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)



Armed Forces of the DRC: institutionalized chaos?

Since they were founded in 2003, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) have constantly been accepting within their ranks members of armed groups after their eventual submission to integration processes more or less quickly expedited. These new soldiers and officers have shown a very relative loyalty to the authority of their state and have been very prone to desert and mount new rebellions. However, a strong and coherent army is a prerequisite to the restoration of security, which should allow the beginning of the socio-economic recovery of the country, particularly in its eastern part. If the permanent instability of the Congo and its economic stagnation do not favour a sustainable reform of the security sector, the possible lack of political will remains a debatable issue. 

Crédit photo : soldat des FARDC sur la route de Rutshuru, au Nord-Kivu (Clara Padovan/ONU, 2 septembre 2013)

The EU’s strategic offensive with ASEAN: Some room left but no time…

When they usually think about Asia, Europeans focus straightaway on China and view Southeast Asia as the periphery of the Middle Kingdom. 
Other parts of Asia deserve their interests: Southeast Asia is naturally part of them due to its localization, its intermediation role, its potential. The target for 2015 is to build an ASEAN Community (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). This institutional building process is worth a revisited European policy, including in its security dimension. This paper argues that the EU influence will probably be more determining with players as ASEAN than with stars like China if it integrates some very basic points. How can the European Union take opportunity of this notable fact? 


(credits: H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN, ASEAN)

European Union Initiatives to control small arms and light weapons: Towards a more coordinated approach

The European Union (EU) is a major player in global efforts to prevent and combat the uncontrolled accumulation and proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition. The 2005 ‘Strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of SALW and their ammunition’ has given a significant impetus in promoting multilateralism activities in order to establish mechanisms in relevant forums to fight illicit proliferation of SALW, in structuring and prioritizing EU small arms assistance programmes as well as mainstreaming SALW in broader peace and security initiatives. 

This paper argues that a better coordination between EU export controls—which today remain a national prerogative—and small arms assistance policies is essential for a more integrated and coherent approach to fighting the illicit proliferation of SALW. In particular, EU member states should pay special attention when assessing SALW export licences to countries benefiting from EU assistance and to other destinations in the neighbourhood of such countries. Recent developments at the international and EU levels should encourage the EU to comprehensively review and update the 2005 SALW Strategy.

A naval arms race in Asia: Towards a new Washington Conference?

China’s rise brings in its wake a recalibration of power relations at both the regional and global levels. As a corollary to this development, East and Southeast Asia are now the theater of major processes of military modernization. These dynamics are all the more worrying that they are often little understood, and that regional states seldom appear to be in full control. The present note offers to isolate keydimensions of these evolutions, and addresses the following question: would a small detour into History help in making sense of these multidimensional military modernizations? Would it provide useful lessons to tackle their inherent challenges to regional peace and stability? This note draws on and expands the views expressed by the authors in various media outlets such as RTBF (Belgium), The Diplomat, and Le Temps (Switzerland). 

(Crédit photo:  Flickr, U.S. Navy photo, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Byron C. Linder)

What remains of AQIM in North Mali? : Evaluation of the consequences of Operation Serval

Since the end of September, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed two car bombs, in Timbuktu against the Malian army and in Tessalit against Chadian blue helmets, and the kidnapping and murder of two french journalists in Kidal. Nearly a year after the Operation Serval started in Mali, this renewed terrorist activism reveals the resilience of the jihadist organisation. However, the French military force, supported by the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) and Malian units, has considerably weakened the terrorist organization. While the Malian Armed Forces and the blue helmets of the MINUSMA are progressively taking over in the field, the actual resumption of AQIM terrorist activities in North-Mali raises the question of the consequences of Operation Serval on its capacities and its ability to reorganise and redeploy in the Sahel. 


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.