Despite the efforts which governments undertake, conflict prevention remains the most unglamorous, least documented and easily forgotten of diplomatic and military endeavours. A conflict which was successfully prevented usually merits little further attention and the lessons learned are often just as quickly forgotten.
In 2001, not long after the war in Kosovo, the stability of the Balkans was once again threatened by flaring ethnic tensions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. But civil war was narrowly averted. The thirty-day mission Operation Essential Harvest in 2001 tasked with disarming insurgents and supporting a political settlement, was the climax of a rare, and mostly overlooked, example of successful pre-emptive diplomacy that has enduring lessons for conflict resolution and peace building in the 21st Century.
Mark Laity – who documents the background to Operation Essential Harvest and analyses the reasons for its success - was Special Adviser to the NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and personal adviser to the late Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski.
Lord Robertson led NATO at the time of this successful operation, and it was therefore fitting that he should address the Institute on the lessons learnt from the NATO-led international effort that prevented war in Macedonia. With the Kosovo question now once again on the agenda, NATO’s experience in conflict prevention remains paramount to an understanding of today’s European security environment.
For a copy of Lord Robertson's speech, please follow the link.