China in West Africa: a sustainable model of partnership?

China’s successes in Africa attracted considerable worldwide attention to the « partnership model » offered by Beijing to its partners. However, these very successes have also, quite paradoxically, generated a new set of challenges. Three of these challenges can schematically be isolated, that together cast doubt on how sustainable the Chinese presence and influence in Africa can be. First, Sino-African partnerships remain highly fragmented. Second, African partners have rising expectations towards China. Third, the increasing role of China as a security actor in Africa brings with it additional strains and questions. These issues and challenges all point towards one question: can the Sino-African model of cooperation constitute a leverage for emerging African powers, and how? The present note tackles this question through cases and lessons provided by West Africa’s experience of its relationship with China. 

Mali, a dialogue of the deaf?

Since the liberation of the North Mali from the jihadists, the Malian government has engaged in a dialogue with the non-terrorist armed groups acting in the north. The Ouagadougou agreement signed on the 18th of June, which allowed the holding of the presidential election, was the first step in the process of crisis resolution. It is supposed to enable the implementation of an inclusive dialogue once the constitutional order restored. Two months after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita arrives to power, doubts remain as to the outcome of the negotiations. The signatory parties are far away from resolving the question of the northern region’s administrative status, with alternating phases of tension and easing of tension. Both are sticking to its positions without daring to break off the dialogue. 

(Crédit photo : Marco Dormino/MINUSMA)

The EU Raw Materials Initiative: What is the impact on EU-Africa relations?

The rise of so-called « emerging » powers, increasingly reliant on foreign sources of natural resources is transforming the relations between the European Union, its members, and Africa. Within this framework, the EU has been developing since 2008 a strategy to secure its own sources of natural resources called the “Raw Materials” Initiative. This initiative is both the product of a particular context, that of an increased competition over Africa’s resources, and the victim of it. Nowadays African partners are having more and more political, commercial and development cooperation options at their disposal. Because of this, the EU has started to give more consideration to Africa’s own choices, while still looking out for its own interests. As a conclusion this complex situation could be an opportunity for « emerging competitors » to gain access to Africa’s resources… 

Crédit photo: travailleur à 330 mètres de profondeur dans la mine d'or d'Obuasi au Ghana (source : Jonathan Ernst/Banque mondiale)


Monitoring of regional stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa : Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal


This quarterly monitoring is part of a three years project (2011-2013) on “Improving human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in eight countries in West and Central Africa” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

It aims to monitor the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina FasoCôte d’IvoireGuineaMaliNiger and Senegal. It examines in particular issues related to regional tensions, terrorism and cross-border trafficking, production and transfer of arms and cooperation mechanisms in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime. 

L’appétit mesuré d’Embraer pour la défense

Embraer figure au nombre des industriels brésiliens jouant un véritable rôle de locomotive pour l’économie du géant sud-américain. Sa performance est d’autant plus appréciable qu’elle a lieu dans des segments allant de l’aéronautique civile et militaire aux systèmes de sécurité et de surveillance du territoire impliquant des satellites, c’est-à-dire des domaines où les acteurs de l’hémisphère Nord (États-Unis, Canada, France, Royaume-Uni, Allemagne, Russie, Japon ou encore Chine et Israël) laissent en général peu de place à leurs homologues de la partie du sud du globe. Le leader mondial du marché des jets régionaux, devant le Canadien Bombardier, revient pourtant de loin puisqu’il a failli être englouti par la cure d’austérité imposée au tournant des années 1980 et 1990 aux industriels brésiliens actifs dans la défense. Le groupe a survécu à cette période au prix de lourds efforts de restructuration et d’un recentrage sur ses activités civiles s’accompagnant d’une marginalisation drastique de la part du militaire dans sa stratégie de développement. C’est donc une forme de retour vers la défense qu’a amorcé la firme de São José dos Campos au cours des années 2000 lorsqu’elle a été incitée à soutenir le renouveau des ambitions militaires de Brasilia...

Crédit photo: avion de transport militaire KC-390 (Source: site internet d'Embraer)


Efficacy of Small Arms Control Measures and National Reporting: Learning from Africa

Un contrôle efficace des armes légères dépend largement des capacités et de la volonté des États de concevoir et de mettre en oeuvre une législation, des procédures réglementaires et des politiques appropriées. Divers cadres internationaux et régionaux – dont certains sont juridiquement contraignants – établissent des plans d’action, demandent ou exigent des actions concrètes, et encouragent à des meilleures pratiques dans le domaine. Dans ce contexte, les États se sont souvent engagés à publier des rapports sur les progrès réalisés dans la mise en oeuvre de leurs engagements. Ces rapports permettent, entre autres, de déterminer l’adéquation entre les besoins et les ressources...   

Cette Note de recherche présente certaines des principales conclusions de l'étude d'état des lieux de la lutte contre la prolifération des ALPC en Afrique que le GRIP et le Small Arms Survey ont menée à la demande du Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA).



Burkina Faso: vulnerabilities and risks of turbulences

Burkina Faso is a singular model of relative stability, dependence and influence in its sub-region. Its geographical landlockedness and its interdependence with its neighbors enlighten the ambition of Burkina Faso to play an influential role in regional diplomacy as well as the prominent involvement of the country in mediating political crises particularly in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Togo, and Mali. Burkina Faso is particularly dependent on inter-regional trade for its economic opportunities. So far spared by the episodes of instability that accompanied the return to multiparty politics in sub-Saharan Africa in the decade of the 90s, the country could face a turbulent alternation in 2015, when the mandate of President Compaoré, who has been in power since 1987 ends. 

Crédit photo: le Président du Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré et son homologue ivoirien, Alassane Ouattara, lors du sommet de l'UA en juin 2011 (Source : site officiel de la présidence du Burkina Faso)


Africa’s contribution to UN peacekeeping: Issues and stakes of a growing commitment

The participation of African countries to United Nations peacekeeping operations started in 1960 with the deployment of the ONUC in Congo. Since then, more than forty so countries have at least once sent soldiers to a peacekeeping operation in a way that up to this day the African continent is the UN second Human provider of the Organization. If that huge contribution to the peacekeeping efforts is to be encouraged, one should noticed that it is getting more and more self-interested and this shows disparities that need to be quickly put right. The same thing occurs with regional and linguistic inequalities that have been noticed as far as the origin of African contributors are concerned. Those African peacekeepers are directed with priority towards current operations in the continent while the contribution of female soldiers is still limited although encouraging. 

Crédit photo : Casques bleus sénégalais – Mission des Nations unies en Côte d’Ivoire (source : ONU/Eskinder Debebe) 

Children victims of armed conflicts in the world: Permanence and mutation of a world preoccupation

The fate of children victims of armed conflicts in the world is a permanent preoccupation for the whole international community according to the report of the UN secretary general on the issue. Globally, the situation has not advanced in 2013 and thousands of children continue to suffer from the atrocities caused by armed conflicts. If progress has been observed in countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal, the situation is still worrisome in Syria and Afghanistan. Likewise, social infrastructures like hospitals and especially schools have become the main target for armed groups, compromising the education and the future of children. However, progress registered in the judicial domain can permit to hope the best. 

Crédit photo : Pierre Holtz/UNICEF

Nigeria in West African geopolitics: strengths and challenges of an emerging power

Often criticized for his long political instability, its communal tensions and rampant corruption in the oil sector, Nigeria has multiple advantages, however, to establish itself as one of the essential powers of the twenty-first century Africa. The most populous country in Africa, a cultural center, the second economic power, and third military power of the continent, Nigeria is both a factor of stability in the sub-region of West Africa and a central interlocutor on both security and development issues. 


Crédit photo: Lagos, Nigéria (Wikimedia Commons)

Niger: from the coup d’état to the international commitment

On May 23rd 2013, two coordinated terrorist attacks hit Areva’s uranium mine in Arlit and a military base in Agadez, Niger. It was a premiere for this discrete Sahel-Saharan state, still recovering from a Tuareg 
rebellion in 2007-2009 and a military coup in 2010. Looking back at the events that marked Niger in the last three years is useful to understand this country’s humanitarian and security situation. Despite a resolute commitment toward security and development, Niger remains vulnerable both internally and externally and requires the cooperation of its regional and international partners.

Crédit photo : Le président nigérien Mahamadou Issoufou et le Secrétaire général des Nations unies Ban Ki-Moon (24 septembre 2011, au siège des Nations unies à New York.

Monitoring of Regional Stability in the Sahel Region and in West Africa April to June 2013

This quarterly monitoring is part of a three years project (2011-2013) on “Improving human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in eight countries in West and Central Africa” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

It aims to monitor the security situation in West Africa with a focus on Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular issues related to regional tensions, terrorism and cross-border trafficking, production and transfer of arms and cooperation mechanisms in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime. 

Crédit photo: Soldat malien portant le béret bleu onusien, lors de la cérémonie de transfert de l’autorité à la MINUSMA (Source : Bamako, 1 juillet 2013, Nations unies).

Arms diversions and trafficking in Latin America

Armed violence became a real social issue in Latin America, in the heart of which firearms play a fundamental, deadly role. Many countries within the region suffer from a high rate of armed violence, as high or even higher, as countries affected by a war yet. Although their abundance is relative in regard to the number of firearms in the world, these weapons circulate and play with borders through multiple diversions. The most common diversions in Latin America come from the civilian firearms market and from the military and police stocks. 

Crédit photo: Saisie record par la police fédérale mexicaine et l’agence américaine anti-drogue d’armes diverses et de 205 millions USD en liquide, appartenant à un narcotrafiquant mexicain. (Source : DEA, Mexico city, 2007)                             

Intra-community Transfers of Defense-related products: One year into force of the Directive

One year after the entry into force of the intra-community transfers Directive, there are still several gray areas as to its effectiveness in reducing the fragmentation of the European defense market. Indeed, the first findings on the transposition of the Directive by Member States into their national legislation and its implementation lead to caution: slow process of certification and diversity of general licensing practices are issues that may affect the achievement of the objectives of the Directive. 

Dépenses et transferts militaires en Asie du Sud-Est : une modernisation qui pose question

Since 2000, military spending has skyrocketed in Southeast Asia. Arms transfers too, with regional countries acquiring state-of-the-art submarines and fighter aircrafts. Is the region therefore home to an arms race, fuelled by China’s rise and by the US rebalancing?

Considering intra-regional transformations and national contexts, these strategic and military evolutions appear as not only complex, but also very different one from another, in their scope and drivers. More than geopolitics, it may be History that sheds most light on the rationales behind the current military dynamics in Southeast Asia, which convincingly express how regional elites perceive and defend their interests in the domestic field as well as in the international arena.     

What progress? Two years away from the 2015 NPT Review Conference

Entrée du Palais des Nations à Genève (Source : ICAN)

Half way between the last Review Conference of the 2010 NPT and the scheduled conference in 2015, the second preparatory committee (PrepCom) for the 9th Conference of the NPT in 2015 was held in Geneva, 
April 22nd to May 3rd 2013. Few results are expected from this meeting as the global geo-political situation is marked by the threat of nuclear attacks by North Korea, negotiations deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program and the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East. This situation will either have the dynamic to bring the NPT forward or further drive it to its obsolescence. 

La réforme de la stratégie européenne de sécurité : État des lieux d’un débat sur la diplomatie et la défense européennes

Source : Silje Bergum Kinsten/ (wikimedia commons)

Le projet d’une « European Global Strategy », lancé en juillet 2012 et prenant fin en mai 2013, entre aujourd’hui dans sa dernière ligne droite. Il constitue un espace riche de débat sur la question cruciale de la mise à jour de la stratégie européenne de sécurité, qui fête ses dix ans en 2013.

Il s’agit en effet de faire face d’une part à plusieurs changements d’envergure, comme les révoltes arabes ou le redéploiement stratégique américain vers l’Asie, et d’autre part aux nombreuses critiques que l’Union européenne essuie quant à son incapacité à devenir une puissance stratégique dans le monde actuel. En ce sens, l’expression de la puissance européenne est bien à retrouver dans une imbrication complexe entre stratégies nationales et attractivité des outils diplomatiques européens.

Une version résumée de cette Note a été publiée en anglais sur le site European Global Strategy le 29 octobre 2013.


Traçage des armes et opérations de soutien à la paix : théorie ou pratique ?

Mission de désarmement menée par l'ONUCI à Abidjan (Source: UN Photo/Hien Mcline)

Le traçage des armes est un ensemble de méthodes utilisées pour identifier des armes et des munitions et remonter à leur origine. Le traçage joue un rôle bien établi dans les enquêtes criminelles, où il sert non seulement à établir la preuve d’un crime commis avec une arme, mais aussi à dévoiler la source de fournitures illicites à des criminels.

En revanche, le traçage d’armes en situations de conflit ou post-conflit – par exemple, par des opérations de soutien à la paix (OSP) – demeure une affaire de théorie et non de pratique. À l’heure actuelle, les seuls organismes capables de tracer des armes présentes en zones de conflit ou post-conflit, en quelque quantité que ce soit, sont les Groupes d’experts des Nations unies, en particulier dans le but de détecter et confirmer des violations d’embargos sur les armes.


Cet Issue Brief a été publié initialement en mars 2012, en version anglaise, sur le site du programme Small Arms Survey. Il a ensuite été adapté en langue française par Danièle Fayer-Stern pour le GRIP, dans le cadre de la cellule de veille 2012 GRIP-Région wallonne.


The UNIFIL and peace-keeping in Lebanon: a delicate mission

Convoi de troupes de la FINUL, Sud-Liban (Source: UN Photo/Jorge Aramburu)

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) established in 1978 has been the target of many critics. This paper intends to set up a short balance sheet of the UNIFIL actions regarding the armory of illicit weapons in Lebanon. Without pretending to a comprehensive evaluation of the UNIFIL’s actions, this paper highlights some of the major obstacles that prevent the UNIFIL from being fully efficient and makes some suggestions for improvement. 

The Oslo conference on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons: A new “disarmament forum”?

Discours inaugural du ministre des Affaires Étrangères norvégien, lors de la conférence d’Oslo (Source: Mari Nordmo/MFA)

On 4–5 March 2013, Norway hosted delegations from 127 states in an intergovernmental conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. It’s the first time that this issue is addressed by states both inside and outside a UN body. Despite the boycott of P5, with the reason that this initiative would pose a danger to the process of nuclear disarmament, the success of this conference is undeniable and suggests that a new intergovernmental forum is born, where civil society is fully integrated. 

Monitoring of Regional Stability in the Sahel Region and in West Africa January to March 2013

This quarterly monitoring is part of a 3 years project (2011-2013) on “Improving human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in eight countries in West and Central Africa” funded by the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

It aims to monitor the security situation in West Africa with a focus this quarter on Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It examines in particular issues related to regional tensions, 
terrorism and cross-border trafficking, production and transfer of arms and cooperation mechanisms in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.


EUTM Mali: une mission déployée dans l’urgence dans un contexte de conflit ouvert

Le Mali et sa région (Source: Bérangère Rouppert- Bamako, mars  2013)

La nouvelle déroute de l’armée malienne face à l’offensive des groupes islamistes en janvier 2013, à laquelle l’Opération française Serval a répondu, a fortement bousculé la mise en place de la mission européenne de formation des forces armées maliennes. Grâce au travail politique et diplomatique accompli à marche forcée au sein des institutions européennes à Bruxelles, la mission a pu être déployée dès février sur le sol malien.

Les capacités d’adaptation des formateurs d’EUTM Mali ont permis de résoudre certains obstacles logistiques, financiers et socio-culturels, cependant des défis de taille restent à venir. Cette Note d’Analyse est le résultat de deux missions complémentaires, réalisées à Bruxelles et à Bamako.

Le rôle de l'Union européenne dans l'Arctique : quelle influence face aux tensions naissantes ?

Le réchauffement climatique a certes des conséquences environnementales mais également des répercussions politiques. L’Arctique, autrefois frontière nordique de l'humanité, s’ouvre désormais  géopolitiquement. Cette ouverture provoque de la part des États intéressés un regain d'intérêt pour les opportunités économiques de la région, qui se manifeste par un accroissement des tensions politiques et juridiques.

Dans ce contexte, l'Union européenne possède plusieurs intérêts économiques importants dans cette partie du globe. Mais pour les défendre au mieux, elle se doit de chercher à résoudre les litiges légaux qui en freinent la poursuite. La présente contribution cherche donc à analyser la capacité de l'UE à peser sur la résolution des différends juridiques dans l'Arctique.

Defence reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina: between democratization and political deadlock

Soldats de l'armée bosnienne. Source : Wikimedia Commons

Bosnia and Herzegovina is still struggling with its institutional problems inherited from the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, its political leaders being unable to undertake the necessary reforms. However, previous reforms in the field of defence have been successfully carried out by Bosnian leaders. They were able to unify three previously conflicted armies, drastically reduce the amount of troops and make the whole sector more transparent. 

A retrospective overview of this reform unveils the conditions of this success and the way reforms should be engaged in the future. Indeed, the sector of Defence still faces significant issues and remains subject to political disputes. This is illustrated by questions such as integration to NATO, the destruction of surplus armament and the distribution of military assets inherited from the Yugoslav Federation. 

Mali: the announcement of the death of jihadist leaders should not overshadow the difficulties on the front

Soldats français de l’opération Serval, après la reprise de Tombouctou. Source : Ministère de la Défense, Médiathèque,

The second stage of the French military intervention in Mali, after the recovery of northern Mali in four weeks, is to secure the liberated territories and to hunt down jihadist groups. The announcement of the presumed death of two important jihadist leaders  Abou Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar  is good news for the morale of the French politicians, especially now, when fears of getting stuck in a quagmire are growing. But throughout February, deadly skirmishes conducted by jihadist groups in Gao and northeastern Mali demonstrated their enduring capability to harm. France is probably condemned to remain a long time in Mali.