Boko Haram: one year under emergency state

One year after the government declared the state of emergency in the North-East, Boko Haram Islamists are still posing a serious threat in Nigeria. By now, the conflict – which received large media coverage since the abduction of more than 200 school-girls in Chibok – is deadlier than ever, causing more than 2 000 death since the beginning of the year. Even worse, the group seems to extend its operations to the Middle Belt but also to the neighbouring countries. As the 2015 general elections approach with the risk of an escalation of violence, the government seeks international assistance to stop Boko Haram.

Crédit photo : Manifestation dénonçant l'enlèvement des lycéennes par Boko Haram (source : ONU / Lagos, Nigeria -  8 mai 2014)

CEEAC : enjeux sécuritaires de la souveraineté alimentaire

La question de l’accès aux produits alimentaires revêt une importance politique cruciale, particulièrement en situation de faible priorisation du secteur agricole, de déficit de la productivité de ce secteur, d’insuffisance des revenus de larges couches de la population et lors de la flambée des prix des denrées de première nécessité. La grande crise alimentaire de 2008 et les émeutes sociales qui l’ont accompagnée ont révélé, pour nombre de pays, une fragilité structurelle porteuse de risques systémiques majeurs, qui font de la souveraineté et de la sécurité alimentaires un enjeu central de la gouvernance. Tout ceci justifie une réflexion sur les stratégies agricoles et alimentaires envisagées par les États de la sous-région de l’Afrique équatoriale et centrale...

Maritime security: towards a European Strategy

The maritime security is an integral part of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. It took the launch of the Atalanta operation in December 2008 for the PSDC instrument to explicitly endorse an anti-piracy mission in the Horn of Africa. Considering the success of this operation and the importance of shipping lanes for the European economy, it was expected that the EU build a European Strategy of Maritime Security, due to be adopted in June 2014. The strategy will have to take into account the full set of maritime security stakes affecting the European interests, thus allowing a consensus to emerge on this issue. Elaborating this strategy will not be easy in view of the significant number of actors involved.

(Crédit photo: EuNavFor Media and Public Information Office)

Indonesia: From Regional to Global Power?

On April 9, Indonesians elected a new Parliament. In July, they will be back to the polls for Presidential elections. These elections, however, may not bring as many changes to the country’s foreign policy as many would expect. Faces may change in Jakarta, but structural factors will continue to weigh heavily on the country’s international strategy. Indonesia is a rising power, building a buoyant international outlook on the back of a growing economy and changing geostrategic environment. In these times of changes, Jakarta is pursuing a consistent agenda, acting with increasing self-confidence on the international stage. But is the country ready to play a prominent role not only in regional but also in global affairs? On what strength can Indonesia build itself? And what are the hindrances to Indonesia’s rise? Is Indonesia indeed poised to become a global power?

(Photo credit: jpatokal at en.wikipedia (Wayang Kulit performance))

Nayarit conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons: "A point of no return!"

A second round of conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was held in Mexico, Nayarit February 13 and 14. Far from being a repetition of the Oslo conference (March 2013), this forum has allowed 146 states and civil society to explore further scientific humanitarian and political reflections facing a nuclear disaster. Between willingness to move quickly in the process of nuclear disarmament or continuity with the NPT, the postures of each state are emerging and will certainly reveal themselves at Vienna’s (Austria) third round at the end of 2014.

Crédit photo: Le président de la conférence de Nayarit, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, vice-ministre mexicain des Affaires multilatérales et des Droits de l'homme. 
(source : ministère de Affaires étrangères du Mexique

Use of Armed Drones: Legal and practical considerations

The international media, on an almost weekly basis, mention targeted killings of so-called terrorists in Yemen, Somalia, or Pakistan by drones deployed by distant States, such as the United States and Israel. States reach for armed drones because of their free-ranging capacity to eliminate human targets anywhere in the world. The world has become an open battlefield without borders, and so-called ‘armed drones’ kill enemy individuals without there being a declaration of war. There seems to be no turning back for the logic of the use of drones. Therefore, the actual challenge is not to delegitimize the use of drones (since it now is a declared policy). Rather, the challenge is to regulate this practice. This Analysis focusses on the most important rules of public international law applying to drone attacks.

Crédit photo: drone de type Predator de l’US Air Force
(Source : Robert Huffstutter/Licence Creative Comons)


The Hague 2014 Nuclear Security Summit: Success or Missed Opportunity?

The third nuclear security summit took place on 24-25 March 2014 in the Dutch city of The Hague. The process aims at enhancing the security of fissile and other nuclear materials around the world. Despite the progress initiated at the first two summits, the expectations on the eve of the 2014 summit were high and have been partially fulfilled through major new multilateral commitments and discussions on the establishment of a global and sustainable nuclear security architecture. However, some gaps still remain. Some major players on the international level have not supported some core initiatives. Important nuclear security instruments have not been ratified nor fully implemented. The next summit will be hosted in 2016 in the United States. In addition to continuing the progress initiated in 2010, heads of States will have to agree on the form of the process beyond 2016 and on the future role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in nuclear security.

Crédit photo: Sommet sur la sécurité nucléaire de La Haye
(Source : site du Premier ministre du Canada)

Sûreté et sécurité maritimes dans l’espace CEEAC : enjeux et perspectives

L’espace maritime de la Communauté des États de l’Afrique centrale (CEEAC) est partie intégrante du golfe de Guinée, dont il constitue le versant oriental. D’un point de vue à la fois géographique et institutionnel, le golfe de Guinée est un vaste ensemble intégrant 17 pays côtiers d’Afrique de l’Ouest et d’Afrique centrale qui se partagent un littoral long de près de 6 000 km, en partant des côtes du Sénégal jusqu’à l'Angola, sans oublier les îles du Cap-Vert et Sao Tomé-et-Principe. Le golfe de Guinée couvre ainsi deux vastes régions géographiques, politiques et économiques : la Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO) et la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique centrale (CEEAC), toutes deux affiliées à la Commission du golfe de Guinée (CGG) et à l'Union africaine...

”Error 404: the European defence project you were looking for does not exist”

This essay analyzes the challenges defence industries and governments are currently facing in the context of a constrained domestic demand and new competition arising from the BRICS and other emerging countries. It identifies major drivers and stages in the globalization process of arms industry and put them in perspective with the evolution of the global defence and security markets since the end of the cold war. It also isolates the underlying trends that are currently shaping the global process of arms production now and possibly in the next decade. This contextualization allows for the identification of threats but also opportunities for European defence groups. It also underscores the fact that corporate strategies pursued by firms that are growing less dependent on the domestic market will have various political and policy implications, notably on the European defence project. Measures implemented by the US and the emerging countries and the situation prevailing in Europe may significantly damage, any attempts to create a truly European military power relying on an industrial base resilient enough to ensure the old continent’s strategic autonomy.

The EU strategy for security and development in the Sahel 2011-2013: sustaining ongoing efforts

In a deteriorated security environment, the EU released in September 2011 its strategy for development and security in the Sahel. Recognizing the inextricable link between security and development, it plans to act on these two aspects in support of national strategies and policies of the Sahel states. The three first countries targeted are Mauritania, Mali and Niger. Since the Strategy was launched, many questions have been raised regarding the regional framework set, the challenges of coordinating multiple actors and instruments, and the application of the security component of the Strategy. If a year later, the results could elicit strong disillusionment, it is clear that 2013 has triggered a new European dynamic for the Sahel region. 

Crédit photo: Visite du Représentant Spécial de l’UE pour le Sahel

From Free Trade to the Ukrainian Crisis: The EU and its Mistakes

Authoritarian tendencies of the regime of Vladimir Putin and the threats it poses to peace in Europe cannot be an excuse to avoid certain issues, including the strategy followed by the EU to Ukraine and Russia. Is it true that the Association Agreement proposed by Brussels to Kiev has, in fact, put Ukraine in the crossfire, forcing the country to choose between Russia and the West? Despite an initially very Manichean debate, several Western commentators timidly begin to show doubts which deserve further attention. This article goes back at the origin of the crisis.

Monitoring of Regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa - January to March 2014

This quarterly monitoring is part of a three years project (2014-2016) on “Contributing to improve human security, conflict prevention and strengthening the rule of law in Sub-Saharan 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, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and SenegalIt examines in particular broad internal security issues, regional tensions, and cross-border crime and trafficking. 

Crédit photo: manifestation à Ouagadougou 
(Source: Le balai citoyen)

The Pakistani Army: strengths and weaknesses of a key player

The new leader of the Pakistani Army recently reminded the nation and the international community that the capabilities of national military action are to be taken seriously. In a difficult economic environment, compromising its attempts at modernization, the army indeed remains a leading actor in Pakistan. Whether in view of an intervention abroad (India and Afghanistan) or within national borders (against insurgency, anti-terrorism), the Pakistan Army would have, according to their new Chief of Staff, the necessary means to carry out their various missions and protect the vital interests of this country in South Asia. Through a short series of questions / answers, this note attempts to give an overview of the Pakistani armed forces. 

Crédit photo : préparatifs pour une opération au Nord-Waziristan 
(Source :

Dynamique des réponses sécuritaires de la CEEAC à la crise centrafricaine

Située dans la partie septentrionale de l’Afrique centrale, la République centrafricaine (RCA) s’étend sur 622 984 km2, environ 12% de plus que la superficie de la France métropolitaine (551 500 km2), pour seulement 4 525 millions d’habitants (Banque mondiale, 2012). État enclavé, la Centrafrique est limitrophe de six États de la sous-région. Elle partage 1 197 km de frontière avec le Tchad au nord, à l’est 175 km avec le Soudan, 990 km avec le Soudan du Sud, à l’ouest 797 km avec le Cameroun, enfin au sud, 1 577 km, avec la République démocratique du Congo, et 467 km de frontière avec la République du Congo. La République centrafricaine est à la fois membre de la Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique centrale (CEEAC), et de la Communauté économique et monétaire de l'Afrique centrale (CEMAC)...

Arms Transfers to North Africa: between Economic Interests and Security Imperatives

In the past decade (2003-2012), arms transfers to North Africa have increased considerably. This Analysis Note aims at a better understanding of these dynamics and therefore presents a panorama of the last decade’s arms transfers towards North Africa – especially from EU Member states – and the context in which they took place. As a matter of fact, within North African countries, internal and regional stability challenges as well as issues related to the porosity of national borders have led those countries to acquire conventional arms. For EU member states, economic interests and the desire to influence North African countries as well as security imperatives related to the struggle against radical Islam, and illicit trafficking of arms and persons are the motives behind arms transfers towards North Africa.

Photo credit: Libyan military (UN Photo)

Central Africa: risks and setbacks of the pax tchadiana

During the past decade, Chad has tried to occupy, in Central Africa, areas of influence left by other more powerful states (Angola and Cameroon). By deploying troops in CAR and also in Mali under the Serval operation and the United Nations peace keeping mission, Chad seems determined to assert itself as a leading country regarding security issues in Central Africa and even in Sahel. Although, Chad has more firepower and seasoned troops than any other ECCAS member state (apart from Angola), his status as a regional power is still questioned. 

Crédit photo: Troupes tchadiennes de la MINUSMA, à Tessalit au Nord-Mali (source: Marco Dormino/UN - 27 juillet 2013)

Architecture et contexte sécuritaire de l'espace CEMAC-CEEAC

Les États d'Afrique centrale appartiennent à deux ensembles sous-régionaux. Le premier étant la Communauté économique et monétaire d'Afrique centrale (CEMAC), qui regroupe les pays de l'ancienne Afrique équatoriale française (AEF) – à savoir le Cameroun, le Congo-Brazzaville, le Gabon, la République centrafricaine et le Tchad – auxquels s'ajoute la Guinée équatoriale. Le second ensemble, la Communauté économique des États d'Afrique centrale (CEEAC) rassemble dix pays : l'Angola, le Burundi, la République démocratique du Congo et Sao Tomé-et-Principe, en sus des six États membres de la CEMAC...


Human Rights Criteria in Arms Exports

Presentation by Mélanie De Groof in front of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights.

During the next 12 minutes I will focus my attention – and hopefully yours – on the human rights criteria, and the humanitarian law criteria, which EU Member States must take into account when they decide whether or not to grant export licences. Doing research on the topic of arms transfers in view of human rights and humanitarian law standards is an extremely interesting and important activity. Especially today. This is because over the last decade EU arms have been used either to commit human rights abuses or internal repression on several occasions. To illustrate, in the year 2008 the Belgian army supplied Bahrain with 50 armoured combat vehicles. In the context of the so-called Arab Spring, these vehicles were reportedly used against protesters... 

Credit: Ammunition captured during a counterinsurgency operation in Afghanistan. (PRC Embedded Mentoring Team - UK Ministry of Defence)

A region caught in the crossfire : Military expenditures and arms transfers in Central Asia (2003-2012)

Central Asia and its security situation have considerably evolved during the last decade, both for internal and external reasons. The region is indeed faced with a vast conjunction of destabilizing factors: social unrest, religious fundamentalism, ethnic tensions, corruption, trafficking… Such a context is not without consequences on regional military expenditures, which have rocketed these last ten years. However, regarding those expenditures as well as arms transfers, states of the region follow very different dynamics: while Kazakhstan clearly emerges as the regional leader, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan remain isolated, and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan very fragile. Therefore difficult to homogenize, the analysis is made even more complex by the absence of official and transparent data, thus exploitable, on these topics. 

(Crédit photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Weapons for Peace : Arms Transfers, Armed Conflicts & R2P

This presentation concentrates on some pressing questions relating to the practice and legality of arms transfers to the different parties – i.e. both State and non-State actors – involved in an armed conflict. In particular, it concentrates on the question whether arms transfers can contribute to the restoration of peace and security. Since the concept of ‘responsibility to protect’ is often invoked by States providing arms to violent actors abroad (e.g. in Syria and Libya), this presentation also analyses the legitimacy of this argument. This presentation concludes by stressing that, generally, claims of the legality and the legitimacy of arms transfers to States struggling with armed conflicts are fallacious and must therefore be prevented.

(Photo credit: Kandahar, March 2011 by ISAF Public Affairs)

Pacifism: History, Successes and Perspectives

A recent trend in European historiography tends to describe Europe in the 20th century as the “dark continent” that has, according to Hobsbawn, “lived and thought in terms of worldwide war, even when guns were quiet and bombs were not exploding”. However, this tragic and violent interpretation of our history hides the dreams of peace and liberty - carried by men like Henri Lafontaine and many others - which strongly influenced our history. Even if a realistic appraisal of European history suggests peace movements have never been able to stop or prevent any war, they are an essential part of the process by which the paradigms and strategies of foreign policy change and become accountable. This paper shows that, even though pacifists may get frustrated in the pursuit of short-term political objectives, they are essential to influence social change over the long haul.

APSA: outlines and challenges of collective security in Africa

Since its inception in 2002, the African Union affirms its willingness to assume more responsibility for prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping. However, the crises that rose on the continent during the decade have resulted in contrasting responses, sometimes raising doubts about its capacity to maintain peace without outside support. Given recent evolutions and the mutation of security contexts, the judgment is likely to be qualified, and calls for a renewed perspective of the challenges faced by the AU in the operationalization of the APSA: the African Peace and Security Architecture. Some African crises are also threats to global stability and require international responses. Also, the issue goes far beyond the single issue of African ownership of these crises and focuses more on the most appropriate coordination of means and relevant actors at different levels, national, sub-regional, continental and international levels. 

Crédit photo: soldats djiboutiens déployés lors de l’AMISOM (source : Stuart Price/UA-ONU)

Cartography of West-African oil

In the actual context of globalized economy, the competition for energy resources and raw materials has become an economic and geostrategic challenge. As the predominant energy, oil is a major strategic resource. Until the 1970s, the Middle-East region was the principal oil producer and exporter. Then, new zones of production emerged everywhere in the world and in particular in West Africa. All the West-African countries are conducting oil exploration operations. Their objective is to respond both to global demand, but also to support their economic growth and (direct) access to energy resources. What is the position of West Africa in the international oil production? What is the situation in terms of oil exploration and exploitation in the region? Which are the actors of the oil sector in West-African countries? 

Crédit photo : carte des prospections pétrolières en Afrique de l’Ouest (source : Offshore mag, décembre 2012)

Understanding the dynamics of conflict: A synthetic reading of conflict factors in West Africa

Crises and conflicts that arise in Africa are discussed in many medias in the convenient explanation of 'ethnic' confrontation or as the translation of greed and power struggles between local leaders. This "reductive" reading is partly a reflection of academic currents favoring a deterministic approach of African realities and overstating economic or identity based conflicts. However, many current analyzes based on approaches decoding the causes of the extension of these conflicts and their dynamics – such as conflict resolution theories or analysis of "conflict systems" – offer a multifaceted approach of conflicts factors. They allow a dynamic perspective on these conflicts, beyond spontaneous and simplistic representations. 


Monitoring of Regional Stability in the Sahel region and in West Africa - October to December 2013

In the actual context of globalized economy, the competition for energy resources and raw materials has become an economic and geostrategic challenge. As the predominant energy, oil is a major strategic resource. Until the 1970s, the Middle-East region was the principal oil producer and exporter. Then, new zones of production emerged everywhere in the world and in particular in West Africa. All the West-African countries are conducting oil exploration operations. Their objective is to respond both to global demand, but also to support their economic growth and (direct) access to energy resources. What is the position of West Africa in the international oil production? What is the situation in terms of oil exploration and exploitation in the region? Which are the actors of the oil sector in West-African countries? 

Crédit photo : le nouveau président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, en compagnie du Secrétaire général des Nations unies, Ban Ki-moon (source : Rick Bajornas/ONU, 28 septembre 2013)