EU, Conflict Transformation and Civil Society: Promoting Peace from the Bottom Up?

Nathalie Tocci


The European Union established in order to bring about peace on the continent has instinctively considered conflict resolution a cardinal objective of its fledging foreign policy. Specifically, it has aimed at reconciling societies and transforming conflict, above simply managing crises and inducing settlements. In view of this, the EU has considered civil society as a key actor in conflict settings. This article seeks to unpack how the EU can engage with civil society actors in conflict areas as well as to provide an analytical framework to understand the EU’s impact on conflict through its engagement with civil society. To do so, the article posits three hypotheses: the liberal peace, the disembedded civil society and the Gramscian hypotheses. Rather than addressing which and to what extent these hypotheses apply in the abstract, this article presents a number of empirical examples drawn from the EU’s engagement with civil society organizations in several neighbourhood conflicts in order to illustrate their relevance for analysis.

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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