A European Union Human Security Doctrine for the Middle East
The Barcelona and Madrid reports1 proposed that the European Union (EU) adopt a human security doctrine to guide its defense and foreign policy. Because the EU is not a nation-state, but a new kind of supra-national organization, it requires a security policy that is distinct from traditional national security policies. Human security, according to these reports, refers to:

* The security of the individual and the community in which he or she lives, as opposed to, or in addition to, the security of the state.
* Both freedom from fear and freedom from want. The Barcelona and Madrid reports emphasized the threat of political and criminal violence, but also argued that these threats cannot be disentangled from suffering as a consequence of material deprivation and environmental degradation.
* The sort of security that individuals enjoy within legitimate law-governed states. The concept of human security blurs the classic distinction between internal security (based on law enforcement) and external security (where the primary instrument is military force).

By doctrine, the reports referred to implementation of human security, that is to say, how human security might be realized in practice. Instead of a classic army, the report proposed that the EU should have a human security force composed of both military and civilian elements. The latter would include the police, legal experts, aid workers, etc. Both military and civilian elements would be guided by a set of principles which would distinguish the way these forces operated from traditional military approaches. Essentially, the forces would operate more like law enforcement agencies than war-fighting agencies. These principles include: human rights, legitimate political authority, multilateralism, a bottom-up approach, and a regional focus.

What would it mean for the EU to apply this doctrine to the Middle East? My argument is that a lot of what the EU does already has elements of a human security approach. But the case of the Middle East demonstrates that human security cannot be implemented partially. It requires a holistic approach involving the application of all the principles. In developing this argument, I will start by describing what the EU already does and the shortcomings of what it does. And I will then point to what is required for all the human security principles to be applied.

What the EU Does

First, Israel is probably the EU countries' closest partner outside the EU. It is an important trading partner. It has signed an association agreement which covers mainly trade arrangements and political dialogue. Israel is included in many EU initiatives; in particular, it is part of the European research area, and Israeli universities and research centers are eligible for EU funding. Israel is treated as a European country ─ for instance, its inclusion in the Eurovision song contest. The close ties between Israel and the EU represent an example of the EU's integrative bottom-up method, which was originally designed to prevent future wars on European territory.

Second, the EU is probably the single biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Aid committed so far in 2008 amounts to €361.5 million. This compares with €554 million in 2007 and €342 million in 2006. The aid covers recurrent costs of the PA (the largest amount), development projects and humanitarian aid, including substantial aid to the UN Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA). After the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections and the boycott imposed on it, the EU introduced the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), which allowed the EU to continue providing aid while avoiding the Hamas-controlled PA. Thus the EU actually increased aid in 2006 and 2007, but it was all paid either directly into the accounts of beneficiaries (teachers, health workers, pensioners ─ some 4,000 altogether), or into a presidential account controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The PA was already divided as a result of the polarization between Hamas and Fateh, and as a result of the proliferation of security services after the PA was established, each financed and equipped by different donors supporting different Palestinian factions. The consequence of the TIM was to undermine the PA and speed up further its fragmentation, particularly the fragmentation of the security services.

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the TIM has been replaced by PEGASE (European-Palestinian Mechanism for Management of Socio-Economic Aid) launched in February 2008. PEGASE covers both recurrent costs and development projects in the West Bank, intended to contribute to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Palestinian Reform and Development Plan. The problem with plans for Palestinian economic development is that they are blocked by Israeli restrictions on movement and communication. Periodic pressure on Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair to ease these restrictions sometimes results in agreements that are either piecemeal or not implemented. Moreover, since the Plan only applies to the West Bank, even though humanitarian aid and some PA recurrent costs still go to Gaza, the aid contributes to the further polarization between the PA and Hamas.

Third, the EU has a mission, EU COPPS (EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support), to help the Palestinian civil police. The mission was established in January 2005, but was hit by the Hamas boycott, since the interior minister was a Hamas member. The Palestinian civil police are the only security service that is widely considered to be relatively impartial. Unlike the other security services established after the Oslo agreement, the civil police have a long professional tradition going back to the 1920s. The force was initially set up by officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary and later received training from Egypt, Jordan and Israel during 1967-88. The police have a wide range of capabilities and active participation by women, but they have been greatly weakened by Israeli attacks, which destroyed equipment and offices, and by the boycott.

During the boycott, other forces such as the National Security Forces or the Presidential Guard or the Hamas-created Executive Force were built up with aid from the United States and from Iran and Syria for the latter. Also, during that period the various militias and armed gangs were strengthened. Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the PA has placed great emphasis on law and order in a bid to contain Hamas and the various militias; to build up both the civil police and the National Security Forces, and to establish a unified presence in places like Nablus and Jenin. The EU has supported this effort, helping to train the police, providing equipment for new police offices and, recently, organizing a donors' conference in Berlin to support civil society and the rule of law in Palestine. However, frequent Israeli incursions and arrests not only undermine the sense of security this policy aims to create, but greatly weakens the credibility and authority of the Palestinian security services.

Fourth, the EU has a border assistance mission, EU BAM, which originated in an agreement between Israel and the PA to keep open the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt, provided it was monitored by the EU. After the kidnapping of Private Gilad Shalit, the Israelis closed the Rafah crossing for most of the time and the EU mission sat in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. The mandate of EU BAM was renewed in May 2008 in the hopes that it could be used for future agreements. However, since the truce with Hamas in June 2008, the crossing has been controlled by Egypt and Hamas and still remains closed for most of the time. Perhaps EU BAM could have done more by basing itself in Rafah where a compound was available; nevertheless, there was never much that the mission could have achieved without Israeli agreement.

Finally, the EU is, of course, part of the Quartet (the U.S., the EU, Russia and the UN), responsible for high-level negotiations about the political future of Israel and Palestine. Unlike the other activities in which the EU is engaged, the Quartet largely operates from a top-down statist perspective. Specifically, the conflict between Israel and Palestine tends to be viewed through the prism of the "global war on terror," in which the primary goal is the defeat of terrorists rather than the protection of individuals. The biggest problem is seen to be the threat to Israel's state security as a result of terrorist actions, i.e., violence by non-state actors directed against civilians. Rockets and suicide bombers are seen as the primary impediment to peace; the human security of Palestinians is considered secondary to state security.

Implementing a Human Security Doctrine

The EU tries through aid, police support and border monitoring to alleviate the suffering of individuals in the West Bank and Gaza. In other words, it tries to observe the principle of human rights, but it is continually thwarted because there is no legitimate authority in the Palestinian territories. Before the Oslo agreement, Israel had to assume responsibility for the Palestinian territories in its capacity as the occupying power, and as defined within the legal framework of occupation law. After Oslo, the situation is characterized by partial occupation and partial Palestinian authority. Israel claims that occupation law no longer applies and that the relevant framework is the Defense (Emergency) Regulations drawn up by the British in 1945, which means it does not have to observe the human rights conventions. The PA cannot establish a legitimate political authority because it does not control the territory of Palestine ? both because of the continued Israeli occupation and because of Hamas' control of Gaza. The principle of human rights can be observed in a sustained way only within the framework of the rule of law that is guaranteed by a political authority that people can trust. While an enforcement mechanism is needed, in the end, human rights are respected because people believe and have confidence in laws.

If the EU were to try and implement a human security doctrine, it would need to be consistent and to adopt human security as a political perspective within the framework of the Quartet. Indeed, it could even be argued that EU aid and partnership is actually helping to perpetuate the current impasse between Israel and Palestine, and leading to the slow destruction of Palestinian society. I am not suggesting that the EU should give up its efforts to make everyday life a little more bearable for the Palestinians. But I am suggesting that the EU should use its relationship with Israel and its unique role as donor to press for an alternative political solution that would make possible the human security of both Israelis and Palestinians. Such a solution would establish a legitimate political authority over the whole area and develop a meaningful partnership with both Israelis and Palestinians.

The optimum solution would, of course, be one state for Israelis and Palestinians that allows both the right of return and the right of settlement. This option, proposed some years ago by Edward Said, is not politically on the table, but the EU should have the courage to start a debate about this possibility. Other options would be to hasten an agreement on a two-state solution; to dissolve the PA and return to full Israeli occupation; or to establish an international mandate over the West Bank and Gaza, with substantial enforcement capabilities.

Other Principles to Consider

The emphasis on the construction of a legitimate political authority would also need to take into account the other principles of a human security doctrine. One is the bottom-up approach, which would mean mobilizing civil society in Israel and Palestine as well as in Europe to push for a new political solution. The polls show that both Israelis and Palestinians long for peace and security. The principle of legitimate political authority depends on those who have the power to grant legitimacy ─ civil society. So, ordinary people need to be involved in the search for a political solution.

Another principle is the regional approach. The roles played by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the Arab League have become increasingly important. It is crucial to avoid a polarization between Iran and Syria on one side, and pro-Western regimes on the other. The EU could take the initiative to put in place a regional security process, rather like the Helsinki process in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s that would deal not only with the Israeli-Palestinian issue and other conflicts, but also with related questions, such as economic and social cooperation and human rights.

On a political level, the EU is, of course, an expression of the discussions among its members. At present, the members often disagree about the conflict in the Middle East ─ some put more emphasis on Israel's state security and the need to defeat terror, and some take a human security perspective. The EU needs to adopt the concept of human security as a new narrative underpinning its foreign policy, as well as an organizing framework guiding its security capabilities and the tools and instruments of foreign policy. Paradoxically, as the case of the Middle East shows, the EU is developing an array of instruments that could support human security in different parts of the world. However, its lack of political will prevents it from capitalizing on those instruments and becoming a force for peace in the world in the way that it has been inside Europe.

*New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era (2006) is now in its second edition and has been translated into 12 languages.