Title: Pioneering the Comprehensive Approach: How Germany’s Partners Do It
Author: Andreas Wittkowsky and Ulrich Wittkampf
Institution: ZIF – Center for International Peace Operations
Publication Date: January 2013
Keywords: Conflict, Stability, Security
This article was written in 2013 by the German government’s ZIF (Zentrum für Internationale Friedenseinsätze/Centre for International Peace Operations) as a comparative review of different national modalities of enacting a whole of government approach to conflict and crisis management. It examines the UK's Integrated Approach and its Dutch, Swedish and American equivalents and provides a brief assessment of their comparative strengths and weaknesses. This article is helpful, therefore, in identifying those differences of approach, priority and emphasis in the respective national structures and modes of response. By highlighting the key structural and cultural similarities and differences between these four nations it also looks for the areas of commonality and the relevant key lessons.
The article usefully summarises the four nations’ respective government architecture, funding mechanisms and strategies in relation to conflict, security, stability and crisis response.
It highlights the degree to which the UK has adopted an integrated approach and created the necessary institutions – notably the Stabilisation Unit and the Conflict Pool (which from 2014/15 will evolve into the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund) – to deliver a full spectrum of interlinked policies and strategies bringing together diplomatic, defence and development activities in order to achieve operational cohesion and co-ordination.
It notes the Netherlands has taken a less institutional approach and focussed more pragmatically on the practicalities when organising a common response across government to conflict and crisis situations, whereas Sweden's approach takes a position somewhere between the UK and the Netherlands privileging a co-ordinated division of labour.
When looking at the United States the authors consider a serious effort has been made to improve co-ordination and the modalities of delivery across the civilian space in government. They note, however, due to significant differences in relative funding and assets the US military remains the dominant actor whenever the employment of military force is required in any conflict or crisis response.
The report also concisely summarises what it considers to be the key commonalities and lessons from attempted a whole of government approach to conflict and crisis:
· The need for strong political will to find an optimum approach between co-ordinating and integrating government activities;
· The necessity for clear articulated and coherent national security strategies which explicitly provide guidance in respect of taking an integrated or comprehensive approach;
· Joint units and joint assessment across government;
· Common conflict analysis to develop a common understanding in order to facilitate the necessary delineation of responsibilities and a coherent, co-ordinated division of labour;
· Joint funds.
The authors end the report on a cautionary note suggesting progress has generally been slower than intended and expectations have yet to be met, not least because it requires behavioural and cultural change which inevitably takes time.