Managing Expectations: the European Union and Human Security at the United Nations
This thesis explores the conditions under which the EU is an effective actor at the United Nations in the policy area of human security. Since the late 1990s, the United Nations has been increasingly active in addressing challenges posed by human security concerns. The concept of human security was introduced to emphasize the post-Cold War shift from a state-centred approach to security to an approach focused on the security of individuals. The EU is considered by some as a driving force in the UN policy process and has presented itself as a leader in the promotion of concrete initiatives to address human security challenges. This thesis seeks to examine whether the EU is truly an effective actor at the UN in human security negotiations and aims to identify conditions which influence the EU’s effectiveness. This thesis suggests that the analysis of conditions affecting the EU’s effectiveness at the UN requires the understanding of the ways in which a complex web of actors and institutions interact at three different levels: international, European Union and domestic. Using a multilevel game approach, this thesis examines the willingness of EU actors to work collectively at the UN (internal effectiveness) and the achievements of the EU’s objectives (external effectiveness). This thesis analyzes three cases of human security negotiations: 1) the ban on anti-personnel landmines, 2) the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW) and 3) the involvement of children in armed conflicts. Factors which have affected the EU’s internal and external effectiveness are identified in each of the case studies. The thesis uses qualitative methods such as expert interviews, documentary analysis and nonparticipant observation. This thesis demonstrates that, at the international level, the commitment of the EU to multilateralism can have an effect on the EU’s effectiveness in human security negotiations. The position of other key UN actors (such as the United States and the G-77) regarding a potential agreement also appears to directly influence EU Member States in achieving their objectives. The thesis argues that the use of consensus in the negotiations process can have a significant impact on the EU’s effectiveness. At the EU level, the analysis reveals that several key EU Member States channelled their efforts to convince their EU partners to act on all three issues. This thesis shows how the role of the EU presidency in coordinating the position of EU Member States can also affect the EU effectiveness in human security negotiations. The support of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, three dominant players in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, seems also particularly influential in negotiations. Finally, the case studies suggest that domestic politics can directly shape the EU’s effectiveness. Internal negotiations in EU Member States and the involvement of NGOs at the domestic level are two other factors which influence the EU’s effectiveness.