Policy and Research Papers
Tintin is no longer in the Congo – A Transformative Analysis of Belgian Defence Policies in Central Africa
This study examines Belgium’s involvement in Central Africa over the last two decades, with a particular focus on the role of the Belgian Defence. The objective is twofold: on the one hand to analyse Belgium’s changing policies towards its former colonies during the last twenty years, and on the other hand to take an in-depth look at the military collaborations on the ground and establish an empirical and practical take on what role they fill, how they function and what aims they achieve through interviews and field observations. The analysis is made through the adoption of a transformative approach which includes evolutionary explanation factors, such as national political-administrative history, culture, and style of governance and static factors like national polity features, visible in constitutional and structural factors.
The author argues that the divided nature of Belgian internal politics, which is noted both in its polity features and its political-administrative history, influences its foreign policy towards Central Africa in an inconsistent manner. This is exemplified in the absence of a long-term strategy for the region. Yet, Belgium shows a strong desire to remain involved in the region, which, in the absence of a comprehensive and coherent strategy, results for the most part in a variety of one-dimensional short-term projects. It is recommended that Belgium, as one of the most trusted partners in the region, exploit its expertise in a more efficient manner and develop long-term three-dimensional projects, involving the three D’s (Defence, Diplomacy and Development), which would both benefit the reform processes under way in the partner countries, and Belgium’s visibility in the latter.
Little more than five years ago, Liberia was emerging from fourteen years of brutal war and pillage that had left it in ruins. today, it has a democratically elected president, and the security sector is experiencing reforms that are unprecedented not only in the country, but in the world. Under cover of a 15,000-strong UN peacekeeping force, it drew both its army and defence ministry to zero, in order to recruit, vet and train the personnel for these institutions from the ground up. Such "root and branch" security sector reform (SSR) was bold. But, given the many abuses perpetrated by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) both before and during the civil war, the vast majority of Liberians supported it.
The fight against illegal arms transfers requires regulation and an effective monitoring of arms brokers. Their business primarily consists of facilitating and arranging transactions in exchange for compensation or material recompense. Indeed some of them manage to circumvent existing controls by exploiting different national regulations or conducting their activities from countries where controls are weak or non-existent.
In 2003 the EU member states took an important initiative by setting a harmonized system of control of arms brokers. With the adoption of a European Common Position they introduced controls on brokering activities taking place on their territories. Yet, six years later, all EU member states still have no legislation on arms brokering, while others need to adapt their national legislation to EU standards. Furthermore this European instrument reflects minimum standards which currently appear insufficient to effectively fight against ill disposed brokers.
This report reviews the extent to which EU member states implement the Common Position on arms brokering and suggests some improvements for a better control on brokering activities and an effective fight against illegal arms transfers. One section of the report also considers a major gap in the national regulations: extraterritorial controls on brokering activities. Finally, the report presents the case study of the Belgian legislation on arms brokering.
As the primary agency for law enforcement, the police operates at close proximity to the public and exerts significant influence over the security of individuals and communities through its behaviours and performance. Therefore, ensuring accountability of both the individuals and institutions of the police is a fundamental condition for good governance of the security sector in democratic societies. The parliament, as the highest representative body in a democratic system, plays a significant role in maintaining police accountability.
The objective of the edited volume on “The Role of Parliament in Police Governance: Lessons Learned from Asia and Europe” is to put forward good practices and recommendations for improving police accountability, with an emphasis on the strengthening of the role of parliament in police governance. The comparative analysis includes insights and lessons learned from eight country case studies including Belgium, Germany, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The findings of the cases studies can be taken into account when analysing and considering options for improving the accountability of the police to parliament as well as strengthening independent oversight bodies and parliament-police liaison mechanisms. However, it must be emphasised that these good practices always need to be adapted to the exigencies of the local context.
The fifth issue of the newsletter of the United Nations Liaison Office for Peace and Security in Brussels.