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)


Humanitarian Dimension of Disarmament and Nuclear Danger in France

The humanitarian approach has become central in the discussions on nuclear disarmament. It is based on the risk of detonation of a weapon by a voluntary, accidental or malicious act. Many cases have been reported in the US, UK and Russia. The scarcity of information in France appears to be related to the worship of the "secret" that exists generally on nuclear weapons. But the lack of official information doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a military nuclear accident. Moreover, if the effects of a nuclear detonation are widely shared, French diplomats and French think tanks criticize both the arguments and the purpose of this approach: the elimination of nuclear weapons...
Crédit photo: Marine nationale / Alain Monot

Small arms, new technology and control challenges

Recent technological developments offer new opportunities to strengthen and enhanced existing practices in marking, record-keeping, securing, and tracing of small arms and light weapons. However, new technologies also bring important challenges for existing control instruments and mechanisms with possible negative consequences for international efforts to prevent and combat the illicit trade in small arms. This research note intends to shed light on the recent developments in technology, small arms conception and production, the implications for effective marking, record-keeping and tracing, and consider the effective use of technologies and relevant tools to reinforce its efficiency.

Crédit photo : pièces du pistolet en polymère "Liberator"  produites par une imprimante 3D (source: Justin Pickard/Licence creative commons)

Arms transfer controls in sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty

This GRIP Analysis sums up the main findings of baseline studies conducted in ten Francophone African countries with the aim to identify challenges ahead in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. It takes stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the arms transfer control systems found in place, points out contextual elements believed to be key, and recommends strategies for strengthening these systems through international cooperation and assistance mechanisms...

Crédit photo: traçage d'ALPC en Côte d'Ivoire (source : GRIP/Mélanie De Groof)

Le Congo-Brazzaville et le Rwanda dans la nouvelle géopolitique angolaise : entre hégémonie coopérative et équilibre des puissances

La politique extérieure de l’Angola à l’égard du Congo-Brazzaville et du Rwanda est symptomatique des mutations et de la recomposition des dynamiques politiques en cours dans la sous-région de l’Afrique centrale.

La gestion par l’Angola de sa situation de guerre civile, puis des crises survenues dans la région au cours des dix dernières années, a donné à l'Angola sa propre approche de résolution des conflits et forgé une tendance à cibler des partenariats qui priorisent ses propres intérêts nationaux.

Toutefois, les évolutions politiques récentes dans la sous-région – notamment la montée d’autres puissances prétendantes –, ainsi que la prise en compte du coût des cycles de conflits en Afrique centrale au cours de cette dernière décennie, semblent en partie questionner la viabilité des logiques de projection militaire, au profit d’un retour à la logique diplomatique et au multilatéralisme comme mode de renforcement de l'environnement sécuritaire régional.

Le Tchad : un hégémon aux pieds d’argile

Déjà reconnu pour sa contribution déterminante dans la lutte contre les djihadistes et groupes armés au nord du Mali, le Tchad a confirmé ses aspirations au leadership dans l’espace sahélien en s’appropriant la direction de la lutte contre les islamistes nigérians de Boko Haram, et en reléguant au second plan les géants nigérians et camerounais, pourtant nantis d’économies plus puissantes et plus diversifiées.

À l’instar d’autres puissances montantes de la sous-région, comme l’Angola ou le Rwanda, le Tchad adosse sa politique d’influence naissante sur deux leviers, la capacité de projection de son armée et le déploiement d’une diplomatie volontariste pour se positionner comme interlocuteur incontournable dans l’espace sahélien et en Afrique centrale.

Sa position stratégique, à la charnière des espaces géopolitiques et des systèmes de conflits (de la zone sahélo-saharienne à l’espace nilo-soudanais), sa stabilité relative – en dépit du caractère autoritaire de son régime politique –, ainsi que la qualité de ses forces armées, ont contribué à faire du Tchad, le pivot franco-américain d’une stratégie du contre-terrorisme dans la sous-région.

Children victims of armed conflicts: practices and struggle in Africa

The issue of children victims of armed conflicts has been at the center of the international community concerns, for more than three decades. Yet, the report shows that despite the resources gathered, the problem remains alarming. In Africa especially, the rising power of terrorist armed groups creates an overall atmosphere of insecurity for children who are enrolled as soldiers or are victims of many other abuses. Considering that, the means for a struggle defined by the African Union and the sub-regional institutes of Central and Western Africa – the most vulnerable parts of the continent – arouses thoughts.

Crédit photo: centre de réhabilitation d’enfants soldats en Centrafrique (source: DG ECHO / Gregoire Pourtier)

Nuclear agreement with Iran, a geopolitical revolution for the Middle-East and for the world

Faced with the rise of the dangers in the Middle East, and with the nuclear risk in this region, the international community understood that it was better to turn Iran into an ally rather than an enemy. The traditional US allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries in the first place – are worried to see their Persian enemy potentially come back into. The signature on July 14th 2015 of the agreement on Iranian nuclear power, turns over a painful page of History in the relations between the West and the Middle East. The new relations which could take place between Iran and the rest of the world could be as important as was the hand extended by President Nixon to China in 1972. And today we know where this led China.

Crédit photo: Nojan Mansoory / Licence creative commons (Téhéran)

Arusha’s achievements in Burundi: what will they become?

While the 2015 electoral process promised to be a test for the consolidation of democracy in Burundi, the current crisis raised fears of an abandonment of the principles from the Arusha agreement. The latter had laid the foundations for an end to the civil war, the setting up of a consociational model of power sharing. Supposed to guarantee peace by overcoming antagonisms, this model is now threatened by a deteriorating political situation in recent years and the current political dead-end prompted by the renewed candidacy of Pierre Nkurunziza.

Crédit photo: Mission d'observation électorale des Nations unies au Burundi 

Maritime security in the Indian Ocean: prospects for the European Union?

Since 2008, the European Union (EU) is at the forefront of the struggle against piracy in the Horn of Africa. Despite political constraints and operational challenges, the Union and its member States have taken stock of the current issues in the realm of maritime security and safety. The Indian Ocean is a new stage in the European maritime commitment, and an interesting field to demonstrate the EU's ability to be worthy of its status. Through the development of its "sea power", the whole Union is striving to maintain a long-term strategy instead of short-term decision-making.


Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – April to June 2015

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011 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.

It 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 crime and trafficking.

Crédit photo : Jacob Zocherman - CICR

Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire : the reconciliation never happened

At the end of the crisis that followed the 2010 presidential elections, President Alassane Ouattara has set up a Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire. After three years, this instrument of transitional justice concluded its work by submitting a report to the Ivorian authorities on 15 December 2014. With overly ambitious attributions, misundersood by the people, and an inability to translate into concrete policies the speeches about the need to unite, the institution seems to have failed to carry out its mission, namely to promote reconciliation and a stronger social cohesion.

(Crédit photo: Daniel Lopes - Côte d'Ivoire, septembre 2010)

La posture régionale de l’Angola : entre politique d’influence et affirmation de puissance

La recomposition des dynamiques régionales africaines, au tournant des années 90 et au cours des années 2000, a consacré l’émergence de nouveaux pôles de puissance, et relancé la course au leadership, pour laquelle l’Angola, par la diversification de ses partenariats et alliances, semble en mesure de confirmer un nouveau rôle sur la scène africaine et internationale. Longtemps forcé de se concentrer sur les questions internes, par la guerre contre l’UNITA, l’Angola est sorti de son isolationnisme à la faveur des crises dans les deux Congo, dont la gestion a propulsé l’Angola au rang de puissance régulatrice régionale.

S’appuyant sur son statut stratégique, lié notamment à ses abondantes ressources pétrolières, ainsi que sur une politique extérieure dynamique et innovante, l'Angola entend s’affirmer comme un partenaire économique privilégié pour les partenaires extérieurs – puissances traditionnelles et pays émergents – en vue de son intégration dans l'économie mondiale. Cette politique d’émergence s’appuie également sur l’exploitation des opportunités que peut procurer à l’Angola, sa triple appartenance à la SADC, la CEEAC et la CPLP, à travers une participation active à la gestion des questions touchant à l'intégration régionale et à la paix et la sécurité, tant en Afrique australe, en Afrique centrale, dans le golfe de Guinée et dans l’espace lusophone.

The Permanent Structured Cooperation: the Sleeping Beauty of the European Defence

Raising the subject of the “Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)” in the circles of power generally produces shrugs of distinterest or disillusion. However, the acronym is frequently heard in Brussels, recently. So, what is really PESCO? A major innovation of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, when it was rewritten in the Treaty of Lisbon, PESCO was distorted and became illegible. Therefore, in order to understand what it really is, one needs to rediscover the original spirit of the preparatory works which led to it writing.

PESCO is, with the European Defence Agency and the Collective Defence Clause, one of the three indivisible elements which were eventually to give birth to the “European Security and Defence Union”, the carbon copy of the Economic and Monetary Union. It was supposed to be created before the enlargement. But it was not. Nevertheless, the mechanism contained in it remains intact. It only needs one condition to be implemented: willingness.

(Photo credit : GRIP/Ludovic Sultor-Sorel)

EU, ECOWAS and electoral observation in West Africa

Something might change in West Africa during the next two years. On 28 March 2015, one of the most influential countries of this continent succeeded in its electoral gamble, projecting itself toward a pacific and ordered democratic alternation. This is a historical step for Nigeria, which is also the predominant ECOWAS Member State. The latter, by extension, could benefit from such a success. Very active in the area of electoral observation, ECOWAS missions could now enjoy a growing authority when they will deploy in other Member States. A new wind is blowing from Western Africa, at a time when this region is about to face eight other presidential consultations in the coming couple of years. The EU, a traditional partner of African democratic transitions, should take advantage of it.

(Photo crédit: EUEOM)

The end of the EUPOL RD Congo mission: what can be expected in the forthcoming of the Congolese elections?

The EUPOL RD Congo mission ended in December 2014. One month later, large protests sparked violence in Kinshasa. The police forces violently cracked down on this movement, a reaction that highlighted their persisting shortcomings. This paper has a double objective: assessing some of the lessons learned from the EUPOL mission, more specifically addressing its strategic aspects both for the EU and the DRC, and identifying security perspectives in a context of pre-electoral tensions. 

Crédit photo:  Jessica Hatcher/IRIN News

Replacing the F-16 fighter fleet: the construction of a need in matters of Belgian armament

This Analysis is again addressing the question of the appropriateness of the renewal of the Belgian Air Defence F-16 fighter fleet, which is framed as obvious in the coalition agreement of 2014. The note highlights how representations conveyed by certain industrial and military structures are rooted into the Belgian political landscape, and how strategic discourses, too, contribute to the construction of a perceived need in terms of armaments.

Photo : combat aircraft cemetery in US Air Force-base in Arizona (source: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base)

Monitoring of regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa – January to March 2015

This quarterly monitoring, published by GRIP since 2011 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.

It 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 crime and trafficking.

Crédit photo: soldat nigérien de la MINUSMA en poste à Ménaka (source: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino)