Fundamental questions of the CFSP in theological-ethical approaches

© European Union

To deal with secu­ri­ty poli­cy from the per­spec­ti­ve of theo­lo­gi­cal ethics does not fall wit­hin the core area of this disci­pli­ne. Also, tho­se who deal with the exter­nal action of the Euro­pean Uni­on (EU) from an eccle­si­al con­text tend to be on the peri­phe­ry of the church. From the per­spec­ti­ve out­lined abo­ve, com­bi­ning both could be seen as an ent­i­re­ly off­side object of inte­rest: Espe­cial­ly if it is to be deve­lo­ped on the basis of the exem­pla­ry events in Mali/central Sahel. But this is not the case at all.

© Mar­co Schrage

First­ly, secu­ri­ty is a genui­nely theological-ethical field of reflec­tion, becau­se the stu­dy of it con­fronts us both with the irri­ta­ting insight that any know­ledge of secu­ri­ty can only be hypo­the­ti­cal and with the viru­lent tempt­ati­on that we want to crea­te per­fect secu­ri­ty our­sel­ves in quasi-demiurgical attitudes.

Second­ly, the EU is sup­por­ted by an effort of respect and coope­ra­ti­on in its inte­rior, so that, coher­ent­ly, its exter­nal action also has to be ent­i­re­ly influ­en­ced by this atti­tu­de: Sin­ce life based on faith, sin­ce church life is aimed pre­cise­ly at crea­ting and streng­t­he­ning peace, the EU is a genui­nely eccle­si­asti­cal place against this background.

Third­ly, Mali/central Sahel is a plau­si­ble and worthwhile examp­le. On the one hand, its pro­blems – pover­ty, lack of edu­ca­ti­on, cor­rup­ti­on, lack of com­mon good awa­reness, inter-ethnic power and resour­ce strug­gles, smuggling of wea­pons, drugs and human bein­gs – can be found muta­tis mutan­dis in many other Afri­can sta­tes. On the other hand, the cri­ses and shocks of the com­ing deca­des in this part of the world will affect Euro­pe more inten­si­ve­ly than other parts of the world and, at the same time, the Euro­pean sta­tes are named wit­hin the Wes­tern world as having the pri­ma­ry respon­si­bi­li­ty for sta­bi­li­sing and streng­t­he­ning this con­ti­nent. Last but not least, Mali/central Sahel is the Afri­can regi­on in which the EU is most com­mit­ted in terms of secu­ri­ty poli­cy; and the need for this com­mit­ment will remain for Euro­peans for many years to come.

Metho­do­lo­gi­cal­ly, the pro­ject fol­lows the clas­si­cal, three-step approach of moral theo­lo­gy: see­ing – jud­ging – acting. It the­re­fo­re unfolds in three (exem­pla­ry) steps – an epis­temic, a nor­ma­ti­ve, an evaluative:

• How does the EU con­cep­tua­li­ze secu­ri­ty poli­cy and what are its signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­ti­ons to secu­ri­ty policy?

• How can stan­dards for this be for­mu­la­ted in the con­text of the Catho­lic social doctrine?

• What are the impli­ca­ti­ons for exem­pla­ric fields/projects/missions: how should the past be eva­lua­ted; what should future actions look like?

At the end of 2020, after gra­du­al pre­pa­ra­ti­on and coor­di­na­ti­on, a ‘Euro­pean Doc­to­ral Col­lo­qui­um’ on the Com­mon For­eign and Secu­ri­ty Poli­cy (CFSP) could be laun­ched: The part­ners invol­ved are – bes­i­des the Insti­tu­te for Theo­lo­gy and Peace (IthF) in Hamburg –


• the Acca­de­mia Alfon­sia­na (AA) in Rome
• the Kato­lie­ke Uni­ver­sit­eit Leu­ven (KUL), Facul­teit Theo­lo­gie en Reli­gie­we­ten­sch­ap­pen in Leu­ven, and
• the Ukrai­ni­an Catho­lic Uni­ver­si­ty (UCU), Facul­ty of Theo­lo­gy and Phi­lo­so­phy in Lviv.

The­se four insti­tu­ti­ons link North and South, East and West as well as the three lar­ge lan­guage are­as wit­hin Euro­pe in a very appro­pria­te way.

At each of the­se insti­tu­ti­ons, a super­vi­sor and a doc­to­ral can­di­da­te are invol­ved in theological-ethical work in the field of the CFSP. The cur­rent working tit­les of the indi­vi­du­al dis­ser­ta­ti­ons are:

• Cui­us rex veri­tas, cui­us lex cari­tas, cui­us modus aeter­ni­tas: The Ethics of Citi­zenship in Post-Secular Euro­pean Socie­ty – an Augus­ti­ni­an Pro­spect (AA)
Healing a woun­ded ima­gi­na­ti­on: Fear, iden­ti­ty and reli­gi­on in Cen­tral Euro­pe (KUL)
[…] (UCU).
A Femi­nist For­eign Poli­cy for the EU-Iran rela­ti­ons? Asses­sing the EU’s opti­ons for a stra­te­gy chan­ge (IThF)

The ‘Euro­pean Doc­to­ral Col­lo­qui­um’ con­sists in par­ti­cu­lar of mee­ting in turn at the par­ti­ci­pa­ting loca­ti­ons every six mon­ths, exch­an­ging ide­as and at the same time invi­t­ing prac­ti­tio­ners and scho­l­ars for impul­ses, as well as sharing insights and results with stu­dents from the par­ti­ci­pa­ting insti­tu­ti­ons: In this way, the aim is to bene­fit from each other in the extre­me­ly spe­ci­fic and litt­le dealt with area of theological-ethical deba­te on the CFSP.

• to bene­fit from each other,
• to bund­le com­pe­ten­ces and thus also
• to achie­ve a stron­ger exter­nal impact.

Sin­ce May 2018, the EU lacks a for­eign poli­cy stra­te­gy for Iran. Even though the EU con­ti­nues to sus­tain talks on a new trea­ty regar­ding Iran’s nuclear pro­gram­me and at the same time, she main­tains inter­na­tio­nal sanc­tions against Iran. But a pos­si­ble new “nuclear deal” does not yet sol­ve the major diplo­ma­tic chal­len­ges and sanc­tions are not a stra­te­gy, they are a mean, at best a tac­tic. This beco­mes par­ti­cu­lar­ly clear by ana­ly­sing the EU-Iran rela­ti­ons from the per­spec­ti­ve of a femi­nist for­eign poli­cy. This is pre­cise­ly whe­re this rese­arch pro­ject comes in. Which opti­ons ari­se for the Euro­pean for­eign secu­ri­ty poli­cy to pur­sue the approach of femi­nist for­eign poli­cy towards Iran?

To ans­wer this and rela­ted ques­ti­ons, cla­ri­ty will first be brought to the con­cepts of femi­nist for­eign poli­cy, which are cur­r­ent­ly being taken up in many pla­ces. This is fol­lo­wed by an ana­ly­sis of sanc­tions as a for­eign poli­cy tool from the per­spec­ti­ve of femi­nist for­eign poli­cy. The­se results are dis­cus­sed with approa­ches from the field of rea­lism, out of who­se cri­tique the femi­nist per­spec­ti­ve on for­eign poli­cy has been co-developed.

The cen­tral inte­rest of the rese­arch pro­ject is to argue for a para­digm shift in the EU-Iran rela­ti­ons­hip. To streng­t­hen this stance, the empi­ri­cal inte­rest focu­ses on the unin­ten­ded con­se­quen­ces of sanc­tions for mar­gi­na­li­sed groups in Iran. One aim of femi­nist for­eign poli­cy is to take into grea­ter account the per­spec­ti­ve of tho­se affec­ted by poli­cy mea­su­res. This is whe­re the the­sis intends to make its aca­de­mic con­tri­bu­ti­on and to test sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly the via­bi­li­ty of the con­cept of femi­nist for­eign poli­cy. The aim of the work is to con­tour the value of a femi­nist for­eign poli­cy of the EU towards Iran.


Project Researcher

Lisa Neal, M. A.

Project Supervisor