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Brandenburg, Natalie C. (2016)
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: JZ
The objective of this dissertation is to study the practices of mediation of the European Union (EU) in order to explore how the understanding of violent conflicts by EU officials is reflected in their ways of responding to them through practices of mediation. In late 2011 the in-house Mediation Support Team of the Union took office as part of implementing the Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities, adopted by the Council of the European Union in 2009. The group began to develop new practices of in-house mediation support, thereby engaging with the already existing efforts of the Union. This study sets out to trace the emergence of this loosely knitted web of practices - the assemblage of EU mediation - by drawing on the sociology of translation or Actor-NetworkTheory and on concepts of governmentality studies. It builds on the four moments of translation as developed by Michel Callon and refines them with the notion of political rationality and techne to assess what it is that makes the assemblage relatively durable. This dissertation argues that the seemingly incoherent and to an extent diverging practices of mediation are in fact organized around a reasoning on violent conflict which securitizes conflict. It is challenged by a transformative rationale which is advocated by the Mediation Support Team. However, the common denominator of both concepts is an understanding of how to build peace with sustainable economic development, the eradication of poverty, strong and democratic state institutions and an effective system of multilateralism as its main components. Taken together, this reasoning or political rationality gives rise to a state-centred approach to violent conflict which often plays out at the expense of a detailed conflict assessment as it simplifies the multiple realities and narratives of violent conflict. Two case studies of EU mediation practices in Myanmar and Georgia substantiate this argument. They are assessed through analysing the transcripts of 63 semi-structured interviews and textual artefacts. Moreover, the dissertation discovers an intriguing puzzle pertaining to how the political rationality of the assemblage of mediation is resisting any form of scrutinizing the underlying assumptions of the state-centred understanding of violent conflict. On the one hand, the Mediation Support Team fulfils a supportive role and did not manage to establish itself as an obligatory passage point of the assemblage which would define how to engage in mediation and require all other actors to pass through it. In fact, the codified practices of the Common Foreign and Security Policy authorize the Council of the European Union to determine the Union's foreign policy objectives, including mandating an actor to mediate on behalf of the EU, and calling for all efforts of resolving violent conflicts to be in line with Council policies. Accordingly, European Union Special Representatives or Heads of Delegations engage in those practices that engender a peace process. On the other hand, the study found that the practices of mediation support structure the way of thinking of EU officials on peace and conflict in that they introduce specific concepts such as the transformative approach to violent conflict and blur the boundaries between EU actors and external experts, thereby raising the question whether or not this will challenge the Union's concept of violent conflict in the future.
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