Jean-Marie Guéhenno

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Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, is interviewed in Hong Kong on March 28, 2018. (AP Photo)

Just under one year ago, on Dec. 10, China arrested our colleague Michael Kovrig in Beijing. Since that time, Michael — who is the International Crisis Group’s North East Asia adviser — has remained in detention without being allowed to see a lawyer or family member.

Although China has never spelled out the reasons for Michael’s imprisonment, it is clear that he is merely a pawn in a larger geopolitical game. A Canadian citizen and former diplomat, he was detained — along with another Canadian, Michael Spavor — nine days after Ottawa, acting upon a U.S. request under an extradition treaty, arrested Meng Wangzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant.…  Seguir leyendo »

Whatever one thinks of the initial military engagement leading to the eventual downfall of the country’s leader Muammar Qaddafi, there is no doubt that the international community failed Libya after the intervention. Today, Libya is a quasi-failed state, with multiple governments competing for legitimacy. Its accumulated wealth, its oil and a residual Libyan nationalism seem to be all that keeps the country from further fragmentation. This increasing power vacuum has turned Libya into a conduit for desperate migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe. In the absence of a well-functioning state, criminal interests exploit human misery, all the more so as people smuggling remains one of the few viable activities in a collapsed economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two former colonial powers of the European Union, France and the United Kingdom, have long shaped the bloc’s approach to Africa. France kept the EU’s focus on West Africa and the Sahel, while the UK made sure that the Horn of Africa and East Africa would not be ignored. After Brexit, that may all be about to change.

The UK provides almost 15 percent of the budget for the European Development Fund, which runs until 2020, and through which the African Union’s peace and security activities are funded. Somalia, which has close ties to Britain, is by far the continent’s greatest recipient of this funding.…  Seguir leyendo »

International commitment to greater female representation in peacekeeping has lost considerable impetus. Though rhetorically committed, United Nations leaders, both civilian and uniformed, have often regarded gender issues as non-essential and dispensable. But in the absence of genuine attention to women's political participation and gender dynamics in conflict-affected societies, UN peacekeeping risks failing to fulfill its mandate.

On Nov. 14 and 15, Canada will host the annual UN peacekeeping summit. With more than 500 delegates from 70 countries and international organizations gathering in Vancouver, this high-profile event can serve as a much-needed catalyst to reinvigorate international commitment to gender equality in peacekeeping.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is lack of trust in government a global phenomenon, or is it mainly affecting rich countries? I argue that while the phenomenon is mainly a problem of the rich, its causes run deep, and have global implications.

There is little doubt that in the US and the UK, the reaping of the benefits of economic growth by the rich and the stagnation of the middle class have resulted in declining trust in political elites. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is catching up: the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty peaked in 1970 at 2,2bn, and despite a doubling of world population, it has since been cut by two-thirds: that may be why China and India show high levels of confidence in their respective governments.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les attentats terroristes sont la première préoccupation pour une grande majorité de Français, et le président Macron affirme que « la lutte contre la menace terroriste est la priorité des prochaines années ». Mais comment mettre en œuvre cette priorité ? Renforce-t-on la sécurité de la France en écrasant l’organisation Etat islamique (AI) à Mossoul, en Irak ?

C’est le raisonnement qu’ont tenu les Etats-Unis après le 11-Septembre, quand ils portèrent la guerre en Afghanistan pour en chasser les talibans, qui y avaient accueilli Al-Qaida. Est-ce la bonne réponse ? Les opérations extérieures pèsent sur le budget, et, à l’heure où le respect de la contrainte budgétaire conditionne la restauration de sa crédibilité, la France ne peut se payer le luxe de se tromper de stratégie.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mission accomplished? That was doubtless then-President Barack Obama’s expectation as he anxiously watched a team of American Navy SEALs kill al-Qaida’s leader, Osama bin Laden, six years ago. It was clearly Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s hope last month when he visited the city of Mosul, newly liberated from the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

But consider this: Al-Qaida had some 400 combatants on Sept. 11, 2001. Today it is stronger than ever, with several thousand adherents in countries from the Arabian Peninsula to Southeast Asia. If Western powers like the United States and the United Kingdom and their regional partners like Iraq continue to frame the countering of violent extremism as an existential “war on terror” that ends only when the last terrorist has been killed, the campaign against the Islamic State will be no more successful than the fight against al-Qaida.…  Seguir leyendo »

The pessimists were right, at least in the short term—things are getting worse. Terrorism and armed conflict have increased in the past decade and the post-World War II vision of a cooperative international order, which seemed to get a second chance with the end of the Cold War, is now threatened by resurgent nationalism. To secure a more peaceful world in the long term, the optimists must base their struggle with a clear-eyed understanding of how far things have gone wrong.

Since 2010, a vicious circle has developed. A two-decade downward trend in global violence has gone into reverse, even if conflict has not reached the levels it was at during the Cold War.…  Seguir leyendo »

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2017

As Yemen's unremitting conflict continues to drive a nation-wide humanitarian crisis, there is an ever-increasing need to quell hostilities. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rebuild the credibility of the UN-sponsored talks in order to find a durable ceasefire and work toward a political settlement within Yemen: Yemen: A Humanitarian Catastrophe; A Failing State.

On top of major challenges, including the spillover from the war in Syria, Islamic State terrorism and increasingly heavy-handed governance, Turkey's conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) also reignited last year. …  Seguir leyendo »

It is unclear whether US President Donald Trump is aware of the history behind the expression “America First,” the term he uses to describe his foreign policy vision. The catchphrase was first used just before World War II by isolationists who opposed any American engagement in the mounting European crisis. The echo of that dark period has relevance for today. At that time, the structures that had been put in place after World War I, in particular the League of Nations, were disintegrating, and a growing number of leaders around the world were exclaiming: “My country first!” We know how it ended.…  Seguir leyendo »

If Europe tries to protect the alliance only by ‘buying’ American commitment through increased defence spending, it will fail.

Europeans have every reason to worry about U.S. President Donald Trump. He has declared NATO “obsolete.” He’s spoken more glowingly about Russian President Vladimir Putin than about most Western European leaders. And he’s suggested he will apply his transactional vision of diplomacy to his country’s alliances. A president who has unabashedly made “America First” his guiding principle is telling Europeans America’s commitment to them will depend on their willingness to pay for it.

The Continent’s leaders should listen carefully. For too long, European countries have not been serious enough about their own defence; most spend much less than the two per cent of GDP goal set by NATO.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world is entering its most dangerous chapter in decades. The sharp uptick in war over recent years is outstripping our ability to cope with the consequences. From the global refugee crisis to the spread of terrorism, our collective failure to resolve conflict is giving birth to new threats and emergencies. Even in peaceful societies, the politics of fear is leading to dangerous polarization and demagoguery.

It is against this backdrop that Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States — unquestionably the most important event of last year and one with far-reaching geopolitical implications for the future.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is a more connected world a safer and more resilient one, or is it more brittle and fragile? It all depends on how we organize our defense. But the failure to stem the rise of terrorism over the past 15 years suggests we’ve not got it right. How can we restructure our defense systems to take into account the immense changes taking place, and the blurring distinction between war and peace?

An Out-of-Date Model

Today’s defense model is one of state-centric centralized defense. Each state is expected to protect its citizens against external threats by deterring state-to-state aggression and by intervening in those states whose failure provides a safe haven to non-state enemies.…  Seguir leyendo »

The West’s current focus on the refugee crisis in Europe obscures the larger truths of a global crisis of displacement that endangers the international order. This is a crisis largely born out of war, and one that will be with us for decades to come. Understanding this reality is essential if Europe is to mount an effective response.

Deadly conflict, above all, is driving the massive exodus of refugees. Wars in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria alone were responsible for more than half of the world’s refugee population as of mid-2015. Forty million people—two-thirds of the world’s forcibly displaced—are displaced within their own countries by conflict and violence.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los debates sobre la crisis actual de los refugiados en el mundo suelen pasarse por alto dos sencillas verdades: que el motor principal del éxodo es, sobre todo, la propagación reciente de los conflictos armados en Oriente Medio, y que lo que preparó el terreno para este caos fue la descomposición de un sistema internacional que habíamos construido durante 70 años.

Nuestra incapacidad de poner fin a las guerras en Siria, Afganistán y Somalia hace que seamos responsables colectivos de más de la mitad de los 20 millones de refugiados que se calculan en la región. En conjunto, otros 40 millones más han tenido que desplazarse dentro de sus propios países.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two simple truths are often overlooked in debates about today’s global refugee crisis: The principal driver of the exodus is, above all, the recent rise in the spread of deadly conflict in the Middle East; and what opened the way to this disorder is the breakdown of an international system we had built over the past 70 years.

Because of our failure to end wars in Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia, we are collectively responsible for more than half of the estimated 20 million refugees. Globally, another 40 million people have been displaced within their own countries.

Resolving these conflicts may seem like a daunting challenge when we are already struggling to cope with a high influx of refugees.…  Seguir leyendo »

The terrorist attacks in Brussels, claimed by the Islamic State (IS), stoked fear, anger, and confusion about how Europe – and the world – should respond. As hardened fighters facing divided opponents, these jihadists are unlikely to be defeated decisively on the battlefield. However, since they aspire to overthrow the global order, they cannot be accommodated by a political settlement. Further complicating these dilemmas is the fact that spectacular violence by IS tends to provoke reactions – xenophobia, curtailing of civil liberties, selective policing at home or military adventurism abroad – that aggravate the conditions that enabled its rise in the first place.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les démocraties peuvent-elles encore avoir une vision stratégique de la politique étrangère ? En matière de terrorisme, la politique intérieure commande de plus en plus la politique étrangère et l'action militaire. En effet, même si l'action des services de renseignement et de la police doit représenter 80% de la réponse au terrorisme, cette action est quasiment invisible, et donc politiquement insuffisante. L'opinion attend davantage, et si un attentat se produit, elle reproche aux autorités leur passivité. La réponse militaire (les troupes qu'on déploie dans les rues de nos villes, les bombardements en Syrie ou ailleurs) a l'avantage de montrer l'Etat protecteur en action.…  Seguir leyendo »

La ignorancia y la indiferencia, no la rivalidad de las superpotencias y los conflictos subsidiarios de la guerra fría, mataron a las víctimas del colapso de la antigua Yugoslavia. Las posibilidades de prevenir las masacres, los flujos de refugiados y la destrucción habrían sido mucho mejores con propuestas políticas inteligentes apoyadas al más alto nivel. Esta laguna fue el ímpetu principal para los hombres y mujeres que crearon el International Crisis Group (ICG) en 1995.

La esperanza de nuestros fundadores fue que esos catastróficos fallos políticos no se repitiesen. Desde entonces, políticos, diplomáticos, activistas han confiado en el ICG para conseguir detallados análisis sobre el terreno sobre situaciones complejas y recomendaciones políticas independientes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Comment vaincre l’organisation de l’État islamique ? Telle est la question que se posent les gouvernements occidentaux. Avant de se précipiter dans de nouvelles aventures, il faut prendre le temps de réfléchir et de tirer les leçons des échecs passés.

La lutte antiterroriste a pris en Occident, et tout particulièrement en France — frappée par deux attentats majeurs l’an dernier — une importance centrale. Elle s’est imposée sur les agendas médiatiques. Elle monopolise aussi les débats politiques, entre état d’urgence, révisions constitutionnelles et projets de loi. L’organisation de l’État islamique (OEI) est-elle sur le point de nous pousser à agir de façon totalement irrationnelle et contre-productive  ?…  Seguir leyendo »