The European Business Council for Africa

Securitisation without representation: Yet another reason why Africa needs a permanent seat on the UN Security Council

Climate change is increasingly acknowledged as a global security issue, and the UN Security Council’s mandate over it is growing. Yet, Africa still lacks equal standing with other regions and the permanent members of the Security Council. Without permanent representation of Africa on the Security Council, the continent is rendered a subject, not an agent, of global climate governance.

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Mission possible? The Geopolitical Commission and the partnership with Africa

The new European Commission takes office against a backdrop of global challenges emanating from near and far, including climate change, trade wars and cyber threats. With this in mind, Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, in her opening statement and mission letters, communicated a vision of a commission that is “more strategic, more assertive and more united” in its approach to foreign policy. Characterising her incoming team as a “Geopolitical Commission”, she emphasised the need for the EU to protect and update multilateralism, to develop greater strategic autonomy and to better link internal and external policy.

This brief explores the opportunity that this geopolitical framing offers for a more strategic EU-Africa relationship – and a real partnership of equals and mutual interest. At the same time, it points to the dangers of empty rhetoric for the EU’s credibility as a foreign policy actor. In renaming the European Commission’s development portfolio “international partnerships” and outlining plans for a new comprehensive strategy for Africa, von der Leyen seeks to signal a more political approach. Yet, the EU will need to show that this time it has the will and ability to move from words to meaningful action.

First and foremost, if partnership is the aim, the Commission needs to address the question of whether this is a strategy “for” Africa or rather “with” Africa. Further, unless the Commission and member states allow the European External Action Service (EEAS) to play a more significant role in coordinating Africa policy, the political and strategic elements of the EU-Africa relationship are unlikely to be sufficiently prioritised. Parallel and competing EU structures for working with Africa risk undermining a strategic continent to continent approach and creating breaks on African integration. Any comprehensive strategy will have to honestly acknowledge and address the fundamental contradictions inherent in these multiple EU structures.

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A New Approach for the UN to Stabilise the DR Congo

What’s new? The Security Council is seeking new ways to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with an eye to drawing down the long-running UN peace operation there. In parallel, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi wants to strike a new security agreement with neighbouring countries to suppress armed groups in the country’s east.

Why does it matter? The persistence of over 100 armed groups in the eastern DRC is a threat to both Congolese civilians and regional stability. The country’s neighbours have also often used these militias as proxies to attack one another and control economic resources.

What should be done? The Security Council should strengthen the UN mission’s capacity to analyse the armed groups’ political links and resolve local grievances these groups can exploit. The UN should support President Tshisekedi’s regional diplomacy, with an emphasis on political reconciliation and economic integration among the DRC’s neighbours as steps to increase security.

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Kenya and Somalia Quarrel Over Offshore Oil

Kenya and Somalia are currently fighting a legal battle over their shared maritime border, an area rich in oil and gas. 

Somalia’s President Mohammed Abdullahi "Farmajo" is playing hardball. With national elections approaching, he has taken a more assertive stance to demonstrate the country’s strength and appeal to his support base. Kenya views itself as a powerful country in a turbulent region and doesn’t wish to be seen caving into pressure from Somalia.

Rashid Abdi, Consultant and former Horn of Africa Director at Crisis Group, joins Alan this week to shed light on the deeply complex issue. They seek insights about why the dispute flared up, Ethiopia’s changing role under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and how mediation efforts have achieved some positive, modest success in de-escalating tensions. 

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Open Letter to the Friends of Sudan

Sudan has embarked on a path toward democratic and accountable government, but economic fragility threatens to derail its transition.

In this open letter, Crisis Group’s President & CEO Robert Malley and Africa Program Director Comfort Ero call on the Friends of Sudan contact group, an initiative bringing together Western and Gulf countries, to bolster the civilian-led administration with urgently-needed financial support. 

Sudan’s unfolding transition offers both great promise and substantial risk. There is every reason to expect that entrenched interests that have benefited under the old regime will resist reform, but there is also every reason to expect that the forces of change will continue to press forward.

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Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Myanmar: Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi will speak at the International Court of Justice on Wednesday to respond to charges of genocide against Rohingya Muslims. Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey says Aung San Suu Kyi likely feels that she must do all she can to defend against what most people in Myanmar see as biased and politically-motivated charges. Her defence of Myanmar's conduct will galvanise public support domestically, but will almost certainly further strain relations with the West.

➤ Turkey-Libya: Ankara and the Tripoli-based government signed an agreement last Friday on maritime border delimitations in the eastern Mediterranean. Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini says for months Turkey has demanded Tripoli's recognition of its claims in the sea in exchange for continued military assistance. The deal thus signals Prime Minister Serraj's new-found determination to break the siege of Tripoli by Field Marshal Haftar but it also risks undermining ongoing UN-backed efforts to end hostilities and could complicate Ankara’s disputes with Greece, the EU and Egypt over energy exploration.

➤ Ukraine: Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany meet in Paris on Monday for the first Normandy format meeting for more than three years aimed at breaking the stalemate in Ukraine's five-year-old war. Crisis Group expert Katharine-Quinn Judge says that while conciliatory moves made by President Zelenskyy have paved the way for the summit, both Kyiv and Moscow will likely stick to their red lines. A comprehensive path toward peace is unlikely to emerge, but the meeting could make progress toward exchanging prisoners and safely disengaging troops along the front line in Donbas.


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Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Iraq: 44 protesters were killed by security forces on Thursday in the southern city of Nassiriya while demonstrators in Najaf torched the Iranian consulate, shortly before Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi offered his resignation on Friday. Crisis Group expert Maria Fantappie says that the violence has offered an opportunity for long-simmering anti-Iran sentiments to surface. Iraqi security forces and Iran-affiliated paramilitaries may very well respond to the protests with a further security crackdown.

➤ Lebanon: Dozens of demonstrators were injured in violent clashes in Beirut, Tripoli and smaller towns as tensions mount among rival political groups amid a struggle to find a new prime minister and form a new government. Crisis Group expert Heiko Wimmen says that without a new government that can launch an emergency rescue plan to stabilse the country's sliding economy, serious social upheaval must be expected as tens of thousands are at risk of losing their income, savings and work.

➤ Mali: Thirteen French soldiers were killed after two helicopters collided during a mission targeting Islamic State-linked jihadists in Mali. Crisis Group expert Mathieu Pellerin says the incident draws attention to France’s military mission in the Sahel, involving 4,500 troops, that has been struggling to respond to a surge of increasingly sophisticated attacks by jihadist groups and their expanding recruitment in recent months. A general rise in skills and more fluid command structures are complicating counter-insurgency efforts.

➤ Mexico: President Trump indicated on Tuesday that the U.S. plans to designate Mexico’s drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations. Crisis Group expert Falko Ernst says the decision fails to understand that the conflict is not about the “good state” versus the “evil cartels”, as the dividing line between the two is very porous. The designation would merely continue the heavy-handed militarised approach that over the past thirteen years has failed to defeat Mexico’s organised crime.
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Four conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Ethiopia: Residents in the Sidama zone, home to southern Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, went to the polls in a referendum on becoming the country’s tenth semi-autonomous regional state. Crisis Group expert William Davison says if the vote passes as expected, Sidama celebrations will follow but a new region will not be created overnight, as the vote is just one key part of an ongoing process. The referendum, however, could fuel referendum demands by ten other ethnic zones in southern Ethiopia, potentially imperilling the existing multi-ethnic system.

➤ Georgia: Widespread public anger led to street protests in Tbilisi after the parliament failed to adopt proportional representation as the country’s electoral system. Crisis Group expert Olesya Vartanyan says with no deal in sight that can end the current impasse and unrest, political tensions will remain high and difficult to manage. To end the crisis, the ruling party should initiate discussions on electoral reform.

➤ Israel/Palestine: The Trump administration announced this week that it did not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a violation of international law. Crisis Group expert Ofer Zalzberg says the move accelerates Washington’s politicisation of international law although in itself it is unlikely to prompt major changes on the ground. However, it provides tailwind for those who wish to annex the West Bank, and undermines whatever credibility the U.S. still retained as a potential broker of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

➤ Ukraine-Russia: Moscow returned three Ukrainian naval vessels that it seized last November in the Black Sea. Crisis Group expert Katharine Quinn-Judge says few in Kyiv are impressed with what they see as a token and long-overdue gesture. Hardliners see it as part of a Russian campaign to appear conciliatory while using Kyiv’s newfound appetite for peace to extract concessions. But many Ukrainians hope the 9 December Normandy format summit with Russia, Germany and France will bring new momentum to end the five-year-old conflict.
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Three conflict trends as seen by Crisis Group analysts  

➤ Algeria: Former prime minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune won Algeria’s twice-delayed election on Thursday amid a very low voter turnout following nationwide calls for a boycott. Crisis Group expert Michaël Ayari says Tebboune will likely face rejection from the street, which views the election as a sham, and may therefore find it difficult to govern. While the military hoped this election would reassure concerned international partners that a path had been found out of the crisis, the stability of Algeria still hangs in the balance.

➤ Niger: At least 71 soldiers were killed in a raid by Islamist militants in western Niger, the third assault on the Inates military base in recent months and the deadliest attack against the Nigerien military in decades. Crisis Group expert Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim says the deadliness of the attack demonstrates that the jihadists are gaining confidence to frontally attack military bases and inflict heavy losses on the army. The Nigerien government and its Western partners should supplement any military action with a political approach that includes efforts to engage in a dialogue with militants.

➤ U.S.-Iran: Washington and Tehran exchanged two prisoners on Saturday in a rare instance of diplomatic engagement. Crisis Group expert Ali Vaez says the successful swap demonstrates that both sides are capable of mutually beneficial deal-making and can deliver. But it is questionable whether they can build on this to not only resolve other detainee cases, but also widen channels of communication in order to de-escalate bilateral tensions. 
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Flag UNCTAD proposes measures to create sustainable and inclusive long-term growth and address the most pressing development issues facing Ivorians.

Côte d'Ivoire is on an economic reform drive to make the country a more attractive place to do business.

The west African country is pushing ahead with reforms to boost foreign direct investment (FDI), which has been on the rise since 2012 but remains low in relative and absolute terms compared to other countries in the region.

Also, FDI is highly concentrated in Abidjan and significant economic and social inequalities exist both between urban and rural areas and between the economic capital and the rest of the country.

“The reforms undertaken by the government so far as part of the country’s national development plans are commendable, but more needs to be done,” said Chantal Dupasquier, chief of UNCTAD’s investment policy reviews section.


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