Time horizons for intervention

The nature of crisis interventions varies by the time-frame that interventions take place, and can be described as:

  • Short term
  • Middle range
  • Long term
Short term

Immediate and short-term crisis interventions are the ones we most often hear about. These interventions involve preventing escalating conflicts from erupting into armed conflict or capping armed conflicts which have already broken out.

Short-term interventions have a logic and thrust of their own, but they should be seen to the degree possible as part of a broader process of de-escalation and negotiation leading to resolution of the conflict.

An example of a short-term crisis intervention was the deployment of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) from October 1998 to March 1999 to verify Federal Republic of Yugoslavia compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions. This involved verification of the ceasefire, monitoring of the movement of forces and the promotion of human rights. Deterioration of the security situation led to the withdrawal of the KVM.

Middle range

The middle range horizon involves thinking about what has to be done to link the short-term intervention with a sustainable long-term goal of peace. This middle range could include post-conflict security and peace building by institutionalizing politico-security measures between states or facilitating democratization within states.

The OSCE Mission to Croatia, for example, assisted with and monitored the implementation of Croatian legislation and agreements and commitments on the return of refugees and displaced persons; the protection of their rights and of minorities.

Long term

The long-term perspective is driven by visions of what the future could look like ten or twenty years out. This might involve the transformation of the relationships between states or groups and resolution of the underlying factors that caused the conflicts between them.

The best example is the transformation of the relationship between France and Germany over the last fifty years.