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Gacaca trials, a powerful instrument of transitional justice implemented in Rwanda [UNDP/Elisa Finocchiaro]
 

ESSAY /  María Rodríguez Reyero

One of the main questions that arise after a conflict comes to an end is what the reconstruction process should be focused on. Is it more important to forget the past and heal the wounds of a community or to ensure that the perpetrators of violence are fairly punished? Is the concept of peacebuilding in post-conflict societies compatible with justice and the punishment for crimes? Which one should prevail? And most importantly, which one ensures a better and more sustainable future for the already harshly punished inhabitants?

One of the main reasons in defence of the promotion of justice and accountability in post-conflict communities is its significance when it comes to retributive reasons: those who committed such atrocious crimes deserve to get the consequences. The accountability also discourages future degradations, and some mechanisms such as truth commissions and reparations to the victims allow them to have a voice, as potentially cathartic or healing. They may also argue that accountability processes are essential for longer-term peacemaking and peacebuilding. Another reason for pursuing justice and accountability is how the impunity of past crimes could affect the legitimacy of new governments, as impunity for certain key perpetrators will undermine people’s belief in reconstruction and the possibilities for building a culture of respect for rule of law.[1]

On the other hand, peacebuilding, which attempts to address the underlying causes of a conflict and to help people to resolve their disputes rather than aiming for accountability, remains a quite controversial term, as it varies depending on its historical and geographical context. In general terms, peacebuilding encompasses activities designed to solidify peace and avoid a relapse into conflict[2]. According to Brahimi, those are undertaken to reassemble the foundations of peace and provide tools for building up those foundations, more than just focusing on the absence of war[3]. Some of the employed tools to achieve said aims typically include rule of law promotion and with the tools designed to promote security and stability: disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR), and security sector reform (SSR) and others such as taking custody of and destroying weapons, repatriating refugees, offering advisory and training support for security personnel, monitoring elections, advancing efforts to protect human rights, reforming or strengthening government institutions and promotion of the formal and informal process of political participation.[4]

Those conflict resolution and peacebuilding activities can be disrupted by accountability processes.[5] The concern is that accountability initiatives might even block possible peace agreements and lengthen the dispute as they remove the foundations of the conflict, making flourish bad feelings and resentment amongst the society. The main reason behind this fear is that those likely to be targeted by accountability mechanisms may therefore resist peace deals. This explains why on many occasions and aiming for peace, amnesties have been given to secure peace agreements Likewise, there is a prevailing concern that transitional justice tools may reduce the impact in the short term the durability of a peace settlement as well as the effectiveness of further peace-building actions.

Despite the arguments in favour and against both mechanisms, the reality is that in practice post-conflict societies tend to strike a balance between peacebuilding and transitional justice. Both are multifaceted processes that do not rely on one system to accomplish their ends, that frequently converge. However, their activities on occasions collide and are not complimentary. This essay examines one of the dilemmas in building a just and durable peace: the challenging and complex relationship between transitional justice and peacebuilding in countries emerging from conflict.

To do so, this essay takes into consideration Rwanda, a clear example of the triumph of transitional justice, after a tragic genocide in 1994. From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and one million ethnic Tutsis were brutally killed during a 100-day killing spree perpetrated by Hutus[6]. After the genocide, Rwanda was on the edge of total collapse. Entire villages were destroyed, and social cohesion was in utter deterioration. In 2002, Rwanda boarded on the most arduous practice in transitional justice ever endeavoured: mass justice for mass atrocity, to judge and restart a stable society after the bloody genocide. To do so, Rwanda decided to put most of the nation on trial, instead of choosing, as other post-conflict states did (such as Mozambique, Uganda, East Timor, or Sierra Leone), amnesties, truth commissions, selective criminal prosecutions.[7]

On the other hand, Sierra Leone is a clear example of the success of peacebuilding activities, after a civil war that led to the deaths of over 50,000 people and a poverty-stricken country. The conflict faced the Revolutionary United Front (RUF[8]) against the official government, due to a context of bad governance and extensive injustice. It came to an end with the Abuja Protocols in 2001 and elections in 2002. The armed factions endeavoured to avoid any consequences by requesting an amnesty as well as reintegration assistance to ease possible societal ostracism. It was agreed only because the people of Sierra Leone so severely needed the violence to end. However, the UN representative to the peace negotiations stated that the amnesty did not apply to international crimes, President Kabbah asked for the UN’s assistance[9] and it resulted in the birth of Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL or Special Court).[10]

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and transitional justice

Promoting short and longer-term security and stability in conflict-prone and post-conflict countries in many cases requires the reduction and structural transformation of groups with the capacity to engage in the use of force, including armies, militias, and rebel groups. In such situations, two processes are of remarkable benefit in lessening the risk of violence: DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) of ex-combatants; and SSR (security sector reform).

DDR entails a range of policies and programs, supporting the return of ex-combatants to civilian life, either in their former communities or in different ones. Even if not all ex-combatants are turned to civilian life, DDR programs may lead to the transfer and training, of former members of armed groups to new military and security forces. The essence of DDR programming and the guarantees it seeks to provide is of utmost importance to ensuring peacebuilding and the possibility of efficient and legitimate governance.

It is undeniable that soldiers are unquestionably opposing to responsibility processes enshrined in peace agreements: they are less likely to cede arms if they dread arrest, whether it is by an international or domestic court. This intensifies their general security fears after the disarming process. In many instances, ex-combatants are integrated into state security forces, which makes the promotion of the rule of law, difficult, as the groups charged with enforcing new laws may have the most to lose through the implicated reforms. It is also likely to lessen citizen reliance on the security forces. The incorporation of former fighters not only in the new military but also in new civilian security structures is common: for example, in Rwanda, the victorious RPF dominated the post-genocide security forces.

While the spectre of prosecutions most obviously may impede DDR processes, there is a lesser possibility that it might provide incentives for DDR, as might happens where amnesty or reduced sentences are offered as inducements for combatants to take part in DDR processes. For them to be effective, the reliability of both the threat of prosecution and the durability of amnesty or other forms of protection are essentials whether it is in national or international courts. Even if this is not related to the promotion of transitional justice processes, it is another example of how it can have a long-term effect on the respect of human rights and the prevention of future breaches.

As previously stated, some DDR and transitional justice processes may share alike ends and even employ similar mechanisms. A variety of traditional processes of accountability and conflict resolution often also seek to promote reconciliation. DDR programs increasingly include measures that try to encourage return, reintegration, and if possible, reconciliation within communities. This willingness of victims to forgive and forget could in theory be promoted through a range of reconciliation processes like the ones promoted by transitional justice with the assistance of tools like truth commissions, which facilitate a dialogue that allows inhabitants to move forward while accepting the arrival of former perpetrators.  

The triumph of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1994 finally put an end to the genocide in the country. The new government focused on criminal accountability for the 1994 genocide and as a result of this prioritization, the needs of survivors have not been met completely Rwanda is the paradigm and perfect example of prosecution of perpetrators of mass atrocity by the employment of transitional justice mechanisms, that were kept separated from DDR programs in order not to interfere with the attribution of responsibilities.[11] The Rwandan one is a case where DDR largely worked notwithstanding firmly opposing amnesty. Proof of this outstanding DDR success is how Rwanda has managed to successfully reintegrate around 54,000 combatants since 1995 thanks to the work of the Rwandan Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC). Another clear evidence of the effectiveness of DDR methods in Rwanda is the reintegration of child soldiers. Released child soldiers were installed in a special school (Kadogo School), which started with 2,922 children. By 1998 when it closed, the RDRC reported that 73% of its students had reunited with one or both parents successfully.[12]

On the other hand, Sierra Leone’s case on DDR was quite different from Rwanda’s success, as Sierra Leone's conflict involved the prevalence of children associated with armed forces and groups (CAAFG). By the time the civil war concluded in 2002, data from UNICEF estimates that roughly 6,845 children have been demobilized,[13] although the actual number could be way higher. Consequently, the DDR program in Sierra Leone is essentially focused on the reintegration of young soldiers, an initiative led by UNICEF with the backing of some local organizations, as the National Committee on DDR (NCDDR)of Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, in practice, Sierra Leone's military did not endure these local guidelines, and as a result the participation of children in the process often had to be arranged by UNICEF peacekeepers in most cases. In addition to that initial local reluctance, some major quandaries aroused when it came to the reintegration of children in the new peace era in Sierra Leone, mainly due to the tests and requirements for children to have access to DDR programs, such as to present a weapon and demonstrate familiarity with it.[14] As a result, many CAAFG were excluded from the DDR process, primarily girls who were predominantly charged with non-directly military activities such as “to carry loads, do domestic work, and other support tasks.”[15]

Thus, the participation of girls in Sierra Leone’s DDR was particularly low and many never even received support. While it is not clear how many girls were abducted during the war, data from UNICEF calculates that out of the 6,845 overall children demobilized, 92% were boys and only 8% were girls. The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children has pointed out that as many as 80 per cent of rebel soldiers were between the ages of 7 and 14, and escapees from the rebel camps reported that the majority of camp members were young captive girls.[16] Research also reported that 46% of the girls who were excluded from the program confirmed that not having a weapon was the reason for exclusion. In other cases, girls were not permitted by their husbands to go through the DDR,2 whilst others chose to opt-out themselves due to worry of stigmatization back in their neighbourhoods.[17]  It is worth noting that many of those who succeeded to go through the demobilization phase “reported sexual harassment at the ICCs, either by male residents or visiting adult combatants”, while others experienced verbal abuse, beatings, and exclusion in their communities.[18]

Another problem that underlines the importance of local leadership in DDR processes is that the UN-driven DDR program lets children decide to receive skill training rather than attending school if they were above 15 years. However, the program provided little assistance with finding jobs upon completion of the apprenticeship. Besides, little market examination was done to learn the demands of the local economy where children were trying to reintegrate into, so they are far more than the Sierra Leonean economy could absorb, which resulted in a lack of long-term employment for demobilized child soldiers. Studies by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers[19] and Human Rights Watch[20] revealed that adolescents who had beforehand been part of armed organizations during the war in Sierra Leone were re-recruited in Liberia or Congo because of the frustration and the lack of economic options for them back in Sierra Leone.

Promotion of the rule of law and its contributions to peacebuilding

Amongst many others, the promotion of the rule of law in post-conflict countries is a fundamental factor in peacebuilding procedures. It contributes to eradicating many of the causes of emerging conflicts, such as corruption, disruption of law... Even if it may seem contradictory, peacebuilding activities in support of the rule of law may become contradictory to transitional justice. Sometimes processes of transitional justice may displace resources, both capital, and human, that might otherwise be given to strengthening the rule of law. For instance, in Rwanda, it has been claimed that the resources invested in the development and assistance to national courts should have been equal to those committed to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the extent to which trials at the ICTR have had an impact domestically remains to be seen.

However, transitional justice also presents other challenges to the reconstruction of the rule of law. Transitional justice processes might also destabilize critically imperfect justice sectors, making it more difficult to improve longer-term rule of law. They can stimulate responses from perpetrators which could destabilize the flimsy harmony of nascent governments, as they might question its legitimacy or actively attempt to undermine the authority of public institutions. Judging former perpetrators is an arduous task that is also faced with corruption and lack of personal and resources on many occasions. Additionally, the effort by national courts to prosecute criminals is an undue burden on the judicial system, which is severely damaged after a conflict and in many cases not ready to confront such atrocious crimes and the long processes they entail. Processes to try those accused of genocide in Rwanda, where the national judicial system was devasted after the genocide, have put great pressure on the judicial system, and the lack of capacity has resulted that many arrested remained in custody for years without having been convicted or even having had their cases heard, in the majority of the cases in appalling prison conditions. Such supposed accountability initiatives may have a counterproductive effect, contributing to a sense of impunity and distrust in justice processes.

Despite the outlined tensions, transitional justice and rule of law promotion are also capable to work towards the same ends. A key goal of transitional justice is to contribute to the rebuilding of a society based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, essential for durable peace. The improvement of a judiciary based on transparency and equality is strictly linked to the ability of a nation to approach prior human rights infringements after a conflict.[21] Both are potentially mutually reinforcing in practice if complementarities can be exploited. Consequently, rule of law advancement and transitional justice mechanisms however combine in some techniques.

To start with, the birth of processes to address past transgressions perpetrated during the conflict, both international and domestic processes, can help to restore confidence in the justice sector, especially when it comes to new arising democratic institutions. The use of domestic courts for accountability processes helps to place the judiciary at the centre of the promotion and protection of human rights of the local population, which contributes to the intensification of trust not only in the judicial system but also in public institutions and the government in general. Government initiation of an accountability process may indicate an engagement to justice and the rule of law beforehand. Domestically-rooted judicial processes, as well as other transitional justice tools, such as commissions of inquiry, may also support the development of mechanisms and rules for democratic and fair institutions by establishing regularized procedures and rules and promoting discussions rather than violence as a means of resolving differences and a reassuring population that their demands will be met in independent, fair and unbiased fora, be this a regular court or an ad hoc judicial or non-judicial mechanism. This is not to assume that internationally driven transitional justice mechanisms do not have a role to play in the development of the rule of law in the countries for which they have been established, as the hybrid tribunal of Sierra Leone demonstrates.[22]

In general terms, the refusal of impunity for perpetrators and the reformation of public institutions are considered the basic tools for the success of transitional justice. Transcending the strengthening of the judiciary, different reform processes can strengthen rule of law and accountability: institutions that counteract the influence of certain groups (including the government) like human rights commissions or anti-corruption commissions, may contribute to the establishment of a strong institutional and social structure more capable of confronting social tensions and hence evade the recurrence to conflict.[23]

Achieving an effective transitional justice strategy in Rwanda is an incredible challenge taking into consideration the massive scale as well as the harshness of the genocide, but also because of the economic and geographical limitations that make perpetrators and survivors live together in the aftermath. To facilitate things, other post-conflict states with similarly devastatingly high numbers of perpetrators have opted for amnesties or selective prosecutions, but the Rwandan government is engaged in holding those guilty for genocide responsible, thus strongly advocating for the employment of transitional justice. This is being accomplished through truth commissions, Gacaca traditional courts, national courts, and the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda combined. This underlines the dilemma of whether national or international courts are more efficient in implementing transitional justice.

Gacaca focuses on groups rather than individuals, seeks compromise and community harmony, and emphasizes restitution over forms of punishment. Moreover, it is characterized by accessibility, economy, and public participation. It encourages transparency of proceedings with the participation of the public as witnesses, who gain the truth about the circumstances surrounding the atrocities suffered during the genocide. Also, it provides an economic benefit, as Gacaca courts can try cases at a greater speed than international courts, thus reducing considerably the monetary cost as the number of incarcerated persons waiting for a trial is significantly reduced.

Alongside the strengths of the Gacaca system come flaws that seem to be inherent in the system. Many have come to see the Gacaca as an opportunity to require revenge on enemies or to frighten others with the threat of accusation, instead of injecting a sense of truth and reconciliation: the Gacaca trials have aroused concern and intimidation amongst many sectors of the population. Additionally, the community service prescribed to convicted perpetrators frequently is not done within the community where the crime was committed but rather done in the form of public service projects, which enforces the impression that officials may be using the system to benefit the government instead of helping the ones harmed by the genocide. Another proof of the control of Gacaca trials for benefit of the government is manifested by the prosecutions against critics of the post-genocide regime.

On the other hand, Sierra Leone’s situation is very different from the one in Rwanda. To help restore the rule of law, the Special court settled in Sierra Leone must be seen as a role model for the administration of justice, and to promote deterrence it must be deemed credible, which is one of its main problems.[24] There is little confidence in the international tribunals amongst the local population, as the Court’s nature makes it non-subordinated to the Sierra Leonean court system, and thus being an international tribunal independent from national control.[25] Nevertheless, it is considered as a “hybrid” tribunal since its jurisdiction extends over both domestic and international crimes and it relies on national authorities to enforce its orders. Still, in practice, there is no genuine cooperation between the government and the international community, as there is a limited extent of government participation in the Special Court’s process and the lack of consultation with the Sierra Leonean population before the Court’s endowment. This absence of national participation, despite causing scepticism over citizens, has the benefit that it remains more impartial when it comes to the proceedings against CDF leaders.

Another major particularity of the case of Sierra Leone and its process of implementation of transitional justice is once again the high degree of implication of children in the conflict, not only as victims but also as perpetrators of crimes. The responsibility of child soldiers for acts committed during armed conflict is a quite controversial issue. In general, under international law, the prosecution of children is not forbidden. However, there is no agreement on the minimum age at which children can be held criminally responsible for their acts. The Rome Statute, instituting the International Criminal Court (ICC), only provides the Court jurisdiction over people over eighteen years. Although not necessarily directly addressed to the prosecution of child soldiers, Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child foresees the trials of children (under eighteen), ordering that the process should consider their particular needs and vulnerabilities due to their shortage.

The TRC for Sierra Leone was the first one to focus on children's accountability, directly asserting jurisdiction over any person who committed a crime between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. Concerning child soldiers, the commission treated all children equally, as victims of war, but also studied the double role of children as both victims and perpetrators. It emphasized that it was not endeavouring to guilt but to comprehend how children came to carry out crimes, what motivated them, and how such offences might be prevented. Acknowledging that child soldiers are essentially victims of serious abuses of human rights and prioritizing the prosecution of those who illegally recruited them is of utmost importance. Meticulous attention was needed to guarantee that children’s engagement did not put them at risk or expose them to further harm. Proper safeguard and child-friendly procedures were ensured, such as special hearings, closed sessions, a safe and comfortable environment for interviews, preserving the identity of child witnesses, and psychological care, amongst others.

However, shall children that have committed war crimes be prosecuted in the first place? If not, is there a risk that tyrants may assign further slaughter to be performed by child soldiers due to the absence of responsibility they might possess? The lack of prosecution could immortalize impunity and pose a risk of alike violations reoccurring eventually, as attested by the re-recruitment of some child soldiers from Sierra Leone in other armed conflicts in the area, such as in Liberia. Considering the special conditions of child soldiers, it becomes clear that the RUF adult leaders primarily are the ones with the highest responsibility, and hence must be prosecuted.[26]

It is known that both the Sierra Leonean government and the RUF were involved in the recruitment of child soldiers as young as ten years old, which is considered a violation of both domestic and international humanitarian law. Under domestic law, in Sierra Leone, the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is eighteen years. International humanitarian law, (Additional Protocol II) fifteen is established as the minimum age qualification for recruitment (both voluntary or compulsory) or participation in hostilities (includes direct participation in combat and active participation linked to combat such as spying, acting as couriers, and sabotage.). Additionally, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[27] to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, requires “state parties . . . to take all necessary measures to ensure that no child below age eighteen shall take direct part in hostilities” and “to refrain in particular from recruiting any child.”

Nevertheless, victims who have been hurt by children also have the right to justice and reparations, and it also comes to ask whether exempting children of accountability for their crimes is in their best interest. When the child was in control of their actions (not coerced, drugged, or forced) acknowledgement might be an important part of personal healing that also adds to their acceptance back in their communities. The prosecution, however, should not be the first stage to hold child soldiers accountable, as TRC in Sierra Leone also performs alternatives, so the possibility of using those should first be inquired, as these alternatives put safeguards to ensure the best interest of the child and the main aim is restorative justice and not criminal prosecution.

Conclusions

Finally, after parsing where peacebuilding and justice clash and when do they have shared methods, we can assert that establishing an equitable and durable peace requires pursuing both peacebuilding and transitional justice activities, taking into consideration how they interact and the concrete needs of each community, especially when it comes to the needs of former child soldiers and the controversial debate around the need for their accountability and reinsertion in communities, as despite the pioneer case of Sierra Leone, the unusual condition of a child combatant, which is both victim and perpetrator still presents dilemmas concerning their accountability in international criminal law.[28]

Additionally, it becomes of utmost importance in assessing post-conflict societies, whether it is to implement peacebuilding measures such as DDR or to apply justice and search for accountability, that international led initiatives include in their program’s local organizations. Critics of international criminal justice often assume that criminal accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are better handled at the national level. While this may well hold for liberal democracies, it is far more problematic for post-conflict successor regimes, where the benefits of the proximity to the affected population must be seriously weighed against the challenges facing courts placed in conflict-ridden societies with weak and corrupt judiciaries. 

Local systems however have more legitimacy and capacity than devastated formal systems, and they promise local ownership, access, and efficiency, which seems to be the most appropriate way to ensure peace and endurability of peace. Additionally, restorative justice methods put into place thanks to local initiatives emphasize face-to-face intervention, where offenders have the chance to ask for forgiveness from the victims. In many cases restitution replace incarceration, which facilitates the reintegration of offenders into society as well as the satisfaction of the victims.

To conclude, it has become clear that improving the interaction between peacebuilding and transitional justice processes requires coordination as well as a deep knowledge and understanding of said community. It is therefore not a question of deciding whether peacebuilding initiatives or transitional justice must be implemented, but rather to coordinate their efforts to achieve a sense of sustainable and most-needed peace in post-conflict countries. Taken together, and despite their contradictions, these processes are more likely to succeed in their seek to foster fair and enduring peace.

 

[1] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/a21925.pdf [Accessed 5 April 2021].

2Boutros-Ghali, B. (1992). An Agenda for Peace:Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and peace-keeping.Report of the Secretary-General UN: https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/145749 [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[3]Brahimi. (s.f.). Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations. 55th Session: Brahimi Report | United Nations Peacekeeping  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[4] United Nations Secretary General (1992). "An Agenda for Peace, Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping UN Doc. A/47/277 - S/24111, 17 June.", title VI, paragraph 55.<A_47_277.pdf (un.org)>. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[5] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. Available at: < https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/a21925.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[6] Roser, M. and Nagdy, M., 2021. Genocides. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: < Genocides - Our World in Data > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[7] Waldorf, L., 2006. Mass Justice For Mass Atrocity: Rethinking Local Justice As Transitional Justice. [online] Temple Law Review. Available at: < https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/temple79&div=7 > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[8] Gibril Sesay, M. and Suma, M., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Sierra Leone. [online] International Center for Transitional Justice. Available at: < https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Sierra-Leone-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[9] Roht-Arriaza, N., & Mariezcurrena, J. (Eds.). (2006). Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2, Sigal HOROVITZ: Transitional criminal justice in Sierra Leone. <(PDF) Transitional Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone | Sigall Horovitz - Academia.edu >[Accessed 5 March 2021]

[10] Connolly, L., 2012. Justice and peacebuilding in postconflict situations: An argument for including gender analysis in a new post-conflict model. [online] ACCORD. Available at: < https://www.accord.org.za/publication/justice-peacebuilding-post-conflict-situations/ > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[11] Waldorf, L., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda. [online] Intenational Center for Transitional Justice. Available at:    < https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-DDR-Rwanda-CaseStudy-2009-English.pdf >[Accessed 5 April 2021].

[13] UNICEF (2004). From Confict to Hope:Children in Sierra Leone’s Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[14] SESAY, M.G & SUMA, M. (2009), “Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Sierra Leone”,International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[15] WILLIAMSON, J. (2006), “The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers: social and psychological transformation in Sierra Leone”, Intervention 2006, Vol. 4, No. 3, Available from: < http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.600.1127&rep=rep1&type=pdf> [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[16] : A. B. Zack‐Williams (2001) Child soldiers in the civil war in Sierra Leone, Review of African Political Economy, 28:87, 73-82, DOI: 10.1080/03056240108704504 [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[17] MCKAY, S. & MAZURANA, D. (2004), “Where are the girls? Girls in Fighting Forces in Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique: Their Lives During and After War”,Rights & Democracy. International Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Development,.[Accessed 5 April 2021].

[18] UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) (2005), “The Impact of Conflict on Women and Girls in West and Central Africa and the Unicef Response”, Emergencies, pg.19,Available from: < https://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/Impact_conflict_women.pdf>  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[19] Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2006), “Child Soldiers and Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration in West Africa”. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[20] HRW (Human Rights Watch) (2005), “Problems in the Disarmament Programs in Sierra Leone and Liberia [1998-2005]”, Reports Section, Available from: <https://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/westafrica0405/7.htm>  [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[21] Herman, J., Martin-Ortega, O. and Sriram, C., 2012. Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies. 1st ed. Routledge. <Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies | Taylor & Francis Group> [Accessed 5 March 2021]

[22] Young, G., n.d. Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone: A Critical Analysis. [online] PEACE AND PROGRESS – THE UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT JOURNAL. Available at: < https://postgraduate.ias.unu.edu/upp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/upp_issue1-YOUNG.pdf > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[23] Herman, J., Martin-Ortega, O. and Sriram, C., 2012. Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies. 1st ed. Routledge. <Beyond justice versus peace: transitional justice and peacebuilding strategies | Taylor & Francis Group> [Accessed 5 March 2021]

[24] Stensrud, E., 2009. New Dilemmas in Transitional Justice: Lessons from the Mixed Courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia. [online] Journal of peace research. Available at: <New Dilemmas in Transitional Justice: Lessons from the Mixed Courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia on JSTOR> [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[25] Roht-Arriaza, N., & Mariezcurrena, J. (Eds.). (2006). Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2, Sigal HOROVITZ: Transitional criminal justice in Sierra Leone. <(PDF) Transitional Criminal Justice in Sierra Leone | Sigall Horovitz - Academia.edu >[Accessed 5 March 2021]

[26] Zarifis, Ismene. "Sierra Leone’s Search for Justice and Accountability of Child Soldiers." Human Rights Brief 9, no. 3 (2002): 18-21. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[27] Article 22 of the AFRICAN CHARTER ON THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF THE CHILD , achpr_instr_charterchild_eng.pdf (un.org). [Accessed 5 April 2021].

[28] Veiga, T. G. (2019). A New Conceptualisation of Child Reintegration in Conflict Contexts. E International Relations: https://www.e-ir.info/2019/06/21/a-new-conceptualisation-of-child-reintegration-in-conflict-contexts/. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

Categorías Global Affairs: África Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos

[Carlos Lopes, Africa in Transformation: Economic Development in the Age of Doubt (London: Palgrave, 2018), 175 pp]

REVIEW /  Emilija Žebrauskaitė

The emergence of a new discourse about ‘Africa rising’ is not at all surprising. After all, the continent is home to many fastest-growing economies of the world and the African sub-regions experienced economic growth way above the world average for more than a decade. New opportunities are opening up in the continent and Africa is becoming to be viewed as an attractive opportunity for investments and entrepreneurship. 

However, Carlos Lopes views the discourse about ‘Africa rising’ as a narrative that was created by foreigners interested in the continent and the economic opportunities it offers, without the consideration to the Africans themselves. In his book Africa in Transformation: Economic Development in the Age of Doubt Lopes presents an alternative view of the continent, it’s challenges and achievements: an alternative view that is centered on Africans and their needs as opposed to the interests of the foreign investors.

The book describes a wide scope of topics from political to economic to intellectual transformation, all of them focusing on the rethinking of the traditional development models and providing a new, innovative approach to building the continent and its future.

One of the main points Lopes highlights is the importance of the agricultural transformation in Africa as a starting point for industrialization and development. The agricultural sector provides nearly 65% of Africa’s population with employment. It is, therefore, one of the most important sectors for the continent. Drawing on historical evidence of other countries successfully climbing out of poverty relying on the transformation of the local agriculture, he comments that while some African countries have managed to increase their agricultural production, comparing to the rest of the world, the progress so far is pretty modest.

Lopes also points out that countries with low agricultural production are less industrialised as well. The solution he offers for Africa’s industrialisation starts with agricultural transformation. He argues that the first step is the need for agricultural transformation that would lead to increased labour productivity, which would, in turn, lead to greater access to food per unit of labour, reducing the price of food relative to the income of the worker of the agricultural sector, allowing for the budget surplus to appear and become an impetus for the demand of goods and services beyond the agricultural sector.

While Lopes argues that the increase of Africa’s labour productivity is as best “modest” compared to other developing regions of the world, at first glance this statement might seem contradictory to the fact that many African countries are among the fastest-growing economies of the world. However, the critique of Lopes highlights that despite the economic growth of the continent, it did not generate sufficient jobs, nor it was equally distributed across the continent. Furthermore, the growth did not protect African economies from the rocky nature of the commodity exports on which the continent relies, making the growth unstable.

According to Lopes, not only the diversification of the production structures is required, there is a need for the creation of ten million new jobs in order to absorb the immense youth number entering the markets. As the trade liberalisation forced unequal competition upon local African industries, Lopes suggests using smart protectionist measures that are not directly trade-related and therefore outside of the influence of WTO. In the end, the African economy must be internally driven and less dependent, and the policies should focus to protect it.

This leads us to another focus of the book, namely the lack of policy space for African countries. The economic and political theories reflected upon Africa by the developed countries, specifically the US, do not leave enough space for African countries to develop their own policies based on local circumstances and necessities. In cases where the ideas imposed from abroad fail to function in African circumstances, the continent is left without much space for adjustment. Lopes discusses the failure of the Bretton Woods institutions to remain impartial in their policymaking, and the disastrous effect the neo-liberal policies, enforced on the whole world until the crisis of 2008.

While Lopes agrees that the lack of the capability of enforcing the IMF and World Bank policies by the implementing countries contributed to their ineffectiveness, the lack of flexibility from the part of the international organizations to adapt the policies to the regional circumstances and the arrogant denial to admit their inefficiency were the major factors contributing to the negative social impact, namely inequality, that neo-liberalism enhanced in Africa. According to Lopes, now that the trustworthiness of the international financial institutions has decreased, more space is left for Africa to reformulate and enforce its own policies, adapting them to the existing circumstances and needs.

In the end, the book approaches the problems faced by modern-day Africa from a multidisciplinary point of view, discussing topics ranging from ideology and ecology to economy and politics. Carlos Lopes is a loud and confident voice when it comes to the contribution of the ‘Africa rising’ narrative. While he does not deny the accomplishment of the continent, he is cautious about the narrative that portrays Africa as an economic unit, interesting due to and only because of new economic possibilities that are opening for foreign interests. His alternative is the idea of ‘Africa in transformation’ – the view that focuses on the growth of the possibilities for the people of Africa and transformation of a continent from an object of someone’s exploitation, to a place with its own opportunities and opinions, offering the world new ideas on the most important topic of contemporary international debates.

Categorías Global Affairs: África Economía, Comercio y Tecnología Reseñas de libros

Primer encuentro de alto nivel EEUU-China de la era Biden, celebrado en Alaska el 18 de marzo de 2021 [Dpto. de Estado]

 

ENSAYO /  Ramón Barba

El presidente Joe Biden está construyendo con cautela su política para el Indo-Pacífico, buscando construir una alianza con India sobre la que construir un orden que contrarreste el auge chino. Tras su entrada en la Casa Blanca, Biden ha mantenido el foco de atención en esta región, aunque con un enfoque diferente al de la Administración Trump. Si bien es cierto que el objetivo principal sigue siendo contener a China y defender el libre comercio, Washington está optando por un acercamiento multilateral que otorga mayor protagonismo al QUAD[1] y cuida especialmente la relación con India. Como abanderada del mundo libre y de la democracia, la Administración Biden pretende renovar el liderazgo estadounidense en el mundo y particularmente en esta decisiva región. No obstante, aunque la relación con India se encuentra en un buen momento, especialmente teniendo en cuenta la firma del acuerdo BECA[2] alcanzado al final de la Administración Trump, la interacción entre ambos países está lejos de consolidar una alianza.

La nueva presidencia de Estados Unidos se encuentra con un puzle muy complicado de resolver en Indo-Pacífico, cuyos principales actores son China y la India. Por lo general, nos encontramos con que, de las tres potencias, solo Pekín ha sabido gestionar con éxito la situación post-pandemia[3], mientras que Delhi y Washington siguen enfrentando una crisis tanto sanitaria como económica. Todo ello puede afectar a la relación entre India y Estados Unidos, en especial en lo comercial[4], no obstante, y a pesar de que Biden aún no ha demostrado cuál va a ser su estrategia en la región, todo parece que la relación entre ambas potencias va a ir a más[5]. Sin embargo, a pesar de que Estados Unidos quiere llevar a cabo una política de alianzas multilateral y profundizar en su relación con la India, la Administración Biden deberá tener en cuenta diversas dificultades antes de poder hablar de una alianza como tal.

Biden comenzó a actuar en esta dirección desde el primer momento. En primer lugar estuvo en febrero la reunión del QUAD[6], que algunos consideran una mini OTAN[7] para Asia, en la que se discutieron cuestiones relativas a la distribución de la vacuna en Asia (pretendiendo distribuir un billón de dosis en 2022), la libertad de navegación en los mares de la región, la desnuclearización de Corea del Norte y la democracia en Myanmar. Además, el Reino Unido parece estar mostrando un interés mayor en la región y en este grupo de diálogo. Por otro lado, a mediados de marzo hubo una reunión en Alaska[8] entre las diplomacias de China y de Estados Unidos (encabezadas, respectivamente, por Yang Jiechi, director de la Comisión Central de Asuntos Exteriores, y Antony Blinken, secretario de Estado), en la cual ambos países se reprocharon duramente sus políticas. Washington se mantiene firme en sus intereses, aunque abierto a cierta colaboración con Pekín, mientras que China insiste en rechazar cualquier injerencia en lo que considera sus asuntos internos. Por último, cabe mencionar que Biden parece estar dispuesto a organizar una cumbre de democracias[9] en su primer año de mandato.

Tras los contactos que también hubo en Alaska entre los titulares de Defensa de China y de Estados Unidos, Austin Lloyd[10], jefe del Pentágono, visitó la India para remarcar la importancia de la cooperación indo-estadounidense. Además, a comienzos de abril se produjo la participación de Francia en las maniobras navales La Pérouse[11] en la Bahía de Bengala, dando lugar a la posibilidad de un QUAD-plus en el que, además de las cuatro potencias originales, se integren también otros países.

El Indo-Pacífico recordemos, se asienta como el presente y el futuro de las relaciones internacionales debido a su importancia económica (sus principales actores, India, China y EEUU representan el 45% del PIB mundial), demográfica (albergando un 65% de la población de todo el Globo) y, como veremos a lo largo del presente artículo, geopolítica[12].

Las relaciones entre EEUU, China e India

La Administración Biden parece ser continuista con la línea seguida por Trump, puesto que los objetivos no han variado. Lo que sí que cambia es el acercamiento hacia el objeto de la cuestión, que en este caso no es otro que la contención de China y la libertad de navegación en la región, ahora bien, en base a una gran apuesta por el multilateralismo. Como bien dijo el nuevo sucesor de George Washington en su toma de posesión[13], Estados Unidos quiere retomar su liderazgo, pero de una manera diferente a la de la Administración anterior; esto es, mediante una fuerte política de alianzas, un liderazgo moral y una fuerte defensa de valores como la dignidad, los derechos humanos y el Estado de Derecho.

La nueva presidencia concibe a China como un rival para tener en cuenta[14], al igual que la Administración Trump, pero no ve esto como un juego de suma cero, puesto que, aunque declara abiertamente estar en contra de la actuación de Xi, abre la puerta al diálogo[15] en materias como el cambio climático o la sanidad. Por lo general, en línea con lo visto en Nuevas tensiones en Asia Pacífico[16], Estados Unidos apuesta por un multilateralismo que busca rebajar la tensión. Recordemos que Estados Unidos propugna la defensa de la libre navegación y el Estado de Derecho, así como de la democracia en una región en la que está viendo mermada su influencia por el creciente peso de China.

Para entender bien el estado de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos, China e India cabe que remontarse a 2005[17], cuando todo parecía ir bien. En lo relativo a la relación sino-india, ambas naciones habían resuelto sus disputas motivo de los ensayos nucleares de 1998; además, su presencia en foros regionales era creciente y parecía que la cuestión relativa a las disputas transfronterizas comenzaba a arreglarse. Por su parte, Estados Unidos gozaba de buenas relaciones comerciales con ambos países. Sin embargo, el cambio de patrones en la economía mundial, motivado por el auge de China; la crisis financiera de 2008, surgida en Estados Unidos, y la inhabilidad de India para mantener la tasa de crecimiento rompieron este equilibrio. A ello contribuyó la actitud tirante de Donald Trump. No obstante, hay quien argumenta que la rotura del orden posterior a la Guerra Fría en Asia Pacífico comenzó con el “pivote hacia Asia”[18] de la Administración Obama. A ello hay que añadir los pequeños roces que China ha tenido con ambas naciones.

Brevemente, cabe mencionar que entre India y China existen problemas fronterizos[19] que a partir de 2013 se han ido reavivando. A su vez, India es contraria a la hegemonía china; no quiere verse subyugada por Pekín y apuesta claramente por el multilateralismo. Finalmente, existen problemas en lo relativo al dominio marítimo debido a que el Estrecho de Malaca está al límite de su capacidad. Además, Delhi reclama como suyas las islas Adaman y Nicobar, en la ruta de acceso a Malaca. Es más, como India ahora se encuentra muy por debajo del poder militar y económico de China[20] –roto el equilibrio que había entre las dos potencias en 1980–, intenta poner trabas a Pekín para así contenerle.

Estados Unidos mantiene roces de tipo ideológico con China, debido al carácter autoritario del régimen de Xi Jinping[21], y comercial, en una pugna[22] que Pekín pretende aprovechar para aminorar la influencia estadounidense en la zona. En medio de este conflicto está India, que apoya a Estados Unidos puesto que, aunque no parece querer estar del todo en contra de China[23], rechaza una hegemonía regional china[24].

Según el último informe del CEBR[25], China superará a Estados Unidos como potencia mundial en 2028, antes de lo previsto en proyecciones anteriores, en parte gracias a cómo ha gestionado la emergencia del coronavirus: ha sido el único gran país que tras la primera oleada ha evitado una crisis. Por otro lado, Estados Unidos ha perdido la batalla contra la pandemia; se espera que se crecimiento económico entre 2022-2024 sea del 1.9% del PIB y se reduzca al 1.6% en los siguientes ejercicios[26], mientras que China, según el informe estará entre 2021-2025 creciendo al 5.7%[27].

Para China la pandemia ha sido una forma de indicar su lugar en el mundo[28], una manera de avisar a Estados Unidos de que está lista para tomar el testigo como líder de la comunidad internacional. A ello cabe aunarle la actitud beligerante de China en la región de Asia Pacífico, así como su crecimiento hegemónico en la zona y proyectos comerciales con África y Europa. Todo ello ha llevado a desequilibrios en la región que implican los movimientos de Washington en lo relativo al QUAD. Recordemos que, a pesar de su rol menguante como potencia, a Estados Unidos le interesa la libertad de navegación por razones tanto comerciales como militares[29].

Así pues, el auge económico chino ha dado lugar a un empeoramiento de la relación entre Washington y Pekín[30]. Además, aunque Biden apuesta por la cooperación en lo relativo a la pandemia y al cambio climático, desde algunos sectores de la política americana se habla de una competición inevitable entre ambos países[31].

El grado de alianza entre EEUU e India

En línea con lo expuesto anteriormente podemos observar que nos movemos en tesituras delicadas, tras el cambio en la Casa Blanca. Enero y febrero han sido meses de pequeños movimientos por parte de Estados Unidos e India, que no han dejado indiferente a China. Aunque la relación chino-estadounidense ha beneficiado a ambas partes desde su inicio (1979)[32], creciendo el comercio entre ambos países en un 252% desde entonces, la realidad es que ahora los niveles de confianza están por los suelos, habiendo suspendido más de 100 mecanismos de diálogo entre ellos. Por lo tanto, aunque no se prevé un conflicto, sí que se pronostica un aumento de la tensión ya que, lejos de poder cooperar en amplios campos, por el momento solo parecen viables cooperaciones leves y limitadas. A su vez, recordemos que China se ve muy afectada por el Dilema de Malaca[33], por lo que busca otros accesos al Océano Índico, dando lugar a disputas territoriales con la India, con quien ya tiene el problema territorial de Ladakh[34]. En medio de esta Trampa de Tucídides[35], en la que China parece amenazar con superar a Estados Unidos, Washington se ha ido acercando a Nueva Delhi.

Por consiguiente, ambos países han ido desarrollando una colaboración estratégica[36], basada esencialmente en seguridad y defensa, pero que Estados Unidos busca ampliar a otras áreas. Bien es cierto que los problemas de Delhi están en el Índico y los de Washington en el Pacífico; sin embargo, ambos tienen a China[37] como denominador común. Su relación, además, se ve muy marcada por la ya expuesta “crisis tripartita”[38] (sanitaria, económica y geopolítica).

A pesar de la intensa cooperación entre Washington y Nueva Delhi, encontramos dos puntos de vista diferentes en lo relativo a este “partnership”. Mientras que desde Estados Unidos se afirma que India es un aliado muy importante, con el que comparte mismo sistema político y una intensa relación comercial[39], India prefiere una alianza menos estricta. Tradicionalmente, desde Delhi se ha transmitido una política de no alineamiento[40] en materias internacionales. De hecho, aunque India no quiere una supremacía China en el Indo-Pacífico, tampoco desea alinearse directamente contra Pekín, con quien comparte más de 3.000 km de frontera. No obstante, desde Delhi se ve muy necesaria la cooperación con Washington en materia de seguridad y defensa. De hecho, hay quien afirma que hoy la India necesita a EEUU más que nunca.

Si bien el pasado febrero, desde Washington se comenzó a revisar la Estrategia de Posición Global de Estados Unidos, todo apunta a que la Administración Biden continuará la línea de Trump en lo relativo a la colaboración con India como forma de contener a China. Sin embargo, aunque Washington habla de India como su aliado, por parte de Delhi hay ciertas reticencias, hablando pues de un alineamiento[41] más que de una alianza. Aunque la realidad que vivimos dista de la de la Guerra Fría[42], este nuevo containment[43] en el que se busca a Delhi como base, apoyo y estandarte, se ve materializado en lo siguiente:

i) Una intensa cooperación en materia de Seguridad y Defensa

Aquí existen distintos foros y acuerdos. En primer lugar, el ya mencionado QUAD[44]. Esta nueva alianza de cooperación multilateral que comenzó a gestarse en 2006[45] acordó en su reunión de marzo el desarrollo de su diplomacia de vacunas, con India como eje para así contrarrestar la exitosa campaña internacional llevada por Pekín en este campo. De hecho, hubo el compromiso de emplear 600 millones para repartir 1.000 millones de vacunas[46] en 2022. La idea es que Japón y EEUU financien la operación[47], mientras que Australia se encarga de la logística. No obstante, India apuesta por un mayor multilateralismo en el Indo-Pacífico, dando entrada a países como Inglaterra o Francia[48], que ya participaron en los últimos Diálogos de Raisina junto con el QUAD. A lo largo de la reunión también se trataron otros temas como la desnuclearización de Corea, la restauración democrática de Myanmar y el cambio climático[49].

India busca contener a China, pero sin provocar un enfrentamiento directo con China[50]. De hecho, Pekín ha dado a entender que de ir las cosas más allá, no solo India sabe jugar a la Realpolitk. Recordemos que Nueva Delhi va a presidir este año la reunión con los BRICS. Además, la Shanghai Cooperation Organization va a acoger ejercicios militares conjuntos de China y Pakistán, país de compleja relación con India.

Por otro lado, en su viaje de marzo a India, el jefe del Pentágono[51] trató con su homólogo Rajnath Singh sobre el incremento de la cooperación militar, así como de asuntos relacionados con la logística, el intercambio de información, posibles oportunidades de asistencia mutua y la defensa de la libre navegación. Lloyd afirmó no ver con malos ojos que Australia y Corea participen como miembros permanentes en los ejercicios Malabar. Desde 2008 el comercio en materia militar entre Delhi y Washington suma 21 billones de dólares[52]. Además, recientemente, se han gastado 3000 de dólares en drones y otro material aéreo para misiones de reconocimiento y vigilancia.

Una semana después esta reunión, dos barcos indios y uno estadounidense realizaron un ejercicio marítimo de tipo PASSEX[53] como forma de consolidar las sinergias e interoperabilidad alcanzadas en el ejercicio de Malabar del pasado noviembre.

En este contexto, cabe hacer una mención especial a la plataforma de diálogo 2+2 y al ya mencionado BECA (Acuerdo Básico de Intercambio y Cooperación para la cooperación en materia geoespacial). El primero, es un tipo de reunión en la que los titulares de Exteriores y Defensa de ambos países se reúnen cada dos años para tratar de temas que les sean de interés. La reunión más reciente tuvo lugar en octubre de 2020[54]. En ella no solo se acordó el BECA, sino que Estados Unidos se reafirmó en su apoyo a India en lo relativo a sus problemas territoriales con China. A su vez, también se firmaron otros memorándums de entendimiento sobre cuestiones de energía nuclear y climáticas.

El BECA, firmado en octubre de 2020 durante los últimos meses de la Administración Trump, facilita a India localizar mejor a enemigos, terroristas y otro tipo de amenazas que vengan desde tierra o desde mar. Con este acuerdo se pretende consolidar la amistad que hay entre ambos países, así como ayudar a India a superar tecnológicamente a China. En virtud de este acuerdo se concluye la “troika de pactos fundacionales” para una profunda cooperación en seguridad y defensa entre ambos países[55].

Antes de este acuerdo, en 2016 se firmó el LEMOA (Memorando de Acuerdo para el Intercambio de Logística), y en 2018 el COMCASA (Acuerdo de Compatibilidad y Seguridad de las Comunicaciones). El primero permite a ambos países acceso a las bases de cada uno para abastecimiento y reposición; el segundo permite a India recibir sistemas, información y comunicación encriptada para comunicarse con Estados Unidos. Ambos acuerdos afectan a los ejércitos de tierra, mar y aire[56].

ii) Unidos por la democracia

Desde Washington se pone especial énfasis en que ambas potencias son muy semejantes, puesto que comparten el mismo sistema político, y se destaca con cierta grandilocuencia que conforman la democracia más antigua y la más grande (por número de habitantes)[57]. Debido a que eso presupone compartir una serie de valores, Washington gusta hablar de “likeminded partners”[58].

Desde el think tank Brookings Institution, Tanvi Mandan defiende esta idea de ligazón ideológica. El mismo sistema de gobierno hace que ambos países se vean como aliados naturales, que piensan igual y que además creen en el valor del imperio de la ley. De hecho, en todo lo relativo a la extensión de la democracia por el globo, hay una fuerte cooperación entre ambas naciones: por ejemplo, apoyando la democracia en Afganistán o en Maldivas, lanzando la US-India Global Democracy Iniciative y dotando de asistencia legal y técnica en cuestiones democráticas a otros países. Finalmente cabe resaltar que la democracia y los valores que acarrea han facilitado el intercambio y flujo de personas de un país a otro. En cuanto a la relación económica entre ambos países se vuelve más viable, puesto que los dos son economías abiertas, comparten una lengua y su sistema jurídico tiene raigambre anglosajona.

iii) Creciente cooperación económica

Estados Unidos es el principal socio comercial de India, con quien tiene un importante superávit[59]. Los intercambios entre ambos han crecido un 10% anual a lo largo de la última década, y en 2019 fueron de 115.000 millones de dólares[60]. Alrededor de 2.000 empresas estadounidenses están instaladas en India, y unas 200 empresas indias se hallan en EEUU[61]. Entre ambos existe un Mini-Trade Deal, que se cree que será firmado en breve, y que tiene por objeto ahondar en esta relación económica. Con motivo de la pandemia, todo lo relativo al ámbito sanitario tiene un papel importante[62]. De hecho, a pesar de que ambos países han adoptado recientemente una actitud proteccionista, la idea es alcanzar 500.000 millones de dólares en comercio[63].

Divergencias, retos y oportunidades para India y EEUU en la región

Brevemente, entre los líderes de ambos países hay pequeños roces, oportunidades y retos a matizar para hacer de esta relación una fuerte alianza. Dentro de los puntos de conflicto, destacamos la compra desde India de misiles S-400 a Rusia, lo cual va en contra del CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries trhough Sanctions Act[64], por lo que puede que India reciba una sanción, aunque en la reunión entre Sigh y Lloyd, este pareció pasar el tema por alto[65]. Sin embargo, cabe ver qué pasa una vez lleguen los misiles a Delhi. También existen pequeñas divergencias en lo relativo a libertad de expresión, seguridad y derechos civiles, y cómo relacionarse con países no democráticos[66]. Dentro de los retos que ambos países deben tener en cuenta, está la posible pérdida de apoyo en algunos sectores de la política estadounidense a la relación con India. Ello se debe a las actuaciones de India en Cachemira en agosto de 2019, la protección de la libertad religiosa y el trato a la disidencia. Por otro lado, en el caso contrario no ha faltado el debilitamiento de las normas democráticas, restricciones a la inmigración y violencia contra naturales de India[67].

En último lugar, recordemos que ambos se enfrentan a una profunda crisis sanitaria y por consiguiente económica, cuya resolución será determinante en relación con la competición con Pekín[68]. La crisis ha afectado a la relación bilateral puesto que, aunque el comercio en servicios se ha mantenido estable (alrededor de los 50.000 millones), el comercio de bienes decayó de 92.000 a 78.000 millones entre 2019 y 2020, aumentando el déficit comercial indio[69].

Para finalizar, cabe mencionar las oportunidades. En primer lugar, ambos países pueden desarrollar resiliencia democrática en el Indo-Pacífico así como en un orden internacional basado en normas[70]. En seguridad y defensa, también hay oportunidades como la entrada de Reino Unido y Francia como aliados en la zona, por ejemplo intentando que ambos países entren en el ejercicio de Malabar o que Francia presida el Indian Ocean Naval Simposium de 2022[71].  Aunque la tendencia a medio plazo es de cooperación entre Estados Unidos e India, la competencia con Rusia será una amenaza creciente[72], por lo que la cooperación entre Estados Unidos, India y Europa es muy importante.

También se abre la posibilidad de cooperación en mecanismos de MDA (Alerta del Entorno Marítimo) y ASW (Guerra Anti Submarina), en tanto que el Océano Índico reviste una importancia general para varios países debido al valor de sus rutas de transporte energético. Se abre la posibilidad de la cooperación mediante el uso de la Aeronave US P-8 “Poseidón”. A pesar de las disputas sobre el archipiélago de Chagos, India y Estados Unidos deberían aprovechar los acuerdos que tienen sobre islas como Andamán o Diego García para la realización de estas actividades[73]. Por lo tanto, India debería usar los organismos y grupos de trabajo regionales para cooperar con los países europeos y Estados Unidos[74].

Europa parece adquirir una creciente importancia debido a la posibilidad de entrar en el juego del Indo-Pacífico mediante el QUAD Plus. Los países europeos están muy a favor del multilateralismo, de la defensa de la libertad de navegación y del papel de las normas para regularla. Si bien es cierto que la UE ha firmado recientemente un tratado de comercio con China recientemente -el CAI-, incrementar la presencia europea en la región adquiere mayor importancia, puesto que el autoritarismo de Xi y sus actuaciones en Tíbet, Xinjiang, o el centro de China no son plato de buen gusto para los países europeos[75].

En último lugar, cabe recordar que hay algunas voces que hablan de un decaimiento o debilitamiento de la globalización[76], en especial tras la epidemia del coronavirus[77], por lo cual reavivar los intercambios multilaterales mediante la acción conjunta se convierte en un reto y en una oportunidad para ambos países. De hecho, se cree que a corto plazo las tendencias proteccionistas, al menos en el ámbito de la relación sino-india van a continuar, a pesar de la intensa cooperación económica[78].

Conclusión

El panorama geopolítico del Indo-Pacifico es cuanto menos complejo. El expansionismo chino choca con los intereses de la otra gran potencia regional, India, que si bien evita enfrentarse a Pekín ve con malos ojos la actuación de su vecino. En una apuesta por el multilateralismo, y con la mirada puesta en sus aguas regionales, amenazadas por el Dilema de Malaca, la India parece cooperar con Estados Unidos, pero aferrándose a los foros y grupos regionales para dejar clara su postura, mientras parece abrir la puerta a los países europeos, cuyo interés en la región va en aumento, a pesar del reciente tratado comercial firmado con China.

Por otro lado, también Estados Unidos se ve amenazado por el expansionismo chino y ve acercarse el momento del sorpasso económico de su rival, que la crisis del coronavirus pude haber adelantado incluso a 2028. En aras de evitar tal situación, la Administración Biden apuesta por el multilateralismo a nivel regional y ahonda en su relación con India, más allá de lo militar. Desde Washington parece haberse entendido que la hegemonía estadounidense en el Indo-Pacífico dista de ser real, al menos a medio plazo, por lo que solo cabe una actitud cooperativa e integradora. Por otro lado, en medio de este supuesto repliegue de la globalización, vemos cómo Washington junto con la India, y seguramente a medio plazo con Europa, hacen defensa de los valores occidentales que rigen en la esfera internacional, esto es, defensa de los derechos humanos, del estado de derecho y del valor de la democracia.

Estamos ante dos factores. Por un lado, India no quiere ver cómo se impone un orden de ningún tipo, ni americano ni chino, de ahí sus reticencias a enfrentarse directamente contra Pekín y su preferencia a expandir el QUAD. Por otro lado, Estados Unidos parece percibir encontrarse en un momento delicado, puesto que su competición con China va más allá de la mera sustitución de una potencia por otra. Washington no deja de ser una potencia tradicional que, para su presencia en el Indo-Pacífico, se ha servido sobre todo de poder militar, mientras que China ha basado la extensión de su influencia en el establecimiento de fuertes relaciones comerciales que van más allá de la lógica beligerante de la Guerra Fría. De ahí que Estados Unidos intente formar un frente con India y sus aliados europeos, que además vaya más allá de la cooperación militar.

 

REFERENCIAS 

[1] El QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), es un grupo de diálogo formado por los Estados Unidos, India, Japón y Australia. Sus miembros comparten una visión común sobre la seguridad de la región Indo-Pacífico contraria a la de China; abogan por el multilateralismo y la libertad de navegación en la región.

[2] BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement). Tratado firmado por la India y Estados Unidos en octubre de 2019 para mejorar la seguridad en la región del Indo-Pacífico. Su objetivo es el intercambio de sistemas de seguimiento, localización e inteligencia.

[3]Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, "Trilateral Perspective". Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkers.http://www.chinawatch.cn/a/202102/05/WS60349146a310acc46eb43e2d.html, (accedido el 5 de febrero de 2021),

[4] Tanvi Madan,”India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating and Rebalancing Ties,” en Tanvi Madan, “India And The Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”,. German Marshal Found of the United Stateshttps://www.gmfus.org/blog/2021/02/11/india-and-biden-administration-consolidating-and-rebalancing-ties, (accedido el 11 de febrero de 2021).

[5]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, "Agenda 2021: A Blueprint For U.S.-Europe-India Cooperation”, US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security. GMF India Trilateral Forum. Pag:1. https://www.gmfus.org/blog/2021/02/16/us-india-cooperation-indo-pacific-security , (accedido el 16 de febrero de 2021).

[6] “’QUAD’ Leaders Pledge New Cooperation on China, COVID-19, Climate”. Aljazeera.com. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/12/quad-leaders-pledge-new-cooperation-on-china-covid-19-climate (accedido en marzo 2021)

[7] Mereyem Hafidi, "Biden Renueva La Alianza De ‘QUAD’ A Pesar De Las Presiones De Pekín". Atalayarhttps://atalayar.com/content/biden-renueva-la-alianza-de-%E2%80%98QUAD%E2%80%99-pesar-de-las-presiones-de-pek%C3%ADn. (accedido en febrero de 2021)

[8] “`Grandstanding`: US, China trade rebukes in testy talks". Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/19/us-china-top-diplomats-trade-rebukes-in-testy-first-talks (accedido, marzo 2021)

[9] Joseph R. Biden, “Why America Must Lead Again”. Foreign Affairshttps://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-america-must-lead-again (accedido febrero, 2021).

[10] Maria Siow. "India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind". South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3126091/india-receives-us-defence-secretary-lloyd-austin-china-its-mind. (accedido, 19 de marzo de 2021)

[11] Seeram Chaulia, “France and sailing toward the ‘QUAD-plus’”. The New Indian Expresshttps://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2021/apr/06/france-and-sailing-toward-the-QUAD-plus-2286408.html  (accedido, 4 de abril, 2021)

[12] Juan Luis López Aranguren. “Indo-Pacífico: El nuevo orden sin China en el centro”. El Indo-Pacífico como nuevo eje geopolítico mundial. Global Affairs Journal. Pág.:2. https://www.unav.edu/web/global-affairs/detalle/-/blogs/indo-pacifico-el-nuevo-orden-sin-china-en-el-centro?_33_redirect=%2Fen%2Fweb%2Fglobal-affairs%2Fpublicaciones%2Finformes. (accedido, Abril 2021).

[13] Biden, "Remarks By President Biden On America's Place In The World | The White House"..

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/02/04/remarks-by-president-biden-on-americas-place-in-the-world/

[14] Íbid.

[15] Derek Grossman, "Biden's China Reset Is Already On The Ropes". Nikkei Asiahttps://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Biden-s-China-reset-is-already-on-the-ropes. (accedido, 14 de marzo de 2021)

[16] Ramón Barba Castro, “Nuevas tensiones en Asia Pacífico en un escenario de cambio electoral”. Global Affairs and Strategic Studieshttps://www.unav.edu/web/global-affairs/detalle/-/blogs/nuevas-tensiones-en-asia-pacifico-en-un-escenario-de-cambio-electoral-en-eeuu. (accedido, abril 2021)

[17] Sankaran Kalyanaraman, "Changing Pattern Of The China-India-US Triangle”. Manohar Parrikar Institute For Defence Studies And Analyseshttps://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/changing-pattern-china-india-us-triangle-skalyanaram (accedido, marzo 2021)

[18] Pang Zhongying, "Indo-Pacific Era Needs US-China Cooperation, Not Great Power Conflict". South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3125926/indo-pacific-needs-us-china-cooperation-not-conflict-QUAD (accedido el 19 de marzo de 2021)

[19] Sankaran Kalayanamaran, “Changing Pattern of the China-India-US Triangle”.

[20] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[21] Joseph R. Biden, “Remarks By President Biden On America’s Place In The World

[22]Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[23] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[24]Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”.

[25] CEBR (Centre for Economics and Business Research), es una entidad dedicada al análisis y predicción económica de empresas y organizaciones. Enlace: https://cebr.com/about-cebr/ . Esta entidad elabora cada año un informe titulado World Economic League Table¸ en el que se analiza el posicionamiento en que tendrá cada país del Globo en lo relativo al estado de su economía. La última edición (World Economic League Table 2021), fue publicada el 26 de diciembre de 2020, este presenta una predicción del estado de la economía mundial en 2035, para así saber quienes serán las principales potencias económicas mundiales. (CEBR, “World Economic League Table 2021”. Centre for Economics and Business Research (12th edition), https://cebr.com/reports/world-economic-league-table-2021/ (accedido marzo 2021).

[26] Íbid., 231.

[27] Íbid., 71.

[28] Vijay Gokhale, “China Doesn’t Want a New World Order. It Wants This One”. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/china-america-united-nations.html. (accedido en abril de 2021)

[29] Mereyem Hafidi, “Biden renueva la Alianza de `QUAD` a pesar de las presiones de Pekín.

[30] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[31] Íbid.

[32] Wang Huiyao, “More cooperation, less competition”. Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkershttp://www.chinawatch.cn/a/202102/05/WS6034913ba310acc46eb43e28.html. (accedido, marzo 2021).

[33] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[34]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 5.

[35] Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, “Trilateral Perspective”.

[36] Ibid.

[37]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 5.

[38] Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”

[39] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/democracy-and-the-us-india-relationship/ . (accedido, marzo 2021)

[40] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[41] Bilal Kuchay, “India, US sign key military deal, symbolizing closer ties”. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2/india-us-military-deal. (accedido, marzo 2021)

[42] Wang Huiyao, “More cooperation, less competition”

[43] Alex Lo, “India-the democratic economic giant that disappoints”. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3126342/india-democratic-economic-giant-disappoints. (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

[44] Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”. South China Morning Posthttps://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3125344/QUAD-summit-us-india-australia-and-japan-counter-chinas. (accedido, 13 de marzo de 2021)

[45]Mereyem Hafidi, “Biden renueva la Alianza de `QUAD` a pesar de las presiones de Pekín.

[46] Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”.

[47] Aljazeera, “’QUAD’ leaders pledge new cooperation on China, COVID-19, climate”.

[48]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 2.

[49]Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”.

[50] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[51] “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”. Hindustan Timeshttps://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/us-defense-secretary-lloyd-austin-says-us-considers-india-to-be-a-great-partner-101616317189411.html. (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

[52] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[53] El término PASSEX es una abreviatura propia de la jerga militar inglesa, viene de Passing Exercise. Este, consiste en aprovechar  que una unidad de marines pasa por una zona determinada para ahondar en la cooperación militar del ejército de esa zona por la que se está pasando. Como ejemplo encontramos la noticia citada en el presente artículo: “India, US begin two-day naval exercise in eastern Indian Ocean región”. The Economic Timeshttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-us-begin-two-day-naval-exercise-in-eastern-indian-ocean-region/articleshow/81735782.cms (accedido, 28 de marzo de 2021)

[54] Annath Krishnan, Dinakar Peri, Kallol Bhattacherjee; India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue: U.S. to support India’s defence of territory. The Hinduhttps://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-us-22-dialogue-rajnath-singh-raises-chinas-action-in-ladakh/article32955117.ece. (consultado, marzo 2021)

[55] Maria Siow, “India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind”.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”

[58] Hindustan Times, “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”.

[59] “Committed to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.The Economic Timeshttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/committed-to-achieving-goal-of-500-bn-in-bilateral-trade-with-us-ambassador-sandhu/articleshow/80878316.cms. (accedido, marzo 2021).

[60] Joe C. Mathew, “India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages”. Business Todayhttps://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/india-us-mini-trade-deal-low-duty-on-medical-devices-pact-in-final-stages/story/413669.html. (Accedido, marzo de 2021)

[61] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[62] Joe C. Mathew, “India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages”.

[63] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[64] Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page 2.

[65] “Hindustan Times “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”.

[66]  Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Tanvi Madan, “India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating and Rebalancing Ties”.

[69] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

[70] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”.

[71] Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, “US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security”. Page3.

[72] IBIDEM pag.3

[73] IBIDEM. Pag. 6

[74] IBIDEM. Pag. 7

[75] Seeram Chaulia, “France and sailing toward the ‘QUAD-plus’”. The New Indian Express

[76] Elisabeth Mearns, Gary Parkinson; “With a pandemic, populism and protectionism, have we passed peak globalization?”. China Global Television Network. https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-05-28/With-a-pandemic-populism-and-protectionism-has-globalization-peaked--QOQMPg3ABO/index.html. (accedido, abril 2021).

[77] Abraham Newman, Henry Farrel; “The New Age of Protectionism”. Foreign Affairshttps://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/europe/2021-04-05/new-age-protectionism. (accedido el 5 de abril de 2021)

[78] Economic Times, “Commited to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.

Categorías Global Affairs: Asia Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Ensayos

[Mondher Sfar, In search of the original Koran: the true history of the revealed text (New York: Prometheus Books, 2008) 152pp]

 

REVIEW /  Marina G. Reina

 

Not much has been done regarding research about the authenticity of the Quranic text. This is something that Mondher Sfar has in mind throughout the book, that makes use of the scriptural techniques of the Koran, the scarce research material available, and the Islamic tradition, to redraw the erased story of the transmission of the holy book of Muslims. The same tradition that imposes “a representation of the revelation and of its textual product-which (…) is totally alien to the spirit and to the content of the Quranic text.”

The work is a sequencing of questions that arise from the gaps that the Islamic tradition leaves regarding the earliest testimony about the Koran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad. The result is an imprecise or inconclusive answer because it is almost impossible to trace the line back to the very early centuries of the existence of Islam, and due to an “insurmountable barrier” that “has been established against any historical and relativized perception of the Koran (…) to consecrate definitively the new orthodox ideology as the only possible and true one.” 

As mentioned, Sfar’s main sources are those found in the tradition, by which we mean the records from notorious personalities in the early years of the religion. Their sayings prove “the existence in Muhammad’s time of two states of the revealed text: a first state and a reworked state that have been modified and corrected.” This fact “imperils the validity and identity of Revelation, even if its divine authenticity remains unquestioned.”

The synthesis that the author makes on the “kinds of division” (or alterations of the Revelation), reducing them to three from certain ayas in the Koran, is also of notorious interest. In short, these are “that of the modification of the text; that of satanic revelations; and finally, that of the ambiguous nature of the portion of the Revelation.” The first one exemplifies how the writing of the Revelation was changed along time; the second is grounded on a direct reference to this phenomenon in the Koran, when it says that “Satan threw some [false revelations] into his (Muhammad’s) recitation” (22:52), something that, by the way, is also mentioned in the Bible in Ezekiel 13:3, 6.

Another key point in the book is that of the components of the Koran (the surahs and the ayas) being either invented or disorganized later in time. The manuscripts of the “revealed text” vary in style and form, and the order of the verses was not definitively fixed until the Umayyad era. It is remarkable how something as basic as the titles of the surahs “does not figure in the first known Koranic manuscript”, nor was it reported by contemporaries to the Prophet to be ever mentioned by him. The same mystery arises upon the letters that can be read above at the beginning of the preambles in the surahs. According to the Tradition, they are part of the Revelation, whilst the author argues that they are linked to “the process of the formation of surahs”, as a way of numeration or as signatures from the scribes. As already mentioned, it is believed that the Koran version that we know today was made in two phases; in the second phase or correction phase surahs would have been added or divided. The writer remarks how a few surahs lack the common preambles and these characteristic letters, which leads to think that these elements were added in the proofreading part of the manuscript, so these organizational signals were omitted.

It may seem that at some points the author makes too many turns on the same topic (in fact, he even raises questions that remain unresolved throughout the book). Nonetheless, it is difficult to question those issues that have been downplayed from the Tradition and that, certainly, are weighty considerations that provide a completely different vision of what is known as the "spirit of the law.” This is precisely what he refers to by repeatedly naming the figure of the scribes of the Prophet, that “shaped” the divine word, “and it is this operation that later generations have tried to erase, in order to give a simplified and more-reassuring image of the Quranic message, that of a text composed by God in person,” instead of being “the product of a historical elaboration.”

What the author makes clear throughout the book is that the most significant and, therefore, most suspicious alterations of the Koran are those introduced by the first caliphs. Especially during the times of the third caliph, Uthman, the Koran was put on the agenda again, after years of being limited to a set of “sheets” that were not consulted. Uthman made copies of a certain “compilation” and “ordered the destruction of all the other existing copies.” Indeed, there is evidence of the existence of “other private collections” that belonged to dignitaries around the Prophet, of whose existence, Sfar notes that “around the fourth century of the Hijra, no trace was left.”

The author shows that the current conception of the Koran is rather simplistic and based on “several dogmas about, and mythical reconstructions of, the history.” Such is the case with the “myth of the literal ‘authenticity’,” which comes more “from apologetics than from the realm of historical truth.” This is tricky, especially when considering that the Koran is the result of a process of wahy (inspiration), not of a literal transcription, setting the differentiation between the Kitab (“the heavenly tablet”) and the Koran (“a liturgical lesson or a recitation”). Moreover, Sfar addresses the canonization of the Koran, which was made by Uthman, and which was criticized at its time for reducing the “several revelations without links between them, and that they were not designed to make up a book” into a single composition. This illustrates that “the principal star that dominated the period of prophetic revelation was to prove that the prophetic mission claimed by Muhammad was indeed authentic, and not to prove the literal authenticity of the divine message,” what is what the current Muslim schools of taught are inclined to support.

In general, although the main argument of the author suggests that the “Vulgate” version of the Koran might not be the original one, his other arguments lead the reader to deduce that this first manuscript does not vary a lot from the one we know today. Although it might seem so at first glance, the book is not a critique to the historicity of Islam or to the veracity of the Koran itself. It rather refers to the conservation and transmission thereof, which is one of the major claims in the Koran; of it being an honorable recitation in a well-guarded book (56:77-78). Perhaps, for those unfamiliar with the Muslim religion, this may seem insignificant. However, it is indeed a game-changer for the whole grounding of the faith. Muslims, the author says, remain ignorant of a lot of aspects of their religion because they do not go beyond the limits set by the scholars and religious authorities. It is the prevention from understanding the history that prevents from “better understanding the Koran” and, thus, the religion.

Categorías Global Affairs: Oriente Medio Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Reseñas de libros

A brief outline of the European defense system, integrated into the European External Action Service and its importance to the Union

The European Union will launch the Conference on the Future of Europe on May 9th, marking the beginning of the event that will feature debates between institutions, politicians and civil society on several topics that concern the community, including security and defense. It is clear that the majority of the European Union favors a common defense effort, and the Union has taken steps to ensure a solid structure to lay the framework for a possible integration of forces. Following the efforts to unify foreign policy objectives, a unified defense is the next logical step for European integration.

Course for the Somali National Armed Forces, led by a Spanish Colonel with instructors from Italy, Sweden, Finland and Spain [EUTM-Somalia]

ARTICLE /  José Antonio Latorre      

According to the last standard Eurobarometer, around 77% of Europeans support a common defense and security policy among European Union member states. The support for this cause is irregular, with the backing spanning from 58% (Sweden) to 93% (Luxembourg). Therefore, it is expected that security and defense will definitely take a prominent role in the future of the Union.

In 2017, the European Commission launched the “White Paper on the Future of Europe,” a document that outlines the challenges and consequently the possible scenarios on how the Union could evolve by 2025. In the field of security, the document considers three different scenarios: Security and Defense Cooperation, Shared Security and Defense, and Common Defense and Security. In the first scenario, the member states would cooperate on a voluntary basis, similarly to an ad-hoc system. The second scenario details one where the tendency would be to project a stronger security, sharing military and economic capabilities to enhance efficiency. The final scenario would be one where members expand mutual assistance and take part in the integration of defense forces; this includes a united defense spending and distribution of military assets to reduce costs and boost capabilities.

Although these are three different predictions, what is clear is that the enhancement of European security is of greatest importance. As former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in the 2016 State of the Union address: “Europe can no longer afford to piggyback on the military might of others. We have to take responsibility for protecting our interests and the European way of life. It is only by working together that Europe will be able to defend itself at home and abroad.” He was referring to the paramountcy of a strategic autonomy that will permit the union to become stronger and have more weight in international relations, while depending less on the United States.

The existing framework on security

The European Union does not have to start from scratch to achieve these goals, since it currently has a Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) branch. The bureau is situated within the EU Military Staff, part of the European External Action Service in Brussels. This operational headquarters was established on June 8th, 2017, with the aim of boosting defense capabilities for the European Union outside its borders. It was created in order to strengthen civil/military cooperation through the Joint Support Coordination Cell and the Civil Planning and Conduct Capability, avoiding unnecessary overlap with NATO. Its main responsibilities include operational planning and conduct of the current non-executive missions; namely the European Union Training Missions (EUTM) in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.

A non-executive mission is an operation conducted to support a host nation with an advisory role only. For example, EUTM Somalia was established in 2010 to strengthen the Somali federal defense institutions through its three-pillar approach: training, mentoring and advising. The mission is supporting the development of the Somali Army General Staff and the Ministry of Defense through advice and tactical training. The mission has no combat mandate, but it works closely with the EU Naval Force – Operation ATALANTA (prevention and deterrence of privacy and protection of shipping), EUCAP Somalia (regional civilian mission), and AMISOM (African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia), in close cooperation with the European Union. The mission, which is located in Mogadishu, has a strength of over 200 personnel, with seven troop contributing states, primarily from Italy and Spain. Non-executive missions have a clear mandate of advising, but they can be considered as a prototype of European defense cooperation for the future.

The Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) is the framework for cooperation between EU member states in order to conduct missions to maintain security and establish ties with third countries through the use of military and civilian assets. It was launched in 1999 and it has become a bedrock for EU foreign policy. It gives the Union the possibility to intervene outside its borders and cooperate with other organizations, such as NATO and the African Union, in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. The CSDP is the umbrella for many branches that are involved with security and defense, but there is still a need for an enhancement and concentration of forces that will expand its potential.

Steppingstones for a larger, unified project

Like all the European Union, the CSDP is still a project that needs construction, and a European Union military should be a priority. In recent years, there have been efforts to implement measures to advance towards this goal. Firstly, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was launched in 2017 to reinforce defense capabilities and increase military coordination at an interoperable level. Participation is voluntary, but once decided, the country must abide by legally binding commitments. So far, 25 member states have joined the integrated structure, which depends on the European External Action Service, EU Military Staff and the European Defense Agency. Presently, there are 46 projects being developed, including a Joint EU Intelligence School, the upgrade of Maritime Surveillance, a European Medical Command and a Cyber and Information Domain Coordination Center, among the many others. Although critics have suggested that the structure will overlap with NATO competences, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he believed “that PESCO can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO.” It is important to add that its alliance with NATO was strengthened through common participation in the cybersecurity sector, joint exercises, and counterterrorism. Secondly, the launch of the European Defense Fund in 2017 permits co-funded defense cooperation, and it will be part of the 2021-2027 long-term EU budget. Finally, the mentioned Military Planning and Conduct Capability branch was established in 2017 to improve crisis management and operational surveillance.

Therefore, it is a clear intention of the majority of the European Union to increase capabilities and unify efforts to have a common defense. Another aspect is that a common military will make spending more efficient, which will permit the Union to compete against powers like China or the United States. Again, the United States is mentioned because although it is an essential ally, Europeans cannot continue to depend on their transatlantic partner for security and defense.

A European Union military?

With a common army, the European Union will be a significant player in the international field. The integration of forces, technology and equipment reduces spending and boosts efficiency, which would be a historical achievement for the Union. European integration is a project based on peace, democracy, human dignity, equality, freedom and the protection and promotion of human rights. If the Union wants to continue to be the bearer of these values and protect those that are most vulnerable against the injustices of this century, then efforts must be concentrated to reach this objective.

The Union is facing tough challenges, from nationalisms and internal divides to economic and sanitary obstacles. However, it is not the first time that unity has been put at risk. Brexit has shown that the European project is not invulnerable, that it is still not fully constructed. The European way of life is a model for freedom and security, but this must be fought for and protected; it can never be taken for granted.

Europe has lived an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity due to past endeavors at its foundation. It is evident that there will always be challenges and critics, but the only way to continue to be a leader is through unification; and it starts with a European Army. There are already mechanisms in place to ensure cooperation, such as those explored with non-executive missions. These are the stepping-stones for defense coordination and partnerships in the future. Although it is a complex task, it seems more necessary than ever before. For the protection of Western values and culture, for the promotion of human rights and dignity, and for the defense of freedom and democracy, European integration at the defense level is the next step in the future of the European Union.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Seguridad y defensa Artículos

Javier Blas & Jack Farchy, The World For Sale. Money, Power and the Traders. Who Barter the Earth's Resources (London: Random House Business, 2021) 410 pp.

 

RESEÑA  Ignacio Urbasos

En el que probablemente sea el primer libro dedicado exclusivamente al mundo del trading de materias primas, Javier Blas y Jack Farchy tratan de adentrarse en una industria tremendamente compleja y caracterizada por el secretismo y opacidad de sus operaciones. Con más de dos décadas de experiencia periodística cubriendo el mundo de los recursos naturales, primero para el Financial Times y más tarde para Bloomberg, los autores parten de valiosos testimonios de profesionales del sector para construir un relato honesto. 

El libro cubre la historia del mundo del comercio de las materias primas, comenzando con la aparición de pequeños intermediarios que respondían a la necesidad creciente tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial de abastecer de materias primas a las economías occidentales en sus procesos de reconstrucción. La nacionalización petrolera de los años sesenta ofreció una oportunidad sin precedentes para estos intermediarios de entrar a un sector que, hasta la fecha, había quedado restringido a las grandes petroleras tradicionales. Los nuevos petro-estados, ahora con el control de su propia producción de crudo, necesitaban que alguien comprara, almacenara, transportara y finalmente vendiese su petróleo en el extranjero. Esta oportunidad, unida a las crisis del petróleo de 1973 y 1978, permitió a estos intermediarios obtener un botín inédito: un sector en auge y con una enorme volatilidad en sus precios, lo que permitía obtener millonarios beneficios. Con la caída de la Unión Soviética y el colapso socioeconómico de buena parte del mundo socialista, las empresas dedicadas a la compraventa de materias primas encontraron un nuevo mercado, con ingentes recursos naturales y sin ningún tipo de experiencia en la economía de mercado capitalista. Con la entrada del siglo XXI y el denominado “Superciclo de las Commodities”, las empresas de trading gozaron de un periodo de ganancias desorbitadas en un contexto de rápido crecimiento global liderado por China. Es en estas dos últimas décadas cuando Vitol, Trafigura, Glencore o Cargill incrementaron exponencialmente sus ingresos, con presencia global y gestionando todo tipo de materias primas, tanto de forma física como financiera.

A lo largo de los diferentes capítulos, los autores abordan sin complejos los claroscuros del mundo del trading. En muchas ocasiones, estas compañías han permitido a países en crisis evitar el colapso económico ofreciendo financiación y la posibilidad de encontrar un mercado para sus recursos, como en el paradójico caso de Cuba, que se echó en brazos de Vitol para abastecerse de petróleo a cambio de azúcar durante el “Periodo Especial”. Sin embargo, la posición dominante de estas compañías frente a estados en una situación de enorme vulnerabilidad ha terminado por generar relaciones en la que los beneficios se reparten de forma desigual. Un caso paradigmático y que se cubre en el libro de forma exhaustiva es el de Jamaica en los años setenta, enormemente endeudada y empobrecida, Marc Rich and Company se convirtió en uno de los principales acreedores del país, a cambio de hacerse con el control de facto de la producción minera de bauxita y aluminio del país. Estas situaciones continúan en la actualidad, con Glencore como el principal acreedor del Chad y un actor fundamental en las políticas fiscales de austeridad del país africano.

Los autores tampoco esconden la falta de escrúpulos de estas compañías para maximizar sus beneficios. De esta forma, abastecieron a la Sudáfrica del apartheid de petróleo o vendieron de forma clandestina el crudo iraní en plena Crisis de los Rehenes. Igualmente, estas grandes empresas nunca tuvieron problemas para lidiar con autócratas o ser parte activa de grandes tramas de corrupción. Los escándalos medioambientales tampoco han sido una rareza para estas compañías, que se han visto obligadas a pagar indemnizaciones millonarias por gestiones negligentes de productos tóxicos, como en el caso de Glencore y el vertido de azufre en Akouedo, que se saldó con 95.000 víctimas y el pago de 180 millones al gobierno de Costa de Marfil. No es de extrañar que muchos de los directivos de estas compañías hayan terminado en prisión o perseguidos por la ley, como en el caso de Mark Rich, fundador de Glencore, que tuvo que vivir en España hasta obtener un polémico indulto de Bill Clinton el último día de su presidencia.

Sin duda alguna The World For Sale de Javier Blas y Jack Farchy permiten comprender mejor un sector tan opaco como el del comercio de materias primas. Una industria dominada por empresas con complejas estructuras fiscales de presencia transnacional y cuyas actividades muchas veces quedan fuera del escrutinio público. Siendo una industria con una importancia económica y política creciente, es fundamental leer este libro para obtener una perspectiva crítica y realista de una parte esencial de nuestra economía globalizada.

Categorías Global Affairs: Economía, Comercio y Tecnología Reseñas de libros Global

El expresidente del BCE se pone al frente de Italia con una agenda de reformas y una vuelta al atlantismo

Después de unos años de inestabilidad política, Italia estrenó a mediados de febrero un Gobierno en principio más fuerte, presidido por Mario Draghi, expresidente del Banco Central Europeo. Su perfil técnico, su prestigio tras ocho años en la gobernanza europea y la conformación de un Gobierno de cierto carácter de unidad nacional constituyen una oportunidad para que Italia supere la actual crisis sanitaria y económica y emprenda las reformas que el país necesita.

Mario Draghi, al aceptar el encargo de formar Gobierno, en febrero de 2021 [Presidencia de la República]

ARTÍCULO /  Matilde Romito, Jokin de Carlos Sola

Desde hacía más de un año el Gobierno del primer ministro italiano Giuseppe Conte estaba siendo fuertemente contestado desde dentro, especialmente por las discrepancias de Italia Viva, el partido liderado por Matteo Renzi, en materia económica. La gota que colmó el vaso fue la oposición de Renzi al plan propuesto por Conte para el uso de las ayudas provenientes del Fondo de Recuperación puesto en marcha por la Unión Europea para hacer frente a la crisis causada por la pandemia de Covid-19. Conte perdió la mayoría el 13 de enero a raíz de la dimisión de tres ministros pertenecientes a Italia Viva y el 26 de enero presentó su renuncia. El 3 de febrero el presidente de la República, Sergio Mattarella, encargó la formación del nuevo Gobierno a Mario Draghi, expresidente del Banco Central Europeo (BCE).

En el arranque de su mandato, Mario Draghi estableció sus objetivos. Destacó la importancia de que el país mantenga cierta unidad en un momento histórico tan difícil e indicó que su prioridad será ofrecer más oportunidades y luchar contra el statu quo que impide la aplicación de reformas.

El 17 de febrero, Mario Draghi obtuvo la confianza del Parlamento, registrando una de las mayorías más amplias desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Draghi formó entonces un Gobierno integrado por diferentes fuerzas políticas, con el propósito de afrontar en un marco de unidad nacional la gestión de las consecuencias de la pandemia: además de diversos ministros técnicos (8) en el Gabinete están representados el Movimiento 5 Estrellas (4), el Partido Democrático (3), la Lega (3), Forza Italia (3), Liberi e Uguali (1) e Italia Viva (1). Esa diversidad interna, que en algunos temas se manifiesta en posiciones opuestas, podría acarrear cierta inestabilidad gubernamental.

Política nacional: recuperación y reformas

El Gobierno Draghi se ha propuesto como prioridad la campaña de vacunación y la reactivación económica, así como reformas en el sistema fiscal y en la administración pública y de la Justicia. El expresidente del BCE ha mostrado cierta capacidad tanto de innovación en las estructuras organizativas como de delegación de tareas, todo ello afrontado con celeridad, según su máxima de que “lo haremos pronto, lo haremos prontísimo”.

Acelerar la vacunación

En cuanto a la campaña de vacunación, Draghi está aplicando maximización y firmeza. En primer lugar, reformó las cumbres administrativas encargadas del plan de vacunación y designó nuevo comisario extraordinario para la emergencia Covid-19 al general Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, un militar experto en logística. Para entonces la dosis suministradas diariamente llegaban 170.000, pero Figliuolo, junto con el director de la Protección Civil, Fabrizio Curcio, y el ministro de Salud, Roberto Speranza, han puesto como objetivo triplicar ese número. Para ello se han establecido nuevos lugares de vacunación, como empresas, gimnasios o aparcamientos vacíos, y se ha promovido una movilización de personal sanitario en labores de vacunación.

También el Gobierno Draghi ha adoptado mayor firmeza a nivel internacional, como fue la decisión de bloquear la exportación a Australia de 250.000 dosis de la vacuna AstraZeneca. Aunque apoyada por la UE, la medida cogió por sorpresa a muchos países y convirtió a Italia en el primer miembro de la UE en aplicar dicho mecanismo legal. El 12 de marzo el Gobierno anunció la posibilidad de la futura producción en Italia de alguna de las vacunas ya aprobadas internacionalmente.

Economía: reformas estructurales

La agenda económica del nuevo Gobierno será caracterizada por reformas estructurales para promover la productividad, así como por la aplicación de ayudas económicas dirigidas a los más afectados por la crisis, con el objetivo de relanzar el país y luchar contra las nuevas desigualdades sociales. El Gobierno está ultimando el Plan de Recuperación que debe presentar a Bruselas para la obtención de los fondos previstos por la UE.

Durante su mandato como presidente del BCE Draghi promovió reformas estructurales en varios países europeos; por consiguiente, su liderazgo será clave para la promoción de reformas que miren al aumento de la productividad, la reducción de la burocracia y la mejora de la calidad de la educación. El Gobierno promete mayor gasto en la educación y la promoción de una economía más sostenible y digitalizada, como reclama el Green Deal de la UE.

A través del decreto legislativo “Sostegni”, el Gobierno está poniendo en marcha un plan de ayudas. Algunas de ellas van dirigidas a sufragar la modificación del marco de despidos implementado por Conte, pero ello requiere una negociación de mayor consenso.

Agilización de la Administración Pública y la Justicia

La reforma de la administración pública ha sido confiada a Marco D’Alberti, abogado y profesor de Derecho Administrativo en La Sapienza de Roma. La reforma seguirá dos caminos: mayor conectividad y una puesta al día de las competencias de los funcionarios públicos.

En relación con la Justicia, el propósito es aplicar varias de las recomendaciones trasladadas por la UE en 2019 y 2020. Entre otras medidas, la UE pide una mayor eficiencia del sistema judicial civil italiano, mediante una mayor rapidez del trabajo de los tribunales, una mejor distribución de la carga de trabajo, la adopción de normas procedurales más simples y una activa represión de la corrupción.

Política Exterior: atlantismo y menor entusiasmo con China

Una de las primeras consecuencias de la elección de Draghi como primer ministro ha sido la nueva imagen de estabilidad y disposición a la cooperación que Italia ha pasado a proyectar no solo en Bruselas sino también en Washington, tanto desde el punto de vista político como económico. No obstante, muchos aspectos de la política exterior de Conte van a ser mantenidos, dada la continuidad de Luigi di Maio como ministro de Exteriores.

Más allá de Europa, las prioridades de Draghi van a ser principalmente dos: el nuevo acercamiento a Washington –en el marco de un convencido atlantismo, dentro del multilateralismo­– y el refuerzo de la política italiana en el Mediterráneo. La llegada de Draghi también tiene el potencial de romper con el acercamiento a China efectuado por Conte, como la inclusión de puertos italianos en la Nueva Ruta de la Seda. Si bien esto puede asegurar a Italia como un aliado principal estadounidense, cualquier decisión deberá tener en cuenta la inversión china que puede comprometerse.

Contribución a la gobernanza europea

Italia es la tercera economía de la UE y la octava del mundo, por lo que su desempeño económico tiene cierta repercusión internacional. Draghi ha asegurado su compromiso con la recuperación y sus contactos con las élites europeas pueden ayudar a rebajar la tensión en las discusiones con los demás miembros de la UE sobre el reparto de fondos, especialmente el llamado Next Generation EU. Durante la Crisis del Euro Draghi fue uno de los principales defensores de reformas estructurales y ahora estas vuelven a ser vitales para evitar un aumento del gasto que pueda hacer crecer demasiado la deuda o recortes de presupuesto que dañen el crecimiento.

Draghi ha declarado que “sin Italia no hay Europa, pero sin Europa hay menos Italia” y se propone hacer de Italia un sujeto más activo y comprometido en Europa, al tiempo que trata de equilibrar los intereses de Francia, Alemania y Países Bajos. La partida de Merkel a finales de 2021 abre la posibilidad de un vacío de poder en el Consejo Europeo; siendo Francia e Italia la segunda y tercera economía su colaboración podría aportar estabilidad y garantizar la persistencia del Fondo de Recuperación. Esto a su vez puede terminar ocasionando problemas de gobernanza con Alemania y Países Bajos en caso de que hubiera desacuerdos a la hora del uso de los fondos. No obstante, Draghi se ha mostrado reticente a las propuestas geopolíticas de Francia de establecer a Europa como un actor independiente de Estados Unidos. Esto puede terminar envenenando la potencial nueva relación especial entre Roma y Paris.

El anuncio de voluntad de diálogo y concordia tanto con Turquía como Rusia puede acabar provocando problemas en Bruselas con otros países. En el caso turco puede comprometer las relaciones con Grecia en el Mediterráneo. Sin embargo, la fuerte crítica a Erdogan, al que llamó dictador, por haber humillado diplomáticamente a Ursula von der Leyen en su visita a AnKara, parece descartar aproximaciones contraproducentes. Por otra parte, su deseo de diálogo también con Moscú puede acabar sentado mal en las capitales bálticas, así como en Washington. 

El Mediterráneo: inmigración, Libia y Turquía

Draghi también se ha referido a zonas estratégicas fuera de la UE cercanas a Italia: el Magreb, Oriente Medio y el Mediterráneo. Respecto a este último las prioridades italianas no parece que vayan a cambiar: el objetivo es controlar la inmigración. Para ello Draghi espera establecer cooperación con España, Grecia y Chipre.

En esta área la estabilidad de Libia es importante, y seguirá el apoyo italiano al Gobierno de Acuerdo Nacional (GNA) establecido en Trípoli, uno de cuyos principales defensores en la UE ha sido Luigi Di Maio, que continúa al frente de Exteriores. El primer ministro libio Abdul Hamid Dbeibah ha declarado estar preparado para colaborar en temas de Inmigración con Draghi, pero este parece ser escéptico hacia los tratos bilaterales y preferirá que se realice en un marco europeo.

Esto va en contra de la política de Grecia y Francia, quienes apoyan al Ejército Nacional Libio, establecido en Tubruk, debido a las conexiones islamistas del GNA y el apoyo de Turquía a estos. Estas diferencias en relación con Libia ya han causado problemas y han dificultado la posibilidad de establecer sanciones contra Ankara.

Aprovechar la oportunidad

El nuevo Gobierno Draghi supone la oportunidad para Italia de poder alcanzar cierta estabilidad política después de unos años de vaivenes. La integración en el mismo Gobierno de personas de diferentes procedencias ideológicas puede contribuir a la unidad nacional que requiere la presente situación. La emergencia y excepcionalidad que supone la crisis de Covid-19 dan a Italia una oportunidad para aplicar no solo medidas contra la pandemia sino también cambios estructurales radicales que transformen la economía y la administración pública, algo que en otras circunstancias encontraría demasiadas trabas.

Por otra parte, aunque dentro de cierta continuidad, el Gobierno de Draghi supone un cambio en el tablero estratégico internacional, no solo para Bruselas, Berlín y París sino también para Washington y Pekín, dado que las tendencias más atlantistas lo alejarán tanto de Rusia como de China.

Los gobiernos italianos no son famosos por su duración y tampoco este ofrece garantías de permanencia, teniendo en cuenta además que el esfuerzo de unidad realizado obedece a la temporalidad de la crisis. No obstante, el perfil del propio Draghi proyecta una imagen de seriedad y responsabilidad.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Artículos

Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans and pending TPS termination for Central Americans amid a migration surge at the US-Mexico border

The Venezuelan flag near the US Capitol [Rep. Darren Soto]

ANALYSIS Alexandria Angela Casarano

On March 8, the Biden administration approved Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the cohort of 94,000 to 300,000+ Venezuelans already residing in the United States. Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti await the completion of litigation against the TPS terminations of the Trump administration. Meanwhile, the US-Mexico border faces surges in migration and detention facilities for unaccompanied minors battle overcrowding.

TPS and DED. The case of El Salvador

TPS was established by the Immigration Act of 1990 and was first granted to El Salvador that same year due to a then-ongoing civil war. TPS is a temporary immigration benefit that allows migrants to access education and obtain work authorization (EADs). TPS is granted to specific countries in response to humanitarian, environmental, or other crises for 6, 12, or 18-month periods—with the possibility of repeated extension—at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, taking into account the recommendations of the State Department.

The TPS designation of 1990 for El Salvador expired on June 30,1992. However, following the designation of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to El Salvador on June 26, 1992 by George W. Bush, Salvadorans were allowed to remain in the US until December 31, 1994. DED differs from TPS in that it is designated by the US President without the obligation of consultation with the State Department. Additionally, DED is a temporary protection from deportation, not a temporary immigration benefit, which means it does not afford recipients a legal immigration status, although DED also allows for work authorization and access to education.

When DED expired for El Salvador on December 31, 1994, Salvadorans previously protected by the program were granted a 16-month grace period which allowed them to continue working and residing in the US while they applied for other forms of legal immigration status, such as asylum, if they had not already done so.

The federal court system became significantly involved in the status of Salvadoran immigrants in the US beginning in 1985 with the American Baptist Churches v. Thornburgh (ABC) case. The ABC class action lawsuit was filed against the US Government by more than 240,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and former Soviet Bloc countries, on the basis of alleged discriminatory treatment of their asylum claims. The ABC Settlement Agreement of January 31, 1991 created a 240,000-member immigrant group (ABC class members) with special legal status, including protection from deportation. Salvadorans protected under TPS and DED until December 31, 1994 were allowed to apply for ABC benefits up until February 16, 1996.

Venezuela and the 2020 Elections

The 1990’s Salvadoran immigration saga bears considerable resemblance to the current migratory tribulations of many Latin American immigrants residing in the US today, as the expiration of TPS for four Latin American countries in 2019 and 2020 has resulted in the filing of three major lawsuits currently working their way through the US federal court system.

Approximately 5 million Venezuelans have left their home country since 2015 following the consolidation of Nicolás Maduro, on economic grounds and in pursuit of political asylum. Heavy sanctions placed on Venezuela by the Trump administration have exacerbated—and continue to exacerbate, as the sanctions have to date been left in place by the Biden administration—the severe economic crisis in Venezuela.

An estimated 238,000 Venezuelans are currently residing in Florida, 67,000 of whom were naturalized US citizens and 55,000 of whom were eligible to vote as of 2018. 70% of Venezuelan voters in Florida chose Trump over Biden in the 2020 presidential elections, and in spite of the Democrats’ efforts (including the promise of TPS for Venezuelans) to regain the Latino vote of the crucial swing state, Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes in the 2020 elections. The weight of the Venezuelan vote in Florida has thus made the humanitarian importance of TPS for Venezuela a political issue as well. The defeat in Florida has probably made President Biden more cautious about relieving the pressure on Venezuela's and Cuba's regimes.

The Venezuelan TPS Act was originally proposed to the US Congress on January 15, 2019, but the act failed. However, just before leaving office, Trump personally granted DED to Venezuela on January 19, 2021. Now, with the TPS designation to Venezuela by the Biden administration on March 8, Venezuelans now enjoy a temporary legal immigration status.

The other TPS. Termination and ongoing litigation

Other Latin American countries have not fared so well. At the beginning of 2019, TPS was designated to a total of four Latin American countries: Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti. Nicaragua and Honduras were first designated TPS on January 5, 1999 in response to Hurricane Mitch. El Salvador was redesignated TPS on March 9, 2001 after two earthquakes hit the country. Haiti was first designated TPS on January 21, 2010 after the Haiti earthquake. Since these designations, TPS was continuously renewed for all four countries. However, under the Trump administration, TPS was allowed to expire without renewal for each country, beginning with Nicaragua on January 5, 2019. Haiti followed on July 22, 2019, then El Salvador on September 9, 2019, and lastly Honduras on January 4, 2020.

As of March 2021, Salvadorans account for the largest share of current TPS holders by far, at a total of 247,697, although the newly eligible Venezuelans could potentially overshadow even this high figure. Honduras and Haiti have 79,415 and 55,338 TPS holders respectively, and Nicaragua has much fewer with only 4,421.

The elimination of TPS for Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti would result in the deportation of many immigrants who for a significant continuous period of time have contributed to the workforce, formed families, and rebuilt their lives in the United States. Birthright citizenship further complicates this reality: an estimated 270,000 US citizen children live in a home with one or more parents with TPS, and the elimination of TPS for these parents could result in the separation of families. Additionally, the conditions of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti—in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes Matthew, Eta, and Iota), and other socioeconomic and political issues—remain far from ideal and certainly unstable.

Three major lawsuits were filed against the US Government in response to the TPS terminations of 2019 and 2020: Saget v. Trump (March 2018), Ramos v. Nielsen (March 2018), and Bhattarai et al. v. Nielsen (February 2019). Kirstjen Nielsen served as Secretary of Homeland Security for two years (2017 - 2019) under Trump. Saget v. Trump concerns Haitian TPS holders. Ramos v. Nielsen concerns 250,000 Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Haitain and Sudanese TPS holders, and has since been consolidated with Bhattarai et al. v. Nielsen which concerns Nepali and Honduran TPS holders.

All three (now two) lawsuits appeal the TPS eliminations for the countries involved on similar grounds, principally the racial animus (i.e. Trump’s statement: “[Haitians] all have AIDS”) and unlawful actions (i.e. violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)) of the Trump administration. For Saget v. Trump, the US District Court (E.D. New York) blocked the termination of TPS (affecting Haiti only) on April 11, 2019 through the issuing of preliminary injunctions. For Ramos v. Nielson (consolidated with Bhattarai et al. v. Nielson), the US Court of Appeals of the 9th Circuit has rejected these claims and ruled in favor of the termination of TPS (affecting El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, and Sudan) on September 14, 2020. This ruling has since been appealed and is currently awaiting revision.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have honored the orders of the US Courts not to terminate TPS until the litigation for these aforementioned cases is completed. The DHS issued a Federal Register Notice (FRN) on December 9, 2020 which extends TPS for holders from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti until October 14, 2021. The USCIS has similarly cooperated and has ordered that so long as the litigation remains effective, no one will lose TPS. The USCIS has also ordered that in case of TPS elimination once the litigation is completed, Nicaragua and Haiti will have 120 grace days to orderly transition out of TPS, Honduras will have 180, and El Salvador will have 365 (time frames which are proportional to the number of TPS holders from each country, though less so for Haiti).

The Biden Administration’s Migratory Policy

On the campaign trail, Biden repeatedly emphasized his intentions to reverse the controversial immigration policies of the Trump administration, promising immediate cessation of the construction of the border wall, immediate designation of TPS to Venezuela, and the immediate sending of a bill to create a “clear [legal] roadmap to citizenship” for 11 million+ individuals currently residing in the US without legal immigration status. Biden assumed office on January 20, 2021, and issued an executive order that same day to end the government funding for the construction of the border wall. On February 18, 2021, Biden introduced the US Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress to provide a legal path to citizenship for immigrants residing in the US illegally, and issued new executive guidelines to limit arrests and deportations by ICE strictly to non-citizen immigrants who have recently crossed the border illegally. Non-citizen immigrants already residing in the US for some time are now only to be arrested/deported by ICE if they pose a threat to public safety (defined by conviction of an aggravated felony (i.e. murder or rape) or of active criminal street gang participation).

Following the TPS designation to Venezuela on March 8, 2021, there has been additional talk of a TPS designation for Guatemala on the grounds of the recent hurricanes which have hit the country.

On March 18, 2021, the Dream and Promise Act passed in the House. With the new 2021 Democrat majority in the Senate, it seems likely that this legislation which has been in the making since 2001 will become a reality before the end of the year. The Dream and Promise Act will make permanent legal immigration status accessible (with certain requirements and restrictions) to individuals who arrived in the US before reaching the age of majority, which is expected to apply to millions of current holders of DACA and TPS.

If the US Citizenship Act of 2021 is passed by Congress as well, together these two acts would make the Biden administration’s lofty promises to create a path to citizenship for immigrants residing illegally in the US a reality. Since March 18, 2021, the National TPS Alliance has been hosting an ongoing hunger strike in Washington, DC in order to press for the speedy passage of the acts.

The current migratory surge at the US-Mexico border

While the long-term immigration forecast appears increasingly more positive as Biden’s presidency progresses, the immediate immigration situation at the US-Mexico border is quite dire. Between December 2020 and February 2021, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a 337% increase in the arrival of families, and an 89% increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors. CBP apprehensions of migrants crossing the border illegally in March 2021 have reached 171,00, which is the highest monthly total since 2006.

Currently, there are an estimated 4,000 unaccompanied minors in CBP custody, and an additional 15,000 unaccompanied minors in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The migratory CBP facility in Donna, TX designated specifically to unaccompanied minors has been filled at 440% to 900% of its COVID-19 capacity of just 500 minors since March 9, 2021. Intended to house children for no more than a 72-hour legal limit, due to the current overwhelmed system, some children have remained in the facility for more than weeks at a time before being transferred on to HHS.

In order to address the overcrowding, the Biden administration announced the opening of the Delphia Emergency Intake Site (next to the Donna facility) on April 6, 2021, which will be used to house up to 1,500 unaccompanied minors. Other new sites have been opened by HHS in Texas and California, and HHS has requested the Pentagon to allow it to temporarily utilize three military facilities in these same two states.

Political polarization has contributed to a great disparity in the interpretation of the recent surge in migration to the US border since Biden took office. Termed a “challenge” by Democrats and a “crisis” by Republicans, both parties offer very different explanations for the cause of the situation, each placing the blame on the other.

Categorías Global Affairs: Norteamérica Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Análisis Latinoamérica

España, aunque afectada, no se ve tan perjudicada como otros socios europeos

La salida del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea finalmente se materializó el último día de 2020. El compromiso sobre la pesca fue el último punto de las arduas negociaciones y las diferencias solo se superaron unas jornadas antes del inaplazable ‘deadline’. El acuerdo de pesca alcanzado contempla que durante cinco años y medio los buques comunitarios seguirán teniendo acceso para pescar en aguas británicas. Aunque afectada, España no se ve tan perjudicada como otros socios europeos.

Flota pesquera en la localidad gallega de Ribeira [Luis Miguel Bugallo]

ARTÍCULO /  Ane Gil

El Acuerdo de Retirada que culminaba el Brexit se encalló en su recta final en la cuestión de la pesca, a pesar de que la actividad pesquera del Reino Unido en sus aguas solo contribuye al 0,12% del PIB británico.

Esa discusión, que estuvo a punto de hacer descarrilar las negociaciones, se centró en la delimitación de la Zona Económica Exclusiva (ZEE), el ámbito más allá de las aguas territoriales –a una distancia máxima de la costa de 200 millas náuticas (unos 370 kilómetros)– en las que un país ribereño tiene derechos soberanos para explorar y explotar, conservar y administrar los recursos naturales, ya sean vivos o no vivos. En la ZEE del Reino Unido hay caladeros muy ricos en pescado, que representan, con una media de 1.285 millones de toneladas de pescado al año, según un estudio de 2019 de la Comisión de Pesca del Parlamento Europeo, el 15% del total de la pesca de la UE. De estas capturas, solo el 43% fue realizado por pescadores británicos, mientras que el 57% restante fue llevado a cabo por los demás países de la UE. Los países europeos que tuvieron acceso a la pesca en aguas británicas fueron España, Alemania, Bélgica, Dinamarca, Francia, Países Bajos, Irlanda y Suecia.

Por tanto, la entrada en vigor del Brexit marcaría el abandono del Reino Unido de la Política Pesquera Común, que define el acceso de los buques europeos a la Zona Económica Exclusiva.

Perspectivas iniciales

Durante su permanencia en la UE, El Reino Unido formó parte de la Política Pesquera Común, por la que todas las flotas pesqueras de los estados miembros de la UE tienen igual acceso a las aguas europeas. En la UE, los derechos de pesca son negociados anualmente por los ministros de cada estado miembro y las cuotas nacionales (cantidad de pescado de cada especie que la flota de cada país puede capturar) se establecen utilizando datos históricos como referencia.

La flota pesquera española siguió de cerca las negociaciones, ya que tenía mucho que perder con un mal convenio. Por un lado, un Brexit sin acuerdo podía suponer una reducción de ingresos de 27 millones de euros relacionados con la pesca en aguas británicas; también conllevaría una drástica reducción de las capturas de merluza, pez gallo y caballa para los barcos pesqueros españoles especializados en estas especies. Por otro lado, el empleo también se vería afectado si el Acuerdo establecía una reducción drástica de las capturas. Son ochenta las embarcaciones españolas que tienen licencia para pescar en aguas británicas, lo que supone casi 10.000 puestos de trabajo relacionados con esta actividad.

Las negociaciones

Hasta el Brexit, las aguas británicas y su explotación se negociaban en conjunto con el resto de las áreas marítimas de la Unión Europea. Bruselas intentó mantener esta relación aunque el Reino Unido abandonara la UE, por lo que la posición de los negociadores europeos se centró en preservar el sistema de cuotas de pesca que había estado vigente, por un plazo de quince años. Sin embargo, el primer ministro británico, Boris Johnson, siempre descartó cualquier acuerdo comercial que otorgara a los barcos europeos acceso a aguas británicas, a cambio de mejores condiciones para los servicios financieros británicos en el mercado único como ofrecía Bruselas. Londres quería implementar un régimen similar al noruego, que negocia año a año las capturas de las flotas de la UE en sus aguas, con la diferencia de que en el caso noruego el pacto se refiere a media docena de especies, frente a las casi cien que hay en aguas británicas.

Debemos tener en cuenta que el sector de servicios representa el 80% del PIB del Reino Unido, mientras que las actividades pesqueras son solo el 0,12%. Por lo tanto, es bastante evidente que las posiciones de Londres en el apartado de pesca fueron más políticas que económicas. Y es que, aunque las actividades pesqueras tienen escasa incidencia en la economía británica, el sector pesquero sí tiene importancia política para la causa euroescéptica, ya que recuperar el control de las aguas era una de las promesas en el referéndum del Brexit. Así, este asunto convirtió en un símbolo de soberanía nacional.

El punto de partida de las negociaciones fue la exigencia del Gobierno británico de repatriar hasta el 80% de las capturas en sus aguas de control, mientras que la UE ofreció devolver al Reino Unido entre un 15% y un 18%. Johnson quería mantener la gestión de la explotación de sus aguas y negociar con la Unión Europea como socio preferente. Expresó su intención inicial de establecer, a partir de enero de 2021, negociaciones más frecuentes sobre cómo pescar en su ZEE. Esto dio lugar a un acuerdo final que implica que los buques europeos seguirán pudiendo pescar en aguas británicas durante cinco años y medio, a cambio de devolver el 25% de las cuotas que los buques comunitarios pesquen allí, volumen cuyo valor se estima en unos 161 millones de euros. A cambio, los productos pesqueros seguirán entrando en el mercado europeo con arancel cero. Tras esa etapa de transición, la UE y el Reino Unido deberán renegociar año tras año. Si el acuerdo es vulnerado, existen mecanismos que garantizan compensaciones, como el establecimiento de tarifas.

Consecuencias para España y vecinos europeos

El acuerdo provocó descontento en el sector pesquero del Reino Unido, que acusó a Johnson de ceder en este acuerdo. La Federación Nacional de Organizaciones de Pescadores expresó su decepción al ver que solo se habían introducido cambios marginales en las cuotas y que las flotas de la UE seguirían teniendo acceso a aguas británicas hasta el límite de las seis millas. El primer ministro respondió que el Reino Unido podría capturar ahora “cantidades prodigiosas de pescado extra”.

Por el momento, Reino Unido ya se ha encontrado con algunos problemas. El nuevo acuerdo aduanero ha estado provocando retrasos y los camiones deben ser revisados en las fronteras. Con un repentino exceso de producción, no habrá suficientes veterinarios para realizar los certificados sanitarios de exportación necesarios. Por lo tanto, los nuevos requisitos burocráticos han provocado varios casos de mariscos que se pudren en los muelles antes de que puedan exportarse a la UE. Se estima que la industria pesquera está perdiendo 1 millón de libras por día debido a estos nuevos requisitos, lo que ha provocado que muchos pescadores reduzcan sus capturas diarias.

Pero los pescadores de la UE también se verán afectados, pues hasta ahora obtenían capturas en aguas británicas con un valor total anual de 650 millones de euros, según el Parlamento Europeo, especialmente a cargo de buques daneses, holandeses y franceses. Además, Bélgica es uno de los países que más se ve más afectado, pues el 43% de sus capturas se da en aguas británicas; ahora tendrá que reducir sus capturas en un 25% durante los próximos 5 años. Además, los pescadores belgas solían desembarcar su pescado en puertos británicos y luego llevarlo en camión a Bélgica. Sin embargo, esto ya no será posible. Junto a Bélgica, otros países que más sufrirán por la pérdida de los derechos de pesca a causa del Brexit son Irlanda, Dinamarca y Países Bajos.

En cuanto a España, el sector pesquero ha reconocido su malestar por la negociación anual que tendrá lugar tras el quinquenio inicial, así como por las consecuencias en la futura distribución del resto de cuotas de pesca, en la propia Política Pesquera Común, en el intercambio de cuotas entre países y en la gestión sostenible de las poblaciones marinas. No obstante, a corto plazo la flota española no parece verse tan afectada en comparación con otros países europeos.

De hecho, el ministro de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, Luis Planas, valoró positivamente este acuerdo, considerándolo un “buen acuerdo, que aporta estabilidad y seguridad jurídica”. Planas argumentó que la reducción del 25% del valor medio de las capturas de los ocho países europeos que pescan en aguas británicas tiene efectos limitados sobre la actividad pesquera española y, a modo de ejemplo, afirmó que las capturas de merluza solo se reducirán en un 1%. Es decir, la cuota actual del 29,5% bajaría hasta el 28,5% en 2026. Además, otras especies de mayor interés para España (como la caballa, el jurel y la bacaladilla) no se han incluido en el acuerdo y no hay rebajas en especies de aguas profundas de gran demanda (como el sable negro o los granaderos). En conclusión, Planas afirmó que España solo ha cedido en 17 de los 32 recursos pesqueros que el país tiene asignados. Sin embargo, le toca a Bruselas entrar en detalles y decidir las cuotas de pesca durante el período de transición abierto el 1 de enero, en el que los ocho países que pescan en aguas británicas tendrán cuotas más bajas.

En conclusión, Gran Bretaña ahora tiene la capacidad de dictar sus propias reglas en materia de pesca. Para 2026, el Reino Unido puede decidir retirar completamente el acceso de los barcos de la UE a aguas británicas. Pero la UE podría entonces responder suspendiendo el acceso a sus aguas o imponiendo aranceles a las exportaciones de pescado del Reino Unido.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Economía, Comercio y Tecnología Artículos

An update on the Iranian nuclear accord between 2018 and the resumed talks in April 2021

The signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached in 2015 to limit Iran's nuclear program, met again on April 6 in Vienna to explore the possibility of reviving the accord. The US withdrawal after Donald Trump becoming president put the agreement on hold and lead Tehran to miss its commitments. Here we offer an update on the issue until the international talks resumed.

Trump's announcement of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 [White House]

ARTICLE /  Ana Salas Cuevas

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a key player in the stability of its regional environment, which means that it is a central country worth international attention. It is a regional power not only because of its strategic location, but also because of its large hydrocarbon reserves, which make Iran the fourth country in oil reserves and the second one in gas reserves.

In 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) brought to the light and warned the international community about the existence of nuclear facilities, and of a covert program in Iran which could serve a military purpose. This prompted the United Nations and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the P5: France, China, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom) to take measures against Iran in 2006. Multilateral and unilateral economic sanctions (the UN and the US) were implemented, which deteriorated Iran’s economy, but which did not stop its nuclear proliferation program. There were also sanctions linked to the development of ballistic missiles and to the support of terrorist groups. These sanctions, added to the ones the United States imposed on Tehran in the wake of the 1979 revolution, and together with the instability that cripples the country, caused a deep deterioration of Iran’s economy.

In November 2013, the P5 plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran came to terms with an initial agreement on Iran's nuclear program (a Joint Plan of Action) which, after several negotiations, translated in a final pact, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in 2015. The European Union adhered to the JCPOA.

The focus of Iran's motives for succumbing and accepting restrictions on its nuclear program lies in the Iranian regime’s concern that the deteriorating living conditions of the Iranian population due to the economic sanctions could result in growing social unrest.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

The goal of these negotiations was to reach a long-term comprehensive solution agreed by both parties to ensure that Iran´s nuclear program would be completely peaceful. Iran reiterated that it would not seek or develop any nuclear weapons under any circumstances. The real aim of the nuclear deal, though, was to extend the time needed for Iran to produce enough fissile material for bombs from three months to one year. To this end, a number of restrictions were reached.

This comprehensive solution involved a mutually defined enrichment plan with practical restrictions and transparent measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the program. In addition, the resolution incorporated a step-by-step process of reciprocity that included the lifting of all UN Security Council, multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran´s nuclear program. In total, these obligations were key to freeze Iran’s nuclear program and reduced the factors most sensitive to proliferation. In return, Iran received limited sanctions relief.

More specifically, the key points in the JCPOA were the following: Firstly, for 15 years, Iran would limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67%, eliminate 98% of its enriched uranium stocks in order to reduce them to 300 kg, and restrict its uranium enrichment activities to its facilities at Natanz. Secondly, for 10 years, it would not be able to operate more than 5,060 old and inefficient IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Finally, inspectors from the IAEA would be responsible for the next 15 years for ensuring that Iran complied with the terms of the agreement and did not develop a covert nuclear program.

In exchange, the sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations on its nuclear program would be lifted, although this would not apply to other types of sanctions. Thus, as far as the EU is concerned, restrictive measures against individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations, and the embargo on arms and ballistic missiles to Iran would be maintained. In turn, the United States undertook to lift the secondary sanctions, so that the primary sanctions, which have been in place since the Iranian revolution, remained unchanged.

To oversee the implementation of the agreement, a joint committee composed of Iran and the other signatories to the JCPOA would be established to meet every three months in Vienna, Geneva or New York.

United States withdrawal

In 2018, President Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran deal and moved to resume the sanctions lifted after the agreement was signed. The withdrawal was accompanied by measures that could pit the parties against each other in terms of sanctions, encourage further proliferation measures by Iran and undermine regional stability. The US exit from the agreement put the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on hold.

The United States argued that the agreement allowed Iran to approach the nuclear threshold in a short period of time. With the withdrawal, however, the US risked bringing this point closer in time by not waiting to see what could happen after the 10 and 15 years, assuming that the pact would not last after that time. This may make Iran's proliferation a closer possibility.

Shortly after Trump announced the first anniversary of its withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the assassination of powerful military commander Qasem Soleimani by US drones, Iran announced a new nuclear enrichment program as a signal to nationalists, designed to demonstrate the power of the mullah regime. This leaves the entire international community to question whether diplomatic efforts are seen in Tehran as a sign of weakness, which could be met with aggression.

On the one hand, some opinions consider that, by remaining within the JCPOA, renouncing proliferation options and respecting its commitments, Iran gains credibility as an international actor while the US loses it, since the agreements on proliferation that are negotiated have no guarantee of being ratified by the US Congress, making their implementation dependent on presidential discretion.

On the other hand, the nuclear agreement adopted in 2015 raised relevant issues from the perspective of international law. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action timeline is 10 to 15 years. This would terminate restrictions on Iranian activities and most of the verification and control provisions would expire. Iran would then be able to expand its nuclear facilities and would find it easier to develop nuclear weapons activities again. In addition, the legal nature of the Plan and the binding or non-binding nature of the commitments made under it have been the subject of intense debate and analysis in the United States. The JCPOA does not constitute an international treaty. So, if the JCPOA was considered to be a non-binding agreement, from the perspective of international law there would be no obstacle for the US administration to withdraw from it and reinstate the sanctions previously adopted by the United States.

The JCPOA after 2018

As mentioned, the agreement has been held in abeyance since 2018 because the IAEA inspectors in Vienna will no longer have access to Iranian facilities.

Nowadays, one of the factors that have raised questions about Iran’s nuclear documents is the IAEA’s growing attention to Tehran’s nuclear contempt. In March 2020, the IAEA “identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations in Iran”. The agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi stated: “The fact that we found traces (of uranium) is very important. That means there is the possibility of nuclear activities and material that are not under international supervision and about which we know not the origin or the intent”.

The IAEA also revealed that the Iranian regime was violating all the restrictions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Iranian leader argued that the US first violated the terms of the JCPOA when it unilaterally withdrew the terms of the JCPOA in 2018 to prove its reason for violating the nuclear agreement.

In the face of the economic crisis, the country has been hit again by the recent sanctions imposed by the United States. Tehran ignores the international community and tries to get through the signatory countries of the agreement, especially the United States, claiming that if they return to compliance with their obligations, Iran will also quickly return to compliance with the treaty. This approach has put strong pressure on the new US government from the beginning. Joe Biden's advisors suggested that the agreement could be considered again. But if Washington is faced with Tehran's full violation of the treaty, it will be difficult to defend such a return to the JCPOA.

In order to maintain world security, the international community must not succumb to Iran’s warnings. Tehran has long issued empty threats to force the world to accept its demands. For example, in January 2020, when the UK, France and Germany triggered the JCPOA’s dispute settlement mechanism, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a direct warning, saying: “If Europeans, instead of keeping to their commitments and making Iran benefit from the lifting of sanctions, misuse the dispute resolution mechanism, they’ll need to be prepared for the consequences that they have been informed about earlier”.

Conclusions

The purpose of the agreement is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power that would exert pressure on neighboring countries and further destabilize the region. For example, Tehran's military influence is already keeping the war going in Syria and hampering international peace efforts. A nuclear Iran is a frightening sight in the West.

The rising in tensions between Iran and the United States since the latter unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA has increased the deep mistrust already separating both countries. Under such conditions, a return to the JCPOA as it was before 2018 seems hardly imaginable. A renovated agreement, however, is baldly needed to limit the possibilities of proliferation in an already too instable region. Will that be possible?

Categorías Global Affairs: Oriente Medio Seguridad y defensa Artículos

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