Thèmes de recherche

Afrique Centrale

Central Africa

Over the last two decades, Central Africa has probably been one of the most conflict-ridden sub-regions of the African continent.  It is, in any case, the region where peacekeeping operations have been conducted the most often. In terms of victims, the Rwandan genocide and the multiple wars in Democratic Republic of the Congo alone have, in all likelihood, caused more deaths than all of the other conflicts together in the past 20 years, deeply traumatising both of the countries’ populations.

Afrique de l'Ouest

West Africa

Because of the diversity of its resources and its geostrategic location, West Africa is at the heart of various tensions and claims, coming from regional powers or from powers which do not belong to the sub-region. Throughout the 1990s’, the sub-region was in the grip of instability which led to an arc of crisis involving by extension a range of countries from Liberia to Sierra Leone, from Guinea to the Ivory Coast, etc. These crises linked with the internal factors specific to these states are also signs of an adjustment from the West-African societies to the challenges of globalisation and to an international evolving context...

Armes biologiques et chimiques

Biological and Chemical Weapons

At first sight, the advances made by chemical and biological disarmament seem to be satisfactory (high participation to prohibition conventions, progress in stockpiles destruction). However, in the field, some States lack transparency regarding certain programmes. Therefore, it could lead to a new arms race. Furthermore, the two Conventions are stagnating regarding the number of States parties: the deadlines imposed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) are not met while the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is not able to set up monitoring bodies necessary to an efficient implementation of these measures by the States...

Armes légères et de petit calibre

Nowadays, more than 875 million small arms and light weapons (SALW) are scattered all over the world. In Africa alone, there are about 100 million arms, with all the consequences that it entails: 90% of the war victims – the majority being women and children - are killed by small arms. These weapons are still overabundant, which has adverse and destabilising effects on development. Their availability leads indeed to an ever-growing violent criminality often mixed up with drug trafficking...

Armes nucléaires

Nuclear Weapons

Since the end of the Cold War, major steps forward have been made towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: the five nuclear powers have gone down the road leading to nuclear arsenal reduction; moreover, new treaties have been signed (START1, 2 and 3, CTBT) and some have been extended indefinitely. More recently, former Head of States and actual Head of States have been in favour of a nuclear-weapon-free world. It conveyed the opinions of thousands civil society organisations working together through global networks.   

Conflits, sécurité et gouvernance en Afrique

Conflicts, Security and Governance in Africa

From the mid-1990s onwards, GRIP developed considerable expertise in conflicts in Africa, and especially in the Great Lakes region and West Africa. Nowadays, several research themes coexist and are interdependent, ranging from conflict prevention to peacekeeping and –building, to security sector reforms and small arms proliferation on the continent. 

Courtage

Arms brokering means essentially facilitating and negotiating transactions for a material compensation; it is usually unavoidable in numerous international arms transfers and also absolutely legal. However, if there is no legal framework or not enough controls, untrustworthy brokers (or intermediaries) can violate arms embargos and get round the arms exportation policies of the States they work in with impunity. Since the end of the 1990s’, the United Nations and NGOs have drawn more and more reports making the brokers responsible for the transfers of illicit or undesirable arms towards violent conflict zones (Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, …). As a matter of fact, these brokers were and still are exploiting the regulatory gaps on brokering. Several instruments, conceived by the United Nations or the European Union, commit or encourage the States to adopt national controls of these activities.

Détention civile d’armes à feu

Possession of firearms by civilians

Through its research on European regulations and Belgian legislation on possession and legal trade in arms, GRIP wants to improve their enforcement and to make the public aware of the necessity of preserving the balance between permission and restriction. GRIP takes part in the “Commission consultative des armes” (Advisory Committee on Arms). 

La Belgique et le commerce des armes

Belgium and the Trade in Arms

Even though Belgium is a small country, it does play a role in international trade in conventional arms. According to SIPRI, for 1998-2007, Belgium ranked 20 in the list of the largest arms exporters. Moreover, some Belgian industries, for instance FN Herstal in Wallonia or Barco in Flanders, have a position of worldwide leadership in some arms markets and associated technologies.

Marquage et traçage

Marking and Tracing

Tracing involves a systematic monitoring of the path followed by arms and ammunitions, from the manufacturer to the end user. It is a unique tool to identify a weapon, its source and its transfers; the goal is to find who illicitly produced it and who is responsible for its illicit transfer or diversion.  There are two necessary conditions for an effective tracing mechanism: on the one hand, the marking of the inscriptions enabling to identify a weapon or ammunitions, and, on the other hand, the listing of their transfers in adequate national/regional registers by the relevant actors... 

Missiles

Missiles

Missile proliferation constitutes a serious threat to international security. Even though the number of missiles has strongly declined since 1987, the five nuclear powers’ intercontinental ballistic missiles remain a global threat. Moreover, several other states are trying to widen the range of their launchers. About 75 countries possess tens of thousands of cruise missiles. Some 500.000 man portable air defence systems (MANPADS) are in circulation and at least 27 organisations labelled as terrorists could possess some. Rockets, the most basic missiles, also have horrendous consequences.  Last but not least, new carriers are being developed, e.g. unmanned aerial vehicles...

Munitions

Ammunitions

Unlike weapons, ammunitions are for a single-use only.  Without ammunitions, weapons are not really useful. Because they are ephemeral and essential, they are sought-after in war, tensions or criminality zones. Their availability can have an impact on the evolution and the outcome of a conflict.  Despite these facts, it is clear that States do not care as much about ammunitions as they do about weapons. When they are not totally excluded from the international and regional SALW instruments, their controls are barely mentioned.  

Observatoire de la violence armée en Afrique

Armed Violence Observatory in Africa

The opening line of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development is : “Armed violence destroys lives and livelihoods, breeds insecurity, fear and terror, and has a profoundly negative impact on human development”. De facto, it acknowledges the harmful interrelation between armed violence and development. Whereas the armed conflict frequency curve has bent over the past years, the number of people killed has significantly increased.  Each year, more than 500.000 people die because of armed conflicts but only one out of ten perishes because of conflicts or terrorist activities. Armed violence fuels and is fuelled by transnational crime, including traffics in all their forms...

Prévention et gestion des crises

Conflict prevention and Crisis management

In view of both the crises which spread on the African continent (e.g. the Sahelian crisis) and sometimes escalate (Central Africa), and the conflict situations which multiply and mutate, an in-depth analysis of the roots of these various crises has to be done. Crises have often multiple reasons - the numerous and different actors, the diverging interests of one another. Through its research, GRIP wants to comprehend the dynamics of the conflicts and to identify the international, regional or local initiatives and strategies which could bring about peace...

Prolifération des ALPC en Afrique

SALW proliferation in Africa

In all current African wars, small arms are ubiquitous. Accessible to everyone, they commit dreadful ravages, which brought former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan to describe them as “weapons of mass destruction”. Since 2001, African countries have adopted regional legal instruments to combat this scourge. Nowadays, challenges lie in the harmonisation and implementation of these measures at a national level. Indeed,  there is sometimes a lack of technical, financial and /or human capacity.

Ressources naturelles et conflits

Natural Resources and Conflicts

Natural resources can be the root of a conflict, finance it, and even burden its resolution. More generally, environment is at the same time a silent victim and an aggravating factor in armed conflicts, sometimes even a catalyst. Yet, resources management policies, as environmental policies, can also contribute to the country’s stability and prosperity. Human environmental and natural resources management is a window to a socio-economic and political dimension of the conflicts. This theme is a way to tackle a range of initiatives and processes aiming at establishing a lasting peace in areas of instability...  

 

Trafics et criminalité transfrontalière en Afrique

Traffics and transnational Criminality in Africa

GRIP’s research aim to shed light on the dynamics and current evolutions of the main traffics which happen in West Africa, i.e. organised and transnational, of goods and of human beings. West Africa has always had trade routes but recently these ones have started to be taken again. Drugs, weapons and human beings are illicitly traded. Since the 2000s’, cocaine trafficking from South America has increased in West Africa, especially towards European networks. Yet, traffic issues are linked with transnational criminality per se. The latter is made easier by the weakness of the States, the porous borders – which are hard to manage when they are next to the desert- and extreme poverty. Often, traffics – of drugs, arms, human beings - are interdependent and enable armed groups to finance themselves...

Traité sur le commerce des armes

Arms Trade Treaty

As dubious practices in the fields of trade in arms and conventional military equipment were revealed throughout the 1980s’- especially during the first Gulf war, international reflection on the necessity of multilateral agreements in order to control arms transfers between States was encouraged. First issued in 1995 as a Code of Conduct on international arms transfers, the idea of a legally binding international instrument was then supported by the civil society and gradually backed up by an increasing number of States. In the following years, a real movement in favour of a more fair trade in arms emerged. In 2006, the UN addressed this problem by putting the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) issue on its agenda. The General Assembly launched the still on-going official negotiations on the treaty at the end of 2009...

Transparence

Transparency

Either through publications on arms transfers or through exchange of information at a bilateral, regional or international level, transparency is the key to improve the State responsibility as far as trade in arms is concerned. On the one hand, thanks to transparency instruments, the parliament, civilians and members of the civil society are aware of their government activities and can monitor them to assess whether national, regional and international commitments are respected. On the other hand, transparency mechanisms can enhance the trust between States by reducing the risks of misunderstanding the other States’ intentions and by fostering cooperation. These mechanisms can also reduce the risks of excessive and destabilizing accumulation of weapons by giving information on the arms flows to certain countries or regions...