Johnny Engell-Hansen

Johnny Engell-Hansen

Head of Operation Unit, Council of the European Union

Title: Can Early Warning be Improved by Enhancing Open
Source Intelligence through better Exploitation of
Societal Data and Information ?

Early warning as a concept can be applied to crises and crisis management in many different areas; political, economic, natural disasters, environmental, societal, health, etc. This presentation will
focus on its application where the gradual destabilisation of a country or region has the potential to lead to societal unrest and/or violent conflict.

The societal deterioration of a country or a region in principle goes through three phases: the stable phase, the fragile phase and the crisis phase. The methodology used to analyse and assess the evolution of societal status differs depending on the "phase". In the (relatively) stable phase the situation will typically be assessed by means of a number of pre-determined parameters - "indicators". The gradual deterioration of the building blocks, which under normal circumstances ensure a viable and cohesive society as well as good relations with neighbouring countries; e.g. political, ideological, cultural, religious, social, economic, etc. is tracked and compared.

This model assumes that each parameter can fairly easily be monitored and “scored”. To a large extent the model can then be automated and almost mechanically applied. This way of situation monitoring can be described as the “quantitative model”.

To determine the relative state-of-affairs in this phase each indicator is monitored and scored. The sum of scores will, in principle, tell us whether a crisis is approaching. And - at least in theory - the extrapolation of deteriorating indicators enables the analyst to predict the breaking point, i.e. the point at which a crisis can be declared. If a sufficient number of parameters move from “green” to “amber” or “red” a crisis is – per definition – unfolding.

The advantage of the quantative model is that it can to a large degree be automated, enabling you to cover a large number of countries and situations with relatively modest resources. The disadvantage
is that it is a fairly blunt instrument and experience has shown that the model will sometimes (often) fail to detect sudden, rapidly unfolding crises in a timely fashion.

At the other end of the spectrum, the crisis phase, where the evolving crisis' breaking point is imminent, experience has shown that objective parameters - the indicators - become more or less...


Short Bio

Within the EU External Action Service, Johnny Engell-Hansen is currently Head of Duty and Awareness Division in the EU Situation Centre and also Head of the EU Situation Room.
Responsibilities include; monitoring and assessing world-wide events on a 24/7 basis; Early Warning and Crisis Response; alerting the EU High Representative, senior EU officials and EU Member States to politically significant events; Open Sources analyses; Deployable teams to ensure
enhanced crisis information flow from theatre in a crisis situation; Provision of core infrastructures (human and material) to support EU policy level consultations and coordination in case the EU Emergency and Crisis Coordination Arrangements are triggered; and cooperation and information exchange with partners in EU institutions, EU Member States and other International Organisations.

Johnny Engell-Hansen has participated in work to support the development of African
Union "Continental Early Warning System". He has served as an adviser to the EU border
management agency FRONTEX on the setting up of its own Situation Centre.

Johnny Engell-Hansen has been a co-initiator in the creation of a platform for cooperation and information exchange between bodies within International Organisations responsible for "early warning" and "crisis response". He has played a leading role in the "Budapest Club"- a forum created to enhance the exploitation of Open Sources information among EU government institutions and has been a frequent speaker / participant in various conferences and workshops dealing with "Open Source Intelligence", "Early Warning" and "Crisis Response".

Within the EU General Secretariat of the Council Johnny Engell-Hansen has previously held positions in departments dealing with Energy Policy and Organisational Development. In the framework of an exchange programme he was seconded to the German Federal Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and the German Federal Ministry of Defence in 2002.

Prior to joining the EU General Secretariat of the Council Johnny Engell-Hansen was a career officer in the Danish Armed Forces. He was, among other things, seconded to the EU Monitoring Mission in ex-Yugoslavia in 1993 where he served in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.