The link to the EU

Published on Monday, 6th of June 2022

CMI strengthened its presence at the heart of the EU in 2021 by appointing Jibecke Jönsson as the head of CMI’s Brussels office. Jönsson sees cooperation with the EU, its member states and multilateral organisations as essential to CMI’s work.

Jibecke Jönsson Photo: Maria Santto

Jibecke Jönsson

• Head of the CMI’s Brussels Office, focusing on maintaining relations and building strategic partnerships with the EU, EU Member States and Brussels stakeholders.

• Previously seconded by Sweden to the European External Actions Service (EEAS) with focus on the EU-UN partnership on peace and security.

• Some prior roles include Head of Policy and Best Practices, Challenges Forum for Peace Operations; Political Adviser of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic; Programme Manager and Research Assistant at the United Nations University in New York.

• Holds a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in Florence focusing on global governance and UN peace operations.

• Areas of expertise are peacebuilding, UN peacekeeping, EU crisis management, multilateralism, global governance and partnerships.

In 2021, you were appointed Head of CMI’s Brussels Office. Is there something in CMI’s work that has surprised you?

The quality and professionalism of the work. I have never worked somewhere where people are so genuinely committed to the cause. They are more concerned about the outcome than for example being seen to be doing something. The commitment to making a difference is unique.

CMI has strengthened its collaboration with the EU. Last year CMI ran several large projects with EU support, including our work in Ukraine and Yemen. How would you describe cooperation between the EU and CMI?

Collaboration is already very good but also something that should be growing. The EU is a funny animal in the sense that it can be easier to get large grants than funding for the smaller types of projects that our activities normally lend themselves to. Therefore, I think the fact that CMI is growing also helps our partnership to grow.

But funding is only one side of the coin. The other is political and here, the cooperation is intensifying even further. The EU and the EU member states are increasingly calling upon CMI to exchange situational updates and analysis, as well as to brainstorm and explore opportunities for how to address situations, most recently as the war in Ukraine unfolded.

The EU has worked to strengthen its capacities in peacemediation. What does this mean concretely?

The EU has made important progress in developing the policies and concept of mediation and conflict prevention, and is now trying to understand what that means in more operational terms. An important part of what CMI can do in Brussels right now is to try to feed that thinking based on our experience of what work for peace can look like in practice. To a large extent, the EU’s peacebuilding work consists of conflict analysis and horizon scanning, and the process of going from early warning to action. CMI can play a role in helping the EU understand what that could be like.

The main aim of the Brussels office for 2021 was to enhance CMI’s relations with the EU and its member states as well as non-governmental organisations. What is the status of CMI among these actors?

We have good relations and are well-respected among our peers. CMI is also quite well known by the EU member states, in particular those who fund us, such as Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. Those who do not work on peacemaking may be less familiar with CMI. In Brussels, many NGOs and civil society networks do advocacy work. I think we could call our work in Brussels light advocacy, meaning that we naturally want to influence the EU’s work and shape the policy and practice of peacemaking
– learning from our experience and applying best practices
– but we do it through informal discussion and exchanges rather than traditional advocacy work.

Brussels is home to many multilateral organisations. What is the character of multilateral cooperation in the era of growing geopolitical tension and alarming conflicts – and how can CMI best work in this global environment?

Multilateralism is clearly challenged by growing geopolitical tension. We should as much as possible, cooperate closely and work transparently with international organisations – the more, the better. We of course have to be careful to ensure our independence, but I believe that we have to show support to multilateral organisations and that we share many of the same commitments, with the UN in particular. For example, during our recent work in Afghanistan, supporting the EU in setting up a Afghan Women Leaders’ Forum, we made sure that the UN was informed from the outset. It is essential for CMI to work in a way that also reinforces multilateralism.

Working with multilateral organisations

• CMI has for a long time worked closely with several regional and international organisations. This collaboration is one of CMI’s key strengths and lies at the heart of our work to complement official peacemaking efforts.

• Our added value in this area is our ability to provide independent, expert and solution-oriented advisory support for officially mandated peace processes.

• In addition to the EU, we work with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In its origins, the EU is a peace project. How do you see the importance of advancing this project in these turbulent times?

The situation in Ukraine has united the EU in many ways and brought it back to its roots, showing that indeed it is a peace project. EU unity has recently been challenged. Even if cooperation was advancing on paper, divisions were visibly undermining implementation. Currently, the unity of member states is to a large extent expressed through defence cooperation, but I do not think that it will stop there. Attention is slowly shifting towards also softer and more long-term security issues such as resilience, prevention and peacebuilding.

What are the key themes or areas in CMI’s work you wish to take forward in 2022?

It is impossible to pinpoint one thing or area. Our work is important and interesting throughout all projects and activities. Women in Peacemaking is something always to be highlighted in our engagements, and Digital Peacemaking is very timely and important. Recently in Brussels we have also been looking more at climate, peace and security, and youth peace and security.

This article was published in our Annual Report 2021

Anni Lindgren / CMI