EGMONT – The Royal Institute for International Relations (EGMONT)

EGMONT – The Royal Institute for International Relations is an independent think-tank based in Brussels. Its interdisciplinary research is conducted in a spirit of total academic freedom. Drawing on the expertise of its own research fellows, as well as that of external specialists, both Belgian and foreign, it provides analysis and policy options that are meant to be as operational as possible.

Benefiting from the role of Brussels in the global arena and from the prestigious setting of the Egmont Palace, the Institute offers an ideal forum to visiting Heads of State and government, representatives of international organisations, foreign ministers and other political figures. Conferences, colloquia and seminars nurture the work of the research fellows. They also give participants the opportunity to exchange views with other specialists and with a well-informed public made up of representatives of the political, economic and academic spheres, the media and civil society.

Along with research and meetings, the Institute has also developed specialised training activities, both in Brussels and abroad. It can, on request, offer specific programmes for visiting and resident diplomats and foreign professionals. Close cooperation with other research centres, both in Belgium, in Europe and beyond, has resulted in a growing number of joint conferences and in more structured cooperations on research and publications. This has proved to be mutually beneficial and enriching.

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Policy and Research Papers

The uncertain promise of hybrid justice in the Central African Republic

The decision taken by the Central African Republic government earlier in 2015 to create a Special Criminal Court to prosecute crimes committed during the recent conflict offers promises of long-delayed justice. Faced with a legacy of long running armed conflict, poor governance structures, and numerous human rights violations – especially during the most recent bout of fighting in 2012-2014 – a Special Criminal Court can significantly contribute to promoting accountability and redress for victims and support peace-building in the country. However, significant challenges face the future court if it is to fulfil this promise. This policy paper highlights four such challenges, relating to capacity needs, ongoing insecurity, the Court’s relationship with the ICC, and its investigative focus. Addressing these from the outset may prove crucial in ensuring the court’s effectiveness and legitimacy.

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The implementation of the Gender Perspective in the EU civilian and military missions: Leadership wanted

Fifteen years have passed since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, through which time the EU has grown as a security actor. The keys to producea change in implementing gender mainstreaming in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) are well known by member states; the EU and external implementation reports1 are repeated again and again, but real change requires real willingness on the part of member states, and leadership. 

Full paper: The implementation of the Gender Perspective in the EU civilian and military missions: Leadership wanted

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Counterterrorism in Belgium: Key challenges and policy options

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris (November 2015) and Brussels (March 2016), Belgium’s counterterrorism policy has been heavily criticized – domestically and worldwide. Some criticisms pointed to real underlying problems, which required a serious response. Starting from this observation, a group of scholars convened by the Egmont Institute undertook the exercise to assess Belgium’s counterterrorism policy in a critical but nuanced manner. This report focuses on some priority aspects, and provides a number of recommendations to policy-makers with chapters covering an evaluation of the 30 measures announced by the government; the need for more community policing; the relevance of counterterrorism financing; the terror-crime nexus; and an overview of the ‘external dimension’ of Belgium’s counterterrorism efforts.

Read the full paper on Counterterrorism in Belgium: Key challenges and policy options

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Why Belgium needs a Special Operations Command

As Europe confronts a rapidly deteriorating security environment, policy-makers are turning to their elite soldiers to save the day. This Security Policy Brief by Egmont - the Royal Institute for International Relations makes the case for setting up a Special Operations Command within the Belgian Defence establishment. Building on the legacy of the paracommando regiment, special operation forces deliver high readiness, flexibility and discretion. As the proverbial tip of the spear, they lead the way in regenerating the Belgian armed forces.

For full access to the Security Brief about Why Belgium needs a Special Operations Command, kindly follow the link.

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Understanding Burundi's Predicament

On Sunday 25 April 2015, one day after the ruling Conseil National Pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party designated incumbent president Nkurunziza as its candidate for the presidential elections, people started taking to the streets in several neighbourhoods in Bujumbura to protest against the president’s ambition to pursue a third mandate.

Hence, this article focuses on how fifteen years after the Arusha Agreement, and ten years into Burundi’s post-war democratisation process, there are serious concerns that Burundi’s once much-applauded progress in reconciliation and state building could be reversed. As expected, after the 2010 crisis, the 2015 elections have also proven to be a serious test for Burundi’s post-war transformation.

For full access to the article, Understanding Burundi’s predicament, please kindly follow the link. 

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Missing the Target: The African Union's Mediating Efforts in Burundi

In December 2015, following violent confrontations between the Burundian army and rebel groups, the African Union issued a communiqué to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping mission. However, African heads of state tabled the plan, calling for the approval of the Burundian government. The Peace and Security Council’s decision to deploy the mission followed by the body’s inability to follow through illustrates the ups and downs of African Union’s recent involvement in Burundi. While the organisation has attempted to mediate the crisis, its failure to implement key decisions has also exposed important vulnerabilities that may have implications for future security challenges on the continent.

For full access to the article on Missing the Target: The African Union's Mediating Efforts in Burundi, please kindly follow the link. 

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Belgian Special Forces in the Sahel: A Minimal Footprint with Maximal Output?

In a shifting geopolitical context, the Belgian Defence has intensified its presence in the Sahel region and developed a new strategic military collaboration with Niger through Operation New Nero. This policy brief critically examines the strategy and identifies three challenges for the future of the operation: Niger’s democratic development, the asymmetry between the Western Partner Nation’s capabilities, and diverging agendas within the Belgian Defence. To counter these challenges, it is suggested that the minimalist approach and the social networks which enable horizontal collaboration among partners are maintained, while new civil-military opportunities are explored. On a broader level, it is recommended that Belgium aligns its political and military agendas to achieve longterm strategies geopolitical regions of importance.

Please follow the link provided to access the full paper, Belgian Special Forces in the Sahel: A Minimal Footprint with Maximal Output?

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Other Documents

The Armed Conflict Lurking in the Countryside

The protests against Congolese President Joseph Kabila in cities like Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, only reveal part of the crisis the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently facing. The current fragmentation of authority in rural Eastern Congo is the outcome of a constant reconstitution of local political order, largely based on exclusivist and ethnic claims.

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