Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa - January to March 2020

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011, aims to monitor 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 and transnational crimes.

Photo credit: Demonstration of the FNDC movement in Conakry in 2019 (source: Acte2FNDC)

France's defence space strategy: Continuity and development of the French military space programme

On 13 July 2019, on the eve of the military parade on France's National Day, President Emmanuel Macron announced new prospects for the country's military space programme. The announcements were embodied in a Space Defence Strategy publicly revealed a few days later, on July 25, by the Ministry of the Armed Forces. What stage does the announcement of this defence strategy mark? How can it be placed in the development of “La France de l'espace”? This Analysis argues that France's defence space strategy, while continuing the development of the country's military space activities, reflects a paradigm shift that is both organisational and operational and should be questioned.

Crédit photo : maquettes des deux satellites Syracuse 4. Présenté au salon du Bourget 2017 au stand de la DGA (Licence Creative Commons / Tiraden)

Conversion of blank-firing and alarm weapons: a look at the EU Response

The European Union’s (EU) strategy to tackle arms trafficking and firearm-related crime took a new turn in 2017. EU Member States agreed to overhaul the decades-old Directive 91/477 which had established common rules on firearms detention and acquisition for civilians. As part of the package, they addressed a growing trend in arms trafficking across the continent: the illicit conversion of blank-firing and alarm weapons to lethal and live firing ones. This phenomenon had spread among various types of criminal users, with a potential to ultimately reach terrorist circles. For that reason, the new Directive has brought these alarm weapons into the scope of EU regulation on firearms to apply them the same controls. However, its implementation, almost three years in the making, has faced both opposition and delays from Member States which threaten to derail its action on arms trafficking.

Photo credit: Start of the Brussels 20 km race in 2017, given by Princess Astrid with a blank starting gun. The detonation caused minor injuries to Prime Minister Charles Michel (left), who suffered temporary deafness. Source: RTBF. 


La participation des pays tiers au sein de la PESCO

En 2017, les États membres de l’Union européenne (UE) ont mis en place de nouvelles politiques pour renforcer leurs engagements dans le domaine de la sécurité et de la défense. Parmi les plus importantes figure la Coopération structurée permanente (ou en anglais Permanent Structured Cooperation PESCO). Il s’agit d’un dispositif intergouvernemental comprenant 25 pays membres de l’UE, axé sur le développement capacitaire et opérationnel, et qui repose sur une approche volontaire et modulaire...

European defence: access of third countries to the EDF

This Analysis addresses one of the sensitive issues of the European Defence Fund (EDFEF): that of third countries. In what terms can the latter be associated with the European Union's (EU) capability ambitions?

The EU has already partly answered this question. It is ready to open the doors of the Fund, but only on its terms. However, the requirements imposed are not suitable for everyone. They were received coldly across the Channel and were considered unacceptable across the Atlantic. Washington has thus activated its relays to push the Union to change the rules of the game.

Pressure from the United States is a major challenge for Europeans. At a time of Brexit and "Trumpism", the Fund's eligibility criteria are a crucial issue for the EU. They refer to both the means and the end of its integration project.

Crédit photo :

Nepal’s fight against the use of child soldiers

During Nepal's civil war (1996-2006), Maoist groups massively recruited children into their ranks in order to fight against government forces. After the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2006 between the fighting forces, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the youngest combatants gradually achieved progress. The efforts of the national authorities, together with those of international organizations and local groups, made it possible to put an end in 2013 to the active participation of boys and girls in armed groups. This Analysis looks back at how Nepal addressed the problem of child soldiers. It assesses the results achieved on the basis of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes implemented to that end.

Photo credit: Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue - Népal 

Wapenhandel: een business zoals alle andere?

Het is onmogelijk om het aantal vuurwapens dat in de wereld circuleert te bepalen, maar één ding is zeker: er zijn er nog nooit zo veel geweest! Volgens recente schattingen zijn het er nu meer dan één miljard. En als we kijken naar de hoeveelheden die elk jaar de wapenarsenalen verlaten, zal deze stroom niet snel afnemen.

Tackling (Arms)Diversion: Challenges for European States

Diversion is at the core of the proliferation of illicit weapons. It is the main form of arms and ammunition supply for non-state armed groups, paramilitary groups or transnational criminal organisations, all of which cannot have access to this kind of equipment in any other way. The diversion of conventional arms and ammunition contribute to increasing insecurity and instability in countries and regions affected by conflict or showing high levels of criminality, undermining in this way any sustainable development efforts.

Dépenses militaires, production et transferts d’armes - Compendium 2019

Ce rapport présente une synthèse des principales tendances et statistiques relatives aux dépenses militaires mondiales, à la production et aux transferts internationaux d’armements conventionnels, sur la base des Fact Sheets et des bases de données du Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

3D printing: a means of illicit firearms proliferation?

Manufacturing processes consisting in adding layers of material, widely referred to as ‘3D printing’, have been used in many industrial sectors for decades. With the development of printing material aimed at facilitating ‘individual’ production among laymen came some concern about a possible 3D printed proliferation of firearms. In the wake of the much publicized manufacture of a plastic-made, 3D printed gun by a young American hobbyist in 2013, EU law enforcement agencies began watching over the phenomenon so as to assess its potential. Although it poses risks to marking and identification, illicit 3D manufacturing of firearms has failed to entrench itself as a significant source of supply for criminal end-users. 3D printed prototypes suffer such key shortfalls as lack of reliability, underperforming characteristics incompatible with criminal requirements while they have to compete with other illicit sources of supply. However, it remains crucial to keep following with technical, technological and economic developments of 3D printing in order to best anticipate any game-changer in the illicit proliferation picture.

Photo credit: The 3D-printed "Liberator" gun designed by Defense Distributed (source :

Enfants-soldats en RDC : évolution et perspectives de la lutte contre leur recrutement

Le recrutement d’enfants-soldats dans des groupes et forces armés est identifié comme un problème important en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) depuis 1996, dans le cadre de la Première Guerre du Congo, mais aussi dans le contexte des tensions provenant de la guerre civile et du génocide rwandais. 

Kenya: East Africa’s drug getaway

Since the 1990s, drug trafficking networks have been infiltrating Kenyan communication and economic infrastructures. Forced to divert from their main routes, networks have found in Kenya the key elements they needed to transit drugs from Asian producers to European consumers. Since Kenya is an indirect transit hub, the development of drug trafficking has gone relatively unnoticed until the 2010s. From then onwards, increased seizures along the maritime routes, and an upsurge in drug consumption in Nairobi and Mombasa, have started alerting national and international actors. This Analysis demonstrates that far from being a second-class route, Kenya presents endogenous elements on which traffics thrive. The country’s communication and transport infrastructures, coupled with crippling corruption problems and high capacity deficiencies within the police forces and the judicial system, prevent any viable counter-trafficking action. Moreover, exogenous factors foster traffics in Kenya:  its large uncontrolled maritime front and borders allow traffics, redirected from the main routes, to go unnoticed.

Crédit photo : saisie de drogue au Kenya (source : FILE)


Conflict in Ukraine: Zelensky's turning point

The conflict in Ukraine is no longer in the headlines in Western Europe and yet the situation cannot be described as a frozen conflict. In recent years, ceasefire violations have been a daily occurrence and, despite some timid progress, the implementation of the Minsk Accords has largely stalled. Last April, Ukraine experienced a change of leadership following elections won by an unexpected candidate, Volodymir Zelensky, a Russian-speaking successful comedian whose political line remains difficult to define. Zelensky made the end of the conflict in Donbass one of his priorities without revealing how to achieve it. Nine months after Zelensky's election, what assessment can be made of this new presidency at a time when events seem to be accelerating in eastern Ukraine, with very rapid progress in the peace negotiations?

Photo credit: Volodymyr Zelensky at his investiture ceremony on May 20, 2019. (Licence creative commons)


La Chine au Nicaragua et au Panama : une nouvelle branche des routes de la soie en Amérique centrale ?

Malgré sa faible visibilité en Europe, l’intérêt chinois pour l’Amérique centrale, notamment dans le cadre de l’initiative des routes de la soie (Belt and Road Initiative/BRI), s’est considérablement renforcé ces dernières années. C’est ce que démontrent, dans le présent rapport, les deux cas étudiés : le Nicaragua et le Panama.

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – October to December 2019ember2019

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011, aims to monitor 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 and transnational crimes.

Photo credit Demonstration against a third mandate, in Boffa (

Le commerce des armes : un business comme un autre ?

Il est impossible de déterminer le nombre d’armes à feu qui circulent dans le monde mais une chose est certaine : il n’y en a jamais eu autant ! Selon des estimations récentes, il y en aurait aujourd’hui plus d’un milliard. Et si l’on considère les quantités qui sortent des arsenaux chaque année, ce flux n’est pas près de diminuer...

Transparence et désarmement nucléaire

Selon le Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, en 2019, le monde compterait 13 865 têtes nucléaires. Ce chiffre reste une estimation. Si l’état des arsenaux nucléaires des États-Unis et de la Russie est connu en raison des échanges de données dans le cadre du traité New Start, on ne sait pas le nombre exact d’armes atomiques possédées par les sept autres puissances nucléaires (Royaume-Uni, France, Chine, Israël, Inde, Pakistan, Corée du Nord). La comptabilité de ces armes manque de transparence, ce qui n’est pas sans incidence en matière de désarmement nucléaire...

La France, sa bombe et la culture stratégique européenne

Quel dénominateur commun peut-on trouver entre le Forum du ministère français des Armées « La Fabrique Défense » (janvier 2020), qui a pour objectif de « créer la défense européenne de demain », et le discours sur l’Europe du président Macron du 26 septembre 2017 ? Réponse : la volonté de créer une culture stratégique européenne. Les interrogations autour de cette « culture » sont nombreuses et notamment sur ce que recouvre cette notion. Ce que l’on en perçoit permet d’établir que la politique de dissuasion nucléaire est intégrée, bien que cela soit fait de manière discrète...

The Kosovo army: a new obstacle to Balkans’ stabilization?

On 14 December 2018, the Parliament in Priština decided to transform the Kosovo Security Force, mainly dedicated to civil protection, into typical military forces. While Belgrade and the local Serb minority have strongly condemned this initiative that circumvents the Kosovo constitution, the UN and the NATO have been concerned about the consequences of this move, particularly for the relations between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians.

However, in the short term, this new army, even with the support of the great powers that sponsored the independence of Kosovo, does not seem to be able to threaten its neighbours, and Serbia in particular. In fact, the new government in the making, resulting of an unprecedented coalition, will struggle to find sufficient resources to build armed forces that meet the “highest NATO criteria” to which reference is constantly being made. The main objective of the creation of this army would then be to prove that, despite appearances, Kosovo is indeed a “state like the others”.

Photo credit: President Thaçi inspects KSF troops the day before the laws creating the Kosovo army were passed. (Stringer/EPA/EFE).