Entries with Categories Global Affairs World order, diplomacy and governance .

essay / Alejandro Palacios Jiménez

Of agreement to the article According to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Community's objectives are to promote peace by promoting freedom, security and justice. However, external instability can undermine the achievement of these internal objectives. Will the EU be able to respond effectively to such situations without betraying the values that created it?

This article it seeks to expose the main mediation efforts made by the European Union as a supranational entity. This article It does not, however, pretend to offer an in-depth analysis of the topic of mediation, but to show the main institutions that, at European level, try to respond to conflicts through mediation as a process of peaceful resolution of (potential) disputes.

Mediation has become increasingly important in its work in both conflict prevention and resolution in many areas. The fact that mediation is more economically viable than war, and that war leads to more favourable situations for both sides, has favoured its use to mitigate conflicts. Consequently, the EU is giving greater importance to mediation, with the European Union being one of the most important supranational institutions dedicated to this work.

What is meant by mediation? This is an alternative dispute resolution process, based on dialogue, through which the parties involved, voluntarily and confidentially, meet with an impartial mediator who will guide them in reaching an agreement. agreement win-win for both parties. In summary, to mediate is to help communicate. Even with this in mind, the different organizations that are dedicated to it differ in the way they carry it out. In our case, the Union takes advantage of its normative nature and resilience to mediate conflicts that could lead to instability near its external borders through agreements, mainly of an economic nature.

The EU's commitment to mediation was first embodied in the "Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities" in 2009. Although the entrance the Treaty of Lisbon changed its modus operandi, which served to lay the foundations for the instructions of the EU's objectives in subject of dialogue and cooperation. On the one hand, it expanded the definition of mediation to include dialogue and facilitation and, on the other hand, it treated mediation as a "primary response instrument", i.e. as an instrument to be used in the first instance written request. In addition, the Concept emphasises incorporating mediation as an integral part of the Union's foreign policy in order to develop it in a more systematic way, rather than concentrating these actions on mere ad hoc missions.

The Lisbon Treaty, signed in 2007 and in force since 2009, allowed for the creation of a more efficient, comprehensive and quasi-independent European External Action Service (EEAS), within which the Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) was developed, making it possible to deal more fully with the European Union. topic of the peaceful resolution of disputes. In fact, the CFSP led to an improvement in the EU's capabilities in relation to diplomatic instruments and political dialogue on the one hand, and the strategy against the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the other.

This commitment of the EU is also reflected in its involvement at different levels that differ according to the importance that the EU attaches to each process. There are two courses of action: the first reference letter to the attendance that the EU provides to the UN in its particular work for conflict prevention. It does so through the contribution of troops, police officers and international observers to its operations, totalling almost 6,000 troops, or more than 6 per cent of the total number of troops. staff total. The alternative route is for the EU itself to act as an actor in the process through European Union Special Representatives (EUSRs), diplomats chosen by the High Representative to fulfil a specific mandate. An example of this is the so-called "CSDP Missions" concerning the resolution of the conflict between Albania and Macedonia, known as the agreement Ohrid in 2001; as well as in the agreement of the Aceh region in 2005. Sometimes it is the High Representative who directly mediates conflicts, such as the E3+3 talks with Iran on its nuclear programme or the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

In subject The European Union presents both long-term and short-term strategies, with priority given to the former.

The EU's long-term action focuses on tackling the structural causes that impede peaceful life in a specific region. Such actions are based on the premise that most conflicts are due to socio-economic differences in developing regions. development such as the Philippines, Iraq or Georgia. The EU is focused on bringing stability and cohesion to the region, mainly through the financial aid commercial. In doing so, the Union facilitates access to the European market for products from these areas. A clear example of this can be seen in the fact that the European Union is the main partner for Africa.

In addition, the European Union, through its delegations, carries out consular cooperation plans to deal with possible crisis situations, including contingency plans, i.e. alternative procedures to the normal operation of an institution. Its purpose is to allow it to function, even when some of its functions cease to do so due to an incident, both internal and external to the organization. Such plans are currently being developed in countries such as Nepal, Gaza, Libya, Lesotho and India.

These actions require an in-depth analysis of the region in question through the elaboration of a roadmap flexible enough to allow the EU to react to a substantial change in the circumstances surrounding the conflict (new outbreak of conflict, increased tension, natural disasters leading to even more displaced people...) For this reason, there is no room for a global and uniform approach in improving the structural conditions for conflict prevention.

In the short term, the EU created the so-called "Rapid Action Mechanism" in 2001. This is about supporting victims and providing financial aid NGOs, regional organizations, public and private agents and other actors with experience and capacity to act in the affected area. Such contributions are non-repayable, i.e. the borrower is under no obligation to repay the lender, in this case the EU, for the money borrowed. In addition, the Union carries out, in accordance with the ECHO Regulation, C in 1996, missions to support civilian victims due to natural causes or human action. Thus, the EU carries out tasks such as financial aid humanitarian crisis in Syria, attendance medical aid in West Africa due to the emergence of Ebola, water supply or construction of shelters in the Central African Republic, among others. All this is possible, thanks to the almost 1,000 million euros allocated each year by the European Union to these tasks.

Both actions are coordinated by the Commission, which, once the actions have been completed, assesses whether they have contributed as expected to the objectives previously set. All this will make it possible, in the short term, to minimally restore the conditions of stability in the affected area.

In addition to all this, the Union plays an important role in financing projects of external organisations aimed at conflict prevention. In this regard, the EU has two main bodies. The first is the so-called Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), formerly Instrument for Stability (IfS), which currently finances more than 200 projects in more than 75 countries, a task for which it has 2.3 billion euros this academic year 2014-2020. The second is the African Peace Facility (APF), founded in 2004. This system, funded by the European Development Fund (EFF), is funded by the European Development Fund (EUFD) development and which allocates around EUR 1.9 trillion annually, enables the Union to provide the African continent with funds to finance the African Union's efforts in the subject peace and security.

On the other hand, it is worth highlighting the alliances that the Union has established with independent organisations in the field of civil society. The most important of these is the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO). Founded in 2001, its mission statement It is to influence European politicians to take more effective and efficient action in the field of mediation. In total, EPLO has 33 partner organisations from 13 European countries (Berghof Foundation, Interpeace...) plus the so-called academic friends, which is a network of scholars working on issues related to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

The EPLO, thanks to funding from member organisations and the Union, carries out parallel projects whose goal It is the promotion of dialogue between European politicians and civil society. Highlights include the network of Civil Society Dialogue (CSDN) and the European Union Civil Capacity (EU-CIVCAP).

In conclusion, the European Union's commitment to mediation is reflected both in individual action and in support for this amalgam of organisations dedicated to the search for an alternative dispute resolution method. The many efforts in this direction reflect the concerns of a society that is increasingly committed to the development of peaceful policies, in civil service examination belligerents who could only plunge humanity into violence, poverty, uncertainty and fear.



European Commission. (2018, January 10). International coopeartion and development. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from International coopeartion and development:

committee of the European Union. (2001, June 7). Draft European Union Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Draft European Union Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts:

committee of the European Union. (2009, November 10). Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities:

committee of the European Union. (2015, July 20). Main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP:

Finnish Institute of International Affairs. (2012). Strengthening the EU's peace and mediation capabilities. Helsinki: Tanja Tamminen.

Hervás, M. Á. (2009). Unit of research on Security and Cooperation. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from research on Security and Cooperation:

United Nations Organization. (2017, September 30). Contributors to UN Peacekeeping Operations by Country and Post. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Contributors to UN Peacekeeping Operations by Country and Post.:

European Union. (2003). Peacekeeping and conflict preventions. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Peacekeeping and Conflict Prevention:

European Union. (2012). Treaty on European Union. Brussels.

European Union. (2016, October 25). Service for Foreign Policy Instruments. Retrieved January 6, 2018, from Service for Foreign Policy Instruments:

Villalta Vizcarra, A. E. (2014). Settlement of disputes in international law. Retrieved 02-17-2018, from Dispute Settlement in International Law:

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

Transfer of migrants from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa

▲Transfer of migrants from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa [Vito Manzani]

ANALYSIS / Valeria Nadal

In late 2017, Cable News Network (CNN) published an anonymously recorded video with a hidden camera showing the sale of four men in Libya, for $400 each. It was an example of selling slaves to Libyan citizens for work or in exchange for a ransom, in the case of men, or as sex slaves, in the case of women. The shocking images triggered a global response; several Hollywood celebrities joined the protests calling for an end to the slave trade in Libya. France, Germany, Chad, Nigeria and other countries have urged Libya to address this serious problem through a programme to repatriate migrants and evacuate detention camps, where many of the slave mafias operate. Circumstances, however, do not appear to have improved since the video was posted, mainly due to the continued lack of state coordination to address the problem, along with other factors. How is it possible that a slave trade could have taken place inside Libya?

Libya is a sprawling country located in North Africa, with a long Mediterranean coastline. Until 2011, when the Arab Spring broke out, Libya was one of the most stable countries in the region. It had one of the highest life expectancies in all of Africa, and a educational –From the Education primary school through university – better than most neighbouring countries. However, this status The crisis of stability and relative prosperity came to an end in February 2011, when the uprisings that began in Tunisia, and had spread to countries such as Yemen, Jordan and Egypt, reached Libya.

Unlike other states in the region, which were able to peacefully resolve the protesters' demands, the immediate threat of civil war in Libya forced international intervention to resolve the conflict. The United States (US) and the European Union (EU), with the support of the United Nations (UN), acted against the dictatorial regime of Muammar Gaddafi. With the capture and assassination of Gaddafi by rebel troops, the war seemed to be over. However, in the absence of a viable plan for a political transition, the status it deteriorated further as various political actors attempted to fill the power vacuum left by Gaddafi's demise.

At present, Libya continues to experience severe political instability and is considered to be a failed state. Although there is a government promoted and recognized by the UN, the Government of National Unity (GNA), it does not control the entire country and is challenged by various power groups, many of which are armed militias. Due to this lack of governmental authority, as well as its strategic location on the Mediterranean coast, Libya has become the base of operations for mafias, which take advantage of the willingness of refugees and migrants to reach Europe via the Libyan land route. The open border policy launched by the EU in 2015 has not helped to curb its activities, as it has facilitated the establishment of human smuggling routes. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that at least 400,000 people are currently in Libyan detention centres, where migrants are a key threat to Libya. goal easy for the slave trade. The GUN has opened a research He has met with European and African leaders to enable the emergency repatriation of refugees and migrants. However, the effectiveness of the Libyan authorities' efforts is limited. A more important issue, however, is the role that the international community can play in alleviating the problem, of which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been voices core topic in the discussion.


Since 2015, Oxfam has been widely informing the international community about the migration crisis in Libya, emphasizing the need for European countries to seek and find a solution for the thousands of men, women and children suffering from this crisis status. Documented cases in Libya of the slave trade, carried out by smugglers and militias, have made the search for a solution even more urgent.

In the wake of this alarming status in Libya, on 9 August 2017, Oxfam published a bulletin graduate "You're Not Human Anymore," in which he analyzed the events of the status in Libya and blamed European countries for their "misguided policies aimed at preventing people from reaching Italy." To develop this report, Oxfam spoke "to men and women who have spent months being beaten, tied up like animals and sold as cheap labour in Libya's scandalous slave trade", and drew on the "... anguished testimonies of migrants who spent time in Libya before escaping to Italy."

The testimonies recount shocking scenes of sexual violence, torture and work slave; They also tell of cases of people who have been held captive because they could not pay the price demanded by the smugglers. The latter happened to Peter, an 18-year-old Nigerian: "Once we arrived in Sabah, in Libya, I was taken to the 'Ghetto' (...) They gave us a phone to call our families and ask them for money. If you couldn't pay the 1,500 Libyan dinars [about 100 euros], they held you captive and beat you."

After listening to these testimonies, Oxfam has concluded that European policies need to take into account the experiences of people forced to leave their homes, as the information they provide sample "Libya remains a country marked by systematic human rights abuses and (...) the EU's attempt to ensure that people cannot leave Libya only puts more men, women and children at risk of abuse and exploitation."

Some of the solutions that Oxfam has proposed include promoting search and rescue operations for humanitarian purposes, increasing the issue of immigration applications being accepted to be processed, the creation of safe routes to Europe, and ending the policy that prevents migrants from leaving Libya.


Why NGOs are ineffective in the migration crisis: the example of the slave trade in Libya


Open, Close Borders

Another international agency that has actively denounced the status The most inhumane issue in Libya is Amnesty International. According to the data The world is facing one of the most serious cases of slavery in the twenty-first century. Refugees and migrants arriving in Libyan territory are detained and tortured in detention centres before being sold into slavery. Those who manage to escape such horrific conditions do not necessarily end up in better circumstances: at least 3,000 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Being one of the most active organizations with respect to the status in Libya, Amnesty International has order EU Member States to stop closing their borders to refugees and migrants from Libya. He argues that this European policy only encourages and fuels violence and extortion on Libyan territory, making the EU complicit in this crisis.

Amnesty International recalls that, since the end of 2016, the closure of European borders has led to increased control by the department Libya's Anti-Immigration Agency, which now oversees detention centers where refugees and migrants are not only arbitrarily and indefinitely detained, but also frequently sold into slavery. In addition, according to the organization, the inability or unwillingness of Europe to act, mistakenly believing that what happens outside European borders has no consequences for the EU's internal affairs, has allowed the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea. Instead of reaching the "promised land," migrants are forcibly taken back to Libya, where they are locked up and mistreated again in detention centers. All this is aided by the agreements reached by the EU and the local Libyan authorities, backed by armed groups, regarding the control of migratory flows to Europe.

International coordination

On December 7, 2017, the committee U.N. Security Council held an emergency session to take action on the status of the slave trade in Libya. This status was described as an "abuse of human rights that may also constitute crimes against humanity", in which case the Libyan authorities and all member states of the organization should act accordingly. agreement with the International Public Law bringing those responsible before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In addition, the UN pointed out at that session the Libyan authorities as one of the main actors complicit in the growing phenomenon of the slave trade, due to their ineffectiveness in investigating it and administering justice. The organization has also placed special emphasis on the need for the Government of Libya to secure the borders and for its actions to be supported by various international instruments, so that trafficking in persons can be effectively countered. The UN has also encouraged cooperation with the EU and the African Union (AU) to ensure the protection of refugees and migrants, under the premise that success will only be achieved if all actors involved collaborate.

Meanwhile, the UN is already operating in the territory through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has helped 13,000 people leave detention centers in Libya, and another 8,000 from those in Niger. But IOM's efforts do not end in Libya. Once refugees and migrants are safe, the organization stores their information and testimonies and offers them the possibility to return home, ensuring the safety of the people. attendance in the process.

Despite attempts to unify the efforts of all organizations on the ground, the reality is that the UN today does not have an all-inclusive action plan to end slavery in Libya and seek a common solution. According to the organization's reports, slavery in Libya could end by 2030, after 20 years of test and error. However, it is not surprising that most NGOs do not have action plans.

NGO solutions

NGOs play an important role in helping to alleviate the humanitarian problems caused by migration; However, the solutions they suggest often fail to take into account the complex political realities that make reaching those solutions impossible, if not entirely impossible, at least a challenge. How result, many of the proposals offered by human rights agencies such as Oxfam and Amnesty International are too broad to be useful internship. The migration crisis, which reached its peak in the summer of 2015 with the effective invitation of several European nations for refugees to migrate to Europe – along with the relaxation of Dublin regulations and the opening of borders within the EU – paradoxically helped to exacerbate the problem. These measures provided an incentive for mass migration of people who did not fall into the "refugee" category, encouraging risk-taking among immigrants on the premise that the borders would remain open and that all would be welcome.

The result it has not only been the rapid backtracking on this policy by a number of countries that initially supported it, such as Austria, but also a dramatic internal and diplomatic conflict within the EU between countries that are against mass migration to the territory of the Union. The crisis also shed light on the inability of existing laws of both the EU and its member states to find solutions to the migration problem. Thus, the policy of open borders as a solution to the problem may be well-intentioned, but ineffective in providing a balanced solution to the problem.

Similarly, ensure safe passages for migrants back to their homes. home country it is based on the assumption that there is a functioning government in Libya with which such efforts can be coordinated; however, no such entity exists as of yet. While the GUN has a limited amount of control over certain swaths of territory, the problem remains that in other parts of Libya this government exercises no control at all. While assisting (limited) migration and/or repatriation and securing land and sea borders could be a first step in stemming the flow, the fact remains that political instability in Libya – as well as in other nations – is what generates smuggling networks, one of which is the slave trade.

Therefore, the European policy of helping more people by relaxing borders hardly solves the problem. At its height, the migration crisis saw hundreds of thousands of migrants cross open borders in Europe, without any realistic plan to deal with the numbers. In addition, it seems that the international press is reporting less heavily on the various difficulties that immigrants face within their new host states such as result of a utopian politics in which the sky is the limit for immigration. More importantly, the open-door immigration policy – pushed by a number of humanitarian organisations – has also led to the proliferation of smuggling networks within Europe that have necessitated the establishment of new immigration forces. work to confront them, even though the result of this measure could be worse as greater control can lead to the emergence of new routes and access points. Almost 90% of migrants arriving in Europe are facilitated by the multinational smuggling business. The point is that illegal activities thrive as result of failed policies and the inability to find determined policy solutions to the migration crisis: a necessary ingredient for successful practical action.

The Primary Role of States

The lack of government control over territory in Libya, characteristic of a failed state, has made possible the proliferation of illegal and highly humiliating activities against human dignity, such as the slave trade. Images like the one on CNN, which provided evidence of people being sold into slavery in detention centers, have raised international awareness of the problem. Numerous organizations, led by the UN, have intensified their work in recent months to try to put an end to a status so disastrous. These efforts have achieved some results, however, there is no meaningful method to improve them because they are not coordinated at the state level, and the large-scale cooperation required by all parties involved is unlikely to be possible.

Moreover, the effects of the migration crisis are not unique to Libya or Africa, and have manifested themselves in Europe as well. Although human trafficking, both in the slave trade and for other purposes, occurs on a much larger (and rather alarming) scale in the African theatre, the phenomenon has affected Europe in a similar way as it has been in the African theatre. result of its failed – or non-existent – action plan to manage immigration, both internally and externally. The solution is necessarily political, and the reality is that, no matter how intentional and necessary, the independent and rights-based solutions advocated by NGOs will not be decisive in solving the problem. Only states, working together with various NGOs, can put an end to this misery through well-thought-out and coordinated solutions. And the sad reality is that not everyone can necessarily be saved in the process, nor will all immigrants be able to get their "European dream."

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Analysis

[Michael Reid, Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017. 425 pages]


review / María F. Zambrano

The recent history of Latin America has a lot of progress, although sometimes it only transcends a few steps backwards. In addition to the important changes that have occurred since the 1980s, when the region embraced democracy, began to overcome economic protectionism and tamed the problem of inflation, there has been a more recent period of economic acceleration – the so-called golden decade, due to the commodity boom – which between 2002 and 2012 has led to a B Social impulse: 60 million people escaped poverty in those years, so that, although great inequalities still exist, at least the class average It now extends to 50% of the population. This has generated better educated societies, which have recognized the primacy of law over the paternalism of the caudillo. But the large revenues that many states earned in that golden decade also led to negative rates.

This moderate optimism about Latin America – without ignoring the difficulties, but without ignoring the progress made – is conveyed in the book Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America, by Michael Reid. publisher of Latin America in The Economist, where he writes the column Bello. A correspondent for nearly 35 years in the region, where he has lived most of this time, Reid is one of the best voices in the world. knowledge about the multiple continental reality. Fruit of that experience staff it's Forgotten Continent, which Reid published in 2007 (then under the subtitle "The Battle for the Soul of Latin America") and which he now offers again in a revised and updated edition, with extensive changes from the first version.

What has happened in Latin America in the last ten years for Reid to see the need for a new presentation of your book? Although there are several elements, such as the end of the commodity boom, which has brought economic difficulties to some countries, and certain changes in political orientation (Kirschner for Macri, or Temer for Rousseff), perhaps the most notable thing is that, in democratic terms, Latin America is seen today with less hope than a decade ago. Ten years ago, the new left-wing populism might have seemed like a mere parenthesis in the progressive democratic consolidation of Latin American societies; Today, certainly, Bolivarianism has already shown signs of failure, but it may have greater continuity than expected by inserting itself with the current of populism of various kinds that emerges in many other parts of the world.

Reid notes the failed path taken by Chávez, also followed by other neighboring leaders of the same stripe: "There are lessons for the region in the catastrophic failure of Chavismo. An accident in history – the rise in the price of oil from 2001 onwards – gave for a time spurious plausibility in some places to an alternative course to which Latin Americans seemed to have turned their backs not so long ago. The 'Bolivarian alternative' was based on erroneous premises (...) In their enchantment with Bolivarianism and renewed regard for Cuba, much of the left forgot the abiding lessons of the end of the Cold War: that central planning had failed and that communism was tyranny, not liberation. In any case, the Bolivarian experience has shown that Latin America did not enter an era of assured democracy at the end of its military dictatorships, just as we now see that neither did the rest of the world with the fall of the Berlin Wall, despite the perception at the time. The risk in the region may be greater, due to the persistence of strong social differences: as Reid puts it, Chavismo is "another reminder that extreme inequality offers fertile ground for populism."

Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America

Challenges ahead

In a post-Chávez and post-commodity price boom era, Latin America faces a series of challenges, which certainly go back a long way but in some cases are more urgent. Twice as muchgoal to achieve strong institutions and a development An economic and sustainable approach involves solving important challenges, among which Reid highlights several.

One of them is security. Crime and violence have become an epidemic. In 2013, eight of the ten countries and 42 of the 50 most violent cities in the world, outside of war theaters, were in the region. Reid points to the need for territorial control by the armed forces, the professionalization of police forces, closer cooperation between the police and judges, and clear accountability of these bodies to society.

Other challenge is the consolidation of the new class average. There is progress in the Education primary and secondary, but the preparation of both students and teachers lags far behind their peers in developed countries. In the report PISA in 2015, 15-year-old Latin American students were in the bottom third of the world rankings. If the status does not evolve favourably with an increase in the quality of the teaching In the public sector, Reid warns, private entities would become the first alternative of the new social stratum, which would even be subjected to indebtedness without quality guarantees. It's a phenomenon that also occurs in health care.

In the fight against social inequality, many governments have promoted various formulas of Conditional Transfer of Resources (TCR), which are programs of attendance They seek to raise standards of attitudes, such as the enrolment of children in school, in exchange for subsidies. A number of programmes have rightly contributed to the development But in many cases they transfer resources without achieving long-term progress, as well as becoming in certain countries a clear cultivation of a captive vote. By having two parallel social security systems, the government is taxing the formal sector, while subsidizing the informal sector.


To overcome these challenges, Forgotten Continent raises the need to advance regional integration, the diversification of the Economics and overcoming political dogmatism. Thus, true regional integration would allow for a skill that would stimulate economies of scale and regional supply chains. To overcome, at least in part, the natural barriers to such integration, real investment in infrastructure beyond the current 3% of GDP is needed.

Commodities will continue to be an important economic driver of the region, but they should not be the only one. Agricultural production should provide a added value, derived from the application of innovative technologies, such as the advances that are being made in Argentina and Brazil with "direct seeding" and "precision agriculture". This requires an increase in investment in research and development, which today is only 0.5% of GDP. Latin America also has multiple natural resources that are conducive to the development of the development tourism, or the expansion of manufacturing industries.

The author proposes to break with the discussion between the unfettered free market and protectionism, and stop feeding the corporatist culture of seeing power as a heritage staff. "To get there requires a new subject In the face of the polarization and confrontation offered by populists (and sometimes by their opponents), Latin America needs consensus-building, where the state, the private sector, and civil society work together to set medium-term goals and hold the government accountable for their fulfillment."

These propositional elements of Reid come at the end of a book that is above all a description of the soul of Latin America. This is a continent that has not been poor enough, dangerous enough, or economic enough to attract international attention. Hence the degree scroll of the book. It begins by exposing the structural, geographical and cultural difficulties that the region has had to face in its attempt to establish lasting democracies and overcome its imbalances. It continues with an analysis of political and economic cycles, from independence to the last dictatorships. And finally it concludes with a diagnosis. Although Latin America's problems were already well diagnosed in the first edition, ten years ago, it is in this final part of the book that the author has turned the most pages. His conclusion doesn't vary much, but the tone is slightly more somber; however, Reid prefers to end the story with the same quotation Argentinian liberal Bautista Alberdi: "Nations, like men, do not have wings; They make their journeys on foot, step by step."

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Latin America

States are torn between securing national sovereignty and cooperation between neighbours.

No other region of the world is likely to be as important a geopolitical game-changer as the Arctic. The melting ice opens up huge logistical prospects and enhances the value of territories north of the Arctic Circle because of the access they provide to untapped natural resources. Many issues are being agreed by the eight members of the Arctic committee , although of these it is Russia, Canada and the United States that are seeking to exert the most influence in the region. Let us examine the Arctic strategy being pursued by these three countries.

Introduction to Canada, the US and Russia's Arctic strategies

article / Martín Biera Muriel

The Arctic Circle comprises 6% of the Earth's total surface, covering 21 million square kilometres. As temperatures rise and the effects of global warming worsen, the Arctic ice sheet is shrinking, revealing an area rich in raw materials and natural resources, and increasing its strategic importance for the maritime connection between Europe and Asia. This has made the Arctic a region of great geopolitical significance in the 21st century International Office .

Agencies from various countries, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US National Snow & Ice Data Center, as well as international organisations and companies of different nationalities, point out that the ice cover on the Arctic shelf has been considerably reduced due to the consequences of climate change and rising temperatures. This allows states with sovereignty over these waters and islands easy access to the region, providing an opportunity for the exploitation of oil, natural gas, minerals, fisheries, shipping and tourism.

As early as 2008, the US Geological Survey estimated that the Arctic contained approximately 240 billion barrels of oil and natural gas, a figure that constitutes about 10 per cent of the world's existing resources; this does not take into account the amount of resources that, for practical reasons, have not yet been discovered. In total, it is estimated that undiscovered resources would comprise 16% of the world's oil reserves, 30% of the world's gas reserves and 26% of the world's natural gas reserves; about 84% of these resources are offshore. Estimates suggest that 10 trillion barrels of oil and 1.55 quadrillion cubic metres of natural gas may exist in the Arctic subsurface.

The Arctic committee

The Arctic committee , established in 1996, is a high-level intergovernmental forum for policy discussions on issues common to the governments of the Arctic states and their inhabitants. It is the only circumpolar forum for policy discussions on Arctic issues. All Arctic states are members, with the active participation of their indigenous peoples. It has eight members: Iceland, Denmark, Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Norway and Finland. In terms of its functioning, it is divided into different groups of work and task forces, each of which has its own fields of action and functions. Thus, there is the Artic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP), whose function is to promote mechanisms for states to reduce pollutant emissions, or the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR), which seeks to protect the environment from possible accidental releases of pollutants. Although their presence is very limited, it is worth noting that on numerous occasions the different task forces and groups of work have managed to achieve the objectives they had planned, such as, for example, a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Of the eight countries that are part of the Arctic committee , Canada, the United States and Russia have the most influence in the region. What strategies are each of them pursuing?

Canada: more means to patrol the waters

For Canada, the Arctic is not only central to its national identity, but represents a potential for the country's future, especially in subject geopolitics. The Canadian government sees the Arctic as a area of opportunities and challenges, which it groups into four areas: exercising its sovereignty, promote the development economic and social, protecting the environment, and improving its governance in the northern regions. These four pillars of Canada's Arctic policy are manifold: resolving territorial disputes, maintaining sovereignty and security in the Arctic territory, promote the conditions for sustainable development and addressing governance of emerging issues such as public safety or pollution, among others.

Since 2007, Canada has strengthened its defence efforts to ensure sovereignty over its Arctic territory. That year it announced measures to increase its capabilities in the area, which have included the launch of the RADARSAT-2 satellite to monitor the Arctic and the deployment of 1,500 troops to patrol Arctic waters. For the latter role, icebreakers and maritime patrols have been added. The government also announced increased investment in the Canadian Ranger Corps to improve its presence in the area and to work with the North American Aerospace Defence Command to monitor Canada's northern airspace.

United States: Pentagon sets out its Arctic Strategy

US activity in the Arctic, a region to which it has belonged since the purchase of Alaska, encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, from resource extraction and trade to science and national defence operations. The strategy of the US Arctic Defence department is to maintain a secure and stable region, where US interests are safeguarded and its sovereign space protected, and where nations work together to address a range of challenges, including, most notably, climate change. The US strategy has two objectives:

  1. Ensuring and supporting security and promote defence cooperation.

  2. Prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies.

In addition, the department Defence stated in a document called Arctic Strategy that these objectives should be achieved through innovative approaches, with low budget and through multilateral exercises with other countries, such as the Search and Rescue Exercise. To achieve these goals, the Defence department set out a number of strategies: exercising sovereignty in its territory, engaging public and private sector entities to improve domain awareness in the Arctic, partnering with other Departments, agencies and nations to support human and environmental security, and so on. The department Defence, at partnership with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, developed an analysis and reporting programme to monitor regional activity and anticipate future trends so that future investments can sustain human activity in the region over time.

Russia: more coastline, greater access to resources

Russia is the polar state with the longest coastline, which gives it much greater access to certain resources, such as oil, than other countries, including Canada, which is the second most coastal polar state. In recent months Russia has seen an increase in natural resource production in the Arctic, especially hydrocarbons. It is worth noting that international sanctions over the Crimean crisis have meant a challenge for Russian production, which is why the Arctic is core topic for its development. Russia' s policy in the North Pole is based on two levels, military and defence, with the following objectives:

  • Use the resources in the region, mainly oil and gas, to promote Russia's economic development .

  • Maintain the Arctic as a zone of peace and cooperation.

  • Preserving ecology in the Arctic.

  • The northern route to be recognised as a transport route.

On the military side, the need to maintain troops in case of attack in the region continues. instructions In recent years Russia has therefore developed radar systems to monitor its domain, and has also encouraged the construction of small military airfields, ports and airfields to protect its territory. Notably, the port city of Severomorsk is home to the headquarters of the North Sea Fleet, one of the world's largest submarine fleets and the world's only nuclear Wayside Cross , called Peter the Great.

Notwithstanding this emphasis on military and defence issues, Russia also proposes the option of reaching agreements with other Arctic states, regardless of their size, to enhance cooperation.

Environment, development economic, defence

The elaboration of specific Arctic strategies by the countries present in the region shows that area is a relevant scenario for geopolitics and International Office in the 21st century. The states involved move on two levels: that of cooperation with their neighbours, in matters such as environmental protection and commitment to a sustainable economic development , and that of defence of their own interests, particularly in terms of ensuring sovereignty over their Arctic territories and preserving the rights that these may grant them in a future shared exploitation of the area .

If we look at the theories of International Office, the Arctic states play on the realist plane of taking positions vis-à-vis others, thinking about any future competition, and at the same time on the liberal plane of willingness to cooperate and jointly solve problems.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Arctic and Antarctic

DOC. DE work / Iñigo González Inchaurraga


The main, though not the only, element of contention between the United States and China is Taiwan. While Washington maintains a one-China policy, Beijing defends the "one China" principle, proclaiming that there is only one China in the world and that both the island of Taiwan and the mainland are the same People's Republic of China. The Chinese authorities also maintain that Chinese sovereignty and territory cannot be divided. In Beijing's eyes, Taiwan is a renegade province that emerged from the Chinese civil war, so reunification is the only option for the island's future. This reunification should preferably take place peacefully, but the use of force cannot be ruled out if Taiwan were to seek de jure independence. For its part, the government of Taipei claims its status as a sovereign state. The fact is that at the end of the 2010s, it is difficult to continue asking China to comply with international law in relation, for example, to the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling and territorial disputes in the South China Sea, while Taiwan remains an anomaly that violates the same international law that Beijing must comply with in accordance with UN rules on the Law of the Sea.


download the complete document [pdf. 432k]

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Documents of work

U.S.-China relations do not satisfy either country; They probably never will. They must try to deal with them, peacefully

▲meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump [White House video screebshot]

ANALYSIS / María Granados

The National Security Strategy presented in December by Donald Trump label China and Russia as "rivals" of the United States. It portrays those two countries as actors that "challenge the power, influence, and interests" of Washington and "attempt to erode the security and prosperity" of Americans. Although the document also considers "renegade" states such as Iran and North Korea, and transnational organizations, both jihadist and organized crime, a threat, the arguments of the new US administration are especially focused on China. The Asian nation appears as the great obstacle to the realization of the "America First" promised by Trump, because of its unfair trade and monetary practices.

Thus, the first National Security Strategy document of the Trump era corroborates the speech which he had maintained as candidate. During the election campaign, Trump spoke of China as a "currency manipulator" and accused it of artificially keeping the yuan low. He also threatened Beijing with starting a trade war, complaining about the economic consequences for the U.S. of China's excessive trade surplus in bilateral relations, as well as the reduction of jobs in U.S. manufacturing. Shortly after being elected, before the inauguration of his term, Trump provoked a diplomatic friction with China by talking by phone with the president of Taiwan.

However, since his arrival in the White House, Trump has been concerned with ironing out those rough edges with China. He pledged to uphold the One China Policy, retracted his criticisms, and met in Florida with President Xi Jinping, agreeing to respect each other's sphere of influence and not intervene in each other's internal affairs. This, along with an incipient partnership in the sanctions against North Korea, it seemed to be giving birth to a rapprochement that has not yet materialized. In fact, the U.S. National Security Strategy's official "rival" treatment of China somewhat breaks with a long period of mutual acceptance that began in the 1970s.

Nixon's Opening

The United States and China started from serious antecedents: the Korean War (1950-1953), which pitted China and the USSR in the North against the American-backed South, of which the Vietnam War (1955-1975) was a collateral consequence; and the nuclear danger that began in 1949, the year in which the USSR carried out the first nuclear war. essay effective. For Washington, from an ideological and military point of view, China was an international actor that should be controlled. For Beijing, in alliance with the Soviet Union, it was urgent to spread the speech communism about the "imperialist enemy," which he repeated with intensity throughout the early years of the Cold War.

In 1969, the new U.S. president, Richard Nixon, included in his speech inauguration of mandate one reference letter against isolationism (1). From the other side of the world there were also new messages: the distance that Mao began to establish in relation to the USSR due to its border conflicts. This upset the triangle of international relations that existed in those years of the Cold War (China, USSR, USA), and began to create a bond between Beijing and Washington.

In this way, the first signs of approximation began to appear. In 1971, the U.S. voted to allow Taiwan to join the committee of the United Nations Security Council will be occupied by the People's Republic of China. In 1972 the statement of Shanghai, which established the instructions for the Sino-American rapprochement and which was embodied in five principles:

1. The One China Policy: Establishing diplomatic relations with China meant not being able to establish them with Taiwan, and vice versa, since both claim to be the true and only China.

2. Not supporting Taiwan independence.

3. Do not support the possible invasion of Japan.

4. The peaceful resolution of the conflict with Taiwan, reducing military installations on the island.

5. A commitment to continue to be peaceful allies in the pursuit of lasting cooperation.

Since the rapprochement of the 1970s, relations between the two countries have been heavily influenced by Washington and Beijing's attitude toward Taiwan and the two Koreas, in a sort of indirect Sino-American relations.


▲meeting bilateral meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, in April 2017 [White House]


The Question of Taiwan

The self-styled Republic of China had been the main obstacle to the complete normalization of relations, as seen with the statement of Shanghai. Effective reunification by (mainland) China was prevented by U.S. troops.

After 1973 we find two important documents: the so-called Taiwan Relations Act, by which the United States recognized the island as before, but not that it was a sovereign nation, and the Taiwan Relations Act. statement Set (sometimes referred to as "Second statement of Shanghai"), drastically cutting arms sales to Taiwan. In 1979, Washington and Beijing exchanged ambassadors, and the Americans ceased formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Around 1980, the policy advocated by the mainland Chinese government was "one country, two systems", offering Formosa the exceptionality of a different and economically independent political system, but being part of the one China. However, this formula did not meet the wishes of the twenty-third province for independence. By 1985, the island's government was firmly moving towards democracy (2).

In the late 1990s, Beijing threatened Taiwan with military exercises in surrounding waters, in which missiles were deployed, prompting a forceful response from the United States: sending two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region; In doing so, Washington showed a clear determination to protect the former ally because of its strategic importance.

The status The current situation remains complex. No direct ties have been established between China and its rebel province through messaging or telecommunications; Neither are postal or parcel shipments sent, nor is there a direct connection of flights. Face-to-face meetings between delegates have been infrequent and not very productive.

The North Korea Problem

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, for its part, is a particularly critical point in Sino-American relations, which also affects South Korea and Japan, which in turn are allies of the United States. Pyongyang has already carried out six underground nuclear tests and continues its missile launches over the Sea of Japan.

China is North Korea's only ally: it is its biggest partner commercial and its main source of food and energy. Beijing has historically opposed tough international sanctions against its neighbor. The will to survive communism is essential when it comes to understanding the close relationship between the sui generis Korean dictatorship and China. It's easy to guess why: if Kim Jong-Un's regime falls, Xi Jinping's could be destabilized. A refugee crisis, with thousands of North Koreans crossing the 1,400-kilometer border bordering the two countries, would have serious effects on the Asian giant. Although they remain strongly linked to Pyongyang, the Chinese have pushed for the resumption of the Six Dialogue and have accepted the application of certain international sanctions.

Trump's blunt assertion that "if China isn't going to solve the North Korea problem, we will" doesn't really dispel doubts about what might happen if Pyongyang crosses the threshold of nuclear capability. Certainly, as the Kim Jong-Un regime has approached that threshold, Beijing has increased its diplomatic, financial and commercial pressures on its neighbor (3). But the possibility that North Korea is already on the verge of reaching its goal The strategic strategy leaves the United States faced with the dilemma of military action, which can hardly be both effective and limited, or having to settle for a policy of containment.

Over the years, Washington has tried to encourage North Korea to irreversibly forget its nuclear program, proposing in return a reward consisting of financial aid, diplomatic advantages and the normalization of relations. At the same time, South Korea hosts 29,000 U.S. military personnel. In March 2017, executive orders from the President and the congress The U.S. government went beyond sanctions: a defense system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) (4) was programmed as a preventive measure against a possible attack by the North and with the aim of protecting the environment. goal to ensure the stability of the region.

The THAAD battery is particularly interesting to analyze, because of the double perspective it presents. Their limited range and capability should not worry China, as the interceptors would not be able to hit Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles at any point in their trajectory, from almost any of the possible launch locations. As such, neither Washington nor Seoul should present the system as a form of retaliation against Beijing for its failed sanctions on North Korea. Unfortunately, U.S. and South Korean officials suggest that the purpose of the installation of the THADD system is to send a warning message to China. This is somewhat counterproductive, since it only offers reasons to justify the nuclearization of the Asian hegemon, in the face of the apparent degradation of its medium-range technology, that of the second Degree nuclear response (second-strike capability).

Mutual dissatisfactions

If the issues of Taiwan and North Korea have occupied a large part of the diary In the bilateral relationship, the issue of China's economic transformation, since its impetus by Deng Xiaoping, has been central to the direct relationship between China and the United States.

Gǎigé kāifàng (reform and opening-up) emphasized modernization and economic and political reform. This led to normalized diplomatic relations and thedevelopment bilateral trade and investment. Cooperation in subject The political, economic and security relations with the former "American imperialists" were based on the prevention of terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the maintenance of peace on the Korean peninsula.

However, there are still unresolved issues. U.S. dissatisfaction stems from China's human rights policy and its financial moves to devalue the currency as a measure to control inflation. These monetary movements call into question the control of the market by the American hegemon, which currently has greater weight and primacy, among other things, because the dollar is the international currency of exchange (it could thus "export its inflation" to Beijing). Washington is also concerned about the U.S.'s dependence on imports from China, which creates a large bilateral trade deficit for Americans. Another potential problem is the sale of missiles and nuclear technology to third States in the Middle East and Asia.

From the Chinese perspective, their dissatisfaction is due to the U.S. arms sales to the rebel province (Taiwan), the defense system established in South Korea (both the THAAD system and the U.S. government). financial aid and a U.S. foreign policy that Beijing dismisses as threatening, imperialist and domineering.

Ways of cooperation

The U.S. consideration of China as a "rival," as stated in the Trump Administration's first National Defense Strategy document, is based on the realization that the Chinese regime is not moving towards democracy as many in the rest of the world had hoped. "For decades, U.S. policy was based on the belief that support for China's rise and its integration into the post-war international order would liberalize China," the document says, noting that Beijing is not sliding toward a regime of political freedoms and respect for human rights, so Washington can no longer be as condescending to Beijing as it once was.

Probably, without China's assumption of the values and principles that give meaning to the United States, a real and confident rapprochement between the two superpowers is impossible. Still, for the survival of both, broad cooperation between them is necessary.

Although a war between the United States and China is not impossible, it is unlikely for a number of reasons, as Steinberg and O'Hanlon argue in Strategic Reassurance and Resolve (2015):

–The common objectives of economic prosperity, the exchange In terms of trade, interdependence, both at the stock market, financial and business levels, make a military confrontation very harmful to both countries. In addition, China has progressively adopted measures against fraud and destabilization by computer manipulation, at the behest of the United States; The issue of cyberespionage, although it continues to provoke mutual disagreements, is regularly addressed by both countries in their bilateral meetings, aware that it is likely to become more important over the years.

The South China Sea is a trade route that has never been closed, although it is a source of dispute to be taken into account, since they remain unresolved even though they have been brought before the Court dealing with the Law of the Sea (following the United Nations Convention on the Sea). The United States has strategic and commercial interests in the region that link it to its allies (Japan and South Korea), so it could be a source of tensions. In any case, it does not currently appear that China wishes to provoke a military escalation in the area, although it has established instructions on artificial islands and moved troops.

The ASEAN code of conduct for the South China Sea, which prevents the use of force, may cause Beijing to rethink increasing its aggressiveness in the region. That push by ASEAN for China to stop claiming maritime sovereignty that has been rejected by the international community are points against the war.

There are a number of joint counter-terrorism (ISIS) and anti-piracy operations involving the two superpowers.

China has increased its financial aid and its work in support of UN peacekeeping missions.

Faced with a scenario of no understanding between Beijing and Washington, but at the same time of no armed confrontation, the following actions should be suggested:

A negotiation that would include fewer arms sales to Taiwan by the US in exchange for greater security on the coasts, and a proportional reduction by China of threats to the island.

–Greater cooperation and transparency in the conduct of arms and troop movements, militarization, restructuring of the armed forces, and military exercises in the Pacific.

–Creation of joint organisations to combat organised crime and cyber-attacks, in particular threats to civilian infrastructure.

- Support and coherence in the prevention of nuclear escalation. Negotiation to reach a firm conclusion on how to weaken the Pyongyang regime. Serious and coherent criticism, knowing the impossibility (as well as harm) of its direct overthrow.


(1) "We seek an open world--open to ideas, open to the exchange of goods and people--a world in which no people, great or small, will live in angry isolation.
We cannot expect to make everyone our friend, but we can try to make no one our enemy". Inaugural Adress (January 20, 1969)

(2) It was the first time that the Democratic Progressive Party succeeded in pressing the elections to the National Assembly and the Legislative Yuan and forming a unified coalition against the Kuomintang. In 1992, the first free legislative elections were held in Taiwan.

(3) "China will be most likely to put diplomatic and financial pressure on North Korea if it believes that failing to do so will lead the United States to destabilize the regime," write Joshua Stanton, Sung- Yoon Lee, and Bruce Klingner in Foreign Affairs.

(4) The system typically has between 48 and 62 interceptor missiles with ranges of up to 200 kilometers, supported by radar with a range of up to about 1,000 kilometers

Categories Global Affairs: North America Asia World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Analysis

[Enrique Serrano, ¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? Delirios de una nación que se desconoce a sí misma, Planeta, Bogotá 2016, 273 pages].


review / María Oliveros [English version].

Colombia's history has often been classified as one of the most violent. The long chapter of FARC terrorism or the confrontation of drug cartels are well present, but before that there were violent events in Colombia such as the Revolt of the Comuneros, the Thousand Days War or the Banana Plantation Massacre. A succession of events that has led most Colombians to believe that violence has characterized the country's history and that perhaps they can do little to avoid it.

That belief is challenged by Colombian communicator, philosopher and writer Enrique Serrano in ¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? Delusions of a nation that does not know itself. The book's purpose is to analyze why Colombia has not prospered more as a country. To answer that question, Serrano reviews in short chapters the Colombian mentality since the beginnings of the nation; there he finds reasons why Colombia is a country that has had a hard time getting ahead, growing in progress and being able to develop to its full potential.

Why is Colombia failing?

¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? is a risky book, which combats thoughts that have long remained in the minds of Colombians. Against that central belief that violence has characterized the country's history, Serrano warns from the very first pages: "It is also presumed that this is a nation plagued by the most vicious violence, from its beginnings to the present day. However, it has been more peaceful than violent, at least during most of its slow training and that although the importance of violence cannot be denied, it is episodic, recent, similar to that of other peoples in transition".

Serrano tries to expose the history of a country that does not begin in 1810 with the independence, but its origins go much further back, to the moment when the Spaniards arrived in America and settled in Colombia. All this in order to show the reader that during the three hundred years that followed the arrival of the first conquistadors, Colombia was a peaceful and measured nation.

Serrano's main premise is that those who arrived in Colombia were mostly new Christians, descendants of Arabs and Jews, coming from southern Spain, who were looking for a place provisional to settle and avoid the religious conflicts that were occurring in Spain at that time. The newcomers settled in small urbanizations, some far from others, not only because that was what the country's geography allowed, but also because the last thing they wanted was to come into conflict with other settlers, both European and indigenous, according to Serrano.

In fact, it is questionable whether the new settlers were dominated by a refractory private religious approach or whether the search for refuge for their consciences motivated, in most cases, their departure to America. It seems that the author adjusts the starting point thinking of those later aspects that he wants to explain.

The author also defends the thesis that in Colombia there was a racial miscegenation, but not a cultural miscegenation, because the indigenous culture was very weak, which contributed to the assumption of the religion brought by the Spaniards. In the culture that the Spaniards transmitted to the new generations were ideas such as provisionality or even getting used to failure: "They also had to react in a peaceful, non-violent way when events were unfavorable and they could not fulfill their desires. Therefore, a relative tolerance and awareness that the frustration of the achievement of desires is something probable, is in the old patterns of upbringing of the Colombian nation".

Serrano suggests that this mentality that originated centuries ago is still present in Colombia: the idea of not making the maximum effort, of not taking too many risks for fear of failure, of doing things half-heartedly so as not to lose too much in case they go wrong. Probably this mentality that was created over the years explains why urbanization projects in the country do not progress properly, why the subway project in the Colombian capital has not been able to materialize, or why it has cost the country so much to exploit its resources to the maximum.

Although the book touches on other aspects such as language, body hygiene and social classes, history is undoubtedly the fundamental component. Referring to historical events of the Colombian past, Serrano proposes a vision of national history far from the usual one. Thus, as has been said, his story does not begin with the cry for independence of 1810, but explains the Spanish society of the 15th and 16th centuries, in order to understand the mentality of the first men, women and families who arrived in America. It is an optimistic vision that seeks to share the idea that not everything has been suffering in Colombian history. 

It is a fact that the country's history is not lived or remembered with much encouragement by Colombians. Remembering the past is for many a way of recalling the violence, wars and national polarization that began with the training of the two major parties, Liberals and Conservatives, in the mid-nineteenth century. Knowing the past well, in any case, is paramount for progress; that is what the new law decreed on January 1, 2018, which obliges all schools in the country to teach class Colombian History, seeks to do. 

The book concludes with a series of suggestions about the present and the future. That last chapter, graduate Where can such a nation go? tries to transmit a feeling of hope, while at the same time it is a call to a high level of responsibility. According to the author, knowing the past and not running away from it, but accepting it in order to improve mentalities and habits, is what will give the country the basis for not failing. 

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Latin America

[Mai'a K. Davis Cross, The Politics of Crisis in Europe. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 2017. 248 pages]


review / Mª Teresa La Porte [English version].

The main thesis of the extensive research presented in this work is condensed in one of its last conclusions: 'Indeed, what the crisis over Iraq, the constitution, and the Eurozone have revealed is that even in the face of extreme adversity, and even when the easy route of freezing or rolling back integration is on the table before them, Europeans routinely choose more Europe, not less' (p. 235). The author justifies this assertion by arguing that the perception of existential crisis that periodically plagues the European Union is a social construct, initiated and orchestrated by the media and public opinion shapers who control the elaboration of narratives and determine public perception of the facts. Media coverage amplifies a problem that, although undeniable, does not question the existence of the European Union. This negative vision provokes in citizens what Cross calls 'integrational panic', generating a feeling of catastrophe that is multiplied through political discourse. The absence of a 'real crisis' would be demonstrated by the fact that, after these apparent catastrophes, there is a noticeable advance in European integration and a renewed desire to find a consensus.

The book presents an analysis of three recent 'crises' that the European Union has gone through: the dispute over participation in the Iraq war (2003), the discussion over the European Constitution (2005) and the economic crisis in the Eurozone (2010-12). Each of the cases comprises a qualitative and quantitative study of international leading media content, an examination of public opinion reaction and a monitoring of political decision making. Despite the difference between the case studies, the author finds a common patron saint to all of them that allows the comparative study and is developed as follows: emergence of the conflict that provokes the discussion, negative reaction of the social instigators elaborating alarming narratives, perception of existential crisis by the citizenry, state of 'catharsis' (catharsis) in which tensions are relaxed and a serene reflection on the events takes place, and, finally, the resolution phase in which political measures are adopted that reinforce European integration (European Security Strategy, 2003 (European Security Strategy); Lisbon Treaty, 2009 (Lisbon Treaty); European Fiscal Compact, 2012 (Fiscal Compact)).

The Politics of Crisis in Europe

The European Union is understood as a project in the process of development: 'a work in progress, a project that is perennially in the middle of its evolution, with no clearly defined end goal' (p.2). The disagreements between the member states, in relation to foreign policy or to the Degree integration, are typical of an ambitious initiative, which is in the process of maturing and which is always moving forward with the agreement of each and every one of its members. However, the study does not underestimate the real difficulties faced by the Community institution, which are present throughout research.

Of particular interest is the close monitoring of the social dynamics generated by the interpretation of the 'crisis of existence' of the European Union. The processes of elaboration of narratives by the media, the multiplier effect through the discourses of political actors and experts, and the reaction of European and global public opinion provide a knowledge on the political impact of social behavior that should be further considered in the discipline of International Office. The study devotes special attention to the resolution of the crisis and the phenomenon of 'catharsis' that occurs as a consequence of political reflection. This stage would begin when the options are broadened and different solutions begin to be assessed, the political elites recover their decision-making power and the consideration of potential opportunities to generate consensus and advance integration begins. As the author remarks, catharsis does not eliminate tensions, but it allows an open discussion that concludes with a positive proposal .

The scientific review of the concept of 'crisis' in the main intellectual perspectives of subject is also a positive contribution: the systemic, behavioral and sociological views. Based on the previous production, the author contributes a new concept 'integrational panic' which she defines as 'a social overreaction to a perceived problem'.

The criticism coming from academia, while not failing to underline the interest of approach of work, considers the political analysis of each of the conflicts analyzed to be insufficient and claims that the book does not reflect well the complexity of the problems facing Europe. In particular, she questions whether the Brexit crisis and the rise of Eurosceptic parties do not dismantle the argumentation set out in these pages. The author includes a brief commentary on both issues (the British referendum coincides with the publication of the book) arguing that both problems respond to a national and not a European policy conflict, but the review considers it incomplete.

In any case, the relevance of work is justified for several reasons. Firstly, its novelty: although the crises that the European Union has gone through have been studied before, very few studies have done so in a comparative way and concluded common behaviors. Secondly, and although it is a debatable thesis , the analysis of the effect of the media and public opinion leaders on the existential crisis of the EU contributes to a more accurate and realistic political evaluation of the phenomenon. Finally, the research favors a better management of these periods of turbulence, allowing to reduce the wearing effects of a constant discussion on the survival of the institution inside and outside Europe.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

essay / Andrea Pavón-Guinea [English version].

  1. Introduction

The combination of terrorist attacks on European soil, the rise of the Islamic State, the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis have highlighted the importance of intercultural dialogue between the European Union and the Islamic world. In this context of asymmetric warfare and non-traditional security challenges, the European Union is focusing its resources on soft power-based civil society initiatives that can contribute to the prevention of radicalization. Through the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation for Intercultural development , the European Union has a unique instrument to bring civil societies on both shores of the Mediterranean closer together and contribute to the improvement of Euro-Mediterranean relations.  

  1. Euro-Mediterranean relations and intercultural dialogue 

Relations between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean began[1] to be formally regulated with the creation of the Barcelona Process in 1995[2].

The Barcelona Declaration would give rise to the creation of the association Euro-Mediterranean; a forum for multilateral relations which, 'based on a spirit of association', aims to turn the Mediterranean basin into a 'area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity'. The Barcelona Process would thus bring to mind one of the founding principles of the European Union, that of achieving common objectives through a spirit of co-responsibility (Suzan, 2002). The Declaration pursues three fundamental objectives: firstly, the creation of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of security and political dialogue (this would be the so-called 'political basket'); secondly, the construction of a zone of shared prosperity through the economic and financial association ('economic and financial basket'); and, thirdly, the promotion of understanding between cultures through civil society networks: the so-called intercultural dialogue ('social, cultural and human affairs' basket). 

More than twenty years after the Declaration, the claims of today's politics in the Southern Mediterranean underline the importance of development intercultural dialogue for European security. Although European politicians rejected Huntington's thesis of the clash of civilizations when it was first articulated, it would nevertheless become a scenario to be considered after the September 11 attacks: a scenario, however, that could be avoided through cooperation in the 'third basket' of the Euro-Mediterranean association , i.e. through enhanced dialogue and cultural cooperation (Gillespie, 2004).

  1. Fighting radicalization through intercultural dialogue: the Anna Lindh Foundation 

Thus, emphasizing that dialogue between cultures, civilizations and religions throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region is more necessary than ever for promote mutual understanding, the Euro-Mediterranean partners agreed during the fifth Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers' meeting lecture in Valencia in 2002 to establish a foundation whose goal would be the development of intercultural dialogue. Thus was born the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures which, based in Alexandria, would start operating in 2005.

It should be noted that Anna Lindh is unique in its representation and configuration, as it brings together all Euro-Mediterranean partners in the promotion of intercultural dialogue, which is its only goal. To this end, it relies on the coordination of a regional network of more than 4,000 civil society organizations, both European and Mediterranean.

Although it has been in operation for more than ten years now, its work is currently focused on development intercultural dialogue in order to prevent radicalization. This emphasis has been continuously highlighted in recent years, for example at the Anna Lindh Foundation's Mediterranean Forum in Malta in October 2016, its mandate on intercultural dialogue contained in the new European Neighborhood Policy (18.11.2015) and in High Representative Mogherini's strategy for the promotion of culture at International Office.

However, it has been the recent terrorist attacks in Europe that have highlighted the urgent need to address the phenomenon of radicalization[3], which can ultimately written request lead to violent extremism and terrorism. In this sense, the prevention of radicalization[4] is a piece core topic in the fight against terrorism, as has been highlighted by the diary European Security in 2015[5]. This is so because most of the terrorists suspected of attacks on European soil are European citizens, born and raised in EU member states, where they have undergone radicalization processes that would culminate in acts of terrorist violence. This fact evidences 'the transnational dimension of Islamist terrorism' (Kaunert and Léonard, 2011: 287), as well as the changing nature of the threat, whose drivers are different and more complex than previous radicalization processes: 'Today's radicalization has different foundations, operates on the basis of different recruitment and communication techniques and is marked by globalized and mobile targets inside and outside Europe, growing in diverse urban contexts'[6]. The following map sample the issue of arrests for suspected jihadist terrorism in Europe in 2016.


source: Europol (2016)


Consequently, the Anna Lindh Foundation can be understood as an alternative and non-confrontational response to the speech of the clash of civilizations and the US-led war on terror (Malmvig, 2007). Its main goal which is to create 'a space of prosperity, coexistence and peace' by 'restoring confidence in dialogue and reducing stereotypes' is based on the importance given by the European Union to development intercultural dialogue between civilizations as a crucial element of any political and strategic program aimed at neighboring Mediterranean countries (Rosenthal, 2007). In other words, the creation of a area of dialogue, cooperation and exchange in the southern Mediterranean is a priority core topic of the European Union's foreign policy. Furthermore, with the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation, the European Union is recognizing that for the Euro-Mediterranean association to work, dialogue between civil society organizations, and not only between political elites, is essential.

Thus, Anna Lindh, as an organization based on network of civil society networks, becomes a crucial instrument to address the prevention of radicalization. Along these lines, the group of work of the United Nations counter-terrorism implementation[7] has argued that the State alone does not have the necessary resources to combat terrorist radicalization, and therefore needs to cooperate with partners of a different nature to carry out this task. The involvement of civil society and local communities would thus serve to increase trust and social cohesion, even becoming a means of reaching out to certain segments of society with which governments would find it difficult to interact. The nature of local actors, as highlighted by the European Union through the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation, would be the most successful in preventing and detecting radicalization in both the short and long term deadline[8].


In this way, intercultural dialogue constitutes a tool to address the phenomenon of radicalization in the Southern Mediterranean region, where the legacies of a colonial past demand that 'more credible interlocutors be found among non-governmental organizations' (Riordan, 2005: 182). With the goal of preventing terrorist radicalization inside and outside Europe, and assuming that practices based on dialogue and mutuality can offer a suitable framework for the development and improvement of Euro-Mediterranean relations, the European Union should move towards real partnerships aimed at building trust between people and reject any unilateral action program that involves a reproduction of the speech of the clash of civilizations (Amirah and Behr, 2013: 5). 

[1] Prior to the Barcelona Declaration, an attempt was made to regulate Euro-Mediterranean cooperation through the Euro-Arab Dialogue (1973-1989); however, although conceived as a forum for dialogue between the then European Economic Community and the Arab League, the tensions of the Gulf War would end up frustrating its work (Khader, 2015). 

[2] The association Euro-Mediterranean would be complemented by the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in 2004. Based on the European enlargement policy, its underlying logic is the same: "To try to export the norms and values of the European Union to its neighbors" (Gsthöl, 2016: 3). In response to the conflicts in the Southern Mediterranean regions, the rise of extremism and terrorism and the refugee crisis in Europe, the ENP has undergone two major revisions, one in 2011 and the other in 2015, outlining a more differentiated approach among ENP countries to achieve further stabilization of the area. The ENP is based on differential bilateralism (Del Sarto and Schumacher, 2005) and abandons the prevalence of the multilateral and regional principle inherent to the Barcelona Process.

[3] Although several types of political extremism can be differentiated, this grade focuses on Islamist extremism and jihadist terrorism, as it is Sunni extremism that has been manager of the largest issue of terrorist attacks in the world (Schmid, 2013). It should also be noted in this regard that there is still no universally valid definition of the concept of 'radicalization' (Veldhuis and Staun 2009).

[4] Since 2004, the term 'radicalization' has become central to terrorism studies and counter-terrorism policy-making in order to analyze 'homegrown' Islamist political violence (Kundnani, 2012).

[5] The European diary on Security, COM (2015) 185 of 28 April 2015.

[6] The prevention of radicalization leading to violent extremism, COM (2016) 379 of 14 June 2016.

[7] First Report of the Working Group on Radicalization and Extremism that Lead to Terrorism: Inventory of State Programs (2006)

[8] The prevention of radicalization leading to violent extremism, COM (2016) 379 of 14 June 2016.



Amirah, H. and Behr, T. (2013) "The Missing Spring in the EU's Mediterranean Policies", Policy Paper No 70. Notre Europe - Jacques Delors Institute, February, 2013.

Council of the European Union (2002) "Presidency Conclusions for the Vth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers" (Valencia 22-23 April 2002), 8254/02 (Presse 112)

Del Sarto, R. A. and Schumacher, T. (2005): "From EMP to ENP: What's at Stake with the European Neighborhood Policy towards the Southern Mediterranean?", European Foreign Affairs Review, 10: 17-38.

European Union (2016) "Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations, Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council" (

European Commission. "Barcelona Declaration and Euro-Mediterranean Partnership", 1995.

Gillespie, R. (2004) "Reshaping the diary? The International Politics of the Barcelona Process in the Aftermath of September 11", in Jünemann, Annette Euro-Mediterranean Relations after September 11, London: Frank Cass: 20-35.

Gstöhl, S. (2016): The European Neighborhood Policy in a Comparative Perspective: Models, Challenges, Lessons (Abingdon: Routledge).

Kaunert, C. and Léonard, S. (2011) "EU Counterterrorism and the European Neighborhood Policy: An Appraisal of the Southern Dimension", Terrorism and Political Violence, 23: 286-309.

Khader, B. (2015): Europe and the Arab world (Icaria, Barcelona).

Kundnani, A. (2012) "Radicalization: The Journey of a Concept", Race & Class, 54 (2): 3-25.

Malmvig, H. (2007): "Security Through Intercultural Dialogue? Implications of the Securitization of Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue between Cultures". Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean Area. London/New York: Routledge: 71-87.

Riordan, S. (2005): "Dialogue-Based Public Diplomacy: A New Foreign Policy Paradigm?", in Melissen, Jan, The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan: 180-193. 

Rosenthal, G. (2007): "Preface: The Importance of Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Co-operation in the Euro-Mediterranean Area". Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean Area. London/New York: Routledge: 1-3.

Schmid, A. (2013) "Radicalization, De-Radicalization, Counter-Radicalization: A Conceptual Discussion and Literature Review", ICCT Research Paper, March 2013.

Suzan, B. (2002): "The Barcelona Process and the European Approach to Fighting Terrorism." Brookings Institute [online] [accessed 14 August 2017].

Veldhuis, T. and Staun, J. (2009) Islamist Radicalisation: A Root Cause Model (The Hague: Clingendael).

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

High levels of corruption and impunity in the region make it difficult to eradicate millionaire bribes in public procurement contracts

The confession of the construction and engineering company Odebrecht, one of the most important in Brazil, of having delivered large sums as bribes to political leaders, parties and public officials for the awarding of works in various countries in the region has been the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Latin America. The B budget increase during the "golden decade" of raw materials occurred in a framework of little improvement in the effectiveness of the rule of law and control of corruption, which led to high levels of illicit deviations in public contracts.

article / Ximena Barría [English version].

Odebrecht is a Brazilian company that conducts business in multiple industries through several operating sites. It is engaged in areas such as engineering, construction, infrastructure and energy, among others. Its headquarters in Brazil are located in the city of Salvador de Bahia. The business operates in 27 countries in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Over the years, the construction company has participated in public works contracts in most Latin American countries.

In 2016, the U.S. Justice department published a research denouncing that the Brazilian company had bribed public officials in twelve countries, ten of them Latin American: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The research was developed from the confession made by Odebrecht's own top executives once they were discovered.

The company provided officials in these countries with millions of dollars in exchange for obtaining public works contracts and benefiting from the payment for their execution. The business agreed to submit millions of dollars to political parties, public officials, public candidates or persons related to the Government. Its purpose was to have a competitive advantage that would allow it to retain public business in different countries. 

In order to cover up these illicit capital movements, business created fictitious corporations in places such as Belize, the Virgin Islands and Brazil. The business developed a secret financial structure to cover up these payments. The research of the U.S. Justice department established that bribes in the aforementioned countries totaled US$788 million (almost half in Brazil alone). Using this illegal method, contrary to all business and political ethics, Odebrecht obtained the commissioning of more than one hundred projects, the execution of which generated profits of US$ 3,336 million.

Lack of an effective judiciary

This matter, known as the Odebrecht case, has created consternation in Latin American societies. Its citizens consider that in order for acts of this nature subject not to go unpunished, countries must have greater efficiency in the judicial sphere and take more accelerated steps towards a true Rule of Law. 

From agreement with World Bank indicators, none of the ten Latin American countries affected by this bribery network reaches 60% of effectiveness of the rule of law and corruption control. This would explain the success of the Brazilian construction company in its bribery policy.


source: World Bank, 2016


Judicial independence and its effectiveness is essential for the resolution of facts of these characteristics. The proper exercise of justice shapes a proper rule of law, preventing the occurrence of illicit acts or other political decisions that may violate it. Although this is the ideal, the countries involved in the Odebrecht case do not fully comply with this due judicial independence.

Indeed, according to the Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018, most of the affected countries obtain a leave grade regarding the independence of their courts, which indicates that they lack an effective judiciary to judge the alleged people involved in this case. This is the case, for example, with Panama and the Dominican Republic, ranked 120th and 127th, respectively, in terms of judicial independence, out of a list of 137 countries.

One of the problems suffered by the Judicial Branch of the Republic of Panama is the high issue of files handled by the Supreme Court of Justice. This congestion makes it difficult for the Supreme Court to work effectively. The high number of processed files doubled between 2013 and 2016: the conference room Criminal Court processed 329 files in 2013; in 2016 there were 857. Although the Panamanian Judicial Branch has improved its budget, that has not represented a qualitative increase in its functions. These difficulties could explain the Court's decision to reject an extension of the research, even though this could mean some impunity. In 2016, there were only two detainees for the Odebrecht case. In 2017, of the 43 defendants who could be involved in the acceptance of bribes valued at US$60 million, only 32 were prosecuted.

The Dominican Republic is also at a similar status . According to a survey of 2016, only 38% of Dominicans trust the judicial institution. This low percentage may have been contributed to by the fact that active members of political parties were elected to serve as Supreme Court judges, something that tarnishes the credibility of the judiciary and its independence. In 2016, Dominican courts only inquired about one person, when the U.S. Supreme Court estimated that the Brazilian business had given $92 million in political bribes, one of the highest amounts outside Brazil. In 2017, the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic ordered the release from prison of 9 out of 10 allegedly involved in the case due to insufficient evidence.

Need for greater coordination and reform

In October 2017, public prosecutors from Latin America met in Panama City to share information on money laundering, especially in relation to the Odebrecht case. Officials expressed the need to leave no case unpunished, thereby contributing to solving one of the biggest political, economic and judicial problems in the region. Some prosecutors reported having suffered threats in their investigations. All of them valued positively the meeting, as it highlighted the need for greater fiscal coordination and legislative harmony in Latin America. However, it is important to note that the Dominican Republic was absent from meeting.

Any awareness of public ministries in Latin America is essential given the correlation observed between the countries affected by Odebrecht bribes and their poor ranking in indexes provided by different international organizations and centers of research. Ineffective rule of law and lack of control of corruption enable companies like Odebrecht to succeed in their bribery policy to gain a competitive advantage. 

The shortcomings of the judicial systems in countries such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, in particular, may make it possible for public officials to go unpunished for crimes committed. In addition, the Odebrecht case, of great magnitude in the region, could further congest judicial activity if effective reforms are not made in each country. 

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America