In the late 1990s, with the lessons learned in the Yugoslav Wars, Luxembourg policymakers and politicians realised the need to put in place a 3D (diplomacy, development, defence) approach. Many factors led to a more integrative approach, such as the need to seek synergies between the ministries concerned, the need to pool limited human and financial resources in order to have a bigger effect and better coordination, the need to eliminate waste and duplications, the need to eliminate competition between government departments, the growing realisation that internal security is very much linked to external security, the evidence that development and cooperation aid can actually prevent crises, and the important realisation that post-conflict situations can only be stabilised using non-military resources.
The government that came into office in June 1999 first stated in its government programme its desire to establish a 3D approach and cross-government whole-of-government approach (WGA) in the fields of foreign and security policy. In 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) bureaucracies were merged following the creation of a political-military committee between the ministries in April of that year, which itself represented a recognition of the need to bring these two communities together.
While the bureaucracies were merged, there remain two members of the government with a distinct political responsibility for defence and foreign affairs, respectively. A Directorate for International Aid and Development already existed within the MFA (which is now called the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, or MFEA). Once foreign affairs, defence and international development aid were brought together into a single institution, all three elements of 3D were under the same roof, so to speak, which made cooperation much easier.
Thenceforth, in terms of shaping policy, 3D became more and more of a reality. In Kosovo, in Afghanistan and, later, in Africa, the 3D approach was actively pursued through this ‘joint bureaucracy’, which jointly elaborated various policies for decision-makers. Such decisions could relate to a wide range of issues, such as deploying troops abroad, funding development and cooperation packages, and engaging diplomatically with and on behalf of countries in crisis.
The joint bureaucracy worked together, exchanged information, developed policies and exploited synergies. This enabled the three sectorial policies to be better informed of their respective plans and policies, and it facilitated joint decision-making. In other words, when the defence department was thinking about deploying troops to country X in crisis, it would inform the other two departments in the 3D nexus. These other two departments could then decide to also develop a policy in support of country X, which the defence department was preparing to support with military resources. The 3D ‘bureaucracy’ also makes it easier to implement decisions reached at an international level through national 3D or WGA processes.
The 3D approach is a good fit for Luxembourg’s specific characteristics. It is a small country with a small bureaucracy (in absolute terms). Communication lines are short and (generally) fast. Information circulates well between agencies. The level of transparency between ministries involved in crisis management is good. At the level of senior civil servants, people knew each other and understood the need to keep each other informed. Given these circumstances, putting a 3D approach in place came (fairly) easily and naturally after 1999.
Luxembourg’s financial resources are small (in absolute terms). Combining efforts and pooling budget articles through a 3D approach yields bigger amounts for a ‘bigger bang’. Indeed, 3D made sense from a political point of view (from the vision perspective), from a practical point of view (better effect, better efficiency, better control, better coordination, better implementation), and from a budgetary point of view. With the growing visibility of this 3D approach both at home and abroad, WGAs have been adopted across government, i.e. beyond just the fields of foreign and security policy. What’s more, civil servants have generally come to have a positive mindset about it. In view of its positive experience with 3D, Luxembourg is actively supporting such approaches at the international level. The only missing piece, of course, is a detailed, spelled-out strategy.