU civilian crisis management is part of the Union's Common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The EU is already working with training and advisory programmes for local police services in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the past year, the Union has also supported the reform of the legal sector in Georgia and has begun training officials in the Iraqi police force and legal system. Further, the EU provides both civilian and military support to the African Union operation in Darfur. Two additional operations are being planned at present: a police operation for the Palestinian National Authority and an operation for observing the potential peace agreement in Aceh province in Indonesia.
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