Crisis Group’s Watch List Policy Dialogue 2023

Brussels (In-person)

29 November 2023

09.30-16.15 CET

Crisis Group invites you to join the annual Watch List Policy Dialogue, a series of roundtables discussing international crises, the drivers of hostility and causes of instability, and policy options to prevent, mitigate and help solve deadly conflicts. The event is open to policy practitioners, regional experts and diplomats working on peace and security from the European Union and its member states, civil society and international organisations.

This year, the dialogue will gather participants around four short and dynamic panel discussions on Israel/Palestine, Kosovo/Serbia, the Sahel region, and Guatemala. Drawing from the analyses and recommendations presented in Crisis Group’s yearly issues of the EU Watch List – the Watch List 2023, and its May and October 2023 updates – as well as Crisis Group’s other relevant publications over the past year, Crisis Group analysts and expert panellists will discuss how the EU can play a stronger role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding, and address key policy challenges to generate stronger prospects for peace.

The meeting will be under Chatham House Rule and in person. Below, you will find a draft agenda with the topics of each session. Participants can choose if they would like to attend the entire event or individual sessions.





9h30 - 09h45 (CET) 

Richard Atwood, Vice-President for Policy, Crisis Group
Jesper Pedersen, Head of Unit, Rapid Response Africa & Middle East, Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, European Commission
Guillem Riutord Sampol, Head of Division Peace, Security and Defence Partnership, European External Action Service

09h45 - 11h00 (CET)

De-escalating the Israel/Palestine Conflict
Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7th, and the subsequent Israeli military response in Gaza, marks the worst escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades. The future of Gaza, and of the security and stability of the region as a whole remain uncertain. The European Union so far has had a wavering stance on the issue, with inconsistencies in its approach to aid for the Palestinians, Israel's legal obligations, and calls for a humanitarian pause vs ceasefire. In this session, panellists will delve into the Israel-Hamas war, the potential for a spillover in the region, and the role the EU and its member states could play “the day after”.

Joost Hiltermann, Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, Crisis Group
Thomas Ossowski, Ambassador to the EU Political and Security Committee, the Federal Republic of Germany
Cáit Moran, Ambassador to the EU Political and Security Committee, Ireland
Maha Yahya, Director, Carnegie Middle East Center

Lahib Higel, Interim Deputy Program Director, Middle East and North Africa, Crisis Group

11h00 - 11h15 (CET)

Coffee break

11h15 -
12h30 (CET)

Navigating the US-EU Normalization Plan Amid Rising Tensions in Kosovo and Serbia

The newly-proposed US-EU normalisation plan deals with both Serbia and Kosovo’s major disagreements. It asks Serbia to act as though it recognises Kosovo, and for Kosovo to make good on earlier commitments to give its Serb minority a degree of self-government and access to Serbian services. Although talks in October 2023 around this plan failed, the recent escalations raise the spectre of a return to conflict and thus make acceptance of this plan by both parties more urgent. This panel will explore the challenges for the EU and other international actors to prevent escalation while pushing the parties to accept improvements that are within reach.

Katharina Kandt, Political and Media Adviser and Chief of Staff, Office of the EUSR for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues
Engjellushe Morina, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
Marko Prelec, Consulting Senior Analyst, Balkans, Crisis Group

Marta Mucznik, Senior EU Analyst, Crisis Group

12h30 -
13h30 (CET)


13h30 -
14h45 (CET)

Sahel in Crisis: Unraveling Coups and Security Challenges
The Sahel region is witnessing a spate of coups and an erosion of democratic principles. Countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger continue to grapple with security issues even after the military has assumed power. This panel will look at the regional implications of military takeovers in the Sahel and the impact of continued Islamist violence, with panellists discussing what role the EU and its member states and other international actors can have in stabilizing the region.

Carmelo Barbarello, Office of the EU Special Representative for the Sahel
Jean-Hervé Jezequel, Project Director, Sahel, Crisis Group
Alioune Tine, Founder AfricaJom Center
Rinaldo Depagne, Deputy Program Director, Africa & Project Director, West Africa, Crisis Group

Elissa Jobson, Chief of Advocacy, Crisis Group

15h00 -
16h15 (CET)

Guatemala: An Uncertain Transition
Guatemala has experienced extreme political tension and mass protests following the victory of president-elect Bernardo Arévalo in August. Major judicial institutions, including the Attorney General’s office, have taken steps to challenge the result, including by suspending Arévalo’s political party Semilla and carrying out raids in the offices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The EU is extremely concerned about the prospects of a peaceful and orderly transition in January, since any derailment could cause grave harm to the country’s social and economic stability. This panel will explore the outlook for January and beyond. Even if an orderly transition does happen, questions remain as to how the EU could play a role in helping Guatemalan institutions rebuild the rule of law, safeguard judicial independence and avoid future instability and conflict.

Ivan Briscoe, Program Director, Latin America and the Caribbean 
Jonathan Hatwell, Head of Division, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, European External Action Service
Marlies Stappers, Founder and Executive Director, Impunity Watch

Isabelle Arradon, Director of Research, Crisis Group


Please register directly with Lavinia Pletosu at in order to receive the location of the event.

This event takes place within the framework of a project co-funded by the European Union (EU) under the Foreign Policy Instruments, and managed by the International Crisis Group.


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