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

DOCUMENT FROM work / Lucía Serrano Royo


The European Union was born as a mechanism for cooperation between countries, but its recent history makes the system still very fragile. At the same time, its diversity makes decision making complex and many political interests come into play, which may conflict with each other. One of the most relevant events that is currently taking place and that has shaken the pillars of the Union is "Brexit", the exit of the United Kingdom as a member state of the Union. This brief will analyze the slow implementation of article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, which is activated for the first time in history. In addition, it analyzes the reasons in the European and internal context that have led to this status and the consequences from a political, economic and social point of view. In view of this climate of instability and uncertainty, different alternatives to this status will be proposed and it will be analyzed how the European Union has responded to this problem in its White Paper, where different scenarios for the continuation of the Union have been established.


Brexit, its development and consequences  download the complete document [pdf. 4.4MB]

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


Street art in the city of Medellín

▲Street art in the city of Medellín

ANALYSIS / María Gabriela Fajardo

Colombia experienced on March 11 the first elections held after signature in 2016 of the Peace agreement between the government and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). These elections to the country's bicameral congress - members of the Senate and the House of Representatives were elected - were the first occasion in which the different ideological sectors could measure their forces without the distortion of an armed struggle in significant parts of the territory. Traditionally, social rejection of the guerrilla campaign has been alluded to as an explanation for why the left in Colombia has usually enjoyed little popular support. Has the arrival of peace changed the correlation of political forces and has it led to an improvement in the electoral results of the left?

To answer these questions, we will examine the results obtained by the different political options, grouped into sections of the ideological spectrum (right, center-right, center-left and left), in the elections to congress held since the beginning of this century. An examination of the political composition of congress over the last decade and average will give perspective to the results of the March 11 legislative elections. These elections meant the integration of the FARC into the Colombian political party system, under a different name - Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común - but with the same acronym.

In the 2002-2018 period there were also, in addition to the five elections to the congress, as many presidential elections. The latter are mentioned in the analysis because they help to clarify the contexts, but they are not included in the comparative work , given that the presidential elections are governed by more personalistic dynamics and complex vote transfers take place due to the double round process. The March 11 elections, however, provide considerations for the presidential elections of May 27.


The Parapolitics scandal distorted the reception of the results of the 2002 legislative elections, after paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso claimed that 35% of the elected congress were "friends" of his organization. The right wing, represented by the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, won 41.1% of the Senate seats. This figure does not include the seats won by other minor political groups, among them Colombia Siempre, whose head of list was the current candidate presidential candidate Germán Vargas Lleras. The left, on the other hand, was quite fractioned, in groups such as Vía Alterna and Movimiento Popular Unido, and obtained 14% of the Senate seats. The center-left won 12.9% and the center-right 7%.


Senate, elections 2002-2018


In the 2002 presidential elections, held a few months after the legislative elections, Álvaro Uribe became head of state, with the vote of 53.1% of the voters. Uribe ran as an independent candidate , after splitting from the Liberal Party, and had the support of much of the right and center-right, including Cambio Radical, Somos Colombia and the Conservative Party, which then did not participate in the presidential race.

Thus, in the 2006 legislative elections, a new party, the Partido Social de Unidad Nacional (better known as Partido de la U), created by Álvaro Uribe, played a major role. The Partido de la U won the elections, obtaining 20% of the seats: for the first time neither of the two traditional parties (Liberal and Conservative) had won result . The new party was here to stay, so that the right wing was now represented by three parties (de la U, Liberal and Conservative), with 61% of the senators. The left, although it increased to 19% of the Senate seats, was split into several political parties without weight and without the possibility of proposing drastic legislative changes. The center-right, represented by Cambio Radical, was in fourth place, with 15% of seats, while the center-left obtained none.

In 2010 the right wing reached its highest point, with 66.7% of the Senate seats, a figure that includes the three right-wing parties mentioned above and MIRA, a group with a smaller presence. These were moments of political dominance for Uribismo. In the electoral months of 2010, President Uribe was expressing his support to Juan Manuel Santos as candidate presidential. It was thought that he would continue Uribe's policies of confronting the guerrillas and organizing the security forces. However, after coming to power, Santos surprised by disassociating himself from Uribe and opening negotiations with the FARC in 2012, which led to the rupture of the relationship between the two politicians (El periodico, 2017). The strength demonstrated by the right in the 2010 legislative elections was accompanied by a great weakness of the left, which obtained only 7.7% of the Senate seats and would become the perfect ally of President Santos to carry out his diary and his journey towards the political center. The center-left had a representation of 13.3%, thanks to the push of the new Alianza Verde party, and the center-right remained at 7.9%.


Composition of the Senate


The 2014 legislative elections meant the consolidation of a new right-wing party, the Democratic Center, created by Uribe after his separation from the U Party, which had been left in the hands of Santos, who that year would win reelection as Colombian president. The Democratic Center came in second place in the Senate elections, with only one senator less than the U Party (Sanchez, 2018). In 2014, the right went on to control 48.1% of the Senate, from agreement with the ideological realignment of the party system. Thus, several experts came to classify the Partido de la U as center-right, label which they also began to grant to the Partido Liberal, in a political space shared with Cambio Radical; these three parties formed the "Unidad Nacional" (Castillo, 2018). With this, the center-right totaled 19.6% of the seats, while the center-left obtained 9.8%, due to the votes achieved by the Green Party and the Progressives, the latter led by Gustavo Petro, current presidential candidate . The left only reached 4.9%, represented by the minorities of the Polo Democrático, the Unión Patriótica, Marcha Patriótica and the groups that came from the demobilized guerrillas.

In the legislative elections of March 11, there was a reinforcement of right-wing positions, with the return of some parties which in previous elections had slid towards the center-right by defending the negotiation with the FARC and which now wanted to counteract the fear of part of the population of a rise of the radical left, in a very polarized electoral process. Thus, the right rose to 55.2% of the senators, led by those of the Democratic Center, while the center-right fell to 15.9%. The moderate and radical left increased their presence: the center-left rose to 11.5% and the left to 9%. This last percentage does not include the five seats guaranteed to the FARC, which despite not winning any senator electorally, will have those five seats guaranteed by the Peace Accords.

House of Representatives

The results in the 2002-2018 period of the elections for the House of Representatives, held simultaneously with those for the Senate, do not differ much from what was discussed in the previous epigraph; however, they present some variations that should be considered.

The institution was quite affected by parapolitics scandals, a factor that influenced the political polarization of the country, which would be reflected in the elections throughout this period. In 2002, the right won 47% of the seats in the House, with the Liberal Party having the largest representation; the left won 27.1%. From then on, the center-right, which in 2002 obtained 4.2% of the representatives (the center-left took 1.8%) began to take a certain configuration, as the contours of the two traditional parties -Conservative and Liberal- blurred with the division into factions, from which new parties would emerge; this ended the bipartisanship experienced in Colombia throughout the 20th century: the Conservative governed for 48 years and the Liberal for 13.


House of Representatives, 2002-2018 elections


The emergence of the Partido de la U, led by Álvaro Uribe and the wide acceptance of his political figure (Uribe became president in 2002 and was reelected in 2006), led for the first time a party other than the two traditional ones to come in second place in the 2006 legislative elections, in which the Partido de la U won 16.7% of the seats in the Chamber, raising the representation of the right to 54.2%. For its part, the left dropped its representation to 16.7% and entered a period of special political weakness (these elections were not good for the center-left either, which did not obtain representation). At a time of President Uribe's successes against the guerrillas, with measures supported by a large part of the population, although not without controversy, the left-wing parties were weighed down by sharing certain ideological assumptions with the guerrillas, as political scientist Andrés Dávila of the Universidad de los Andrés Dávila of the Universidad de los Andres points out.

This dynamic led to an even greater increase of the right wing and a new decline of the left wing in the House of Representatives in 2010, in parallel with what happened in the Senate, in a year in which the candidate promoted by Uribe, Juan Manuel Santos, would also win the presidency. The Partido de la U was ahead of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party in the House of Representatives, with these three right-wing parties accounting for 74.6% of the seats, the highest percentage of the entire period studied; the center-right party reached 9.7%. For its part, the left, whose largest party was the Polo Democrático, reached only 4%, its worst share in the period, minimally compensated by the maximum representation of the center-right, although this was a modest 8.5%.

The 2014 elections brought with them the presence of a new party headed by Uribe, the Democratic Center, which positioned itself to the right of the previous ones by positioning itself forcefully against the continuation of the peace dialogues with the FARC propitiated by President Santos (El periodico, 2017). The rupture between Santos and Uribe caused their electorate to split, so that in the elections to the House of Representatives the Liberal Party won, followed by the U Party, the Conservative Party and the Democratic Center. Taking into account the shift towards more moderate positions of some of these formations, when grouping them together we have that the right-wing advocates dropped to 46.7% of the seats in the House, while the center-right rose to 11.1%. The left, with the Polo Democrático, improved its representation somewhat to 10%, and the center-left languished at 3.3%.

Four years later, last March 11, the Liberal Party won again the elections to the House of Representatives, followed by the Democratic Center, the Radical Change, the U Party and the Conservative Party. Some of these formations returned during the electoral campaign to clear right-wing positions that they had previously moderated, so that the right wing added 61.1% of the seats (Sánchez, 2018), compared to 6% for the left. For its part, the center-right scored 9.1% and the center-left 6.1%. To these figures must be added the five seats in the House granted by the agreement de Paz to the FARC, which also failed to win any by citizen vote, as in the Senate. With this enlargement, the Colombian bicameral congress goes from 268 to 280 members (the ten members of the FARC party and two that will correspond to the presidential ticket that comes second in the presidential elections).


Composition of the House of Representatives


The division of the left

The analysis carried out allows us to affirm that right-wing political approaches have remained in the majority in Colombia so far this century, as was the case in previous decades, although no longer in the hegemonic framework of two major parties, but of a wider range of partisan options. In a period in which in many other Latin American countries there were turns to the left -notably, the Bolivarian revolutions- Colombia was a clear exception. In this time, the right in Colombia (not including the center-right) has controlled between 43.3% (2002) and 66.7% (2010) of the Senate seats and between 46.7% (2014) and 74.6% (2010) of those in the House of Representatives. In contrast, the left (not including the equally reduced center-left) has remained a minority: it has moved between 4.9% (2014) and 19% (2006) of the Senate, and between 4% (2010) and 27.1% (2002) of the House.

The 2016 Peace agreement and the integration of the FARC into political life have so far not led to a significant electoral boom of the left. In the legislative elections of March 11, 2018, the right actually recovered positions compared to 2014 in the two institutions of the Contreso, while the left, although it certainly improved its presence in the Senate, but far from the levels of 2002 and 2006, instead lost space in the Chamber.

The fear of broad sectors of the population that the political benefits granted to the FARC, such as guaranteed access to media or campaign financing, would contribute to an electoral advance of the ex-guerrillas did not materialize in these elections. The results of the October 2016 plebiscite, which rejected the agreement de Paz (this came into force in 2017 after some changes, without a new plebiscite), were again reflected in the past legislative elections: Colombians oppose the participation of former members of the belligerent group in politics. FARC candidates obtained only 0.28% of the votes. In addition, this party announced days before the legislative elections that it will not run in the presidential elections, for which the maximum leader of group, Rodrigo Londoño, was running as candidate .

Is Colombia a conservative country? Why has the left in Colombia been so weak electorally? These recurring questions about Colombian politics are not easy to answer. "The left is a sector that has traditionally been very much divided among doctrinal tendencies, for strategic reasons and even by personalities", explains Yeann Basset, director of the Observatory of Electoral Processes of the Universidad del Rosario.

It is worth highlighting what Fabio López, author of the book "Izquierdas y cultura política", said in response to the question of whether there is a left in Colombia:

"One thing is that we come from a defeat, internationally thought, of the left, an enormous setback of the workers' movement, a discrediting of socialist ideas, and another thing is the disappearance of the causes, of the structural reasons that motivate at international and national level some leftist ideas, some roots and some justifications, to appeal to the rescue or better restructuring, a new beginning of some leftist approaches in Colombia".

One of the reasons usually given to explain the difficulty of the left in gaining greater support is the negative weight of the guerrilla subversion. In Colombia, after the constant conflicts, massacres and the pain that the armed conflict has left on Colombians, leftist parties have not achieved the support of the society as in neighboring countries since there is a direct association of leftist party with the guerrillas and what comes with them. The arrival of political leaders such as Uribe to the presidency intensified this association and increased the taboo present today in a large part of the citizens of supporting a leftist party. At the same time, the left has not done much to repair this bad image; the great internal fragmentation and differences among political leaders have not helped the training of a solid left with the capacity to increase its representation in the congress.

Opportunity for the presidential election?

The presidential elections on May 27 are an opportunity for the left to improve its electoral results, which in any case could advance in the future to the extent that peace is consolidated and the past of violence can be forgotten.

The political polarization, which on other occasions has harmed the left, this time is assuming a certain unity of this ideological sector around the candidacy of Gustavo Petro, former mayor of Bogota. The celebration on March 11 of primaries on the right, won by the pro-Uribe Iván Duque, and on the left, won by Petro (Sánchez, 2018), have accentuated the polarization for the presidential elections, increasing citizen mobilization (in the legislative elections there were five more points of participation) and attracting media attention to both candidates. Polarization, at the same time, has reduced support to possible centrist alternatives, as divided as the left was before, so that it cannot be ruled out that Petro may go to a second round, on June 17. A victory against the odds for Petro, for which he should attract the bulk of the moderate electorate, would not mean a radical change in legislative policies, as the congress revalidated last March 11 the dominance of the right.

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

[Michael E. O'Hanlon and James Steinberg, A Glass Half Full: Rebalance, Reassurance, and Resolve in the US-China Strategic Relationship. The Brookings Institution Press, Washington D.C., 2017, 104 pages]


REVIEW / María Granados

This short book follows a longer book published in 2014 by the same authors, Strategic Reassurance and Resolve. In the new publication, Michael E. O'Hanlon and James Steinberg -both academics and senior policy makers- update and review the policies they suggest in order to improve the relations between China and the United States. The relationship between both countries, established in the early 1970s, has been subject to changing times, and it has suffered several crises, but it has nonetheless grown in importance in the international sphere.

The short and straight-forward strategic review of the ongoing action provides an insight into the arsenals and plans of the two powers. Moreover, through graphs and numerical tables, it depicts the current situation in terms of strength, potential threat, and the likelihood of destruction if a conflict were to arise.

It also gives an overview of the diverse security matters that need to be monitored carefully, in the realms of space, cybernetics, and nuclear proliferation. These essential matters need not to be disregarded when planning defense strategies; instead officials should cast an eye over historical tensions such as Taiwan, North Korea and the South China Sea, and remember to use the tools that have already been established in the region to prevent the use of hard power, i.e.: ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

A Glass Half Full?

Not only does the paper carefully consider the action taken by President Obama and his predecessors, but also cautiously suggests steps ahead in the path opened by Nixon four decades ago. O'Hanlon and Steinberg use bulletpoints to give directions for further developments in the Sino-American relationship, stressing the need for transparency, mutually beneficial exchanges, cooperation, and common ends in common projects.

Some of the ideas are summarised briefly in the following paragraphs:

-True rebalance moves away from mere 'containment' and into a trustworthy alliance. Joint operations that ensure cooperation and reassurance are a key aspect of that objective.

-Confidence building in the area of communications must be reinforced in order to prevent espionage and the spread of piracy, as well as other illegal tactics to gather private information.

-The neutral trend in the broad topic of space, cybernetics and nuclearisation has to advance into a firm and close cooperation, especially in view of the threat that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea poses to the global community as a whole. Intelligence and the recent accusations of Russia's manipulation through the use of the Internet and other technological means can be a target to pursue further negotiations and the signing of international treaties such as The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.

-To abstain from any risks of escalation, the following policies must be regarded: the leveling of military budget growth, and of the development and deployment of prompt- attack capabilities, restraining modernisation, in favor of dialogue and the exchange of information, providing notice of any operation.

The authors conclude that the relationship is not free from conflict or misunderstanding; it is indeed a work in progress. However, they are positive about that progress. The overall outlook of the Sino-American relation is, as the title suggests "A Glass Half Full": there is of course work to be done, and the path has plenty of potential problems that both countries will have to face and resolve in the least damaging way to advance on the common interest; in spite of the aforementioned, half of it has already been done: both China and the US have a goal to fight for: the prevention of war, which would be short and detrimental for all international actors alike.

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

Bulgaria's semester focuses on refugee crisis and Western Balkans

Bulgaria's presidency of the European Union, in addition to advancing in the concretization of the 'Brexit', puts on the table particularly sensitive issues for Central and Eastern Europe, such as the migratory routes that enter Europe through the southeast of the continent and the advisability of the future integration of the states born of the former Yugoslavia, of which so far only Croatia has joined the EU.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov

▲European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov [Nikolay Doychinov-Bulgarian Presidency].

article / Paula Ulibarrena García

During this first semester of 2018, for the first time, Bulgaria holds the rotating presidency of the committee of the European Union (EU). The Bulgarian presidency has as its main challenges the management of the migration crisis and the 'Brexit' negotiations. As a special goal has been marked to put the focus on the Western Balkans. During the semester, Bulgaria hopes to take the final steps towards the euro and to join the Schengen area.

Under the slogan "Unity is strength", Bulgaria - the poorest country in the EU - has set itself an ambitious diary until June. The Bulgarian government, formed by the conservative populist GERB party and the ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front, has set out to help make the European bloc stronger, more stable and more united.

To this end, Sofia wants to foster consensus, cohesion and competitiveness, with the specific challenge of overcoming existing differences in the handling of the refugee crisis. Given the rejection by several partners of quotas for the relocation of asylum seekers, Bulgaria will seek "a sustainable system for managing immigration," with "common rules that are enforced," the Bulgarian presidency program highlights.

Migration crisis

Dialogue with third countries to facilitate the return of migrants without the right to asylum and the strengthening of external border control are some of the measures planned by the executive led by the Bulgarian Prime Minister, the conservative populist Boiko Borisov.

Bulgaria's position on the Syrian refugee crisis is that the adoption of a mechanism to relocate refugees is only a solution provisional. The government in Sofia believes that a lasting and solid solution must be found under which to limit the pressure on the external borders of the EU and the secondary migration resulting from it. It proposes that the EU should work as a matter of priority and urgency together with its EU partners with a view to stabilizing the countries of origin and helping the transit countries. Bulgaria, which has Turkey as a neighbor, considers Turkey to be core topic for the resolution of the problem and proposes that the EU should forge urgent measures to strengthen Turkey's capacity to receive refugees. Bulgaria has always been keen for the agreements to provide for Turkey to admit the refugees that the EU can refund from Greece.

For Sofia, it is necessary to clarify the distinction between economic migrants and refugees and to move towards "solidarity mechanisms" that are acceptable to all member states, recalling in this regard the failure of the mandatory quota system for the relocation of refugees in Italy and Greece.

Western Balkans

Another priority of the Bulgarian presidency is to place the countries of the Western Balkans in the sights of an EU, which for the time being is not considering any further enlargement. Some countries in the region, such as Serbia and Montenegro, are actively negotiating their entrance, which they hope will take place within the next five years. Meanwhile, Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo are still waiting to formally start negotiations.

Among the nearly 300 meetings planned during the Bulgarian EU presidency, a special summit on May 17-18 between EU leaders and these six aspirants stands out.

"The European project will not be complete without the integration of the Balkans", warned the Minister manager of the Bulgarian Presidency, Lilyana Pavlova. Bulgaria insists on the convenience of helping a European region still marked by the political instability of the new and small states that emerged after the Yugoslav war.

After Croatia's integration into the European Union on July 1, 2013, it is logical that other countries of the former Yugoslavia intend to follow. Montenegro (which even has a bilateral agreement with Bulgaria of technical-political attendance on topic) and Albania are already official candidates, and there will probably soon be an invitation for Serbia and Macedonia.

The Economics, stability of institutions and democratic transparency have always been and will always be decisive factors in the integration process. For this reason, today, the question of the development of the Balkans and the region of southeastern Europe is very present in the European diary since the big donors of the European budgets do not forget the problems caused by the integration of countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria itself. In fact, four countries in the area are subject to the economic policy of the Union: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

Excluded from this possible integration for the time being are Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is still under European protectorate, and Kosovo, without official recognition by several governments, including two members of the committee Security Council (China and Russia) and five EU members (Spain, Greece, Slovakia, Cyprus and Romania). In addition, the level of unemployment in the Western Balkans is quite high compared to Bulgaria and Romania, with a combined average of the four candidates at around 25%.

On the other hand, with the disintegration of the Soviet bloc and the war in the Balkans, the socioeconomic systems collapsed and the transition period resulted not only in growing inequalities, but also in the absence of legality and effective government. The consequence of all this has been in many countries of the area the important role played by black money in the Economics. Bulgaria leads this sad record, with an informal sector accounting for 31% of the Economics, closely followed by Romania and Croatia, whose underground Economics accounts for 28%, and Greece, with 24%. The problem lies in the question of the extent to which the underground Economics and illegal trafficking channels in southeastern Europe can pose a danger to the security of the other countries of the Union. For this reason, the efforts of the candidate countries to improve democratic Structures , governance, transparency and control of capital flows will be an important factor to be taken into account in the negotiations.

Brexit, Schengen and corruption

The decisive phase of negotiations on the UK's exit from the EU is expected to begin under the Bulgarian presidency, following the progress noted in early December by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Sofia wants to become a "neutralcoordinator " in this process, according to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev.

The progress in the digital Economics of the continent after the impulse given to this topic by the outgoing Estonian presidency, as well as in the banking union, are other points core topic of the Bulgarian diary . The Balkan country will also defend the cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will be affected by the loss of funds due to the 'brexit'.

At the same time, Bulgaria aspires to enter during its EU presidency in the "anteroom" of the euro zone and join the Schengen area, of free community circulation, a step blocked until now by the lack of progress of Bulgaria in the fight against corruption and organized crime. The Balkan country, considered the most corrupt in the EU, took eleven years in approve its first anti-corruption law, adopted last December 20, less than two weeks before assuming its presidency of the EU. Unlike what happened in neighboring Romania, so far the Bulgarian justice system has not investigated or convicted any politician for corruption cases.

Air connectivity

association The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for a renewed policy approach to strengthen Europe's aviation competitiveness at the Bulgarian presidency of the EU. There is an urgent need to strategically plan for the capacity needed to meet the growing demand for global connectivity, environmental improvements and regulation of infrastructure costs.

IATA forecasts a 6 percent expansion of air travel demand in Europe in 2018. "Operating an airline in Europe is challenging. There are high costs and regulatory burdens. Infrastructure capacity is often not sufficient and charges for using airports have doubled across Europe in the last decade. The Bulgarian government has put competitiveness and connectivity at the center of the diary of its EU Presidency. This will drive greater competitiveness and prosperity for European economies, but only if individual EU member states follow through by adopting policies that promote air connectivity," said Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice president of IATA Europe, at the IATA Bulgaria Aviation Day in Sofia.

Bulgaria occupies a strategically important position as the entrance gateway from Europe to Turkey and beyond to Asia. It is also a fast-growing market in its own right, with passenger issue set to double in the next 20 years. This is a challenge for the country's air traffic management , and the Bulgarian air navigation services provider BULATSA.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Central Europe and Russia World order, diplomacy and governance Articles

A country with many conditions to have a great weight in Europe, but weighed down by Russia's proximity to it

If the border between the West and the Russian-dominated area divided Germany during the Cold War, today that border runs through Ukraine. The open conflict with Russia hampers the objective conditions of great development that Ukraine has. The country is paying a high price for the desire to preserve its independence.

Pro-European protesters at place central Kiev, during the riots in late 2013.

▲Pro-European protesters at place central Kiev, during the riots in late 2013 [Evgeny Feldman].

article / Alona Sainetska [English version].

Ukraine, a sovereign and independent state (since 1991), located in Eastern Europe, with the second largest area (after Russia) of the European countries (576,550 km² without the Crimean peninsula) and with a long history of struggle to preserve its identity, is today the center of tensions between Russia and the West. In 2014 Moscow wanted to compensate for the fall of the pro-Russian government in Kiev by annexing the Crimean peninsula. It was then that Ukraine aroused global interest. The Ukrainians were finally achieving a prominence commensurate with the size of their country, although they would undoubtedly have wanted to do so with another subject headline-grabber.


Considering its geographical position and its strategic, economic and military weight, it is difficult to justify that before the outbreak of the conflict Ukraine was not for many more a fuzzy place on the map. The country is surrounded by Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, and has direct access to the Black Sea. This central location makes it very clear that Ukraine should play an important role in the context of the International Office.


Ukraine's rich and fertile soil is known as black soil or "Chornozem". The agricultural area used covers 70% of the arable land, or about 42 million hectares, and is capable of feeding 500 million people. The country, with its 46 million inhabitants, therefore has considerable potential for production, processing, consumption and export of agricultural and organic products. It is already one of the leading countries in the agricultural sector and can be considered a "green vein" in the heart of Europe.

It is the leading producer and exporter of sunflower oil, 30% of whose exports go to India and 16% to China. Ukraine also produces large quantities of wheat, of which it is the world's sixth largest exporter. It produces wheat flour and corn flour for food production, which it exports to France, Poland and Belarus, among others. It is also one of the leaders in poultry production, whose issue grew by more than 55% between 2000 and 2011; its exports go mainly to Iraq and the EU and seventy other countries.

Industry and logistics infrastructure

Ukraine also has an aircraft industry, although lack of investment is holding back its development on a large scale. However, examples such as Antonov's Mriya-225, the world's largest cargo plane built during the Soviet era and capable of carrying up to 250 tons, speak of its potential while awaiting investment.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Ukraine is ideally suited to be a hub for international trade, mainly between the European Union, the Middle East and Asia. Five out of ten European transport corridors cross the Ukrainian territory; Ukraine has the most extensive railway networks in Europe that handle a substantial part of passenger and freight traffic; moreover, its road network covers the entire territory of the country and enables deliveries to any destination point. Last but not least, there is the natural gas transmission system, led by business Ukrtransgas, engaged in natural gas transmission and storage in Ukraine. In 2013 it transported 132 billion cubic meters (bcm), including 86 bcm for the EU and Moldova. Ukrtransgas owns Europe's largest subway gas storage network with a total capacity of 31 bcm and consists of 14 subsidiary units operating in Ukraine.


Conflict in Russia hurts Ukraine's Economics



However, the country continues to be underestimated by other players on the international chessboard and this exposes it to Russian ambitions. These are manifested in numerous obstacles that make it difficult for Ukraine to gain weight in the aforementioned sectors of trade, industry, agriculture and transport. There are also other derived factors that slow down the country's development .

Interest from Russia

Russia's interest in its neighbor to the west is mainly due to strategic reasons, since Ukraine is a fundamental piece for any expansion of the former Russian imperial power. Therefore, Russia seeks to strengthen its influence in Ukraine through economic expansion, control over the maritime border, installation of Russian military instructions and Russian occupation troops in the territory, expansion of interference in the Ukrainian information space, influence of the Russian church, etc. Another of the measures attributed to Moscow is the placement of people with similar interests in positions of power in Ukraine: the Kremlin wanted to take advantage of the presidency of V. Yanukovych, a pro-Russian politician.

Internal instability

Today the future of Ukraine is as uncertain as ever. Economic and political reforms have failed to overcome the country's serious structural problems, the fight against corruption is weak, and the insignificant international support further diminishes the already leave expectation that Ukraine can overcome the crisis in a short time. Given the absence of other means to put pressure on Russia than sanctions, and in view of the fact that those that have been applied have hardly changed the Kremlin's attitude, it is safe to say that normalization of the status is far away on the horizon.

All this is reflected in the growing popular discontent. 90% of Ukrainians disapprove of the current government's management , express the desire for new elections and show their refusal to allow the regions closest to Russia to participate in the country's political life. Desperation means that the only institutions the Ukrainian people trust are the army, the church and volunteers.

The "frozen" conflict

On the other hand, the "frozen conflict" in the east of the country remains and continues to undermine the state's budget . Defense and security spending accounted for 5% of GDP last year, a high figure that includes the government's efforts to create a new army. According to President Petro Poroshenko, this was one of the many reasons for the failure to raise citizens' living standards. Overall, the prospects for a Ukrainian victory in a war to regain full sovereignty over its eastern lands appear dim, given Russia's support for the rebels and Ukraine's fear of an internal counter-reaction. A vicious circle is thus generated, so that as long as there is no successful end to the war, economic and political tension on the Kiev government will increase and could lead to a new Maidan, the popular revolt that collapsed the government in 2014.

The geopolitical standoff between Russia and the West in Ukraine has been detrimental to all parties involved, but most of all to the Ukrainian state. Declining cross-border trade, weakening currencies and stock markets, and increased security risks have affected the entire region. Poverty is growing at the same pace as the standard of living of citizens is declining and market prices are rising. As result, Ukrainians are unable to take advantage of the opportunities granted to them, as is the clear example of the exemption of visas between Ukraine and the European Union (approved in May 2017), which many have not been able to use as they have been unable to finance their travel.


Ukraine's geopolitical priority is to gain independence from Russia, which means breaking economic ties with it. This is an unbalanced battle with a high cost for the Ukrainians, who face the destruction of Economics, the defeat of the elites and the impoverishment of the population.

This strategy of development of the Ukrainian state is increasingly based on the concepts of radical nationalism. But the report of historical antecedents, such as the Holodomor (the great famine of the 1930s), warns of the enormous power of the Russian "hegemon" and suggests the need to serve the national interest through a sort of balance between ultimate goals and halfway diplomacy deadline.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia World order, diplomacy and governance Articles

essay / Alejandro Palacios Jiménez

According to agreement article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the EU's objectives are framed within the framework of promoting peace by fostering freedom, security and justice. However, situations of 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 tries to expose the main mediation efforts made by the European Union as a supranational entity. This article does not intend, however, to offer a deep analysis on the topic of mediation, but to show the main institutions that, at the European level, try to provide a response to conflicts through mediation as a process of peaceful resolution of (potential) disputes.

Mediation has become increasingly important in both conflict prevention and conflict resolution in many areas. The fact that mediation is more economically viable than war, and that it leads to more favorable situations for both parties, has favored 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 mediation? This is an alternative process of conflict resolution, based on dialogue, through which the parties involved, voluntarily and confidentially, meet with an impartial mediator who will guide them in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement . In summary, to mediate is to help to communicate. Even though this is clear, the different organizations that are dedicated to it differ in the way it is carried 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 set out in the "Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities", elaborated in 2009. Although entrance in force of the Lisbon Treaty modified its modus operandi, this document served to set the instructions of the EU's objectives in subject of dialogue and cooperation. On the one hand, it expanded the definition of mediation by incorporating 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. Furthermore, the Concept emphasizes incorporating mediation as an integral part of the Union's foreign policy in order to develop it in a more systematic way, instead of concentrating these actions in mere ad hoc missions.

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

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

At subject , the European Union presents both long and short term strategies deadline, giving priority to the former.

The EU's long-term action deadline focuses on tackling the structural causes that prevent 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 focuses on bringing stability and cohesion to the region, mainly through the financial aid trade. In this task, the Union facilitates access to the European market for products from these areas. A clear example of this is seen in the fact that the European Union is the main trade 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. Their purpose is to allow the institution to function, even when some of its functions cease to do so due to an incident, whether internal or external to the organization. At present, such plans are being developed in countries such as Nepal, Gaza, Libya, Lesotho and India.

These actions require a thorough analysis of the region in question by drawing up 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 persons, etc.).

In relation to the short deadline, the EU created in 2001 the so-called "Rapid Action Mechanism". This consists of supporting victims and providing financial aid financial support to NGOs, regional organizations, public and private agents and other actors with experience and capacity to act in the affected area. These contributions are non-refundable, i.e. the borrower is not obliged to repay the lender, in this case the EU, the money lent. In addition, under the ECHO Regulation C in 1996, the EU carries out missions to support civilian victims of natural or man-made disasters. Thus, the EU carries out tasks such as humanitarian financial aid in Syria, medical attendance in West Africa by 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, evaluates whether they have contributed as expected to the objectives previously set. All this will make it possible, in the short term deadline, to minimally reestablish stable conditions in the affected area.

In addition, the EU plays an important role in financing projects of outside organizations aimed at conflict prevention. In this respect, 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 2014-2020 academic year. The second is the African Peace Facility (APF), founded in 2004. This system, financed by the European Fund development and which allocates annually about 1.9 billion euros, allows the Union to provide the African continent with funds to finance the efforts of the African Union on subject peace and security.

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

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

In conclusion, the European Union's commitment to mediation takes the form of both individual action and support for this amalgam of organizations dedicated to the search for an alternative method of dispute resolution. The many efforts in this direction reflect the concerns of a society increasingly committed to the development of peaceful policies, on civil service examination to belligerent ones that 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 Unit on Security and Cooperation:

United Nations (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 prevention. 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). Dispute settlement 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 arriving from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa

▲Transfer of immigrants arriving from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa [Vito Manzani].

ANALYSIS / Valeria Nadal [English version].

In late 2017, Cable News Network (CNN) published a video recorded anonymously with a hidden camera showing the sale of four men in Libya, for $400 each. It was an example of selling slaves to Libyan nationals for work or in exchange for 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 repatriation program for migrants and the evacuation of detention camps, where many of the slave mafias operate. Circumstances, however, do not appear to have improved since the video was released, mainly because there continues to be a lack of state coordination to address the problem, along with other factors. How is it possible that a slave trade could have occurred inside Libya?

Libya is a large 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 system - from Education primary to university - better than most neighboring countries. However, this status 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 demands of the protesters, the immediate threat of civil war in Libya forced an 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 killing of Qaddafi by rebel troops, the war seemed to be over. However, in the absence of a viable plan for a political transition, status deteriorated further as various political actors attempted to fill the power vacuum left by Qaddafi's demise.

Today, Libya continues to experience severe political instability and is considered a failed state. Although there is a government promoted and recognized by the UN, the Government of National Unity (GNU), 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 a 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 borders policy launched by the EU in 2015 has not helped curb their 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 centers, where migrants are an easy goal for the slave trade. The GUN has opened a formal research and has met with European and African leaders to enable 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 at discussion.


Since 2015, Oxfam has reported extensively to the international community on the migration crisis in Libya, and has emphasized the need for European countries to seek and find a solution for the thousands of men, women and children suffering from this status. Documented cases of slave trafficking in Libya, 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 August 9, 2017, Oxfam published a bulletin graduate "You are no longer human", in which it analyzed the facts 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 "with men and women who have spent months being beaten, tied up like animals and sold as cheap labor 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 slave work ; they also recount cases of people who have been held captive because of the impossibility of paying the price demanded by the smugglers. The latter happened to Peter, an 18-year-old Nigerian: "Once we arrived in Sabah, in Libya, they took me to the 'Ghetto' (...) They gave us a phone to call our families and ask them for money. If you could not pay the 1,500 Libyan dinars [about 100 euros], you were held captive and beaten."

After hearing these testimonies, Oxfam has concluded that European policies must take into account the experiences of people forced to flee their homes, as the information they provide sample clearly shows that "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 Oxfam has proposed include promoting humanitarian search and rescue operations, increasing the issue of immigration applications that are accepted for processing, creating 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 inhumane status in Libya is Amnesty International. According to the data of this organization, the world is facing one of the most serious cases of slavery in the 21st century. Refugees and migrants arriving on Libyan territory are detained and tortured in detention centers before being sold into slavery. Those who manage to escape such horrible 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 regarding the status in Libya, Amnesty International has order EU member states to stop closing their borders to refugees and migrants from Libya. It 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 favored an increase in control by the Libyan Anti-Immigration department , which now oversees detention centers where refugees and migrants are not only arbitrarily and indefinitely detained, but also often sold as slaves. Moreover, according to the organization, the European inability or unwillingness 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 favored 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 UN Securitycommittee held an emergency session to take action regarding the status 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 from agreement with the International Public Law by bringing those responsible before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Furthermore, the UN pointed out at that session the Libyan authorities as one of the main actors complicit in the growing phenomenon of slave trafficking, due to their ineffectiveness in investigating it and administering justice. The organization has also placed particular emphasis on the need for the Libyan government to secure its borders and for its actions to be supported by various international instruments, so that human trafficking 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, on the premise that success will only be achieved if all actors involved work together.

Meanwhile, the UN is already operating in the territory through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which has helped 13,000 people to 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 chance to return home, ensuring IOM's attendance in the process.

Despite attempts to unify the efforts of all organizations active on the ground, the reality is that the UN today does not have a plan of action that includes all parties to end slavery in Libya and seek a common solution. According to reports from this organization, slavery in Libya could end by 2030, after 20 years of test and error. However, it is not surprising that most NGOs have no 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 do not take into account the complex political realities that make reaching those solutions, if not totally impossible, at least challenging. As result, many of the proposals offered by human rights agencies such as Oxfam and Amnesty International are too broad to be of any use internship. The migration crisis, which reached its peak in the summer of 2015 with the effective invitation by several European nations for refugees to migrate to Europe-coupled 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 migrants on the premise that borders would remain open and all would be welcome.

The result 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 the 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, ensuring safe passage for migrants back to their home country is based on the assumption that there is an actual 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 swathes of territory, the problem remains that in other parts of Libya this government does not exercise any control. 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 breeds 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 crossing open borders in Europe, with no realistic plan to deal with the numbers. In addition, it seems that the international press is reporting less aggressively on the various difficulties migrants face within their new host states as result of a utopian policy in which the sky is the limit for immigration. More importantly, the open-door policy for immigration - pushed by a number of humanitarian organizations - has also led to the proliferation of smuggling networks within Europe that have required the establishment of new work forces to deal with them, although the result of this measure could be worse as increased control may lead to the emergence of new routes and access points. Nearly 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 political solutions to the migration crisis: a necessary ingredient for successful practical measures.

The primary role of the 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 such as 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 stepped up their work in recent months to try to put an end to such a disastrous status . 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 quite alarming) scale in the African theater, the phenomenon has similarly affected Europe as result of its failed - or non-existent - plan of action to manage immigration, both internally and externally. The solution is necessarily political, and the reality is that, however well-intentioned and necessary, the independent, 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 migrants be able to obtain 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

Latin America's recent history is full of progress, even if at times only a few steps backward. In addition to the important changes that have taken place since the 1980s, when the region embraced democracy, began to overcome economic protectionism and tamed the problem of inflation, more recently there has been a period of economic acceleration - known as the golden decade, due to the boom in raw materials - which between 2002 and 2012 has meant a social boost B : 60 million people escaped poverty in those years, so that, although great inequalities still exist, at least the class average 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 obtained in that golden decade also led to negative courses.

This moderate optimism about Latin America -without ignoring the difficulties, but without ignoring the progress made- is what 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 almost 35 years in the region, where he has lived most of this time, Reid is one of the voices with the best knowledge on the multiple reality of the continent. The result of that experience staff is Forgotten Continent, which Reid published in 2007 (then with 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 with respect to the first version.

What has happened in Latin America in the last ten years to make Reid see the need for a new presentation of his book? Although there are various elements, such as the end of the commodities 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 it was a decade ago. Ten years ago, the new left-wing populism might have seemed a mere parenthesis in the progressive democratic consolidation of Latin American societies; today, Bolivarianism has certainly already shown signs of failure, but it may have greater continuity than expected when inserted with the current of populism of various kinds that is emerging in many other parts of the world.

Reid notes the failed path taken by Chávez, also followed by other neighboring leaders of the same ilk: "There are lessons for the region in the catastrophic failure of Chavismo. An accident in history -the rise in oil prices 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 long ago. The 'Bolivarian alternative' was based on erroneous premises (...) In its enchantment with Bolivarianism and renewed regard for Cuba, much of the left forgot the enduring 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, 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 is perhaps greater, due to the persistence of strong social differences: as Reid says, Chavismo is "another reminder that extreme inequality provides 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 are certainly long-standing but in some cases more urgent. The double goal of achieving strong institutions and a sustainable economic development requires 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 theaters of war, were in the region. Reid points to the need for territorial control by the armed forces, the professionalization of police forces, closer cooperation between police and judges, and clear accountability of these bodies to society.

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

In the fight against social inequality, many governments have promoted various Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) formulas, which are social attendance programs that seek to raise attitudinal standards, such as school enrollment of children, in exchange for subsidies. Some programs have rightly contributed to social development , but in many cases they transfer resources without achieving long-term progress deadline, besides becoming in some 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 proposes the need to advance regional integration, diversify Economics and overcome political dogmatism. True regional integration would allow skill to stimulate economies of scale and regional supply chains. To overcome, at least in part, the natural barriers that hinder such integration, real investment in infrastructure beyond the current 3% of GDP is needed.

Commodities will continue to be an important economic driver in the region, but they should not be the only one. Agricultural production should contribute added value, derived from the application of innovative technologies, such as the advances being made in Argentina and Brazil with "no-till farming" and "precision agriculture". This requires an increase in investment in research and development, which currently accounts for only 0.5% of GDP. Latin America also has many natural resources that are conducive to the development of tourism development or the expansion of manufacturing industries.

The author proposes to break with the historical discussion between unrestricted free markets and protectionism, and to stop nurturing the corporatist culture of seeing power as a patrimony staff. "To get there requires a new policy subject : against 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 deadline and hold the government accountable for their fulfillment".

These propositional elements by Reid come at the end of a book that is above all a description of the soul of Latin America. It is a continent that has not been poor enough, nor dangerous enough, nor has it grown fast enough economically, to attract international attention. Hence the book's degree scroll . It begins by outlining the structural, geographic 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 the political and economic cycles, from independence to the latest dictatorships. And finally concludes with a diagnosis. Although the problems of Latin America were already well diagnosed in the first edition, ten years ago, it is in this final part of the book where the author has changed more pages. His conclusion does not vary much, but the tone is slightly more somber; however, Reid prefers to end the story with the same hopeful quotation of the Argentine liberal Bautista Alberdi: "Nations, like men, have no 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