The comprehensive approach : a foreign policy tool?

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Inkeroinen, Matti
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The international crisis management is dealing with direct threats to wider international and national peace and security and has developed capacities to manage diverse aspects of recent complex crises. Understanding in this area has been produced largely by formative experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. While today the dominant paradigm is stabilisation, the key concept to realise this paradigm is the comprehensive approach and the main environment to exercise it remains Afghanistan. Though there is not commonly agreed upon definition, the comprehensive approach is usually understood as an endeavour to integrate different dimensions of stabilisation – development, governance, humanitarian, human rights, political, rule of law and security – in stabilisation operations. In this study the term comprehensive approach is used to signify initiative, a way of thinking, and, a wide range of parallel concepts used by different actors. This thesis seeks to examine the nature of the comprehensive approach based upon its theoretical background, conceptual rationale and practical realisation. More precisely its purpose is to discover what the comprehensive approach is really for. I will argue that despite the noble rhetoric of international and human security, human rights, democracy, development and humanitarian assistance, the driving force of the crisis management and the comprehensive approach can be traced to the fundamental question, much like in all levels of social interaction whose vision of the future will prevail. These visions are formulated as policies and in the international context this implies foreign policies. The thesis goes through the theoretical framework of crisis management, elaborates upon stabilisation as the present focus of crisis management operations, and clarifies the content and nature of the comprehensive approach at large. This thesis concludes that the seminal topic connecting all these issues – crisis management, stabilisation and comprehensive approach – in the theoretical level is foreign policy. The subsequent case study supports this finding at the global, regional and national levels of a crisis. As a final conclusion, it declares that the comprehensive approach in the crisis management context is ultimately for realising foreign policy goals.
Second semester University: University of Hamburg
crisis management, foreign policy