Craft firearms in Cameroon: urgent need of a coherent legislation to govern traditional practices

In Cameroon, the craft firearms are mainly produced in two neighbouring regions, the West and the Northwest. After a short presentation of the characteristics of these regions and of the few knowledge available about these weapons in the country, we examine the legal frame, on the national and local scale, and highlight some of its gaps.

The outcomes of the field survey realized by local collaborators of GRIP are then presented. Several trends emerge, concerning the main types of the guns in circulation, the use and the users of these weapons, the importance of the production and the attitude of the holders and manufacturers towards the legal requirements.

Finally, some recommendations are addressed to the Cameroonian authorities so that, in a new law currently prepared, the control of craft weapons takes into account the sociocultural context in order to attain a maximal efficiency.

Crédit photo: Gaius Ngongang Tchamen - munitions dans le Noun, Cameroun

Tchad: enjeux électoraux et risques politiques-clés à surveiller

Pivot de la stratégie de contreterrorisme franco-américaine dans l’espace sahélo-saharien, le Tchad s’est imposé, par la qualité de ses forces armées, comme un partenaire indispensable et un rempart régional, face à la poussée islamiste de l’Afrique du Nord vers l’Afrique subsaharienne. Cependant, cette affirmation de puissance à l’échelle régionale, ainsi que la stabilité interne du pays, restent tributaires d’une base économique fragile, ainsi que d’un processus d’institutionnalisation et de démocratisation inachevé. Aussi, l’élection présidentielle d’avril 2016 constitue un test grandeur nature, tant au regard du contexte socio-économique – particulièrement maussade en raison de la baisse des cours du pétrole – que sur le plan institutionnel. En raison de la militarisation de la vie politique, de l’inscription durable de la menace terroriste dans la sous-région, et plus particulièrement, de l’aspiration d’une partie des Tchadiens à l’alternance, l’échéance électorale d’avril 2016 présente des risques d’exacerber les tensions sociales et le climat de récession que connait le pays. Cette note contextuelle identifie quelques enjeux et facteurs de risques, dans les champs pertinents – politique, socio-économique, sécuritaire –, pouvant altérer l’évolution du Tchad en 2016.

Military cooperation and arms transfers from India and Pakistan

Looking at the volume, the nature and the origins of imports from India and Pakistan over the last ten years reveals significant developments: Russia, traditional supplier of New Delhi, is slowly approaching Pakistan, which itself continues to work closely with China. Some agreements even throw the foundations for trilateral cooperation between Moscow, Beijing and Islamabad. At the same time, Washington, very present on the market of the Pakistani weapons since the early 1980s, seems to gradually move away and focus more on the Indian market. This Analysis recalls recent developments and discusses the potential impact that these alliances could have on regional stability.

Crédit photo : Narendra Modi inaugure la nouvelle stratégie nationale de développement industriel "Make in India" en septembre 2014 (source : Licence Creative Commons)

Japan as a new arms exporter: expectations, realities and strategic stakes

Under Shinzo Abe, Japan has been engaged in a quest for "normalcy" that, since 2014, implied the capacity to export weapons. Is Japan re-militarizing? What are the stakes of this evolution, at a time of geopolitical turmoil in the Northeast Asian region? This note aims at detailing the context, the expectations and the realities of Japan’s simultaneous defense of arms exports and a proactive contribution to peace. On such basis, it sheds light on the associated strategic stakes. 

Crédit photo : Mamoまも / Wikimedia Commons

The Funding of Defence Research by the EU

In the medium term, the EU may fund research in the defence sector. In this light, it could launch a small Preparatory Action from 2017 to 2020, in order to test the feasibility of such an idea. For this, it could draw inspiration from Horizon 2020, the big scientific research aid framework program managed by the Commission for 2014-2020.

In 2020, when the EU will adopt its new Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027), and provided the Preparatory Action will be a success, the defence domain could be fully integrated in the EU budgetary agenda. The sums set aside to this new priority will then be more substantial. Prior to that, the Preparatory Action will however have to prove its worth. Its planning therefore represents a major challenge, as the interests to be reconciled are several. National sovereignty, industry, European Union: the equation to be solved is quite complex.  

Crédit photo : European Defence Agency

Arms Exports Controls: A Focus on Three Balkan Countries (Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro)

The ongoing process of EU integration has led several Southeastern European countries to start a comprehensive overhaul of their arms transfers legislations in order to comply with the EU Common Position on arms exports. As sizeable arms exporters whose industries primarily manufacture SALW and their ammunition, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and have managed to enter markets neglected by bigger exporters. If their legal provisions are pretty much in line with the EU Common Position, some of their top arms exports recipients remain problematic as they fall under EU embargoes.

Crédit photo : Char de combat ME91 produit par l’entreprise Yugoimport SDPR (Source : Yugoimport)

Eradicate Boko Haram: mulitple actors, uncertain outcome

This note analyses the measures taken to combat Boko Haram and is the continuation of the analysis published on January 8, 2016 dedicated to the development of this group during the period 2012-2015. For the sake of clarity, we have articulated this second text in three parts: the measures taken at national level by the four countries directly affected by the attacks of Boko Haram, those taken by these States in a regional context, primarily the Commission of the Lake Chad Basin (LCBC), and the military assistance provided to these countries by the major powers, mainly France and the United States.

Crédit photo : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de propagande de Boko Haram


Transferts d’armes en Afrique subsaharienne : Au-delà des idées reçues

Un Su-30MK2 de la « Force de défense du peuple ougandais ». Source : Wikimedia Commons

S’il est vrai que les États d’Afrique subsaharienne sont avant tout des importateurs d’armements et que ces importations restent marginales à l’échelle mondiale, celles-ci semblent, depuis quelques années, en hausse et couvrent une palette d’armements conventionnels beaucoup plus large que les seules ALPC. De plus, ces États ne procèdent pas qu’à des importations : nombre d’entre eux agissent comme hub dans des transactions internationales, revendent des surplus de leurs stocks à des pays tiers ou cherchent à exporter le produit de leur industrie locale. Ainsi, ceux-ci se trouvent beaucoup plus « concernés » par le TCA que l’idée reçue décrite plus haut voudrait le faire croire ; malgré cela, les systèmes nationaux de contrôle des transferts restent souvent limités et en inadéquation avec les réalités actuelles du commerce des armes.

French arms sales to Egypt: the risks of an opportunistic cooperation

At two different periods in History, France has been acting with opportunism and pragmatism on the Egyptian armament market. Since 2010, the situation seems to be favorable again as the amounts of the orders and of the delivered equipment are steadily rising. However, these arms transfers have occurred in a very turbulent period linked with a growing political instability and insecurity since Mohamed Morsi’s removal in the summer 2013. Therefore, the risks related to these arms exports are many. 

Crédit photo : Gonzalo Alonso / Dassault aviation / Licence Creative Commons


Libya: arms, embargo and diplomacy in the shadow of the islamist threat

Should arms be sent in Libya to address the growing power of Daech, in case this country would create a national unity government? Such an interrogation raises unavoidable other questions. First from a legal perspective: what about the EU and the UN embargos to which Libya is constrained? Second, from a political point of view: who should be armed, and under which conditions? And thirdly from a military one: why send more arms in a country already flooded with weapons? These are the question this Note will try to answer. 

Crédit photo : obus non explosé à Syrte (crédit : Christian Jacob Hansen, Danish Demining Group)

Air power in question. Contribution to the debate about replacing the F-16s

 Air power in question. Contribution to the debate about replacing the F-16s
The aim of this analysis is to offer a counterargument in the debate about the replacement of the Belgian F-16 fighter-bombers. Many criticisms rightly point to the costs related to the acquisition and maintenance of the fighter-bombers. The question however is not the only problematic one. Generally speaking, the technical, tactical and operational capacities of these airplanes appear to be limited, or even counterproductive. In other words, in spite of their high cost, the fighter-bombers offer a globally debatable contribution to Belgian security policy.
(Photo: The six Belgian F-16A at the Azraq base in Jordan. Source: Ministry of Defense, Air Component)


Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – October to December 2015

This quarterly monitoring aims to follow the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border crime and trafficking.

Published by GRIP since 2011, it is part of a project named “Contributing to improve human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan countries” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Crédit photo : Visite de la MINUSMA à Anefis, au Nord-Mali, dans le cadre du processus de paix (source : Nations unies/Marco Dormino)

Political change and urban space in West Africa

Since the beginning of this decade, urban areas in West Africa have seen the rise of new patterns of social protest, with no link to party systems. Based on logics of generational tensions, these movements have been at the core of an alternating political power in Burkina Faso and Senegal. The reasons for this protests are mainly related to the high cost of living, improved living conditions and issues of governance. These movements appear to be partly the result of a significant political outreach process and a slow urban associative maturation. In addition, very high social and spatial inequalities in urban areas between a globalized elite and a majority of the population made poor and peripheral are the seeds of an antagonistic resentment. In this context, the outskirts of the cities stand for the place of urban growing discontent.
(Photo from website

Boko Haram: developments 2012-2015

This note highlights the evolution of Boko Haram since 2012, when the jihadist organisation – initially active mainly in north-eastern Nigeria – expanded its attacks to three neighboring countries: Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Besides increasing the areas under its control, other features explain the development of Boko Haram: structuring, tactics, communication, alliance with other jihadist movements, weapons supply, etc.

Special attention is paid to the year 2015, which marks a turning point in the life of the armed group. The increased involvement of the region's security forces has allowed to considerably reduce the area under its control. If its capacity for harm appears weakened, its adaptability should inspire caution to those who claim that Boko Haram is being eradicated.

Crédit photo : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de propagande de Boko Haram

Mali: progress and challenges

On Friday 20 November, the Radisson Blu of Bamako was attacked by armed men. After being claimed by Al Mourabitoune and Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and then by the Macina Liberation Front in collaboration with Ansar Dine, the attack reflects the recent changes that have been seen within jihadist groups and their modes of action. However, apart from this attack and Mali’s security issues, this note also analyses the country’s overall situation and the progress that have been made since the election of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as Mali’s head of state in August 2013. More specifically, besides the implementation of the peace agreement signed in June 2015, the note addresses four issues: security, development, internal fractures and the State.
Crédit photo : La Grande Mosquée de Djenné (source : Michele Alfieri / 123 RF) 

Military spending in East Asia: Territorial conflicts and spiraling risks

Since 1997, the rise of China brought the level of military spending in East Asia to unprecedented heights, and all regional countries have invested considerable resources in their respective naval forces. In a context characterized by political tensions and territorial disputes, is this military spending pattern posing a risk to regional stability? The present note identifies some of the key components of an overall rush toward the maritime domain in East Asia and assesses that territorial disputes do not just broaden the scope of the regional security dilemma; they reshape it on a basis that is more volatile than ever.

Crédit photo : exercices maritimes entre les marines américaine et sud-coréenne (source : Aaron Shelley/ U.S. Navy)


Arms and diplomacy in Ukraine in the shadow of the Syrian crisis

Should arms be sent in Ukraine, to support the authorities in Kiev against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass, thus against Russia? Since war erupted in Eastern Ukraine, Western countries are nurturing diverging points of view on this issue. The debate, fuelled by ambiguous concepts such as “non-lethal weapons” or “defensive lethal weapons”, therefore appears to be confusing.
This Analysis aims at taking stock of what is said and done about this thorny issue, made even more complicated by the Syrian crisis.
(Photo:  Radar AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder)


The Israeli-Palestinian issue and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Chronicle of an announced failure?

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership had raised many hopes on both sides of the Mediterranean. Yet the agreements have not been satisfactory and sometimes proved largely disappointing compared to their initial ambitions. The European Neighbourhood Policy and later the Union for the Mediterranean have not been able to revitalize this partnership. A number of shortcomings have shaken it right from the start. Identifying these weaknesses and the political will to address them is therefore, necessary to revitalize the partnership. The main stumbling block continues to be the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The partnership will only become legitimate if it can act credibly and effectively in consultation with other international actors on this decades old central issue for the Mediterranean area - and beyond.

Burkina’s new Mining code: a share of gold for everyone?

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its development strategies are focused mainly on the industrialization of its natural resources. Gold mining has become, since 2009, the country’s main source of economic growth, even though it has failed to initiate the economic leverage needed to improve the living conditions of the population. In order to solve this issue, the transitional government has adopted a new Mining Code in June 2015. This note studies the evolution of this sector so as to determine to what extent the new Mining Code may contribute in making gold the lever of sustainable socio-economic development, which Burkina Faso aspires for 2025?​

Tunisia: a threatened exception

Tunisia is an exception in a deteriorating regional environment. Nearly five years after its revolution, Tunisia’s progressive constitution arises from an unprecedented compromise between political forces whose interests ultimately proved to be compatible. As a tribute to the progress achieved in more than two years, a coalition of four civil society groups was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This highly symbolic honor acknowledges the work of a heterogeneous quartet erected amidst the political crisis and rewards the Tunisian national dialogue. However, the country is facing major obstacles. It suffers from the consequences of the Libyan security vacuum, as well as from the geopolitical tactics of regional powers with conflicting interests. Moreover, Tunisia’s economy is plagued by terrorism, which threatens to undermine its democratic impulse. 

Crédit photo : Marche de la liberté à Tunis, en janvier 2012 (source : Amine Ghrabi / Licence Creative Commons)

Impact de la baisse du prix du pétrole sur les pays producteurs d’Afrique équatoriale

Sauf événement géopolitique majeur ou revirement soudain de la stratégie suivie par l’Arabie saoudite, le prix du pétrole ne devrait pas remonter durablement dans les prochains mois. Comme tous les pays exportateurs à travers le monde, les États producteurs d’Afrique équatoriale sont durement affectés par la chute du prix du pétrole et la réduction des recettes pétrolières depuis l’été 2014, même si le Cameroun, du fait de son économie plus diversifiée et de l’importance de son marché intérieur, est mieux armé pour y faire face.

Les gouvernements ont, pendant plusieurs mois, cherché à minimiser l’ampleur des ajustements budgétaires nécessaires, arguant que la baisse du cours du pétrole ne serait que temporaire. Au cours du premier semestre 2015, tous ont néanmoins dû admettre la nécessité de procéder à des révisions budgétaires se traduisant à la fois par une réduction importante des investissements publics (en particulier dans les projets d’infrastructures qui représentaient pourtant le fer de lance de leurs politiques de développement et de diversification de l’économie) et par une envolée du déficit budgétaire, qui devrait à terme entraîner une hausse (parfois très importante) de l’endettement de ces États. 

2015 Ivorian Elections: Should the EU Have Observed the Polls?

If Africa is the privileged destination of the EU electoral observation missions, the European observers will not be in Ivory Cost for the presidential elections foreseen the 25 of October 2015. After the 2010 electoral conflict, when the EU was massively present, this decision has surprised more than a few.

This article analyses three aspects of the Ivorian electoral process (the Independent Electoral Commission running, the electoral roll redaction and the results traceability), in order to align them with the criteria usually followed by the EU before deciding the deployment of a mission. The aim is to understand if the choice of not being in Ivory Coast this time is relevant. 

Crédit photo : Lancement de l'opération de révision de la liste électorale à Yamoussoukro (source : CEI)

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – July to September 2015

This quarterly monitoring aims to follow the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border crime and trafficking.

Published by GRIP since 2011, it is part of a project named “Contributing to improve human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan countries” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

(Photo: élections en Guinée, 10 septembre 2015, ©



Burkina Faso and its army brought to heel by the Regiment of Presidential Security?

Since the fall of Blaise Compaoré on 31 October 2014 following a popular revolt, Burkina Faso goes through a period of political turbulences, with its stability shaken by four attempts by the RSP to end the transition. This time in fact, the RSP managed to perpetrate a coup, but it is not clear yet that it will succeed in ending that regime. This situation is not as unusual as it seems, if one replaces it in the context of the political developments the country has been going through since its independence.

Crédit photo : le chef de la junte, le général Gilbert Diendéré (source : capture d'écran d'une vidéo de France24)