Sunday 5. December 2021

Security, the new name for development?

The EU wants to strengthen the links between development and security. The use of development funds to this end raises concerns.

Recently, the European Union has made a number of proposals that incorporate a stronger focus on migration and security into its development policies. One of the most notable examples of strengthening this security-development nexus is the new EU-wide strategic framework to support Security Sector Reform (SSR) in third countries presented on 5 July last. With this initiative, the EU wants to assist third countries in their efforts to prevent crisis and ensure security for their citizens.


The new framework also wants to extend EU´s help to the provision of training, advice and non-lethal equipment, such as transport vehicles, communication means and storage facilities to the military, which had previously been excluded from EU’s financial assistance. To this end, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) which is one of the key EU development funding instruments, shall be accordingly adapted and increased by €100 million for the period between 2017 and 2020. Is the EU with initiatives like this shifting its development paradigm?


Security Sector Reform and Sustainable Development

The new Security Sector Reform framework has been presented as serving the objective of sustainable development, in particular Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which inter alia requires “developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels as well as strengthening relevant national institutions for building capacity (...) to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime“.


Security sector actors, including police corps, institutions of justice, intelligence services and military forces, are integral part of institutional setup of states and if they lack good governance and trust, stability in post-conflict societies and fragile states might be at stake. In turn, the insecure and instable environment impedes the promotion of socio-economic development.      


Militarisation of EU development aid?

Although it is clearly stated that the first objective of the initiative should be human security and the achievement of stable, peaceful and inclusive societies, concerns have been raised that strengthening of the security forces of selected countries would serve the interest of stemming the ongoing flows of refugees and migrants. In addition, despite putting various monitoring and control systems in place, support to military actors entails a variety of risks of misuse and it may even lead to increased violence.


The main concern, however, constitutes the fact that for the initiative, no additional financial resources will be mobilised, but it will be funded through redeployment of financial instruments within the EU budget for external action, including development funds. According to reports, the money needed could be taken from the Development Cooperation Instrument whose main aim is the reduction of poverty.


This does not only raise legal doubts – Art. 41(2) Treaty on European Union forbids financing from EU budget for operations with military or defence implications – but poses serious moral questions as the primary goal of development aid to eradicate poverty and hunger is at risk to be undermined and overshadowed by other EU foreign policy interests.


Development-oriented security

Supporting the good governance of state institutions, including security sector actors, is undoubtedly an important element in fostering sustainable development. However, the core principles and instruments of EU´s development policy should not be sacrificed for this purpose.


Instead, a stronger development focus should be incorporated into other policy fields, including security and defence policy. The current Common Security and Defence Policy financing mechanism (“Athena“), however, does not allow to address the operational needs of security sector actors of third countries. It would require a reform, and above all, the political will of EU Member States. Other sources of additional finance for the development-security nexus might be found in savings from more efficient military spending or in the revenues from fairer taxation schemes.  


Pope Paul VI declared in his Encyclical Populorum progressio development to be the “new name for peace“. He pleaded that “fighting poverty and opposing the unfair conditions of the present“ would make a significant contribution to achieving world peace. Also today, fifty years later, this appeal should be kept in mind.

Marek Mišák

 COMECE / Justice & Peace Europe


The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of COMECE and the Jesuit European Office.

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Note: The views expressed in europeinfos are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Jesuit European Office and COMECE.