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Understanding Chinese Politics in the 21st Century

The Forbidden City, in Beijing [MaoNo]

▲ The Forbidden City, in Beijing [MaoNo]

ESSAYJakub Hodek

To fully grasp the complexities and peculiarities of Chinese domestic and foreign affairs, it is indispensable to dive into the underlying philosophical ideas that shaped how China behaves and understands the world. Perhaps the most important value to the Chinese is stability. Particularly when one considers the share of unpleasant incidents they have fared.

Climatic disasters have resulted in sub-optimal harvest and could also entail the loss of important infrastructure costing thousands of lives. For instance, the unexpected 2008 Sichuan earthquake resulted in approximately 80.000 casualties. Nevertheless, the Chinese have shown resilience and have been able to continue their day-to-day with relative ease.[1] Still, nature was not the only enemy. Various nomadic tribes such as the Xiong Nu presented a constant threat to the early Han Empire, who were forced to reinvent themselves to protect their own. [2]  These struggles only amplified their desire for stability.

All philosophical ideologies rooted in China highlight the benefits of stability over the evil of chaos.[3] In fact, Legalism, Daoism and Confucianism still shape current social and political norms. This is unsurprising as the Chinese interpret stability as harmony and the best mean to achieve development. This affirmation is cultivated from birth and strengthened on all societal levels.

Legalism affirms that “punishment” trumps “rights”. Thus, the interest of few must be sacrificed for the good of the many.[4] This translates to phenomenons present in modern China such as censorship of media outlets, autocratic teachers, and rigorous laws to protect “state secrets”. Daoism attests to the existence of a cosmological order that determines events.[5] Manifestations of this can be seen in fields of Chinese traditional medicine that deals with feng shui or the flows of energy. Confucianism puts stability as an antecedent of a forward momentum and regulates the relationship between the individual and society.[6] From the Confucianism stems a norm of submission to parental expectations, and the subjugation and blind faith to the Communist Party.

It follows that non-Sino readers of Chinese affairs must consider these philosophical roots when analysing current Chinese events. Seen through that lens, actions such as Xi Jinping declaring stability as an “absolute principle that needs to be dealt with using strong hands[7],” initiatives harshly targeting corrupt Party members, increased censorship on media outlets and the widespread reinforcement of nationalism should not come as a surprise. One needs power to maintain stability.

Interestingly, it seems that this level of scrutiny over the daily lives of average Chinese people has not incited negative feelings towards the Communist Party. One of the explanations behind these occurrences might be attributed to the collectivist vision of society that the Chinese individuals possess.  They strongly prefer social harmony over their own individual rights. Therefore, they are willing to trade their privacy to obtain heightened security and homogeneity.  

Of course, this way of living contrasts starkly with developed Western societies who increasingly value their individual rights. Nonetheless, the Chinese in no way fell their values to be inferior to the Western ones. They are prideful and portray a sense of exceptionalism when presenting their socioeconomic developments and societal order to the rest of the world. This is not to say that, on occasion, the Chinese have been known to replicate certain foreign practices in an effort to boost their geopolitical presence and economic results. 

In relation to this subtle sense of superiority shared by the Chinese, it is important to analyse the political conditionality of engaging with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) through economic or diplomatic relations. Although the Chinese government representatives have stated numerous times that, when they establish ties with foreign countries, they do not wish to influence socio-political realities of their recent partner, there are numerous examples that point to the contrary. One only has to look at their One China policy which has led many Latin American countries to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan. In a way, this is understandable as most countries zealously protect their vision of the world. As such, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) strategically establishes economic ties with countries harbouring resources they need or that are in need of infrastructure that they can provide. The One Belt One Road initiative represents the economic arm of this vision while their recent increased diplomatic activity, especially in Africa and Latin America, the political one. In short, the People’s Republic of China wants to be at the forefront of geopolitics in a multipolar world lacking clear leadership and certainty, at least in the opinion various experts.

One explanation behind this desire for being at the centre stage of international politics hides in the etymology of their own country’s name. The term “Middle Kingdom” refers to the Chinese “Zhongguó”, where the first character “zhong” means “centre” or “middle” and “guó” means “country”, “nation” or “kingdom”.[8] The first record of this term, “Zhongguó,” can be found in the Book of Documents (“Shujing”), which is one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature. It is a piece which describes ancient Chinese figures and, in some measure, serves as a basis of the Chinese political philosophy, especially Confucianism. Although the Book of Documents dates back to 4th Century A.D., it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th Century when the term “Zhongguó” became the official name of China.[9] While it is true that the Chinese are not the only country that believes they have a higher calling to lead others, China is the only nation whose name uses such a concept.

Such deep-rooted concepts as “Zhongguó”, strongly resonates within the social fabric of Chinese modern society and implies a vision of the world order where China is at the centre and leading countries both to the East and West. This vision is embodied in Xi Jinping, the designated “core” leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who is decisively dictating the tempo of China’s effort to direct the country on the path of national rejuvenation. In fact, at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017, Xi Jinping’s speech was centered around the need for national rejuvenation. An objective and a date were set out: “By 2049, China’s comprehensive national power and international influence will be at the forefront.”[10] In other words, China aims to restore its status as the Middle Kingdom by the year 2049 and become a leading world power.

The full-fleshed grand strategy can be found in “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era,” a document that is now part of China’s constitution and it’s as important of a doctrine as Mao Zedong’s political theories or anything the CCP’s has previously put forth. The Chinese are approaching these objectives promptly and efficiently and, as they have proven in the past, they are capable of great achievements when resources are available. Sure enough, the world is already experiencing Xi Jinping’s policies. Recently, Beijing has opted to invest in increased international presence to exert their influence and vision. Starting with continued emphasis on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), massive modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and aggressive foreign policy.

The migration and political crisis in Europe and Trump’s isolationism have given China sufficient space to jump on the international stage and set in motion a new global order, albeit without the will to dynamite the existing one. Xi Jinping managed to renew a large part of the members of CCP’s executive bodies and left the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China notably reinforced. He did everything possible to have political capital to push the economic and diplomatic reforms to drive China to the promised land.

Another issue that is given China an opportunity to steal the spotlight is climate change. Especially, after the United States pulled out from the Paris Agreement in June 2017. Last January, Xi Jinping chose the Davos World Economic Forum to show that his country is a solid and reliable partner. Leaning on an economy with clear signs of stability and growth of around 6.7%, many who had predicted its spiralling fall had to listen as the President presented himself as a champion of free trade and the fight against global warming. After expressing its full support for the agreements reached against the emissions of gases at the climate summit held in Paris in 2016, Xi announced the will of “the Middle Kingdom” to guide the new economic globalization.

President Xi plans to achieve his vision with a two-pronged approach. First, a wide-ranging promotion abroad of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in a New Era.” This is an unknown strategy to the Chinese as there is no precedent of the CCP’s ideas being promoted abroad. However, Xi views Western liberal democracy as an impediment to China’s rise and wants to offer an alternative in the form of Chinese socialism, which he perceives as practically and theoretically superior. The Chinese model of governing provides a way to catch up with the developed nations and avoid the regression to modern age colonialism.[11] This could turn out to be an attractive proposal to developing nations who might just be lured by China’s “benevolent” governance and “generosity” in the form of low-interest loans. Second, Xi wants to further develop and modernize the PLA so that it is capable to ensure national security and maintain Chinese positions in areas where their foreign policy has become more assertive (not to say aggressive) such as in the South China Sea.[12] Confirming that both strong military and economic sustainability are essential to achieve the strategic goal of becoming the centre of their proposed global order by 2049.

If one desires to understand China today, one must look carefully at its origin. What started off as an isolated nation turned out to be a dormant giant that was only waiting to get its home affairs in order before it went for the rest of the world. If there is any lesson behind recent Chinese actions across the political and socioeconomical spectrum is that they want to live up to their name and be at the forefront of the world. This is not to say that they wish an implosion of the current world order although it is clear they are willing to use force if need be. It merely implies that they believe their philosophical ideologies to be at least as good as those shared in Western societies while not forgoing what they find useful from them: free trade, service-based economy, developed financial markets, among other things. As things stand, China is sure to make some friends along the way. Especially in developing regions that might be tempted by their tremendous economic success in the last decades and offers of help “with no strings attached.” These realities imply that we live in a multipolar which is increasingly heterogenous in connection to values and references that rule it. Therefore, understanding Chinese mentality will prove essential to understand the future of geopolitics.  

[1] Daniell, James. “Sichuan 2008: A Disaster on an Immense Scale.” BBC News, BBC, 9 May 2013, www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22398684.

[2] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Xiongnu.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Sept. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Xiongnu.

[3] Creel, Herrlee Glessner. "Chinese thought, from Confucius to Mao Tse-tung." (1953).

[4] Hsiao, Kung-chuan. "Legalism and autocracy in traditional China." Chinese Studies in History 10.1-2 (1976)

[5] Kohn, Livia. Daoism and Chinese culture. Lulu Press, Inc, 2017

[6] Yao, Xinzhong. An introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

[7] Blanchard, Ben. “China's Xi Demands 'Strong Hands' to Maintain Stability Ahead of Congr.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 19 Sept. 2017.

[8] Diccionario conciso español-chino, chino español. Beijing, China: Shangwu Yinshuguan. 2007. 

[9] Nylan, Michael (2001), The Five Confucian Classics, Yale University Press.

[10] Tuan N. Pham. “China in 2018: What to Expect.” The Diplomat, 11 Jan. 2018.

[11]Li, Xiaojun. "Does Conditionality Still Work? China’s Development Assistance and Democracy in Africa." Chinese Political Science Review 2.2 (2017): 201-220.

[12] Chase, Michael S. "PLA Rocket Force Modernization and China’s Military Reforms." (2018).

The EU and the root causes of Syrian migration

ESSAY Marina Díaz Escudero

Since 2015, Europe has been dealing with an unprecedented scale of migration from different parts of the world, mainly from MENA (Middle East and North Africa). People flee their countries due to war, bad living conditions or a lack of opportunities for wellbeing.

Although Europe characterises itself for its solidarity, liberty, values and respect for other countries and cultures, such a large flow of inmigration seriously tests the European project. For instance, the Schengen system of passport-free travel could collapse as fearful countries enhance their border controls, to the disadvantage of European citizens. “The Schengen system is being more and more questioned and most opinion polls highlight the correlation between the fear of inmigration and the distrust of the citizens of the member states towards European institutions.”1 The migration crisis is also considered a “threat for the European project’s constitutional stability and for its fundamental values” (Spijkerboer, 2016). 1  

Divisions between northern and southern EU countries, and between them and the Visegrad countries have clearly intensified due to this problem, specially after the approval, in 2015, of some quotas of relocation of refugees that were critisised and voted against by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Due to this lack of consensus but also due to the delay of other EU countries in complying with the quotas, a treaty was signed between the EU and Turkey in March 2016 so that most refugees arriving to Europe through Greece would be inmediately returned to Turkey2

Understandably, EU countries are mostly concerned with the prevention of illegal inmigration and with border-control policies, as well as with the need of reaching an agreement for an egalitarian distribution of arriving migrants, most of them being asylym seekers and refugees. Nevertheless, this will probably not be enough to satisfy both the European citizens and the migrants: root causes of migration may need to be solved as soon as possible to prevent people from fleeing their homes. This gives the EU food for thought: addressing the migration problem without focusing on the prevention of migration in the countries of origin may not be a lasting, long-term solution. “The instability, insecurity, terrorism, poverty, famine and climate change besetting large parts of Africa and the Middle East are the root causes of migration, but the European Union (EU) governments have come around to this too late, engaging essentially in damage-limitation exercises at our borders.”3  

According to World Bank data, in 2017 over 8 million migrants came from “the Arab world” and from these, 6 million fleed the Syrian Arab Republic4. The war in Syria, originally between Bashar al Assad’s regime and the rebel opposition, and currently a proxy war involving various international actors, turns the country into one of the greatest sources of migrants. The fact that over a million of them live in Lebanon (currently accounting for a 30% of the population) , a country who didn’t sign the 1951 Refugee Convention and who has been trying to deport the migrants for years now, is worrying. Due to the “fuelling tensions between Lebanese host communities and the Syrian refugees” the Lebanese government has taken some more restrictive measures towards migrants, such as the banning of the construction of formal refugee camps. This for sure puts additional pressure on the EU5.

In order to comprehend the European Union’s vision and strategy on Syria, and whether the institution and its members are willing to fight the root causes of its situation, one must consider the words of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, in her discourse at the Conference of Brussels in April 2018:

“[In this conference] we had representatives of over 85 countries and international organizations, international and Syrian civil society. […] We identified common ground on at least 2 or 3 issues: one is that there is no military solution to the war in Syria and that there is a need that everyone recognizes to relaunch the political process. The second element on which I have not found any divergent view is the key role of the United Nations in leading this political process. This is extremely important for us, the European Union, because we have always consistently identified in the UN and in Staffa de Mistura the only legitimate leadership to ensure that the political process represents all Syrians in intra-Syrian talks and happens along the lines of the United Nations Security Council resolutions already adopted. The third element is the need to support Syrians inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries, with humanitarian aid, financial support but also to support hosting communities, in particular neighbouring countries”.6

The Vice-President of the European Comission basically makes three clear statements: the European institution will by no means intervene militarily in Syria, n­either will it take the initiative to start a political process or peaceful negotiation in the country (it will only support the UN-led process), but it will clearly invest economically both in the country and in its citizens to improve their conditions.

Defence of the UN-led political process

Once a solely-European military intervention has been discarded (due to a lack of consensus among countries on a common defense policy and to the already effective existence of NATO in this regard), the EU considers its role in a political solution to the Syrian conflict, which would clearly reduce migration numbers.

According to the European Council in its conclusions on Syria of April 2018, “the momentum of the current situation should be used to reinvigorate the process to find a political resolution of the Syrian conflict […] A lasting peace in Syria is the ultimate objective of the EU”.7 The Council makes clear that it will not create a new EU-led political process but that it will support the UN’s: “…any sustainable solution to the conflict requires a genuine political transition in line with UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communique negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process.”

The UN currently takes part in two parallel processes: inter-Syrian conversations in Geneva and the Conversations in Astaná. The first looks for a dialogue solution to the conflict and participants are the Syrian government, a delegation from the opposition and the UN Special Envoy for Syria. Until now, 9 rounds of conversations have taken place, the last focused on the elaboration of a new constitution for the country. The second process is promoted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, guarantors of the peace process in Syria. Conversations started in 2017 with the aim of consolidating the cease-fire and preparing the way for a political solution to the war. The last round of conversations took place in Sochi this past July8.

But things aren’t as easy as they seem.

UN special envoy for Syria will soon be replaced by the Norwegian Geir Pedersen making future lines of action unpredictable for us. We know, however, what the starting point will be. In the ordinary UN session celebrated on the past 20th december, de Mistura stated that they had “almost completed the job of starting a constitutional commitee to write a constituional reform, as a contribution to the political process, but still have to go one more mile.”9

Such a commiteee would be composed of 150 persons, a third of which should be appointed by the Syrian regime, another third by the opposition and the last one by  UN designated persons. This last point has been repeatedly opposed by Syria. The biggest problem at the moment is that the UN is not fully comfortable with the 50-name list proposed by Iran, Russia and Turkey9.

On the other hand, the strategy of the US, a very relevant actor in this process due to its position in the UN as a permanent member of the Security Council (with veto power on resolutions), has been unclear for a long time. US Special Envoy to Syria Joel Rayburn stated in November that the objectives of the US in Syria were three: the defeat of the Islamic State, the withdrawal of all Iranian-commanded forces and “a political settlement under the auspices of the UNSC Resolution 2254 and the political process supported by the UN in Geneva.”10   

In other words, it seemed that unless the first two objectives were covered the US wouldn’t wholeheartedly compromise for a definitive political settlement in Syria and given US relevance, the UN would have it very difficult to advance the political process anytime soon. Most recently however, there was a turn of events: in December the US declared its intention of gradually withdrawing its troops from Syria. “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.”11

Does this mean that the US is finally willing to head its efforts towards the third objective? US diplomat Rodney Hunter said: “the US is ready to impulse the political process, to isolate more the regime diplomatic and economically, we are willing to do it.” 9

Although a positive answer would facilitate discussions for peace and thus, EU involvement, a reduction of violence in the region (and therefore a reduction of migration to Europe) is not assured for two reasons: the US now leaves Turks with free hands to attack Kurdish militants and, although ISIS has lost 95% of its territory, “2,500 Isis fighters remain […] The group retains the capacity to do even more damage, especially if let off the hook now.” 11

Soft power: humanitarian aid and investment

Given the fact that the EU can not really influence the military and political/diplomatic decisions regarding the Syrian conflict, it has been focusing, since the beginning of the war in 2011, on delivering humanitarian aid and development support to the country and its nationals. The next phrase from the European External Action Service summarises very well the EU’s aims on this respect: “Our objective is to bring an end to the conflict and enable the Syrian people to live in peace in their own country.”12

Although bilateral, regional and technical assitance cooperation between the EU and the Syrian government came to an end due to the violent situation that was emerging in the country, the international organization directly supports the Syrian population and its neighbours13.

Through the  European Neighbourhood  Policy (ENP), the EU worked hand in hand with its neighbours to the East and South (including Syria) with the aim of fostering stabilization, security and prosperity and achieving cooperation in key areas like the “promotion of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and social cohesion.”14 After the cease of cooperation between the EU and the regime, support to the ENP countries is given through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), with a predicted budget of 15 billion dollars (2014-2020)15.

Under the financing og the ENI, the Commission approved in November a special measure “to help the Syrian population to cope with the effects of the crisis and prepare the grounds for a sustainable peace.”16 The main action has been entitled as “Preserving the prospects for peace and stability in Syria through an inclusive transition” and counts with a maximum contribution of EUR 31 million. According to the European Comission, if the Syrian situation turns into a “post-crisis state-building and reconstruction scenario,” special measures will be revised in order to suit the new needs of the population14.

The ENP is part of the EUGS or European Union Global Strategy (for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy) presented by Federica Mogherini to the EU Council in 2016, and whose main aim is to achieve an integrated approach and a “coherent perspective for EU’s external action.”15 As part of this broader strategy, the EU wishes to prevent fragile contexts from becoming serious humanitarian crises17

Within this, another particular strategy for Syria was developed in 2015, the EU Strategy for Syria. Some of its most important objectives are “saving lives by addressing the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable Syrians across the country,” “promoting democracy, human rights and freedom of speech by strengthening Syrian civil society organisations” and “support the resilience of the Syrian population and Syrian society.”18 The European Council, in its Conclusions on Syria of 2018, agreed that the objectives of the “European Union Strategy on Syria” remain valid.

Although all these initiatives are well-intentioned and show that the EU is not only concerned about the end of the war but also with how it will be done and its aftermath, history has proved that Western political intervention in the Middle East is far from optimum for the region. In the 1916 the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and the UK drew an artificial political line on the territory that would later trigger the Arab-Israeli conflict and promote present ISIS action. Later on, the US-leaded intervention in Iraq in 2003 (one of its objectives being the “liberation” of the Iraqi people) has caused an increase of Sunni-Shiite tension, the rise of Al-Qaeda and the strenghtening of Iran in the region.

The point here is that the EU might be interested in helping Syria and its citizens in ways that improve living conditions and welfare opportunities without messing up with the country’s cultural, social and political system. Imposing the notion of democracy in these states, knowing that they have a completely different historical and cultural background, might not be a feasible solution.

Thus, other types of EU initiatives like the New Partnership Framework (NPF, June 2016), focused on the role of economic development in fighting the root causes of migration, might be more effective in the long-term. “It will address all aspects of this migration crisis, from its root causes to the daily tragedies that occur in the Mediterranean. These ambitions […] illustrate EU's willingness to address specific migratory challenges, but also the long-term drivers of migration.”19

Through the NPF, the EU explains how private investment can be a very useful tool for promoting the economic growth and development of Syria, which would in turn improve the living conditions of its citizens making it less necessary to flee their homes in search of a better place to be. “Instead of letting irregular migrants risk their lives trying to reach European labour markets, European private and public resources should be mobilised for investment in third countries of origin. If deployed intelligently, leveraged use of the limited budget resources available will generate growth and employment opportunities in source as well as transit countries and regions […] This should adress the root causes of migration directly, given the high impact of those investments in terms of employment and inequality reduction.” This is what the EU calls innovative financing mechanisms.

This project is called the External Investment Plan and is being organized in three steps. First, the mobilization of scarce public resources in an attractive way to attract private investment. Then, helping local authorities and private companies to be known in the international investor community. Finally, the EU would try to improve the general business government by putting a solution to some corruption issues as well as some market distortions. “The EU, Member States, third countries, International Financial Institutions, European bilateral development institutions, as well as the private sector, should all contribute.” The EU hopes to collect, through this External Investment Fund, a total of 62 billion euros.

Long story short, European countries believe in the expansion of this type of innovative financing “in those fragile and post-conflict countries which are often important for migration flows but where the potential for direct private or public investment is currently limited.”

An interesting factor to take into account in this matter is who will be the most involved international actor in the project. Will it be the US, allowing us to compare the current situation with the 20th century Marshall Plan? (where investments in infrastructure and the spread of domestic management techniques was also a key element). Or could it be Russia? As the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce stated in March 2018,  “$200 billion to $500 billion will be needed for the reconstruction of the Syrian economy, and the first priority will, as President Bashar al-Assad has said, be given to Russian businesses.”20 What is clear is that investing in Syria will clearly give the investor country some important influence on the newly-recovered state.

Conclusions and forecast for the future

Since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, Syria has been one of the major sources of migration towards Europe. Although EU members currently need to discuss the prevention of illegal inmigration and the distribution of legally coming asylum seekers, some attention must also be given to the elimination of factors that activate migration in the country of origin.

While it is true that a definitive end to the war between the regime and the opposition would be the best and most inmediate solution for disproportionate fleeings from Syria, the EU doesn’t seem to be able to intervene more than it already does.

Not having an army of itself (and not seeming to want it in the near future) and being the “assistant” of the UN in the political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict, it can only apply its soft power tools and instruments to help to the country and its citizens.

Although humanitarian aid is essential and the EU is sparing no expense on it, the institution has come to realise that the real key to improving Syria’s situation and the wellbeing of its citizens may be investment and development. This investment could be “short-term”, in the sense that foreign countries directly invest in Syria and decide what the money will be used for (i.e reconstruction of buildings, construction of new infrastructure…) or “long-term”, in the sense that the main role of the EU is improving the country’s business governance to facilitate the attraction of private investors in the long-term.  

Regarding the last option it is very important that “the receptor countries establish transparent policies, broad and effective that propiciate an appropiate atmosphere for investment, with the consequent formation of human resources and the establishment of an appropiate institutional climate.”21 Taking this into account, Syria will be a difficult challenge for the EU, as in order to achieve an appropiate institutional climate, a diplomatic solution to the conflict and a peaceful political transition will be required, as well as the collaboration of the future government in promoting political transparency.

All in all, the EU is clearly aware of the root causes of migration and is developing feasible strategies to counter them. The rate of progress is still slow and it may be due to the fact that, in order to effectively apply many of this soft power strategies (except for the humanitarian aid), the receptor country must be stable and ready to collaborate. In other words, EU investment and development plans will most probably bear fruit when the war is over, a peaceful political transition is on the move and the general atmosphere is favourable for economic growth and innovation.

Political stability in Syria could be achieved through two scenarios: the success of the UN-led process and the drafting of new constitution for the country; or the victory of one of the sides (most probably the Syrian regime) and its establishment in power.  Meanwhile, the EU and its members will have three challenges: developping the forementioned long-term investment strategies in the view of a future peace (while mantaining already-functioning soft power initiatives), dealing with the refugee crisis at the European borders, and preserving the European project and unity by avoiding major disagreements on migration policy and an exacerbated fear of inmigration.

Moreover, one of the key issues that will need to be followed closely in the following months is the effect that the, maybe early, withdrawal of US troops can have on the region and on the power dynamic between the actors, together with the potential changes in US strategy with regards to the UN-led process.


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Los think tanks como ventaja competitiva

ENSAYOManuel Lamela

La habilidad de comunicar, de tejer alianzas, de generar una narrativa… Son características propias de lo que a día de hoy se entiende por diplomacia pública. Pese a que abarca gran variedad de temas y áreas podemos decir que nos estamos refiriendo al poder en su faceta comunicativa, por el cual los Estados compiten en una carrera de ideas con la finalidad de apropiarse del “relato” y generar una mayor influencia a escala global. Esta pugna por el dominio del pensamiento no es novedosa, pero en la última mitad del siglo XX se generaron conceptos para ilustrar este conflicto entre Estados, que quizás antes de la Guerra Fría se encontraba en un segundo plano, y aparecieron estudios para analizar este tipo de estrategias. Pese a esto, basta echar un ojo a los clásicos para ver claras referencias a lo que actualmente entendemos por Diplomacia Pública; así en obras como el “Arte de la guerra”, de Sun Tzu, se da gran importancia y valor a la información, tanto interna como externa, y se presenta su control como sinónimo de triunfo en la mayoría de los casos.

Pese a la novedad del concepto, la Diplomacia Pública ha sufrido diversos cambios y transformaciones con la entrada del nuevo siglo. Junto con la importancia de los actores no-estatales ya presentes en la pasada centuria, ahora nos encontramos con un aumento significativo del peso que tienen los individuos a la hora de moldear o de influenciar en las políticas de sus Estados. El incremento sin duda se debe a la aparición y “democratización” de internet y más recientemente a la dependencia total que existe en las poblaciones del uso de redes sociales. Dejando de lado el debate sobre si las redes sociales aportan beneficios o más bien su uso descontrolado genera déficits, el cual no viene al caso en este análisis, lo que está claro es que las RRSS crean una clara situación de vulnerabilidad propicia para la intervención y control estatal, tanto de carácter nacional como extranjero.

Dada esta metamorfosis en términos de diplomacia, se han empezado a acuñar diversos conceptos como diplomacia en red, diplomacia de la ciberseguridad, etc., que actualmente están presentes en la mayoría de estrategias de los Estados y que engloban los fenómenos tratados en el párrafo anterior. Dentro de estos nuevos planes estratégicos los think tanks adquieren una gran relevancia e importancia como generadores de ideas y moldeadores de la opinión pública dada su naturaleza híbrida de aunar práctica con teoría y su misión de acercar al gran público la política exterior de sus diversos Estados. Los think tanks son, sin ninguna duda, un claro ejemplo de ejercicio de soft power. Se posicionan como pilares ideológicos en la construcción de nuevas narrativas generando una ventaja competitiva frente al resto.

Historia y liderazgo anglosajón

La hegemonía anglosajona a la hora de cimentar los valores e ideas que constituyen el orden internacional liberal está estrechamente relacionada con los orígenes de los primeros think tanks y su función dentro de esas sociedades. Los think tanks modernos surgen durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial como salas seguras donde el Ejército estadounidense podía elaborar y planificar estrategias de carácter bélico. Rand Corporation se funda en 1948 con el objetivo de promover y proteger los intereses de Estados Unidos en el exterior. Financiado y patrocinado por la Administración, RAND inspirará y servirá como ejemplo para la aparición de nuevos think tanks ligados al Gobierno estadounidense. Aunque la mayoría de los think tanks de renombre aparecen en la década de 1950, hay diversos ejemplos previos, tanto en la sociedad americana como en la británica, que nos ilustran de manera más evidente el porqué de su liderazgo en la carrera de la generación de ideas.

A finales del siglo XIX se funda en Reino Unido la Sociedad Fabiana, organización de carácter sindicalista y que pondrá los cimientos para la creación del Partido Laborista. Al otro lado del Atlántico los ejemplos abundan: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) y Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, creada por el expresidente Herbert Hoover, surgieron previos a la década de 1920 y ejemplifican la importancia de este tipo de asociaciones en la sociedad estadounidense. Pero si hay un caso que merece la pena destacar es el de Brookings Institution, que nace en 1916 bajo el nombre de Institute for Government Research (IGR). Esta corporación filantrópica es una de las primeras organizaciones de carácter privado dedicada al estudio y al análisis de las políticas públicas a nivel nacional; con el paso de los años su importancia y relevancia irá aumentando hasta constituirse como el think tank más prestigioso e influyente del globo.

A partir de la década de 1980 el fenómeno del think tank se multiplicó y se expandió a Europa continental, donde se comenzaron a crear asociaciones dedicadas al análisis y la investigación en esos campos. La producción intelectual en el viejo continente había escaseado de manera preocupante tras la guerra. Por lo que la necesidad de volver a poner en funcionamiento la máquina de las ideas era vital para dar sentido a la nueva Europa unida y obtener cierta independencia respecto al mundo anglosajón. Hoy en día el 55% de los think tank que del mundo están repartidos entre EEUU y Europa occidental.

Con la entrada del nuevo siglo hemos visto un incremento importante en el número de think tanks en el continente asiático, con la misión de renombrar y reconducir las ideas occidentales e incluso de generar ideas propias, lo que se conoce popularmente como el “Asian Way”. Sin duda, la irrupción de China como gran potencia mundial es esencial en el incremento de think tanks en Asia. El “dragón dormido” busca consolidar su posición mundial con la creación de una nueva diplomacia que exporte el ideario chino a todos los rincones del mundo, un proceso en el que la nueva ruta de la seda jugará un papel fundamental como canal de distribución. Junto a China la otra amenaza al dominio occidental es Rusia, que gracias a su gran calidad en términos de capital humano en cuestiones de inteligencia y diplomacia siempre se posiciona como una férrea competidora, pese a que sus recursos materiales sean menores. En el caso de Latinoamérica y África su contribución continúa siendo residual y con una influencia limitada al nivel regional; el número de think tanks de estos dos continentes suponen menos del 20% a nivel mundial.

Tipología de think tanks

En este análisis ya se han mencionado dos formas diferentes de think tanks: el caso de RAND como una asociación ligada estrechamente al Gobierno estadounidense y el caso de Brookings como organización independiente. Dentro de la comunidad de think tanks existe una gran diversidad y podemos categorizarlos en función de su financiación, de si presentan o no ideología, de su composición, de su enfoque disciplinar… Hoy en día la clasificación de think tanks más importante es la que nos brinda anualmente la Universidad de Pensilvania con su informe “Think Tanks and Civil Society Program”. Este reporte se dedica a evaluar y clasificar los diferentes think tanks que existen en la actualidad.

El informe aporta las siguientes categorías:



Los think tanks ligados al ámbito universitario o gubernamental continúan suponiendo la mayoría de los casos, mientras que los grupos de investigación con ánimo de lucro constituyen una minoría creciente.

La influencia de las ideas en la política de EEUU

Es interesante analizar cómo el libro de Robert D. Kaplan “Fantasmas Balcánicos” influyó de manera decisiva en la intervención americana en la guerra de los Balcanes, y paradójicamente conducirá años más tarde, en 2003, a la invasión de Irak. El mismo Kaplan en otra de sus grandes obras, “La Venganza de la Geografía”, culpa a las altas esferas de la sociedad estadounidense de contagiarse de un idealismo desenfrenado que dio lugar a menospreciar el trascendental papel que juegan la historia y la geografía física al determinar el futuro de las naciones.

El papel que jugaron las diversas presiones ejercidas por think tanks americanos en la invasión de Irak constituye el perfecto ejemplo para ilustrar la capital importancia que pueden llegar a tener las ideas a la hora de conducir la política exterior de un Estado.

Originalmente los think tanks nacieron como cuerpos consultivos orientados a prestar ayuda y consejo al Gobierno estadounidense. Con el avance de la Guerra Fría y más adelante con la revolución de internet la necesidad de ideas y la formulación independiente de políticas se convirtió en primera necesidad para Estados Unidos, que vio en los think tanks la mejor solución posible para nutrirse del consejo de expertos.

La capacidad de generar ideas nuevas y originales alejadas del estrato político junto con la capacidad educativa, son dos de los principales factores que han propiciado que en la actualidad se considere a los think tanks como referentes a la hora de dar forma a la política exterior de EEUU. La directa influencia que poseen es una de las características fundamentales que los distingue de los existentes en otras regiones, como en Europa, donde se encuentran más atados al ámbito académico; en EEUU los Think tanks ejercen un verdadero impacto sobre las políticas del Estado. En estas “fábricas de pensamiento” es dónde se construyen los valores e ideas con los que se intentará edulcorar la política exterior y así expandir su ámbito de influencia a todos los rincones del globo. La misión de identificar y dar solución a futuros problemas y conflictos es otra de las tareas principales que cumplen los think tanks. No siempre se consideran aliados gubernamentales y muchas veces lideran la crítica más feroz; en cualquier caso, la autonomía de la que gozan es lo que hace que sean percibidos como un activo de gran valor dentro de la sociedad estadounidense.


Think Tanks in the world


La exportación del modelo a Europa

En Europa el número de think tanks se ha multiplicado desde la década de 1980, pero su número y relevancia siguen muy distantes respecto al mundo anglosajón. En el listado de think tanks más importantes creado por la Universidad de Pensilvania solamente dos pertenecen a la Unión Europea: el Institut Français des Relations Internationales y el belga Bruegel. El modelo americano de think tank ha sido tanto alabado como criticado, y la opción de imitarlo se ha discutido en muchos países y se ha llevado a cabo en muchos otros. Los críticos a su implantación opinan que la historia y la tradición juegan un papel fundamental que hacen extremadamente difícil la exportación del modelo.

Tradicionalmente en Europa las universidades han sido las encargadas de desarrollar el ideario europeo, y en el pasado tuvieron gran éxito haciendo de Europa la vanguardia de la humanidad. Pero en la actualidad Europa no goza del papel protagonista que tenía en otras épocas históricas; el hecho es que se ha visto superada a nivel ideológico por EEUU y no ha tenido más opción que la de comulgar con este último para hacer frente a amenazas mayores. Esto último, junto a la mayor complejidad que presentan los problemas en el panorama actual y la situación que vive la Unión Europea, hacen que se necesite renovar el contrato social europeo y generar una nueva narrativa que agrupe a los ciudadanos europeos en torno a una nueva causa, con el espíritu de los Tratados de Roma como gran referente y punto de partida.

Para llevar a cabo tan ardua tarea los think tanks se presentan como una de las posibles soluciones y herramientas de ayuda. Dada su naturaleza de aunar el ámbito académico y el político, la creación de nuevas ideas y valores que revitalicen la sociedad europea permitirán aspirar a cualidades más elevadas. Otro de los factores fundamentales es la flexibilidad que presenta el modelo de think tank, que generará mayor accesibilidad dentro de la sociedad civil, haciendo que los ciudadanos se sientan partícipes y que, en última instancia, la participación política aumente, de forma que los lazos de confianza se refuercen en vez de resquebrajarse, como se pronostica que ocurra. Como mencionábamos en el caso estadounidense, el valor educativo es otra de las características principales y servirá como solución para varios de los problemas que asolan a día de hoy Europa, como el caso del ascenso de partidos extremistas de distinto signo.

Europa tiene el deber de generar una narrativa con la que sus ciudadanos se identifiquen y sin duda el poder de las ideas jugará un papel fundamental en el éxito o fracaso de esta tarea.

El fenómeno think tank ya constituye a día de hoy uno de los modelos sobre los que gravita la diplomacia pública de diversos Estados. El eterno conflicto por dominar las esferas de pensamiento mundial seguirá presente, por lo que los think tank seguirán creciendo y desarrollándose, obteniendo cada vez más relevancia a nivel internacional. En la jerarquía de dominio, las ideas ocupan el último escalón, por detrás de los individuos, de la geografía física y la historia; sin embargo, al ser las ideas una pura creación intelectual humana, se constituyen como fuerza de control y de movimiento del primer escalón, los individuos.



Diego Mourelle. (2018). Think tanks la diplomacia de las ideas. 4/11/2018, de El Orden Mundial Sitio web.

Cristina Ariza Cerezo. (2016). El panorama ideológico estadounidense: el caso deForeign Policy Board. 1/11/2018, de IEEE Sitio web.

Katarzyna Rybka-Iwanska . (2017). 5 reasons why Think tank are soft power tools. 1/11/2018, de USC Center for Public Diplomacy Sitio web.

Robert D. Kaplan. (1993). Los Fantasmas Balcánicos: Un viaje a los orígenes del conflicto de Bosnia y Kosovo. Estados Unidos: S.A. Ediciones B.

Robert D. Kaplan. (2012). La venganza de la geografía. Estados Unidos: RBA Libros.

Pedro Baños. (2018). El Dominio Mundial: Elementos del poder y claves geopolíticas. España: Ariel.

Pedro Baños. (2017). Así se domina el mundo. Desvelando las claves del poder mundial. España: Arial.

Hak Yin Li. (2018). The evolution of Chinese public diplomacy and the rise of Think tanks. 1/11/2018, de Springer Link Sitio web.

Lars Brozus and Hanns W. Maull. (2017). Think tanks and Foreign Policy. 1/11/2018, de Oxford politics Sitio web.

James G. McGann. (2018). 2017 Global Go To Think tank Index Report. 1/11/2018, de University of Pennsylvania Sitio web.

Sun Tzu. (2014). Arte de la guerra. España: Plutón Ediciones.

The distribution of wealth is said to be unfair, can or should governments do something about it?

ESSAYMaría Granados

Most scholars and newspapers (1) claim that the inequality gap is widening across the globe, but few provide an explanation as to why this apparently growing concern occurs, nor do they look into the past to compare the main ideologies regarding potential solutions to such problems (i.e.: the Austrian School of Thought and Keynesianism). The following paper attempts to do so by contrasting interventionist and libertarian approaches, to ultimately give an answer to the question.

Alvin Toffler predicted and described what he called ‘The Third Wave’, a phenomenon consisting of the death of industrialism and the rise of a new civilisation. He focuses on the interconnection of events and trends, (2) which has often been ignored by politicians and social scientists alike. Notwithstanding, J.K. Galbraith points out that the economy is shaped by historical context, and attempts to provide an overview of the main ideas that have given birth to current economic policies; (3) while Landes's focus on the past suggests inequality is not a new phenomenon. (4) Hence, its evolution cannot be overlooked: On the one hand, it led Marx to proclaim that private capital flows invariably lead to property concentration in consistently fewer hands; on the other hand, it led Kuznets to believe that modern economic growth would make developed countries to reach out geographically, spreading process to developing countries thanks to major changes in transport and communication. (5) First and foremost, we shall delve into the why question, sustained by the premise that there is, in fact, inequality, which sets up the foundation for economic studies. (6) Piketty asserts that ‘arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities’ are generated ‘when the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income’. An advocator for open markets and the general interest, he rejects protectionism and nationalism, (7) but is it possible to establish justice through capitalism?, and, more importantly, is capitalism the most suitable system to do so?

Famous liberal philosopher Adam Smith wrote on the matter of state intervention that public policy should only be used insofar as it stimulates economic growth. (8) Freedom of trade made economies specialise through the division of labour, and so it resulted on low prices and an abundant supply of marketable products. The critique on corporations, state-chartered companies, and monopolies, made him conclude that the State should control (9) common defence, the administration of justice, and the provision of necessary public works. Contrary to popular belief, he was also in favour of a proportionate income tax. (10) David Ricardo added that a tax on land rents was necessary to prevent landowners from an increase share of output and income. In the nineteenth century, Marx pursued the destruction of the inevitably accumulated private capital. In the same period, realist theories (11) were embraced by Müller and List, among others, who viewed the state as a protector for the citizens, the equality provider. What all of the aforementioned theories have in common is that the State does play a role to a certain extent on the prevention of ‘unfairness’. (12) Although thinkers may well be a product of their times, John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August Von Hayek have heavily influenced current policies regarding inequality. Arguably, their thoughts stem from the above-mentioned ideas: the input of Marx’s Capital in the Keynesian welfare state is contrasted with Smith's liberal approach (‘let the invisible hand be’) Hayek embraced. During the Great Depression, the preference for liquidity made Keynes focus on the shortage of the demand, to suggest that the corrective action of the government, borrowing and spending funds, was the best way out of the crisis. Several concepts were born or renewed, such as public work, or the social security system, and, more importantly the ‘deliberate deficit’. His theory regarded the deliberate unbalance of public budget so that more money would flow into the economy, sustaining demand and employment. (13)

Libertarians would argue that Ricardo failed to foresee that technological progress was going to diminish the dependence on agriculture, therefore decreasing and stabilising land price. Marx also rejected the likelihood of a long-lasting technological development. The latter challenged his ideas, since an increase in productivity and efficiency led to higher salaries and better living conditions, providing more opportunities for the workers. Indeed, with industrialisation came an improvement in the essentials of life. Mitchell, Schumpeter and Robbins, who studied the business cycle, theorised that the economy was a tendency whose problems had no prevention or cure. Thus, inequality had to be allowed to run its course, since it would eventually decrease. In the Post-Keynesian Revolution, the interaction of the wage-price spiral caused inflation. Hayek rhetorically asked the interventionists: ‘in our endeavour consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?’ (14) The OPEC crisis in 1973 made governments apply the Austrian School to WIN, (15) removing any obvious impediments to market competition (i.e.: government regulation). Milton Friedman, in favour of the classical competitive market system, followed Hayek’s liberalism. He did write about the negative income tax, consisting of securing a minimum income for all by controlling money supply; nonetheless, he agreed with what Hayek stated in 1945: The more the state organises, plans and intervenes, the more difficult it is for the individual to choose freely, to plan for itself. For Hayek, private property was ‘the most important guarantee of freedom’. The division of the means of production amongst independent citizens was his concept of fairness. (16) Professor of Economics Walter E. Williams introduces The Road to Serfdom explaining Hayek’s underlying three premises: If using one individual to serve the purpose of another is morally wrong (slavery), taking money from one individual to serve the purpose of another is just as wrong; collectivists or interventionists cannot ignore that free markets produce wealth; and men cannot know or do everything, thus, when the government plans, it assumes to know all the variables. (17)

In 1945, when Hayek challenged the Keynesian perspective, multilateralism arose, giving birth to institutions at the global and regional levels. (18) Currently, whilst there is a tendency to focus on ‘global’ problems and solutions, Piketty (19) asserts that globalised capitalism can only be regulated through regional measures, stating that ‘unequal wealth within nations is more worrisome than unequal wealth between nations.’ Specifically, he proves that salaries and output do not catch up with past wealth accumulation. He believes that taxing capital income heavily could potentially kill entrepreneurial activity, and decides that the best policy would be a progressive annual tax on capital. Despite Hayek’s premise being the unknown, thereof disgraceful consequences of interventionism; Stiglitz disbelieves that trickle-down economics will address poverty, considering that it is precisely the lack of information what makes the ‘invisible hand’ fail. Neoliberal assumptions are heavily critisised by Stiglitz, who evaluates the role of the IMF and other international economic institutions’ performance, concluding that their programs have often left developing countries with more debt and a more corrupt, richer, ruling government. Moreover, good management ultimately depends on embracing the particular and unique characteristics of each country’s economy. (20) At this point, one could ask itself, is justice a biased concept of the west? Landes claims the rich (in IPE, developed countries) will solve the problem of pollution, for instance, because it is them who have more to lose. (21) This could result in a natural redistribution of wealth. By contrast, he demonstrates that the driving force of progress was seen as ‘Western’ on the realms of education, thinking and technique; until the uneven dissemination made people reject it. (22) The egalitarian society is seemingly in between both of the main economic branches previously discussed: It includes the free will of the rich to tackle current problems the so-called globalization poses; (23) the free-will of developing states to apply national solutions to national problems, and the impulse of international cooperation and regional political integration.

To conclude, history evidences most economists, thinkers and scholars resort to the state to try to distribute wealth evenly. The way they portray the same problem makes them disagree on the way to solve it, but there is an overall agreement on the need to intervene to a certain extent to prevent the inequality gap from broadening. In Galbraith’s words: ‘Economics is not, as often believed, concerned with perfecting a final and unchanging system. It is in a constant and often reluctant accommodation to change.’ (24) On this quest for justice, it may be worth realising that the concept of unfairness cannot be taken for granted.



1. E.g.: Lucas Chancel in The Guardian in Jan. 2018, Piketty (2014), Ravenhill (2014), David Landes (1999).

2. Toffler, Alvin (1980). The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Books.

3. Galbraith, John Kenneth. (1987). Economics in Perspective. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Trade and Reference.

4. Landes, David. (1999). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. London: Abacus.

5. Nobel Lectures, Economics 1969-1980, Editor Assar Lindbeck, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992.

6. The aim of the subject being the allocation of scarce resources (according to e.g.: L. Robbins).

7. Piketty, Thomas. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, US: Harvard University Press. p. 7

8. Galbraith, John Kenneth. l.c. f.f. 8

9. E.g.: through the imposition of tariffs or taxes following the canon of certainty, convenience, and economical to assess and raise.

10. Read Smith, A. (1776). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. 1998 edition. Milano: Cofide. Book V: On the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth; Chapter II: On the Sources of the General or Public Revenue of the Society; Part II: On Taxes. I.

11. For more on the theories that shaped economic thought, read Paul, Darel, and Amawi, Alba, (Eds.). 2013. The Theoretical Evolution of International Political Economy: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press. See p. 16-19 and p. 153 for Realism, p. 95 and 102 for Friedrich List.

12. Note: Even in socialism, prior to the State’s dissolution, workers had to become the ruling government to ensure the process ensued.

13. Keynes, John Maynard. (1936). The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. Cambridge: Palgrave MacMillan.

14. Hayek, Friedrich A. (1945). The Road to Serfdom. Reader’s Digest. Combined edition, 2015: The Institute of Economic Affairs. p. 40

15. Whip Inflation Now

16. Ibid. p. 41

17. Ibid. Introduction

18. Read Ravenhill, John. (2014). Global Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

19. Pikkety, Thomas. l.c., pp. 303-304, 339 f.f.

20. Stiglitz, Joseph. (2003). Globalization and its Discontents. London: Penguin.

21. Landes, David. l.c. P. 516

22. Ibid. p. 513

23. Hirst develops the following points: In the 1870-1914 period there was as much economic integration as now; most transnational corporations are not truly ‘global’; the Third World is becoming marginalised with regards to the movement of capital, employment and investment; and supranational regionalisation is a more relevant trend than that of Globalization. Hirst, Paul, et al. (2009). Globalization in Question. Oxford: Polity.

24. Galbraith, J.K. l.c. Chapter 22, p. 326.



Chancel, Lucas (coordinator). World Inequality Report. Wid.world: Executive report. World Inequality Lab, 2018, pp. 4–16.

Galbraith, John Kenneth. (1987). Economics in Perspective. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Trade and Reference.

Hayek, Friedrich August (1945). The Road to Serfdom. Reader’s Digest. Combined edition, 2015: The Institute of Economic Affairs.

Hirst, Paul, et al. (2009). Globalization in Question. Oxford: Polity.

Keynes, John Maynard. (1936). The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money. Cambridge: Palgrave MacMillan.

Landes, David. (1999). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. London: Abacus.

Nobel Lectures, Economics 1969-1980, Editor Assar Lindbeck, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992.

Paul, Darel, and Amawi, Alba, (Eds.). 2013. The Theoretical Evolution of International Political Economy: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Piketty, Thomas. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, US: Harvard University Press.

Ravenhill, John. (2014). Global Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smith, A. (1998). An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Scotland.

Stiglitz, Joseph. (2003). Globalization and its Discontents. London: Penguin.

Toffler, Alvin (1980). The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Books.

An Even Longer ‘Long War’: A Battle to Conquer the Population

Did the Provisional IRA lose its ‘Long War’? Why are dissident Republicans fighting now?


ESSAYMaría Granados Machimbarrena

In 1998, the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Agreement marked the development of the political relations between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Several writers, politicians and academics claimed the British had won the ‘Long War’.(1)

However, according to other scholars and politicians(2), the armed struggle has not left the region. The following paper delves into the question as to whether the war is over, and attempts to give an explanation to the ultimate quest of dissident Republicans.

On the one hand, Aaron Edwards, a scholar writing on the Operation Banner and counter- insurgency, states that Northern Ireland was a successful peace process, a transformation from terrorism to democratic politics. He remarks that despite the COIN being seen as a success, the disaster was barely evaded in the 1970s.(3) The concept of ‘fighting the last war’, meaning the repetition of the strategy or tactic that was used to win the previous war(4), portrays Edward’s critique on the Operation. The latter was based on trials and tests undertaken in the post-war period, but the IRA also studied past interventions from the British military. The insurgents’ focus on the development of a citizen defence force and the support of the community, added to the elusive Human Intelligence, turned the ‘one-size-fits-all’ British strategy into a failure. The British Army thought that the opponents’ defeat would bring peace, and it disregarded the people-centric approach such a war required. The ‘ability to become fish in a popular sea’, the need to regain, retain and build the loyalty and trust of the Irish population was the main focus since 1976, when the role of the police was upgraded and the Army became in charge of its support. The absence of a political framework to restore peace and stability, the lack of flexibility, and the rise of sectarianism, a grave socio-economic phenomenon that fuelled the overall discontent, could have ended on a huge disaster. Nonetheless, Edwards argues the peace process succeeded because of the contribution of the Army and the political constraints imposed to it.(5)

In 2014, writer and veteran journalist Peter Taylor claimed that the British had won the war in Northern Ireland. He supported his statement through two main arguments: the disappearance of the IRA and the absence of unity between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Former Minister Peter Robinson (DUP Party) firmly rejected the idea of such a union ever occurring: ‘It just isn't going to happen’. Ex-hunger striker Gerard Hodgins was utterly unyielding in attitude, crying: ‘We lost. (...) The IRA are too clever to tell the full truth of what was actually negotiated. And unionists are just too stupid to recognise the enormity of what they have achieved in bringing the IRA to a negotiated settlement which accepts the six-county state.’ They were all contested by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, a political fighter and defender of a united Ireland, and Hutchinson, who stated that the republicans were fighting a cultural battle to eradicate Britishness. He agreed that the war had changed in how it was being fought, “but it is still a war” he concluded.(6) Former IRA commander McIntyre disagrees, in his book he suggests that the PIRA(7) is on its death bed. So is the army council that plotted its campaign. ‘If the IRA ever re-emerges, it will be a new organisation with new people’.(8)

There is an important point that most of the above-mentioned leaders fail to address: the so- called cultural battle, which is indeed about the conquest of ‘hearts and minds’. Scholars(9) find there is a deep misunderstanding of the core of republicanism among politicians and disbelievers of the anti-GFA groups’ strength. In fact, there has been an increase on the number of attacks, as well as on the Provisional movement’s incompetence. Historical examples show that the inability to control the population, the opponent’s motivation, or the media leads to defeat. E.g.: C.W. Gwynn realised of the importance of intelligence and propaganda, and H. Simson coined the term ‘sub-war’, or the dual use of terror and propaganda to undermine the government.(10) T.E. Lawrence also wrote about psychological warfare. He cited Von der Goltz on one particular occasion, quoting ‘it was necessary not to annihilate the enemy, but to break his courage.’(11)

On the other hand, Radford follows the line of Frenett and Smith, demonstrating that the armed struggle has not left Northern Ireland. There are two main arguments that support their view: (1) Multiple groups decline the agreement and (2) Social networks strengthen a traditional-minded Irish Republican constituency, committed to pursue their goals.

In the aftermath of the GFA, the rejectionist group PIRA fragmented off and the RIRA was born. The contention of what is now called RIRA (Real IRA) is that such a body should always exist to challenge Great Britain militarily. Their aim is to subvert and to put an end to the Peace Process, whilst rejecting any other form of republicanism. Moreover, their dual strategy supported the creation of the political pressure group 32CSM.(12) Nonetheless, after the Omagh bombing in 1998, there was a decline in the military effectiveness of the RIRA. Several events left the successor strategically and politically aimless: A new terrorism law, an FBI penetration, and a series of arrests and arms finds.(13) In spite of what seemed to be a defeat, it was not the end of the group. In 2007, the RIRA rearmed itself, an on-going trend that tries to imitate PIRA’s war and prevents the weaponry from going obsolete. In addition, other factions re-emerged: The Continuity IRA (CIRA), weaker than the RIRA, was paralysed in 2010 after a successful penetration by the security forces. Notwithstanding, it is still one of the richest organisations in the world. Secondly, the Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) is politically aligned with the RSF and the RNU. They have not been very popular on the political arena, but they actively contest seats in the council.(14)

In 2009, the Independent Monitoring Commission acknowledged an increase in ‘freelance dissidents’, who are perceived as a growing threat, numbers ranging between 400-500. The reason behind it is the highly interconnected network of traditional republican families. Studies also show that 14% of nationalists can sympathetically justify the use of republican violence. Other factors worth mentioning include: A growing presence of older men and women with paramilitary experience; an increase of coordination and cooperation between the groups; an improvement in capability and technical knowledge, evidenced by recent activities.(15)

In 2014, a relatively focused and coherent IRA (‘New IRA’) emerged, with poor political support and a lack of funding, but reaching out to enough irredentists to cause a potential trouble in a not so distant future.


Von Bülow predicted: ‘[Our consequence of the foregoing Exposition, is, that] small States, in the future, will no more vanquish great ones, but on the contrary will finally become a Pray to them”.(16) One could argue that it is the case with Northern Ireland.

Although according to him, number and organisation are essential to an army,(17) the nature of the war makes it difficult to fight in a conventional way.(18) Most documents agree that the war against the (P)IRA must be fought with a counterinsurgency strategy, since, as O’Neill thoughtfully asserts, ‘to understand most terrorism, we must first understand insurgency.’ In the 1960s, such strategies began to stress the combination of political, military, social, psychological, and economic
measures.(19) This holistic approach to the conflict would be guided by political action, as many scholars put forward in counterinsurgency manuals (e.g.: Galula citing Mao Zedong’s ‘[R]evolutionary war is 80 per cent political action and only 20 per cent military’.(20) Jackson suggests that the target of the security apparatus may not be the destruction of the insurgency, but the prevention of the organisation from configuring its scenario through violence. Therefore, after the security forces dismantle the PIRA, a larger and more heavy response should be undertaken on the political arena to render it irrelevant.(21)

One of the main dangers such an insurgency poses to the UK in the long term is the re-opening of the revolutionary war, according to the definition given by Shy and Collier.(22) Besides, the risks of progression through repression is its reliance on four fragile branches, i.e.: Intelligence, propaganda, the secret services and the police.(23) The latter’s coordination was one of the causes of the fall of the PIRA, as aforementioned, and continues to be essential: ‘(...) these disparate groups of Republicans must be kept in perspective and they are unlikely, in the short term at least, to wield the same military muscle as PIRA (...), and much of that is due to the efforts of the PSNI, M15 and the British Army’ maintains Radford. Thus, ‘Technical and physical intelligence gathering are vital to fighting terrorists, but it must be complemented by good policing’.

Hence, unless the population is locally united; traditional, violent republican ideas are rejected, and the enemy remains fragmented, the remnants of the ‘Long War’ are likely to persist and cause trouble to those who ignore the current trends. There is an urgent need to understand the strong ideology behind the struggle. As the old Chinese saying goes: ‘It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles’.(24)


1. Writer and veteran journalist Peter Taylor, Former Minister Peter Robinson (DUP Party), ex-IRA hunger striker Gerard Hodgins, and former IRA commander and Ph.D. Anthony McIntyre.

2. M. Radford, Ross Frenett and M.L.R. Smith, as well as PUP leader Billy Hutchinson and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

3. Edwards, Aaron. “Lessons Learned? Operation Banner and British Counter-Insurgency Strategy” International Security and Military History, 116-118.

4. Greene, Robert, The 33 Strategies of War. Penguin Group, 2006.

5. Edwards, Aaron. l.c.

6. Who Won the War? [Documentary]. United Kingdom, BBC. First aired on Sep 2014.

7. Provisional IRA

8. McIntyre, Anthony. Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism, 2008.

9. E.g.: R. Frenett, M. L. R. Smith.

10. Pratten, Garth. “Major General Sir Charles Gwynn: Soldier of the Empire, father of British counter- insurgency?” International Security and Military History, 114-115.

11. Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991.

12. ‘The 32 County Sovereignty Movement’

13. For instance, Freddie Scappatticci, the IRA’s head of internal security, was exposed as a British military intelligence agent in 2003.

14. Radford, Mark. ‘The Dissident IRA: Their “War” Continues’ The British Army Review 169: Spring/ Summer 2017, 43-49 f.f.

15. ‘Terrorists continue to plot, attack and build often ingenious and quite deadly devices’ Ibidem.

16. Von Bülow, Dietrich Heinrich. ‘The Spirit of the Modern System of War’. Chapter I, P. 189. Cambridge University Press, Published October 2014.

17. Von Bülow, D.H., l.c. P. 193 Chapter II.

18. Indeed, some authors will define it as an ‘unconventional war’. E.g.: ‘revolutionary war aims at the liquidation of the existing power structure and at a transformation in the structure of society.’ Heymann, Hans H. and Whitson W. W., ‘Can and Should the United States Preserve A Military Capability for Revolutionary Conflict?’ Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, Ca., 1972, p. 5.p. 54.

19. O’Neill, Board E. Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005. Chapter 1: Insurgency in the Contemporary World.

20. Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964.

21. Jackson, B. A., 2007, ‘Counterinsurgency Intelligence in a “Long War”: The British Experience in Northern Ireland.’ January-February issue, Military Review, RAND Corporation.

22. ‘Revolutionary War refers to the seizure of political power by the use of armed force’. Shy, John and Thomas W. Collier. “Revolutionary War” in Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986.

23. Luttwak, Edward. (2002). Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace. Cambridge, US: Belknap Press.

24. Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Attack By Stratagem 3.18.



Edwards, Aaron. Lessons Learned? Operation Banner and British Counter-Insurgency Strategy International Security and Military History, 116-118.

Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964.

Greene, Robert. The 33 Strategies of War. Penguin Group, 2006.

Heymann, Hans H. and Whitson W. W.. Can and Should the United States Preserve A Military Capability for Revolutionary Conflict? (Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, Ca., 1972), p. 5.p. 54.

International Monitoring Commission (IMC), Irish and British governments report on the IRA army council’s existence, 2008.

Lawrence, T. E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991.

Luttwak, Edward. Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace. Cambridge, US: Belknap Press, 2002.

McIntyre, Anthony. Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism, 2008.

O’Neill, Board E.. Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005.

Pratten, Garth. Major General Sir Charles Gwynn: Soldier of the Empire, father of British counter-insurgency? International Security and Military History, 114-115.

Radford, Mark. The Dissident IRA: Their ‘War’ Continues The British Army Review 169: Spring/Summer 2017, 43-49.

Ross Frenett and M.L.R. Smith. IRA 2.0: Continuing the Long War—Analyzing the Factors Behind Anti-GFA Violence, Published online, June 2012.

Sepp, Kalev I.. Best Practices in Counterinsurgency. Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 8-12.

Sun Tzu, S. B. Griffith. The Art of War. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964. Print.

Taylor, Peter. Who Won the War? [Documentary]. United Kingdom, BBC. First aired on Sep 2014.

Thompson, Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005.

Von Bülow, Dietrich Heinrich. The Spirit of the Modern System of War. Cambridge University Press, Published October 2014.

A Critical Analysis of the Future of the EU’s CFSDP

ESSAYBlake Bierman

The Common Foreign, Security, and Defense Policy (CFSDP) of the European Union today acts a chameleonic hybrid of objectives and policies that attempt to resolve a plethora of threats faced by the EU. In a post 9/11 security framework, any acting policy measure must simultaneously answer to a wide array of political demands from member states and bureaucratic constraints from Brussels. As a result, the urgent need for consolidation and coherency in a common, digestible narrative has evolved into a single EU Global Strategy that boldly attempts to address today’s most pressing security whilst proactively deterring those of tomorrow. In this analysis, I will first present a foundational perspective on the external context of the policy areas. Next, I will interpret the self-perception of the EU within such a context and its role(s) within. Thirdly, I will identify the key interests, goals, and values of the EU and assess their incorporation into policy. I will then weigh potential resources and strategies the EU may utilize in enacting and enforcing said policies. After examining the aforementioned variables, I will end my assessment by weighing the strengths and weaknesses of both the EU’s Strategic Vision and Reflection Paper while identifying preferences within the two narratives.

EU in an External Context: A SWOT Analysis

When it comes to examining the two perspectives presented, the documents must be viewed from their correlative timelines. The first document, “From Shared Vision to Common Action: Implementing the EU Global Strategy Year 1,” (I will refer to this as the Implementation paper) serves as a realist review of ongoing action within the EU’s three policy clusters in detailing the beginning stages of integrated approach and outlook towards the internal-external nexus along with an emphasized role of public diplomacy in the mix. On the other hand, the second document, “Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defense,” (I will refer to this as the Reflection paper) acts more so as a planning guide to define the potential frameworks for policies going forward into 2025. Once these documents are viewed within their respective timelines, a balanced “SWOT” analysis can assess the similarities and divergences of the options they present. Overwhelmingly, the theme of cooperation acts as a fundamental staple in both documents. In my opinion, this acts a force for unification and solidarity amongst member states from not only the point of view of common interest in all three policy areas, but also as a reminder of the benefits in the impact and cost of action as prescribed in the UN and NATO cases. Both documents seem to expand the EU’s context in terms of scope as embracing the means and demands for security in a global lens. The documents reinforce that in a globalized world, threats and their responses require an approach that extends beyond EU borders, and therefore a strong, coherent policy voice is needed to bring together member states and allies alike to defeat them.

Examining the divergences, much is left to be desired as far as the risks and opportunities are presented. In my perspective, I believe this was constructed purposefully as an attempt to leave the both areas  as open as possible to allow for member states to interpret them in the context of their own narratives. In short, member state cohesion at literally every policy inroad proves to be the proverbial double-edged sword as the single largest risk and opportunity tasked by the organization. I think that the incessant rehashing of the need to stress state sovereignty at every turn while glamorizing the benefits of a single market and economies of scale identifies a bipolar divide in both documents that seems yet to be bridged by national sentiments even in the most agreeable of policy areas like diplomacy. The discord remains all but dependent on the tide of political discourse at the national level for years to come as the pace maker to materialize sufficient commitments in everything from budgets to bombs in order to achieve true policy success.

Who is the EU? Self-Perception and Potential Scenarios

After understanding the external context of the EU policy areas, we now turn to the element of self-perception and the roles of the EU as an international actor. Examining the relationship between the two stands as a crucial understanding of policy formulation as central to the core identity to the EU and vice versa. In this case, both documents provide key insight as to the position of the EU in a medium-term perspective. From the Implementation Paper, we see a humbled approach that pushes the EU to evolve from a regional, reactionary actor to a proactive, world power. The paper hones in on the legal roots and past successes of an integrated approach outside EU borders as a calling to solidify the Union’s mark as a vital organ for peace and defense. The paper then broadens such an identity to incorporate the elements of NATO and the UN cooperation as a segmenting role for member states contributions, such as intelligence collection and military technology/cyber warfare. In the Reflection Paper, I think the tone and phrasing speak more to the self-perceptions of individual citizens. The emotive language for the promotion of a just cause attitude stands reinforced by the onslaught of harmonizing buzzwords throughout the paper and the three scenarios such as “joint, collaborative, solidarity, shared, common, etc.”. In my perspective, such attempts draw in the need to reinforce, protect, and preserve a common identity both at home and abroad. This formation speaks to the development of both military and civilian capabilities as a means of securing and maintaining a strong EU position in the global order while supplementing the protection of what is near and dear at home.

Policy Today: Interests, Goals, and Values

When developing a coherent line of key interests, goals, and values across three focal policy structures, the EU makes strategic use of public perception as a litmus test to guide policy narratives. In the Reflection Paper, indications clearly point to a heightened citizen concern over immigration and terrorism from 2014-2016 taking clear priority over economic issues as the continent recovers. Such a reshuffling may pave the way for once-apprehensive politicians to reexamine budgeting priorities. Such a mandate could very well be the calling national governments need to allocate more of their defense spending to the EU while also ramping up domestic civilian and military infrastructure to contribute to common policy goals. Extending this notion of interest-based contributions over to the goals themselves, I think that member states are slowly developing the political will to see that a single market for defense ultimately becomes more attractive to the individual tax payer when all play a part. As the Reflection Paper explains, this can be translated as free/common market values with the development of economies of scale, boosted production, and increased competition. In each of the three scenarios outlined, the values act as matched components to these goals and interests. Therefore, readers retain a guiding set of “principles” as the basis for the plan’s “actions” and “capabilities.” The alignment of interests, goals, and values remains a difficult but necessary target in all policy areas, as the final results have significant influence over the perception of publics that indirectly vote the policies into place. In my perspective, a lack of coherence between the three and the policies could be a potential pitfall for policy objectives as lost faith by the public may sink the voter appetite for future defense spending and action.

Making it Happen: Resources and Strategies

As the balance between the EU’s ways and means become a focal point for any CFSDP discussion, I wanted to enhance the focus between the resources and strategies to examine the distribution between EU and member state competencies. When it comes to resources in all three policy areas, individual member states’ own infrastructures become front and center. Even in the “collaborative” lens of a 21st century EU, foreign affairs, defense, and security mainly revolve as apparatuses of a state. Therefore, in order to achieve a common strategy, policy must make a concerted effort to maximize collective utilization of state assets while respecting state sovereignty. In the Reflection paper, an attempt to consolidate the two by bolstering the EU’s own defense budget acts as a middle ground. In this regard, I think the biggest opportunity for the EU to retain its own resources remains in technology. States are simply more eager to share their military tech than they are their own boots on the ground. Similarly, technology and its benefits are more easily transferrable between member states and the EU. Just as well, selling the idea of technology research to taxpayers that may one day see the fruits of such labor in civilian applications is an easier pill to swallow for politicians than having to justify the use of a state’s limited and precious human military capital for an EU assignment not all may agree with. A type of “technological independence” the third scenario implies would optimally direct funding in a manner that balances state military capacity where it acts best while joining the common strategy for EU technological superiority that all member states can equally benefit from.

Narratives and Norms: A Final Comparison

After reviewing the progress made in the Implementation Paper and balancing it with the goals set forth in the Reflection paper, it remains clear that serious decisions towards the future of EU CFSDP still need to be made. The EU Global Strategy treads lightly on the most important topics for voters like immigration and terrorism that remain works in progress under the program’s steps for “resilience” and the beginnings of an integrated approach. That being said, my perspective in this program lens remains that the role and funding of public diplomacy unfortunately remains undercut by the giant umbrella of security and defense. To delve into the assessment of counterterrorism policy as a solely defensive measure does a disservice to the massive, existing network of EU diplomatic missions serving abroad that effectively act as proactive anti-terrorism measures in themselves. At the same time, supplementing funding to public diplomacy programs would take some of the pressure off member states to release their military capabilities for joint use. In this facet, I empathize with the member state politician and voter in their apprehensiveness to serve as the use of force in even the most justifiable situations. A refocus on funding in the diplomacy side is a cost effective alternative and investment that member states can make to reduce the likelihood that their troops will need to serve abroad on behalf of the EU. The success of diplomacy can be seen in areas like immigration, where the Partnership Framework on Migration has attempted to work with countries of origin to stabilize governments and assist civilians.

Turning the page to the Reflection Paper, I think much is left to be desired in terms of the development of the three scenarios. Once again, the scenario parameters are purposefully vague to effectively sell the plan to a wide variety of narratives. At the same time, I found it reprehensible that despite the massive rhetoric to budgetary concerns, none of the three scenarios incorporated any type of estimate fiscal dimension to compare and contrast the visions. Obviously, the contributions of member states will vary widely but I think that a concerted campaign to incentivize a transparent contribution table in terms financing, military assets, diplomatic assets, or (ideally) a combination of the three would see a more realpolitik approach to what the EU does and does not possess in the  capacity to achieve in these policy areas. Ultimately, I believe that Scenario C “Common Defense and Security” retains the most to offer member states while effectively balancing the contributions and competencies equally. I think that the scenario utilizes the commitments to NATO and reinforces the importance of technological independence. As such, the importance of a well-defined plan to develop and maintain cutting-edge technology in all three policy areas cannot be overstated and, in my opinion, will become not only the most common battlefield, but also the critical one as the world enters into a 21st century of cyber warfare.



European Union. (2016). From Shared Vision to Common Action: The EU’s Global Strategic Vision: Year 1.

European Union. (2016). Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defense.

Mauricio, un caso esperanzador sobre Derechos Humanos en África

ENSAYOAlejandro Palacios

La República de Mauricio, Estado insular de 1,2 millones de habitantes en el suroeste del océano Índico, a 900 kilómetros de la costa de Madagascar, puede pasar como un buen ejemplo de los progresos que en materia de Derechos Humanos están realizando diversos gobiernos africanos. Esto no quiere decir que este archipiélago sea un país ejemplar en la aplicación de los Derechos Humanos, pues ciertamente aún le queda mucho camino por recorrer en su correcta aplicación. Pero su caso es interesante como país que, a pesar de encontrarse aún en vías de desarrollo, ha sido capaz de confeccionar un sistema legal en el cual el respeto a los derechos fundamentales juega un papel esencial.

En este documento se hará mención del estado de los Derechos Humanos en algunas de las áreas más importantes de la vida política y social de Mauricio, tales como la práctica democrática, la actividad laboral o el acceso al agua potable, entre otras. A su vez, se tratará de dar respuesta a la pregunta de si el sistema jurídico mauriciano está o no adecuado para hacer frente a la lucha contra los abusos y violaciones de tales derechos y, sobre todo, si el Gobierno, atendiendo a los recursos disponibles, está capacitado para ello. En otras palabras, se valorará si la voluntad jurídica se corresponde con una voluntad real a la hora de atacar las injusticias relacionadas con los derechos fundamentales.

Marco legal

A pesar de la aprobación de la Carta Africana de Derechos Humanos y de los Pueblos en 1981 y de la creación de la Comisión Africana de los Derechos Humanos en 1986, el respeto a ese sistema de valores continúa siendo la excepción en la vida de muchos países del continente africano. Esto es debido no a una ausencia de reconocimiento de esos derechos en las respectivas Constituciones nacionales, sino a la falta tanto de mecanismos legales como de voluntad política para aplicar eficazmente la ley.

Mauricio no escapa a esta realidad. Recientemente, el Comité de Derechos Humanos de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos (OHCHR, por sus siglas en inglés) presentó el quinto informe periódico de Mauricio sobre la implementación de las provisiones del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos (ICCPR, en inglés). En su informe, el Comité puso de relieve la falta de voluntad política del Gobierno mauriciano para desarrollar los principios de democracia, Estado de derecho, Derechos Humanos y políticos y libertades individuales.

No obstante, el Comité constató avances desde su anterior informe, como la creación de una división para los Derechos Humanos en la estructura gubernamental mauriciana y la adopción de la Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades (Equal Opportunities Act). Otras medidas sacadas adelante en Mauricio son determinadas enmiendas realizadas en el Código Civil y la adopción tanto de la Ley de Apelación Penal (Criminal Appeal Act) como de la Ley de Quejas Policiales (Police Complaints Act). Estas actuaciones pretenden lograr a largo plazo un desarrollo acorde con el respeto de los derechos humanos y las libertades individuales con el fin de ajustarse a estándares de calidad de vida basados en la dignidad, la justicia social, el empoderamiento económico y la igualdad de trato. Según el Gobierno, todo ello ayudará a crear una comunidad cohesionada y tolerante basada en una serie de valores compartidos como el respeto, la unidad, la inclusión y la solidaridad.

Además, Mauricio asegura tener implementados en sus leyes muchos de los instrumentos acordados a nivel internacional con vistas a garantizar los Derechos Humanos. Entre otras acciones, el Gobierno destaca la reclamación a Reino Unido del Archipiélago de Chagos. A juicio del Gobierno mauriciano, el archipiélago fue forzosamente desalojado por parte de Reino Unido, mostrando una “clara indiferencia” hacia los derechos de los habitantes insulares. Desde entonces, la República ha mantenido una actitud inalterable en favor del proceso descolonizador. El apoyo internacional que ha recibido Mauricio se ha visto ya reflejado en la aprobación de la resolución 71/292 de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas sobre la petición a la Corte Internacional de Justicia de una opinión consultiva sobre las consecuencias legales de la separación del Archipiélago de Chagos de Mauricio en 1965.

Vida social y política

Tanto la Constitución mauriciana de 1968 como la legislación adoptada posteriormente incorporan formulaciones de respeto a los Derechos Humanos. No obstante, como ocurre en muchos otros países, el sistema institucional carece de herramientas y de voluntad para aplicar de manera efectiva los castigos por infracción o negligencia en este terreno. Además, falta un adecuado sistema de protección para personas víctimas de diversos delitos, como por ejemplo, ofensas sexuales o discriminación hacia personas homosexuales.

Cabe recalcar que no todos los ámbitos rigen el patrón mencionado. Existen otros ámbitos en los que la legislación protege y respeta los derechos fundamentales. Por ello, es conveniente analizar los casos de manera individual antes que proporcionar una valoración general del estado de los Derechos Humanos inmediatamente.

Empezaremos haciendo mención al estado de la democracia en el país insular. Según el Índice de Democracia de 2017, Mauricio está dentro de lo que se considera una “democracia plena”, con unos resultados superiores a los de España, Estados Unidos o Francia, entre otros[1]. Esta clasificación quiere decir que en Mauricio: 1) se celebran elecciones realmente libres y justas; 2) se garantiza la seguridad personal de los votantes; 3) existe poca influencia por parte de las potencias extranjeras en el Gobierno, y 4) los funcionarios civiles son capaces de implementar políticas. Todo ello, en un grado más alto que los 178 países por debajo de Mauricio.

Sin embargo, existen algunas críticas internas al funcionamiento democrático del país. A pesar de que las elecciones de 2014 fueran caracterizadas por observadores internacionales como justas y libres, algunas voces han criticado el sistema de representación, citando la modificación de determinadas circunscripciones electorales a fin de beneficiar a ciertos grupos sociales, técnica conocida en ciencias políticas como gerrymandering. Otras quejas se han referido al bajo número de mujeres candidatas, la falta de trasparencia en el conteo de votos por tomar este proceso más tiempo del que debería y la falta de equidad en el acceso a los medios de comunicación para promocionar las campañas electorales por parte de la oposición. En este sentido, la oposición alega que la televisión pública MBC TV favorece al partido en el Gobierno.

Por último, gracias a una resolución de 2012 del Comité de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas, el Gobierno mauriciano enmendó la Constitución en 2014 para evitar que los votantes tuvieran que identificar su etnia a la hora de votar. Este comportamiento fue reportado por el Comité como una clara violación del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos.

A pesar de estas críticas, es relevante destacar el hecho de que Mauricio se encuentra en la posición 54, entre los 176 países analizados, en cuanto al Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción. En efecto, Mauricio es el país africano en el que se reportan los niveles más bajos de corrupción, sólo superado por Namibia, Ruanda y Botsuana[2]. No obstante, los niveles de corrupción existentes no se han saldado sin consecuencias. En 2015 la presidenta de Mauricio, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, la única presidenta en África por entonces, fue obligada a dimitir tras verse envuelta en un escándalo político que implicaba también a la ONG Planet Earth Institute[3].

En otro orden de cosas, la pena de muerte fue abolida oficialmente ya en el año 1995, siendo la última ejecución en 1987[4]. A pesar de ser una fecha relativamente reciente, Mauricio constituye uno de los pocos países en el África subsahariana que la han abolido. Botsuana, Zimbabue, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesoto o Suazilandia son algunos de los países vecinos que aún hoy en día aplican de una manera u otra la pena de muerte[5].

Mauricio prohíbe el aborto a excepción de riesgo grave para la vida de la madre, no pudiéndose abortar, por tanto, por defectos del feto, riesgo no grave para la salud física o mental de la mujer gestante, factores socio-económicos o caso de violación[6].

Aunque existen situaciones de abusos de los Derechos Humanos, la actitud del Gobierno es la de aceptar mecanismos que monitoreen su labor, algunos de ellos exteriores. Mauricio cuenta con un defensor del pueblo u ombudsman elegido por el presidente del país, cuya labor es la de investigar las quejas contra los servidores públicos, tales como policías y funcionarios de prisiones. El informe sobre los Derechos Humanos en Mauricio de 2017 considera al defensor del pueblo como una figura independiente, efectiva y con recursos suficientes para llevar a cabo su labor.

Además, el Gobierno cuenta con la Comisión de Igualdad de Oportunidades, que está encargada de investigar alegaciones de discriminación y de promover la igualdad de oportunidades en el sector público y privado. Según el Informe de 2017, la Comisión resulta ser efectiva, independiente y estar dotada con recursos suficientes para llevar adelante su cometido.

Todos estos controles, sin embargo, no impiden que se sigan produciendo discriminaciones entre los ciudadanos mauricianos por razón, entre otras, de género y pertenencia a una comunidad específica. Este es el escenario en el que se encuentran los criollos, es decir, los habitantes de origen mauriciano con descendencia africana. A este respecto, el periódico L´Express anunció recientemente que estaba en posesión de una grabación en la que se le podía oír al ex vicepresidente y ministro de Vivienda y Suelo decir que, dentro del nuevo proyecto urbanístico que el Gobierno iba a desarrollar, el 90% de las viviendas iban a ir para los hindús y el 10% para los musulmanes. Consecuentemente, los criollos no recibirían “ninguna vivienda” para prevenir que “la prostitución se esparza por el barrio”. Cabe destacar que la etnia hindú constituye el 48% de la población mauriciana y que, en el plano político, ha dominado desde la independencia del país.

Además, las mujeres y niños continúan siendo los colectivos más afectados por la discriminación. Existen leyes que prohíben y criminalizan tanto las violaciones como la violencia doméstica, sin embargo, ni la policía ni el sistema judicial proveen de una adecuada cobertura ante estos casos. Lo mismo ocurre con los casos de acoso sexual. Se han reportado casos de tráfico sexual de menores (el mínimo de edad permitido para el sexo consentido sea de 16 años).

Las personas con discapacidad también sufren un cierto grado de discriminación. Y es que, a pesar de que la ley mauriciana obligue a que los discapacitados constituyan un porcentaje concreto de la fuerza de trabajo dentro de una empresa, las autoridades hacen caso omiso. Sin embargo, el Ejecutivo se encarga de financiar programas de ayuda a estas personas, a fin de facilitarles el acceso a la información y comunicación. Por ejemplo, añadiendo subtítulos en los programas de televisión o con la creación de un programa informativo adaptado a sus dificultades comunicativas. Por último, a pesar de la igualdad de derechos en cuanto a la participación política, existen problemas prácticos relacionados con el transporte y acceso a los colegios electorales.

Igualmente el colectivo LGTBI sufre un acusado nivel de trato discriminatorio. Por ejemplo, en términos prácticos, a quienes hayan practicado sexo con otras personas del mismo sexo se les impide donar sangre, a pesar de que la ley lo permita. Además, en 2015 se reportó una detención arbitraria a un hombre por ser transgénero y exteriorizarlo al llevar ropa de mujer. Fue liberado sin cargos tras ser abofeteado, aterrorizado y obligado a desnudarse. Uno de los últimos incidentes denunciados fue el lanzamiento de piedras durante la marcha anual del colectivo LGTBI. A pesar de estos casos, la ley no criminaliza la actividad sexual entre personas del mismo sexo, pero sí la sodomía entre personas del mismo y diferente sexo.

Todos estos tipos de discriminación se trasladan también al ámbito laboral donde, a pesar de estar prohibido por ley, la discriminación en este ámbito por razón de sexo, raza, VIH y discapacidad existe. Por ejemplo, los criollos y los musulmanes tienen difícil acceso a puestos de trabajo en el sector público. Además, las mujeres cobran menos que los hombres por un trabajo similar y es poco común que ocupen altos cargos. Por el contrario, ellas suelen ocupar los puestos en donde se requiere una menor capacitación. El alto grado de desempleo entre los discapacitados se debe a la falta de puestos de trabajo físicamente accesibles. Por último, los menores tienen prohibido por ley trabajar hasta los 16 años, y hasta los 18 en trabajos calificados como peligrosos y con malas condiciones sanitarias. No obstante, se dan casos de menores trabajando en las calles, en pequeños negocios y restaurantes, así como en el sector agrícola.

El salario mínimo, que tiende a subir en relación con la tasa de inflación, varía según el sector. Por ejemplo, para un trabajador doméstico el salario mínimo es de 607 rupias (15€) a la semana, mientras que para un trabajador de fábrica es de 794 rupias (20€). La semana laboral está estipulada en 45 horas. A pesar de estas regulaciones, se han reportado casos en los que a los trabajadores de la limpieza no siempre se les pagaba el salario mínimo por jornadas enteras de trabajo, pues sólo recibían 1.500 rupias (38€) al mes, lo que equivale a 375 rupias (9€) a la semana.

Por otro lado, la ley reconoce el derecho a la huelga, aunque es necesario para declararla que se siga un proceso obligatorio considerado por sus convocantes como “largo, complejo y excesivamente largo”. Aun cuando los trabajadores hayan cumplido con este proceso, el Ejecutivo se reserva el derecho a prohibir la huelga y trasladar la disputa al arbitraje si considera que la huelga puede afectar seriamente a un sector o servicio en concreto. Además, es necesario que los trabajadores cumplan con un mínimo de sus servicios durante los días de huelga. Las huelgas a nivel nacional, referidas a “cuestiones generales de política económica” y/o durante las sesiones de la Asamblea General, están prohibidas. El  ámbito laboral es uno de los pocos donde el Gobierno aplica la ley de manera más eficaz. Sin embargo, se han reportado retrasos en los procedimientos y apelaciones.

En relación al acceso al agua potable, no se han reportado mayores problemas. Aunque siempre resulte recomendable, no sólo en Islas Mauricio, sino también en África en general, hacer uso del agua embotellada para consumo humano. En este sentido, sólo en la República Democrática del Congo, Mozambique y Papúa Nueva Guinea se han observado graves problemas con el abastecimiento de agua potable. No obstante, preocupa la contaminación del acuífero de la zona norte de Mauricio, que es una de las cinco principales reservas que existen de agua subterránea y proporciona entre el 50 y 60% del agua necesaria para fines domésticos[7].

Buenas perspectivas

Para concluir, habría que recalcar los esfuerzos que el Gobierno insular está haciendo a fin de acabar con las situaciones que van en contra del respeto a los derechos fundamentales. No cabe duda que, a pesar de estos esfuerzos, a Mauricio le quedan aún muchos retos que afrontar. Muchos de ellos vienen causados por la falta de rigor en la aplicación de las leyes mauricianas, pues éstas son, como se ha señalado anteriormente, ejemplares en el respeto y promoción de estos derechos.

De hecho, Mauricio cuenta con una legislación que, como hemos visto, se parece mucho a la de los países desarrollados occidentales en materia del respeto a los derechos fundamentales individuales. Uno de los problemas más graves al que se enfrenta el país en este sentido es la falta de voluntad política para aplicar los preceptos de la ley.

Y es que, a pesar de las deficiencias señaladas por los informes mencionados, estos también destacan la reforma estructural llevada a cabo y la actitud asertiva del Gobierno mauriciano en favor de la aplicación de unas políticas más respetuosas con los derechos fundamentales. Esto se ve claramente en la honestidad con la que el Gobierno permite que terceras instituciones ejerzan cierta actividad de monitoreo.

Estamos hablando, además, de que Mauricio es el país africano con un mayor Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH), de 0,781, calificado como de “alto”[8]. Esta situación le coloca como el país número 68 del mundo, por encima de países como Ecuador, China o Turquía. Por tanto, podemos considerar que Islas Mauricio cumple con unos estándares más que aceptables en materia de educación, salud, esperanza de vida o PIB per cápita.[9]

Por otro lado, este Estado insular es uno de los pocos que proveen enseñanza hasta el nivel universitario, transporte escolar y sanidad gratuitos. Además, ha conseguido que el 87% de sus habitantes tenga una vivienda en propiedad, sin por ello haber experimentado una burbuja inmobiliaria como la que sufrieron los países occidentales hace ya más de 10 años, y cuyas consecuencias aún se siguen notando. Todo ello lo ha conseguido Mauricio sin estar colocado entre los países más ricos del mundo (puesto 129 de los 189 analizados por PIB nominal)[10]. Es algo logrado mediante una diversificación de su economía, grandes recortes en Defensa y una muy bien estructurada seguridad social.[11]

Esto lleva a concluir que, a pesar de los esfuerzos que le quedan por hacer en materia de promoción y respeto de los Derechos Humanos, Mauricio constituye a día de hoy uno de los países africanos más prósperos económicamente y, por tanto, donde es más probable que se lleve a cabo de manera temprana una institucionalización y afianzamiento de los derechos y libertades fundamentales. En efecto, Mauricio goza hoy en día de un crecimiento anual cercano al 4% y un Índice del PIB por Paridad de Poder Adquisitivo (PPA) de los más altos del continente africano, sólo por detrás de las Islas Seychelles[12]. Este dato es significativo, ya que uno de los pasos más importantes hacia el respeto de los derechos y libertades fundamentales es el empoderamiento económico de la población para poner fin a los casos de servidumbre y dependencia que, sin duda, alientan los casos de abusos y violaciones de estos derechos.


[1] A este respecto, véase

[4] Para más información, véase

[5] Es de justicia mencionar que Zambia y Tanzania se encuentran actualmente en proceso de abolición de la pena de muerte

[7] A este respecto, véase

[9] El Índice de Desarrollo Humano (IDH) es un indicador elaborado anualmente por el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD) y constituye uno de los más importantes a la hora de valorar si la riqueza gubernamental se ha traducido en mayores niveles de vida para sus habitantes.

El desarrollo normativo de la UE en materia de refugiados

ENSAYOLucía Serrano Royo

En la actualidad unos 60 millones de personas se encuentran forzosamente desplazadas en el mundo (Arenas-Hidalgo, 2017).[1] Las cifras adquieren mayor trascendencia si se observa que más del 80% de los flujos migratorios se dirigen a países en vías de desarrollo, mientras que solo un 20% tienen como meta los países desarrollados, que a su vez poseen más medios y riqueza, y serían más aptos para acoger estos flujos migratorios.

En 2015 Europa acogió a 1,2 millones de personas, lo que supuso una magnitud sin precedentes desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Esta situación ha dado lugar a un intenso debate sobre solidaridad y responsabilidad entre los Estados miembros.

La forma en la que se ha legislado esta materia en la Unión Europea ha dado lugar a irregularidades en su aplicación entre los diferentes Estados. Esta materia dentro del sistema de la Unión Europea se trata de una competencia compartida del espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia. El Tratado Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea (TFUE) en su artículo 2.2 y 3 se establecen que en estas competencias, son los Estados los que deben legislar en la medida en que la Unión no ejerce su competencia. Esto ha dado lugar a un desarrollo de forma parcial y desigualdades.

Desarrollo legislativo

La figura de los refugiados se recoge por primera vez en un documento internacional en la Convención sobre el Estatuto de Refugiados de Ginebra (1951) y su Protocolo de 1967. (ACNUR: La Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados, 2017)[2]. A pesar de este gran avance, el tratamiento de los refugiados era diferente en cada Estado miembro, al tratarse su política nacional. Por ello, en un intento de armonizar las políticas nacionales, se firmó en 1990 el Convenio de Dublín. A pesar de ello, no fue hasta el Tratado de Ámsterdam en mayo de 1999, cuando se estableció como objetivo crear un espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia, tratando la materia de inmigración y asilo como una competencia compartida. Ya en octubre de 1999, el Consejo Europeo celebró una sesión especial para la creación de un espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia en la Unión Europea, concluyendo con la necesidad de crear un Sistema Europeo Común de Asilo (SECA) (CIDOB, 2017)[3]. Finalmente, estas políticas en materia de asilo se convierten en materia común con el Tratado de Lisboa y su desarrollo en el TFUE.

Actualmente, su razón de ser está recogida en el art 67 y siguientes del TFUE, donde se establece que la Unión constituye un espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia dentro del respeto de los derechos fundamentales y de los distintos sistemas y tradiciones jurídicos de los Estados miembros. Este espacio también garantizará la ausencia de controles de las personas en las fronteras interiores. Además, se establece que la UE se desarrollará una política común de asilo, inmigración y control de las fronteras exteriores (art 67.2 TFUE) basada en la solidaridad entre Estados miembros, que sea equitativa respecto de los nacionales de terceros países. Pero el espacio de libertad, seguridad y justicia no es un compartimento estanco en los tratados, sino que tiene que interpretarse a la luz de otros apartados.

Esta competencia se debe analizar, por un lado, bajo el marco de libre circulación de personas dentro de la Unión Europea, y por otro, teniendo en cuenta el ámbito financiero. En cuanto a la libertad de circulación de personas, se debe aplicar el artículo 77 TFUE, que insta a la Unión a desarrollar una política que garantice la ausencia total de controles de las personas en las fronteras interiores, garantizando a su vez el control en las fronteras exteriores. Para ello, el Parlamento Europeo y el Consejo, con arreglo al procedimiento legislativo ordinario, deben establecer una política común de visados y otros permisos de residencia de corta duración, controles y condiciones en las que los nacionales de terceros países podrán circular libremente por la Unión. En cuanto al ámbito financiero, se debe tener en cuenta el artículo 80 TFUE, que establece el principio de solidaridad en las políticas de asilo, inmigración y control, atendiendo al reparto equitativo de la responsabilidad entre los Estados miembros.

Además, un aspecto fundamental para el desarrollo de esta materia ha sido la armonización del término refugiado por la Unión, definiéndolo como nacionales de terceros países o apátridas que se encuentren fuera de su país de origen y no quieran o no puedan volver a él debido al temor fundado a ser perseguidos en razón de su raza, religión, nacionalidad u opinión (Eur-ex.europa.eu, 2017)[4] . Esto es de especial importancia porque estas son las características necesarias para adquirir la condición de refugiado, que a su vez es necesario para obtener el asilo en la Unión Europea.

Situación en Europa

A pesar del desarrollo legislativo, la respuesta en Europa a la crisis humanitaria tras el estallido del conflicto en Siria, junto con el recrudecimiento de aquellos que se suceden en Iraq, Afganistán, Eritrea o Somalia, ha sido muy poco eficaz, lo que ha hecho tambalear el sistema.

La decisión de conceder o retirar el estatuto de refugiado pertenece a cada autoridad interna de los Estados, y por tanto puede diferir de un Estado a otro. Lo que hace la Unión Europea es garantizar una protección común y garantizar que los solicitantes de asilo tengan acceso a procedimientos de asilo justos y eficaces. Por ello la UE trata de establecer un sistema coherente para la toma de decisiones al respecto por parte de los Estados miembros, desarrollando normas sobre el proceso completo de solicitud de asilo. Además, en el caso en el que la persona no cumpla los requisitos para ser refugiado, pero se encuentre en una situación delicada por riesgo a sufrir daños graves en caso de retorno a su país, tiene derecho a una protección subsidiaria. A estas personas se les aplica el principio de no devolución, es decir, tienen derecho ante todo a no ser conducidas a un país donde haya riesgo para sus vidas.

El problema de este sistema es que solamente Turquía y Líbano acogen 10 veces más refugiados que toda Europa, que hasta 2016 sólo tramitó 813.599 solicitudes de asilo. Concretamente España concedió protección a 6.855 solicitantes, de los cuales 6.215 eran sirios[5]; pese al incremento respecto a años anteriores, las cifras seguían siendo las más bajas en el entorno europeo.

Muchas de las personas que desembarcan en Grecia o Italia, emprenden de nuevo su rumbo hacia los Balcanes a través de Yugoslavia y Serbia hasta Hungría, ante las deficiencias de gestión y las condiciones precarias que encontraron en estos países de acogida.

Para intentar aplicar el principio de solidaridad y cooperación, se estableció en 2015 una serie de cuotas para aliviar la crisis humanitaria y la presión establecida en Grecia e Italia. Los Estados miembros debían repartirse 120.000 asilados, y todos los países debían acatarlo. El principal interesado fue Alemania. Otro de los mecanismos que se creó fue un fondo con cargo al Mecanismo para los Refugiados en Turquía, para satisfacer las necesidades de los refugiados acogidos en ese país. La Comisión destinó un importe total de 2.200 millones de euros, y presupuestó 3.000 millones en 2016-2017[6].

Ante esta situación los países han reaccionado de manera diferente dentro de la Unión. Frente a países como Alemania, que buscan una forma de combatir el envejecimiento y la reducción de la población en su Estado mediante la entrada de refugiados, otros Estados miembros son reacios a la aplicación de las políticas. Incluso en algunos países de la Unión Europea, los partidos nacionalistas ganan fuerza y apoyos: en Holanda, Geert Wilders (Partido de la Libertad); en Francia, Marine Le Pen (Frente Nacional), y en Alemania, Frauke Petry (partido Alternativa para Alemania). A pesar de que esos partidos no son la principal fuerza política en esos países, esto refleja el descontento de parte de población ante la entrada de refugiados en los Estados. También es destacable el caso de Reino Unido, puesto que una de las causas del Brexit fue el deseo de recuperar el control sobre la entrada de los inmigrantes en el país. Además, en un primer momento Reino Unido ya se descolgó del sistema de cuotas aplicado en el resto de Estados miembros. Como se confirma en sus negociaciones, la premier Teresa May prioriza el rechazo a la inmigración por encima del libre comercio en la UE.

Mecanismos específicos para el desarrollo del ESLJ

Las fronteras entre los distintos países de la Unión se han difuminado. Con el código de fronteras Schengen y el código comunitario sobre visados se han abierto las fronteras, integrándose y permitiendo así la libre circulación de personas. Para el funcionamiento de estos sistemas ha sido necesario el establecimiento de normas comunes sobre la entrada de personas y el control de los visados, puesto que una vez pasada la frontera exterior de la UE los controles son mínimos. Por ello, las comprobaciones de documentación varían dependiendo de los lugares de origen de los destinatarios, teniendo un control más detallado para aquellos ciudadanos que no son de la Unión. Solo excepcionalmente se ha previsto el restablecimiento del control en las fronteras interiores (durante un periodo máximo de treinta días), en caso de amenaza grave para el orden público y la seguridad interior.

Puesto que el control de las fronteras exteriores depende de los Estados donde se encuentren, se han creado sistemas como Frontex 2004, a partir de los Centros ad hoc de Control Fronterizo establecidos en 1999, que proporciona ayuda a los Estados en el control de las fronteras exteriores de la UE, principalmente a aquellos países que sufren grandes presiones migratorias (Frontex.europa.eu, 2017) [7]. También se ha creado el Fondo de Seguridad Interior, un sistema de apoyo financiero surgido en 2014 y destinado a reforzar las fronteras exteriores y los visados.

Otro mecanismo activo es el Sistema Europeo Común de Asilo (SECA), para reforzar la cooperación de los países de la UE, donde teóricamente los Estados miembros deben asignar 20% de los recursos disponibles[8]. Para su aplicación, se estableció el Fondo de Asilo, Migración e Integración (FAMI) (2014-2020) necesario para promover la eficacia de la gestión de los flujos migratorios. Además, en el SECA se ha establecido una política de asilo para la Unión Europea, que incluye una directiva sobre procedimientos de asilo y una directiva sobre condiciones de acogida. En este sistema se integra el Reglamento Dublín, de acuerdo con las Convención de Ginebra. Es un mecanismo fundamental y aunque este sistema se ha simplificado, unificado y aclarado, ha causado más controversias en materia de refugiados. Se estableció para racionalizar los procesos de solicitudes de asilo en los 32 países que aplican el Reglamento. Con arreglo a esta ley, solo un país es responsable del examen de su solicitud: el país que toma las huellas del refugiado, es decir, al primero que llegó y pidió protección internacional. Esto funciona independientemente de que la persona viaje o pida asilo en otro país; el país competente es aquel en el que se tomaron primero las huellas al refugiado. Este sistema se apoya en el EURODAC, puesto que es un sistema central que ayuda a los Estados miembros de la UE a determinar el país responsable de examinar una solicitud de asilo, comparando las impresiones dactilares.

El Consejo Europeo de Refugiados y Exiliados ha remarcado los dos problemas principales de este sistema: por un lado, lleva a los refugiados a viajar de forma clandestina y peligrosa hasta llegar a su país de destino, para evitar que les tome las huellas otro país distinto de aquel en el que se quieren asentar. Por otro lado, Grecia e Italia, que son los principales destinos de las corrientes de inmigrantes, no pueden con la carga que este sistema les impone para procesar las masas de personas que llegan a su territorio en busca de protección.

Casos ante el Tribunal de Justicia de la UE

El Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea se ha pronunciado en varios aspectos relativos a la actuación ante la inmigración y el tratamiento de los refugiados por parte los Estados miembros. En algunas ocasiones el tribunal se ha mantenido férreo en la aplicación de la normativa homogénea de la Unión, mientras que en otros casos el tribunal ha dejado la cuestión a la discrecionalidad de los diferentes Estados miembros. 

El tribunal falló en favor de una actuación común en el caso un nacional de un tercer país (Sr. El Dridi) que entró ilegalmente en Italia sin permiso de residencia. El 8 de mayo de 2004 el Prefecto de Turín dictó contra él un decreto de expulsión. El TJUE (STJUE, 28 abril 2011)[9] falló que a pesar de que un inmigrante se encuentre en situación ilegal y permanezca en el territorio del referido Estado miembro sin causa justificada, incluso con la concurrencia de una infracción de una orden de salida de dicho territorio en un plazo determinado, el Estado no puede imponer pena de prisión, puesto que siguiendo la Directiva 2008/115, excluyen la competencia penal de los Estados miembros en el ámbito de la inmigración clandestina y de la situación irregular. De este modo, los Estados deben ajustar su legislación para asegurar el respeto del Derecho de la Unión.

Por  otro lado, el tribunal deja en manos de los Estados la decisión de enviar de vuelta a un tercer país a un inmigrante que haya solicitado protección internacional en su territorio, si considera que ese país responde a los criterios de «país tercero seguro». Incluso el tribunal falló (STJUE, 10 de diciembre de 2013) [10]que, con objeto de racionalizar la tramitación de las solicitudes de asilo y de evitar la obstrucción del sistema, el Estado miembro mantiene su prerrogativa en el ejercicio del derecho a conceder asilo con independencia de cuál sea el Estado miembro responsable del examen de una solicitud. Esta facultad deja un gran margen de apreciación a los Estados. La homogeneidad en este caso solo se aprecia en el caso de que haya deficiencias sistemáticas del procedimiento de asilo y de las condiciones de acogida de los solicitantes de asilo en ese Estado, o bien tratos degradantes.

Por una actitud más activa

La Unión Europea ha establecido multitud de mecanismos, y tiene competencia para ponerlos en marcha, pero su pasividad y la actitud reacia de los Estados miembros a la hora de acoger a los refugiados ponen en duda la unidad del sistema de la Unión Europea y la libertad de movimiento que caracteriza a la propia UE. La situación a la que se enfrenta es compleja, puesto que hay una crisis humanitaria derivada del flujo de inmigrantes necesitados de ayuda en sus fronteras. Mientras tanto, los Estados se muestran pasivos e incluso contrarios a la mejora del sistema, hasta el punto que algunos Estados han propuesto la restauración de los controles de fronteras interiores (El Español, 2017).[11] Esta situación ha sido provocada principalmente por una falta de control efectivo sobre sus fronteras dentro de la Unión, y por otro lado por una sociedad que muestra recelo ante la apertura de las fronteras por la inseguridad.

La crisis de los refugiados es un problema real y cerrar las fronteras no hará desaparecer el problema. Por ello, los países europeos deberían adoptar una perspectiva común y activa. El destino de fondos sirve de ayuda en esta crisis humanitaria, pero no es la única solución. Uno de los principales problemas sin resolver es la situación de las personas en campos de refugiados, las cuales  se encuentran en condiciones precarias y deberían ser acogidos de forma digna. La Unión debería reaccionar más activamente ante estas situaciones, haciendo uso de su competencia en materia de asilo y llegada de inmigración con afluencia masiva, recogido en el art 78 TFUE c).

Esta situación sigue siendo uno de los objetivos principales para la agenda de la Unión Europea ya que en el Libro Blanco se establece el refuerzo de la Agenda de Migración, actuaciones sobre la crisis de los refugiados y aspectos sobre la crisis de población de Europa. Se aboga por un incremento de las políticas de inmigración y protección de la inmigración legal, combatiendo a su vez la inmigración ilegal, ayudando tanto a los inmigrantes como a la población europea (Comisión europea, 2014) [12]. A pesar de estos planes y perspectivas positivas, se ha de tener en cuenta la delicada situación ante la que internamente se encuentra la UE, con casos como la retirada de un Estado con poder dentro de la Unión (el Brexit), lo que podría dar lugar a un desvío en los esfuerzos de las políticas comunitarias, dejando de lado temas cruciales, como lo es la situación de los refugiados.


[1] Arenas-Hidalgo, N. (2017). Flujos masivos de población y seguridad. La crisis de personas refugiadas en el Mediterráneo. [online] Redalyc.org. [Accessed 9 Jul. 2017]

[2] ACNUR: La Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados. (2017). ¿Quién es un Refugiado? [online] [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017]

[3] CIDOB. (2017). CIDOB - La política de refugiados en la Unión Europea. [online] [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].

[4] Eur-lex.europa.eu. (2017). EUR-Lex - l33176 - EN - EUR-Lex. [online] Available [Accessed 10 Jul. 2017].

[5] Datos del CEAR (Comison Española de Ayuda al Refugiado) de Marzo de 2017 Anon, (2017). [online] [Accessed 10 May 2017].

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[8] https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/e-library/docs/ceas-fact-sheets/ceas_factsheet_es.pdf [Accessed 12 Jul. 2017].

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[12] Comisión Europea (2014). Migracion y asilo.

Refugee crisis: The divergence between the European Union and the Visegrad Group

ESSAYElena López-Dóriga

The European Union’s aim is to promote democracy, unity, integration and cooperation between its members. However, in the last years it is not only dealing with economic crises in many countries, but also with a humanitarian one, due to the exponential number of migrants who run away from war or poverty situations.

When referring to the humanitarian crises the EU had to go through (and still has to) it is about the refugee migration coming mainly from Syria. Since 2011, the civil war in Syria killed more than 470,000 people, mostly civilians. Millions of people were displaced, and nearly five million Syrians fled, creating the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II. When the European Union leaders accorded in assembly to establish quotas to distribute the refugees that had arrived in Europe, many responses were manifested in respect. On the one hand, some Central and Eastern countries rejected the proposal, putting in evidence the philosophy of agreement and cooperation of the EU claiming the quotas were not fair. Dissatisfaction was also felt in Western Europe too with the United Kingdom’s shock Brexit vote from the EU and Austria’s near election of a far right-wing leader attributed in part to the convulsions that the migrant crisis stirred. On the other hand, several countries promised they were going to accept a certain number of refugees and turned out taking even less than half of what they promised. In this note it is going to be exposed the issue that occurred and the current situation, due to what happened threatened many aspects that revive tensions in the European Union nowadays.

The response of the EU leaders to the crisis

The greatest burden of receiving Syria’s refugees fell on Syria’s neighbors: Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. In 2015 the number of refugees raised up and their destination changed to Europe. The refugee camps in the neighbour countries were full, the conditions were not good at all and the conflict was not coming to an end as the refugees expected. Therefore, refugees decided to emigrate to countries such as Germany, Austria or Norway looking for a better life. It was not until refugees appeared in the streets of Europe that European leaders realised that they could no longer ignore the problem. Furthermore, flows of migrants and asylum seekers were used by terrorist organisations such as ISIS to infiltrate terrorists to European countries. Facing this humanitarian crisis, European Union ministers approved a plan on September 2015 to share the burden of relocating up to 120,000 people from the so called “Frontline States” of Greece, Italy and Hungary to elsewhere within the EU. The plan assigned each member state quotas: a number of people to receive based on its economic strength, population and unemployment. Nevertheless, the quotas were rejected by a group of Central European countries also known as the Visegrad Group, that share many interests and try to reach common agreements.

Why the Visegrad Group rejected the quotas

The Visegrad Group (also known as the Visegrad Four or simply V4) reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in many fields of common interest within the all-European integration. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have shared cultural background, intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and strengthen. After the disintegration of the Eastern Block, all the V4 countries aspired to become members of the European Union. They perceived their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. Although they negotiated their accession separately, they all reached this aim in 2004 (1st May) when they became members of the EU.

The tensions between the Visegrad Group and the EU started in 2015, when the EU approved the quotas of relocation of the refugees only after the dissenting votes of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia were overruled. In asking the court to annul the deal, Hungary and Slovakia argued at the Court of Justice that there were procedural mistakes, and that quotas were not a suitable response to the crisis. Besides, the politic leaders said the problem was not their making, and the policy exposed them to a risk of Islamist terrorism that represented a threat to their homogenous societies. Their case was supported by Polish right-wing government of the party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) which came to power in 2015 and claimed that the quotes were not comprehensive.

Regarding Poland’s rejection to the quotas, it should be taken into account that is a country of 38 million people and already home to an exponential number of Ukrainian immigrants. Most of them decided to emigrate after military conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, when the currency value of the Ukrainian hryvnia plummeted and prices rose. This could be a reason why after having received all these immigration from Ukraine, the Polish government believed that they were not ready to take any more refugees, and in that case from a different culture. They also claimed that the relocation methods would only attract more waves of immigration to Europe.

The Slovak and Hungarian representatives at the EU court stressed that they found the Council of the EU’s decision rather political, as it was not achieved unanimously, but only by a qualified majority. The Slovak delegation labelled this decision “inadequate and inefficient”. Both the Slovak and Hungarian delegations pointed to the fact that the target the EU followed by asserting national quotas failed to address the core of the refugee crisis and could have been achieved in a different way, for example by better protecting the EU’s external border or with a more efficient return policy in case of migrants who fail to meet the criteria for being granted asylum. 

The Czech prime minister at that time, Bohuslav Sobotka, claimed the commission was “blindly insisting on pushing ahead with dysfunctional quotas which decreased citizens’ trust in EU abilities and pushed back working and conceptual solutions to the migration crisis”.

Moreover, there are other reasons that run deeper about why ‘new Europe’ (these recently integrated countries in the EU) resisted the quotas which should be taken into consideration. On the one hand, their just recovered sovereignty makes them especially resistant to delegating power. On the other, their years behind the iron curtain left them outside the cultural shifts taking place elsewhere in Europe, and with a legacy of social conservatism. Furthermore, one can observe a rise in skeptical attitudes towards immigration, as public opinion polls have shown.


Refugee quote addressed per country vs refugee quote finally received

* As of September 2017. Own work based on this article


The temporary solution: The Turkey Deal        

The accomplishment of the quotas was to be expired in 2017, but because of those countries that rejected the quotas and the slow process of introducing the refugees in those countries that had accepted them, the EU reached a new and polemic solution, known as the Turkey Deal.

Turkey is a country that has had the aspiration of becoming a European Union member since many years, mainly to improve their democracy and to have better connections and relations with Western Europe. The EU needed a quick solution to the refugee crisis to limit the mass influx of irregular migrants entering in, so knowing that Turkey is Syria’s neighbor country (where most refugees came from) and somehow could take even more refugees, the EU and Turkey made a deal the 18th of March 2016. Following the signing of the EU-Turkey deal: those arriving in the Greek Islands would be returned to Turkey, and for each Syrian sent back from Greece to Turkey one Syrian could be sent from a Turkish camp to the EU. In exchange, the EU paid 3 billion euros to Turkey for the maintenance of the refugees, eased the EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens and payed great lip-service to the idea of Turkey becoming a member state.  

The Turkey Deal is another issue that should be analysed separately, since it has not been defended by many organisations which have labelled the deal as shameless. Instead, the current relationship between both sides, the UE and V4 is going to be analysed, as well as possible new solutions.

Current relationship between the UE and V4

In terms of actual relations, on the one hand critics of the Central European countries’ stance over refugees claim that they are willing to accept the economic benefits of the EU, including access to the single market, but have shown a disregard for the humanitarian and political responsibilities. On the other hand, the Visegrad Four complains that Western European countries treat them like second-class members, meddling in domestic issues by Brussels and attempting to impose EU-wide solutions against their will, as typified by migrant quotas. One Visegrad minister told the Financial Times, “We don’t like it when the policy is defined elsewhere and then we are told to implement it.” From their point of view, Europe has lost its global role and has become a regional player. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said “the EU is unable to protect its own citizens, to protect its external borders and to keep the community together, as Britain has just left”.

Mr Avramopolus, who is Greece’s European commissioner, claimed that if no action was taken by them, the Commission would not hesitate to make use of its powers under the treaties and to open infringement procedures.

At this time, no official sanctions have been imposed to these countries yet. Despite of the threats from the EU for not taking them, Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland´s former Interior minister, claimed that accepting migrants would have certainly been worse for the country for security reasons than facing EU action. Moreover, the new Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki proposes to implement programs of aid addressed to Lebanese and Jordanian entities on site, in view of the fact that Lebanon and Jordan had admitted a huge number of Syrian refugees, and to undertake further initiatives aimed at helping the refugees affected by war hostilities.

To sum up, facing this refugee crisis a fracture in the European Union between Western and Eastern members has showed up. Since the European Union has been expanding its boarders from west to east integrating new countries as member states, it should also take into account that this new member countries have had a different past (in the case of the Eastern countries, they were under the iron curtain) and nowadays, despite of the wish to collaborate all together, the different ideologies and the different priorities of each country make it difficult when it comes to reach an agreement. Therefore, while old Europe expects new Europe to accept its responsibilities, along with the financial and security benefits of the EU, this is going to take time. As a matter of fact, it is understandable that the EU Commission wants to sanction the countries that rejected the quotas, but the majority of the countries that did accept to relocate the refugees in the end have not even accepted half of what they promised, and apparently they find themselves under no threats of sanction. Moreover, the latest news coming from Austria since December 2017 claim that the country has bluntly told the EU that it does not want to accept any more refugees, arguing that it has already taken in enough. Therefore, it joins the Visegrad Four countries to refuse the entrance of more refugees.

In conclusion, the future of Europe and a solution to this problem is not known yet, but what is clear is that there is a breach between the Western and Central-Eastern countries of the EU, so an efficient and fair solution which is implemented in common agreement will expect a long time to come yet.



J. Juncker. (2015). A call for Collective Courage. 2018, de European Commission Sitio web.

EC. (2018). Asylum statistics. 2018, de European Commission Sitio web.

International Visegrad Fund. (2006). Official Statements and communiqués. 2018, de Visegrad Group Sitio web.

Jacopo Barigazzi (2017). Brussels takes on Visegrad Group over refugees. 2018, de POLITICO Sitio web.

Zuzana Stevulova (2017). “Visegrad Four” and refugees. 2018, de Confrontations Europe (European Think Tank) Sitio web.

Nicole Gnesotto. (2015). Refugees are an internal manifestation of an unresolved external crisis. 2018, de Confrontations Europe (European Think Tank) Sitio web.

Tras la violencia, las tres erres de Galtung: reconstrucción, reconciliación y resolución

ENSAYOAlejandro Palacios

Las revueltas violentas en Nicaragua, la guerra en Siria o la situación en Yemen son ejemplos de algunos de los episodios más cruentos que se están viviendo alrededor del mundo. Tales episodios están, en su mayoría, agravados por la mentalidad disgregadora que impera en buena parte de las sociedades a nivel mundial. El fomento de una cultura de paz inclusiva es uno de los retos que plantea el sociólogo y matemático noruego Johan Galtung.

Johan Galtung es considerado, debido su larga trayectoria y amplia experiencia académica, como uno de los mejores expertos en el tema de la resolución alternativa de conflictos. Además, ha sido el fundador de dos de las instituciones más renombradas en el campo de la resolución de conflictos, como son el Instituto Internacional de Investigación de la Paz en Oslo (1959) y la Revista de Investigación sobre la Paz (1964). Por ello, sus libros y ensayos han tenido amplio eco en la comunidad de expertos en esta materia. Aquí nos vamos a centrar especialmente en su obra “Tras la violencia, 3R: reconstrucción, reconciliación y resolución”, publicada en 1999 y aún hoy de gran vigencia, pues arroja luz sobre las causas del conflicto y sus posibles soluciones.

Su tesis principal es que el conflicto es innato en la sociedad en tanto que existen una serie de recursos limitados y los intereses se solapan, sin embargo, el que éstos deriven en violencia depende de la voluntad de cada cual. En sus propias palabras: “La violencia no es como el comer o las relaciones sexuales, que se encuentran por todo el mundo con ligeras variaciones”. Es por ello, que el autor rechaza la tesis de Hobbes en la famosa frase “Homo homini lupus”, es decir, que el hombre, en su estado de naturaleza, tiende a su extinción. A partir de este punto Galtung proporciona una serie de aspectos que el trabajador por la paz debe tener en cuenta para la correcta resolución de un conflicto.

Galtung hace énfasis en la necesidad de un profundo análisis del conflicto con el fin de entender su multidimensionalidad. De otra manera, el trabajador por la paz podría hacer un diagnóstico erróneo del mismo. Él lo expresa así: “Uno de los problemas es no comprender que el conflicto tiene una dimensión más amplia. Por ello, a veces se le puede no estar dando el tratamiento adecuado (como si el médico dijera que una inflamación del tobillo es una enfermedad del tobillo y no una disfunción cardiaca // o el hambre como insuficiente ingestión en la comida y no un problema social)”.

Para hacer esta tarea algo más sencilla, Galtung nos proporciona dos triángulos de la violencia, que se relacionan entre sí. El primero es el triángulo ABC: Actitudes adoptadas frente al conflicto o peace-making; conductas adoptadas o peace-keeping; y contradicción subyacente en el conflicto (de raíz) o peace-building. El segundo triángulo nos indica que hay dos tipos de violencia: la visible y la invisible. La visible es la violencia directa y la invisible es la violencia cultural (que causa o alimenta a la directa) y estructural. Es por ello que el autor insiste en la importancia del fomento de una cultura de paz en la cual predominen mecanismos pacíficos para resolver un conflicto sin recurrir a la violencia, es decir, una cultura basada en la no violencia, la empatía y la creatividad (para ir más allá de las estructuras mentales de las partes en un conflicto). Así, la llamada regla de oro “No hagas a los demás lo que no quieras que te hagan a ti”, dice, es una buena forma de empezar a forjar dicha cultura. Aunque esta, asegura, tiene un problema: que los gustos son distintos.



La política, según Galtung, puede ayudar a crear esta cultura que él estima esencial para evitar en la medida de lo posible la violencia. Galtung considera la democracia como mejor sistema para crear lo que él llama una “cultura de paz”. Sin embargo, él mismo realiza una serie de críticas a este sistema político. En primer lugar, asegura que la democracia equivale a la dictadura del 51% frente al resto. Esto es algo que, sin embargo, está mitigado gracias a los derechos humanos, como él mismo reconoce. En segundo lugar, el autor asegura que la suma de todas las democracias no es la democracia universal. Una acción que afecte a otros Estados no tiene legitimidad solo por haber sido adoptada democráticamente (algo mitigado por las organizaciones internacionales, pero que puede derivar en la situación descrita en primer lugar). La conclusión que se extrae de todo esto es que la democracia conlleva un cierto grado de violencia estructural, pero menor que con otros sistemas de gobierno.

Por último, Galtung realiza una comparación entre la forma occidental y la oriental de resolver una controversia desde la perspectiva de la dimensión temporal de un conflicto. Mientras que la occidental hace uso de un enfoque diacrónico del tiempo, es decir, a lo largo del tiempo, la oriental hace uso de un enfoque sincrónico del mismo, o sea, al mismo tiempo. En resumen, la perspectiva oriental trabaja en las tres áreas de resolución, reconciliación y reconstrucción (las 3R) sucesivamente y no una detrás de otra, como hace el mundo occidental.

Los expertos en materia de conflictos establecen una clara distinción entre tres tipos de conflictos. Por un lado tenemos la violencia directa personal (verbal o física); la violencia estructural indirecta (explotación política y económica); por último, está la violencia cultural. En concreto, el economista inglés Kenneth Boulding critica el análisis de Galtung sobre la base de que éste analiza los conflictos desde una perspectiva únicamente estructuralista. De esta manera, se critica, por un lado, que el método utilizado es muy taxonómico, ya que, según Boulding, “la taxonomía es una comodidad de la mente humana en lugar de una descripción de la realidad”. Por otro lado, se critica el énfasis que Galtung pone en la igualdad, en contraposición con las jerarquías, para la mitigación de conflictos, pues, según el británico, Galtung no tiene en cuenta que dicha igualdad tiene consecuencias negativas en cuanto a la calidad de vida y la libertad.

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