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Eckhard, Steffen (2016): Political guidance or autonomy in peacebuilding? EU police reform in Afghanistan and Kosovo. In: International Peacekeeping, Vol. 23, No. 3: pp. 363-388

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Reviewing findings from the recent institutional turn in peacebuilding research, this article identifies two conflicting arguments with respect to institutional designs that affect the performance of peace operations. One perspective favours functional decentralization and mission latitude, while the other perspective argues that a lack of political guidance strips mission leadership of their authority vis-a-vis local power brokers and reduces the likelihood of a robust' approach. Comparing two EU crisis management missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan, the article asks which of the two perspectives is supported by the institutional design and performance of EU peace operations. Unlike the UN - the focus of most previous research - the EU's institutional framework is highly centralized. This provided member states with ample opportunities for political guidance, but such guidance was, in fact, negatively associated with performance. This finding suggests that the political guidance thesis must be treated with caution. Because member states' interests vis-a-vis a conflict state rarely converge, the conditions for meaningful political guidance are absent. The article, therefore, finds that increasing managerial latitude provides the more promising avenue to enhancing peacebuilding performance. Addressing policy-makers, my findings speak to the urgent need for the EU to review and potentially reform its crisis management system.

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