Entradas con Categorías Global Affairs Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza .

ESSAY / Emilija Žebrauskaitė


While the Western Westphalian State – and, consequently, the Western legal system – became the default in most parts of the world, Africa with its traditional ethics and customs has a lot to offer. Although the positive legalism is still embraced, there is a tendency of looking at the indigenous traditions for the inspiration of the system that would be a better fit in an African setting. Ubuntu ethics has a lot to offer and can be considered a basis for all traditional institutions in Africa. A great example of Ubuntu in action is the African Traditional Justice System which embraces the Ubuntu values as its basis. This article will provide a conceptualization of Ubuntu philosophy and will analyse its applications in the real-world scenarios through the case of Gacaca trials in Rwanda.

Firstly, this essay will define Ubuntu: its main tenants, how Ubuntu compares with other philosophical and ethical traditions, and the main criticism of Ubuntu ethics. Secondly, the application of Ubuntu ethics through African Indigenous Justice Systems will be covered, naming the features of Ubuntu that can be seen in the application of justice in the African setting, discussing the peace vs. justice debate and why one value is emphasized more than another in AIJS, and how the traditional justice in Africa differs from the Western one.

Lastly, through the case study of Gacaca trials in post-genocide Rwanda, this essay seeks to demonstrate that the application of the traditional justice in the post-genocide society did what the Western legalistic system failed to do – it provided a more efficient way to distribute justice and made the healing of the wounds inflicted by the genocide easier by allowing the community to actively participate in the judicial decision-making process.

It is the opinion of this article that while the African Traditional Justice System has it’s share of problems when applied in modern-day Africa, as the continent is embedded into the reality of the Westphalian state, each state being a part of the global international order, the Western model of justice is eroding the autonomy of the community which is a cornerstone of African society. However, the values of Ubuntu ethics persist, providing a strong basis for traditional African institutions. 

Conceptualization of Ubuntu

The word Ubuntu derives from the Bantu language group spoken widely across sub-Saharan Africa. It can be defined as “A quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity” (Lexico, n.d.) and, according to Mugumbate and Nyanguru, is a homogenizing concept, a “backbone of African spirituality” in African ontology (2013). “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” – a Zulu phrase meaning “a person is a person through other persons” is one of the widely spread interpretations of Ubuntu. 

In comparison with non-African philosophical thoughts, there can be found similarities between Ubuntu and the traditional Chinese as well as Western ethics, but when it comes to the modern Western way of thought, the contrast is striking. According to Lutz (2009), Confucian ethics, just like Ubuntu ethics, view the institution of family as a central building block of society. An Aristotelian tradition which prevailed in the Western world until Enlightenment had some characteristics similar to Ubuntu as well, namely the idea of Aristoteles that human being is a social being and can only reach his true potential through the community (Aristoteles, 350 B.C.E.). However, Tomas Hobbes had an opposite idea of human nature, claiming that the natural condition of man is solidarity (Hobbes, 1651). The values that still prevail in Ubuntu ethics, therefore, are rarely seen in modern liberal thought that prevails in the Western World and in the international order in general. According to Lutz (2009) “Reconciling self-realization and communalism is important because it solves the problem of moral motivation” which Western modern ethics have a hard time to answer. It can be argued, therefore, that Ubuntu has a lot to offer to the global ethical thought, especially in the world in which the Western ideas of individualism prevail and the values of community and collectivism are often forgotten.


However, while Ubuntu carries values that can contribute to global ethics, as a philosophical current it is heavily criticised. According to Metz (2011), there are three main reasons why Ubuntu receives criticism: firstly, it is considered vague as a philosophical thought and does not have a solid framework; secondly, it is feared that due to its collectivist orientation there is a danger of sacrificing individual freedoms for the sake of society; and lastly, it is thought that Ubuntu philosophy is applicable and useful only in traditional, but not modern society. 

When it comes to the reproach about the vagueness of Ubuntu as a philosophical thought, Thaddeus Metz examines six theoretical interpretations of the concept of Ubuntu:

U1: An action is right just insofar as it respects a person’s dignity; an act is wrong to the extent that it degrades humanity.

U2: An action is right just insofar as it promotes the well-being of others; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to enhance the welfare of one’s fellows.

U3: An action is right just insofar as it promotes the well-being of others without violating their rights; an act is wrong to the extent that it either violates rights or fails to enhance the welfare of one’s fellows without violating rights.

U4: An action is right just insofar as it positively relates to others and thereby realizes oneself; an act is wrong to the extent that it does not perfect one’s valuable nature as a social being.

U5: An action is right just insofar as it is in solidarity with groups whose survival is threatened; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to support a vulnerable community.

U6: An action is right just insofar as it produces harmony and reduces discord; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to develop community (Metz, 2007).

While arguing that the concept U4 is the most accepted in literature, Matz himself argues in favour of the concept U6 as the basis of the ethics is rooted not in the subject, but in the object (Metz, 2007).

The fear that Ubuntu tenants make people submissive to authority and collective goals, giving them a very strong identity that might result in violence against other groups originates, according to Lutz (2009), from a faulty understanding of Ubuntu. Even though the tribalism is pretty common in the African setting, it does not derive from the tenants of Ubuntu, but a corrupted idea of this ethical philosophy. Further criticism on the idea that collectivism might interfere with individual rights or liberties can also be denied quoting Lutz, who said that “Ethical theories that tell us we must choose between egoism and altruism, between self-love and love of others, between prudence and morality, or one’s good and the common good are individualistic ethical theories” and therefore have nothing in common with ideas of Ubuntu, which, unlike the individualistic theories, reconciles the common and personal good and goals. 

The third objection, namely the question of whether Ubuntu ethics remain useful in the modern society which functions according to the Westphalian State model is challenged by Metz (2011). While it is true that Ubuntu developed in a traditional setting in which the value of human beings was based on the amount of communal life a human has lived (explaining the respect for the elders and the ancestors in African setting), a variant concept of dignity that in no way can be applied in a modern setting, there are still valuable ethical norms that can be thought by Ubuntu. Metz (2011) provides a concept of human dignity based on Ubuntu ideas, which, as he argues, can contribute to ethics in the modern African setting: “individuals have dignity insofar as they have communal nature, that is, the inherent capacity to exhibit identity and solidarity with others.” 

The Ubuntu ethics in African Indigenous Justice System

The institutionalisation and centralisation of power in the hands of the Westphalian State takes away the power from the communities which are central to the lifestyle in Africa. However, the communal values have arguably persisted and continue to directly oppose the centralisation. While the Westphalian State model seems to be functioning in the West, there are many good reasons to believe that Africa must look for inspiration in local traditions and customs (Malisa & Nhengeze, 2018). Taking into consideration the Ubuntu values, it is not difficult to understand why institutionalisation has generally not been very successful in African setting (Mugumbate & Nyanguru, 2013), as a place where the community is morally obliged to take care of its members, there is little space for alienated institutions. 

Generally, two justice systems are operating alongside each other in many African societies: the state-administered justice system and the African Indigenous Justice System (AIJS). According to Elechi, Morris & Schauer, the litigants can choose between the state tribunal and AIJS, and can apply to be judged by the state if they do not agree with the sentence of the AIJS (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). However, Ubuntu values emphasise the concept of reconciliation: “African political philosophy responds easily and organically to the demands for the reconciliation as a means of restoring the equilibrium of the flow of life when its disturbed” (Nabudere, 2005). As the national court interventions often disharmonize the community by applying the “winner takes it all” approach, and are sometimes considered to be corrupt, there is a strong tendency for the communities to insist on bringing the offender to the AIJS tribunal (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010).

African Indigenous Justice System is a great example of Ubuntu values in action. The system operates on the cultural norm that important decision should be reached by consensus of the whole group as opposed to the majority opinion. AIJS is characterised by features such as the focus on the effects the offence had on victims and the community, the involvement of the litigants in the active definition of harms and the resolution of the trial, the localisation and decentralisation of authority, the importance of the restoration of harm, the property or relationship, the understanding that the offender might be a victim of the socioeconomic conditions; with the main objective of the justice system being the restoration of relationships, healing, and reconciliation in the community (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). Underlying this system is the concept of Ubuntu, which “leads to a way of dealing with the social problems which are very different from the Western legalistic, rule-based system which had become the global default” (Baggini, 2018).

One of the reasons why AIJS can be considered exemplary is its ability to avoid the alienation of the Western courts in which the victim, the offender, and everybody else seem to be represented, but neither victim nor offender can directly participate in the decision making. The system which emphasises reconciliation and in which the community is in charge of the process is arguably much more effective in the African setting, where communities are generally familiar and close-knit. As the offender is still considered a part of the community and is still expected to contribute to its surroundings in the future, the participation in the trial and the decision making is important to the reconciliation: “unlike adjudicated justice, negotiated justice is not a winner take it all justice. Resolution can be reached where the offender, the community, and the victim are each partially wrong” (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). As there is very little hope for an offender to be reintegrated into a close community without forgiving and forgiveness from both parties, this type of approach is pivotal.

Another interesting feature of AIJS is the assumption that the offender is not inherently bad in himself, but is primarily a marginalised victim, who does not have the same opportunities as other members of the community to participate in the economic, political, and social aspects of the group, and who can be made right if both the offender and the community make effort (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). This concept differs from the Western Hobbesian idea of human beings being inherently corrupt and is much closer to traditional Western Aristotelian ethics. What makes the African concept different, however, is the focus which is not on the virtue of the person himself, but rather on the relationship the offender has with his family and community which, although violated by the offence, can and should be rebuilt by amendments (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010).

The Gacaca Trials

The Gacaca trials are the state-administered structure which uses communities (around a thousand of them) as a basis for judicial forums (Meyerstein, 2007). They were introduced by the Rwandan government as an alternative to national justice after the Rwandan genocide.

During the colonial times, Rwanda was indirectly ruled by the colonizers through local authorities, namely the Tutsi minority (Uvin, 1999). The Hutu majority were considered second class citizens and by the time of independence were holding deep grievances. The Rwandan Revolution of 1959-1961 overthrew the monarchy and the ruling Tutsi elite. After the independence from the colonial regime, Rwanda was ruled by the Party of Hutu Emancipation Movement, which was supported by the international community on the grounds of the idea that the government is legitimate as it represents the majority of the population – the Hutu (ibid.) During the period of transition, ethnic violence against Tutsi, forcing many of them to leave the country, happened (Rettig, 2008). In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Army composed mostly by the Tutsi exiles invaded Rwanda from neighbouring Uganda (ibid.) The incumbent government harnessed the already pre-existing ethnic to unite the Hutu population to fight against the Tutsi rebels. The strategy included finding a scapegoat in an internal Tutsi population that continued to live in Rwanda (Uvin, 1999). The genocide which soon followed took lives of 500,000 to 800,000 people between April and July of the year 1994 when the total population at the time is estimated to have been around 8 million (Drumbl, 2020). More than 100,000 people were accused and waited in detention for trials, creating a great burden on a Rwandan county (Schabas, 2005).

According to Meyerstein (2007), the Gacaca trials were a response to the failure of the Western-styled nation court to process all the suspects of the genocide. Gacaca trials were based on indigenous local justice, with Ubuntu ethics being an underlying element of the system. The trials were traditionally informal, organic, and patriarchal, but the Rwandan government modernized the indigenous justice system by establishing an organizational structure, and, among other things, making the participation of women a requirement (Drumbl, 2020). 

The application of Gacaca trails to do justice after the genocide was not always well received by the international community. The trials received criticism for not complying with the international standards for the distribution of justice. For example, Amnesty International invoked Article 14 of the ICCPR and stated that Gacaca trials violated the right of the accused to be presumed innocent and to the free trial (Meyerstein, 2007). There are, undoubtedly, many problems that can be assigned to the system of Gacaca when it comes to the strict norms of the international norms. 

The judges are drawn from the community and arguably lack the official legal training, the punitive model of the trials that arguably have served for many as an opportunity for personal revenge, and the aforementioned lack of legal protection for the accused are a few of many problems faced by the Gacaca trials (Rettig, 2008). Furthermore, the Gacaca trials excluded the war criminals from the prosecution – there were many cases of the killings of Hutu civilians by Tutsis that formed the part of the Rwandan Patriotic Front army (Corey & Joireman, 2004). This was seen by many as a politicised application of justice, in which, by creating two separate categories of criminals - the crimes of war by the Tutsis that were not the subject of Gacaca and the crimes of the genocide by the Hutus that were dealt with by the trials – the impunity and high moral ground was granted for the Tutsi (ibid). This attitude might bring results that are contrary to the initial goal of the community-based justice - not the reconciliation of the people, but the further division of the society along the ethnic lines. 

However, while the criticism of the Gacaca trials is completely valid, it is also important to understand, that given the limited amount of resources and time, the goal of bringing justice to the victims of the genocide is an incredibly complex mission. In the context of the deeply wounded, post-genocidal society in which the social capital was almost non-existent, the ultimate goal, while having justice as a high priority, was first of all based on Ubuntu ethics and focused more on peace, retribution, and social healing. The utopian perfectness expected by the international community was nearly impossible, and the Gacaca trials met the goal of finding the best possible solutions in the limits of available resources. Furthermore, the criticism of international community often seemed to stem not so much from the preoccupation for the Rwandan citizens, as from the fact that a different approach to justice threatens the homogenizing concept of human rights “which lashes out to squash cultural difference and legal pluralism by criticizing the Gacaca for failures to approximate canonized doctrine” (Meyerstein, 2007).

While it is true that even Rwandan citizens often saw Gacaca as problematic, whether the problems perceived by them were similar to those criticised by the international community is dubious. For example, Rwanda’s Supreme Court’s response to the international criticism was the provision of approach to human rights which, while not denying their objectivity, also advocates for the definition that better suits the local culture and unique circumstances of post-genocide Rwanda (Supreme Court of Rwanda, 2003). After all, the interventions from the part of the Western world on behalf of the universal values have arguably created more violence historically than the defended values should ever allow. The acceptance that Gacaca trials, while imperfect, contributed positively to the post-genocide Rwandan society has the grave implications that human rights are ultimately a product of negotiation between global and local actors” (Meyerstein, 2007) which the West has always refused to accept. However, it is the opinion of this article that exactly the opposite attitude, namely that of better intercultural understanding and the search for the solutions that are not utopian but fit in the margins of the possibilities of a specific society, are the key to both the efficiency and the fairness of a justice system. 


The primary end of the African Indigenous Justice System is to empower the community and to foster reconciliation through a consensus that is made by the offenders, the victims, and the community alike. It encourages to view victims as people who have valuable relationships: they are someone’s daughters, sons, fathers – they are important members of society. Ubuntu is the underlying basis of the Indigenous Justice System and African ethnic in general. While the AIJS seems to be functioning alongside the state’s courts, in the end, the centralization and alienation from the community are undermining these traditional values that flourish in the African setting. The Western legalistic system helps little when it comes to the main goal of justice in Africa – the reconciliation of the community, and more often than not only succeeds in creating further discord. While the criticism of Gacaca trials was undoubtedly valid, it often stemmed from the utopian idealism that did not take the actual situation of a post-genocide Rwanda into consideration or the Western universalism, which was threatened by the introduction of a justice system that in many ways differs from the positivist standard. It is the opinion of this article, therefore, that more autonomy should be granted to the communities that are the basic building blocks of most of the African societies, with the traditional values of Ubuntu being the basis of the African social institutions.



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

June 15, 2021

WORKING PAPERJon Paris Oses, Jokin de Carlos Sola and Túlio Dias de Assis


South Korea finds itself in the middle of the geopolitical ambitions of regional giants, while at the same time addressing their own conflictive relation with their northern counterpart. Because of that, a global and also a peninsular overview of their characteristics from an international relations perspective has been analyzed, with the objective in mind of identifying the main dynamics and driving factors that strategically influence South Korea in the present times with an eye into the future. Pursuing that analysis, a global perspective and an inter-Korean perspective were suitable to better address the main issues, with special attention to the influence of the two big powers in relation with Seoul, the US and China, as well as the constant uncertainty North Korea generates in the relations between both Koreas. Findings regarding key aspects such as the US military presence in South Korean soil, or the possibility of a Korean reunification suggest the primacy of continuity and controlled stability for the next ten years, as the stakes are too high for the actors involved to take high-risk high-benefit decisions. The main conclusions follow the same direction, with stagnation as present condition South Korea will have to find its way, always with the inter-Korean relations in mind, if it wants to survive and develop its own path under the shadow of two giants.

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Categorías Global Affairs: Asia Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Documentos de trabajo

[Pablo Pérez López, Charles de Gaulle, el estadista rebelde (Ciudadela: Madrid, 2020), 218 págs]

RESEÑA / Jairo Císcar

Coincidiendo con el 50 aniversario del fallecimiento de Charles de Gaulle y con el 75 aniversario de la victoria aliada en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el profesor Pablo Pérez López publica esta nueva biografía del “más ilustre de los franceses”, como a veces es referido. Cuando se emprende la escritura de una biografía, y más cuando es acerca de un personaje del que se han escrito infinidad de libros y artículos, se corre el riesgo de diluirse en lo anterior y no aportar nada nuevo. Sin embargo, este volumen nos presenta al personaje desde una óptica diferente: su rebeldía. Rebeldía entendida como lucha por lo que se cree justo, como un inconformismo activo que empuja a superar la mediocridad, como amor y servicio a Francia en sus momentos más oscuros. Precisamente creo que este es uno de los mayores logros del libro: presentar, en apenas 200 páginas y con un estilo amable y directo, un nuevo retrato del general francés, al que encumbra –más allá de los claroscuros disculpables de toda persona– como un modelo a seguir y un ejemplo de valentía que cuenta con plena actualidad.

El libro nos presenta la vida de De Gaulle de manera cronológica, desde su infancia hasta su muerte. Resulta fundamental, para entender al gran hombre que será posteriormente, hacer un análisis de su vida temprana. Se presenta así a un joven inquieto y soñador, devoto cristiano desde muy pronta edad. Un joven que al descubrir con apenas 14 años una vocación, la de la vida militar, que marcará toda su vida y la vida de millones de compatriotas suyos, se aplicará enormemente a ella hasta convertirse en un sobresaliente líder. Destaca también en el libro el amplio uso de pasajes de sus memorias o textos manuscritos del protagonista, que revelan la faceta más desconocida del personaje: su psique, su amor, su devoción, su rebeldía. Porque hay que recalcar que se muestra a un De Gaulle consciente de sí mismo (que no prepotente) y que tiene claro que tiene una misión.

Pronto se pasa a introducir al entonces capitán, que sobresalió durante la Gran Guerra por sus sesudos análisis y capacidad prospectiva, al que su amor por Francia nunca le nubló el juicio a la hora de señalar los fallos propios y ajenos. Un joven que a pesar de la humillación que le supuso caer prisionero (a pesar de sus heroicos esfuerzos que le valieron la Legión de Honor), no cejó de aprender y examinar al enemigo, aprovechando cada momento de sus 32 meses de cautiverio.

Se sigue su evolución tras la Gran Guerra, ya como una promesa en el séquito de Petáin. Pero no todo son éxitos. La vida de De Gaulle está trazada en la grandeza de los hombres que saben sobreponerse a las dificultades. Quizás la más especial, y en la que se aprecia su verdadero carácter, es en la vida de su hija Anne, que padeció síndrome de Down, y con quien De Gaulle desarrolló un extraordinario vínculo y cercanía. Con ella era con quien el pensativo general se vestía de afable y afectuoso padre.

Esta formación de su carácter me parece esencial para entender el resto del libro, y por tanto el resto de su vida. Sin ánimo de acabar haciendo un resumen completo del volumen (que como se ha dicho anteriormente abarca toda su trayectoria vital, con especial y necesario énfasis en su “vida política”), me parecía necesario reflejar la singular propuesta y objetivo de este libro, que no es otro sino mostrar ese lado más desconocido del general francés, esa rebeldía e inconformismo que le empujó a tener un peso importantísimo en la creación de la actual forma de la República Francesa y cuya impronta, 50 años después de su muerte, sigue viva en Europa y en la política francesa.

Personalmente, me ha atraído mucho el estilo y organización del escrito. Hace que la propuesta sea amena y fácil de leer, a la vez que un trabajo muy serio y profundo, que invita a una reflexión constante. Muestra la intimidad y la soledad de un hombre ante la incomprensión de sus contemporáneos, con respecto a los que siempre estuvo adelantado. Un hombre que, en definitiva, siempre antepuso el bien mayor, su amada Francia, al bien propio. Un experto tanquista que supo dirigir a su país en momentos tan distintos: el gobierno de la Francia Libre en Londres, el desfile en los Campos Elíseos, la revuelta de Argel, el nacimiento de la Vª República Francesa, Mayo del 68 y su postrera dimisión, como hombre de honor, tras perder el referéndum sobre el Senado y las regiones que convocó, en uno de sus últimos actos de rebeldía, en contra de todos sus asesores.

Finalmente, De Gaulle fue rebelde hasta la muerte, rechazando cualquier funeral de estado y reposando, junto a su querida hija, en un pequeño pueblo francés. Su lápida –que simplemente reza: Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970– no hace sino mostrar su rebeldía final. Murió el hombre, pero nació el mito.

Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Reseñas de libros

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT /  Marina Díaz, Lucía Montón and Paula Mostajo

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South Korea is considered to have a middle power status, not only in the North-East Asian region but internationally. In this sense, this paper aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the stance South Korea might take regarding key international, regional, peninsular and domestic issues in ten years time.

In the international sphere, this paper has focused on the US-ROK stating the plausibility of a further enhancement, in view of the new Biden’s Administration need to reduce the breach created by former President Trump.

Regarding the regional sphere, the present report addresses South Korea’s relations with China, in economic matters; Japan, alliance-wise, and Russia, in relation with energy. These bilateral engagements are clearly impacted by South Korea’s proximity to the United States, the country’s historical memory and North Korea’s willingness to be part of a trilateral understanding, respectively.

Second to last, the peninsular approach of the script assesses the development of inter-Korean relations in views of the two incompatible ideologies and approaches coming from the North and the South of the peninsula and presents the maintenance of the current status has the most plausible scenario.

To end up, there is an allusion to domestic concerns as they play an important role in South Korea’s development capabilities. In this section the paper discusses the country’s SARS-CoV-2 disease successful management and assess why export possibilities might not be taken for granted, the big South Korean concerns on the ever-worsening demographic situation and, lastly, the country’s satisfactorily progression towards renewable energy sources.

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

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT /  Corey J. Hubbard and Paula Mora Brito



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Intense military pressures on South Korea have been present for half a century, with the country being at the centre of numerous regional conflicts. The government’s technique for addressing external security threats differs depending on its nature, varying from assuming the position of great foreign powers to implementing its independent policy. The Republic of Korea’s reliance on foreign assistance for defence and protection shows no signs of ending, especially concerning North Korea. The incitement of Kim Jong Un’s government risks hostility in the region.

The country is under growing domestic pressures to find solutions for a rapidly ageing population and record low birthrates, one of the world’s weakest. Failure to do so compromises South Korea’s status as a growing power in East Asia, one of the four Asian Tigers, and risks leading the country to economic stagnation. Suppose the South Korean government does not find a way to make immigration more palatable to the Korean people. In that case, it is unlikely that South Korea will avoid a significant population decline.

Well-established antagonism with Japan could worsen as Japanese nationalist policies conflict with the South Korean government’s goals. However, the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership opens up several possible developments in Korean-Japanese relations, extending from an improbable reset in their bilateral ties to an equally unlikely economic confrontation. The Liancourt Rocks dispute also stands to be influenced by recent events, which may incline South Korea to turn to foreign mediation on the issue.

South Korean relations with the United States are evolving, with the Biden Administration recently inking a new cost-sharing deal with the South Korean Government to cover the expenses of American troops stationed on the Peninsula. Nevertheless, China’s growing influence threatens to overturn the established order in the region, and a rapprochement of South Korea to China may take place over the coming decades.

The future security of South Korea is directly tied to developments on the Korean Peninsula. Suppose relations with the North Korean Regime significantly improve, which most expect to be improbable in the near future. In that case, reunification may result, but North Korea’s nuclear weapons development could destabilise the region too. Scenarios relating to these events vary from an improbable reunification to an equally unlikely nuclear war.

South Korea’s attempts at navigating the growingly tense feud between the United States and China may force the country to choose a side in the conflict, which will have severe ramifications for its security architecture.

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

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT /  María G. Fajardo, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Matilde Romito




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The Korean Peninsula is central to the political, economic and military policies of several actors in the East Asia region. Due to its geographical location, the peninsula has seen the involvement of major powers throughout history, like the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Currently, the peninsula is a contested territory between the U.S. and China. The latter is the only country capable of challenging American interests and uses its economic power to increase its sphere of influence in the region.

The DPRK has built and maintained capabilities to target areas as far as U.S. soil. The North has always represented one of the biggest challenges for South Korea and its security guarantor, the U.S. President Biden will nevertheless sway for establishing a red line for Kim to potentially cross and instead, new sanctions could be expected despite their lack of effectiveness.

For the U.S. to maintain its dominant role in the East Asia region, deter North Korea, and keep China in check, it must reaffirm its military and economic alliances which entered into a period of uncertainty during the Trump administration. Currently, China is South Korea’s principal trading partner and is openly evading international sanctions imposed on North Korea being its principal trading partner as well.

The prosperous South Korea will remain neutral in many aspects related to China, yet if put in a situation where it has to choose between the U.S. and China, it will incline towards the former, which remains its security guarantor. When it comes to Russia, its role in the Korean conflict is now secondary but over the years, Russia has used the U.S.-China battle to increase relations with the latter. In the case of Japan, a close U.S. ally, a shift in relations with the ROK is unlikely to happen any time soon since their political issues have evolved into legal ones. This will remain detrimental to the U.S’ New East China Sea policy which requires cooperation between U.S. allies.

Diplomacy, openness and potential reunification in the peninsula depend on external actors. Neither reunification nor openness are likely to take place in the short term due to Kim’s personality and the preference of external actors to maintain the status quo. A reunification led under peaceful terms would be most desirable and would ultimately lead to an even larger economic powerhouse in the region. For the U.S, this pathway would be most beneficial if a reunified Korea would align with the U.S. This would be detrimental, however, to China's geopolitical interests in the region. Russia could come out as being the greatest benefactor from a peaceful reunification. Lastly, Japan could continue to feel threatened by a reunified Korea, which is united by hatred over a colonial past under Japanese savage rule.

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

[Juan Tovar Ruiz, La doctrina en la política exterior de Estados Unidos: De Truman a Trump (Madrid: Catarata, 2017) 224 páginas]

RESEÑA /  Xabier Ramos Garzón

Todo cambio en la Casa Blanca lleva a un análisis de lo que fue la política del presidente saliente y a la especulación sobre la política del que llega. Dado el peso de Estados Unidos en el mundo, la visión sobre los asuntos internacionales de cada administración resulta determinante para el orden mundial. Juan Tovar Ruiz, profesor de Relaciones Internacionales en la Universidad de Burgos, se ocupa en este libro de la esencia de la política exterior de cada presidente –fundamentalmente de Truman a Trump (la de Biden, lógicamente, aún está por definir)–, que en muchos casos sigue una hoja de ruta definida que da en llamarse “doctrina”.

Entre las fortalezas del libro se encuentran el hecho de que combina varios puntos de vista: por una parte, abarca, desde el punto de vista realista, los efectos estructurales e internos de cada política, y por otra, analiza las ideas e interacciones entre actores teniendo en cuenta el punto de vista constructivista. El autor explora los procesos de toma de decisión y sus consecuencias, considera la efectividad final de las doctrinas americanas, en el contexto general de las relaciones internacionales, y examina las influencias, rupturas y continuidades entre distintas doctrinas a lo largo del tiempo. A pesar de la relativamente corta historia de Estados Unidos, el país ha contado con una extensa y compleja política exterior que Tovar, centrándose en las últimas ocho décadas, sintetiza con especial mérito, adoptando un punto de vista principalmente general que resalta lo sustantivo.

El libro está dividido en siete capítulos, organizados por etapas históricas y, dentro de cada una, por presidentes. El primer capítulo, a modo introductorio, abarca desde el periodo posterior a la independencia de Estados Unidos hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Esta etapa se muestra como antecedente clave en la ideología futura americana, con dos posicionamientos especialmente determinantes: la Doctrina Monroe y el Idealismo Wilsoniano. El segundo capítulo se ocupa de la Primera Guerra Fría, con las doctrinas Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy y Johnson. A lo largo del capítulo se contextualizan los distintos postulados y se señalan las cuestiones que fueron clave en la creación de unas doctrinas que solo afectaron a la política exterior del momento, sino se imbricaron en el núcleo del pensamiento político estadounidense. El tercer capítulo trata de la Distensión, periodo ocurrido entre 1969 y 1979 en el que se dieron las doctrinas de Nixon y Carter. Al llegar al cuarto capítulo nos situamos en la Segunda Guerra Fría y el final de la confrontación EEUU-URSS, tiempo en que encontramos las doctrinas de Reagan y Bush senior. A partir de este punto, los siguientes capítulos (quinto, sexto y séptimo) tratan el periodo de Postguerra Fría, apareciendo en este periodo las doctrinas de Clinton, Bush junior y las más recientes –por tanto, aún sujetas a estudio– de Obama y Trump.

En las conclusiones el autor resume cada uno de los capítulos en base a caracterizaciones académicas o políticas y realiza algunas matizaciones, como advertir que en su opinión la política exterior de Obama es más bien una “no doctrina”, ya que combina elementos de distintas ideologías y es en parte contradictoria. Obama trató varios conflictos de formas diferentes: así, afrontó de forma realista las “guerras de necesidad” (Afganistán) y de acuerdo con el planteamiento internacionalista liberal conflictos como el de Libia. Aunque la flexibilidad llevada a cabo por Obama puede ser considerada una debilidad por algunos, ya que no siguió una política firme y marcada, también puede verse como la necesaria adaptación a un entorno continuamente cambiante. Muchas son las ocasiones en las que un presidente estadounidense, como Bush hijo, ha llevado a cabo una política exterior rígida, ideológicamente hablando, que en última instancia logró poco éxito práctico.

Otro ejemplo de variante de la doctrina convencional que muestra el autor es la “antidoctrina” llevada a cabo por Trump. Quien fuera presidente hasta 2021 ejecutó una política caracterizada por numerosas contradicciones y variaciones respecto al papel que EEUU había venido ejerciendo en el mundo, arrojando con ello dudas e incertidumbres sobre la actuación esperable de la superpotencia americana. Esto vino dado por la inexperiencia política de Trump, tanto en el ámbito como en el plano doméstico, la cual causó inquietud no solo en actores internacionales sino en el núcleo del propio Washington.

Del análisis de las distintas doctrinas mostradas en el libro podemos destacar cómo cada una de ellas se adapta a un contexto social, histórico y político específico, y a la vez todas responden a una compartida tradición política de un país que, como superpotencia, manifiesta ciertas constantes a la hora de procurar mantener la paz y garantizar la seguridad. Pero esas constantes no deben ser confundidas con aspectos universales, ya que cada país presenta sus propias particularidades y cuenta con intereses determinados: adaptar sin más los posicionamientos estadounidenses a los planes de política exterior de otros países puede ocasionar fallos caóticos, si no se reconocen esas diferencias.

Por ejemplo, países como España, que dependen de la pertenencia a la Unión Europea, no podrían entrar en guerras aleatorias unilateralmente como ha hecho Estados Unidos. No obstante, España podría adoptar algunos elementos, como en materia de toma de decisiones, ya que este tipo de doctrinas facilita enormemente objetivar y estandarizar los procesos de análisis y resoluciones.

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

WORKING PAPER / Jokin de Carlos Sola


During and after the fall of the Soviet Block the three countries of Germany, Denmark and Sweden saw an opportunity to increase their influence on the region that centuries before they had possessed. They did this through diplomatic support of the opposition and communication strategies and once the new countries were either independent or liberal democracies, they used their economic and political power to attract them. This was done by buying and investing in the new privatized assets of these countries, soft power and in some cases diplomatic pressure. By this way Germany, Sweden and Denmark did not only got new investment hubs and markets for their products but also support in the Governance of the European Union.




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Categorías Global Affairs: Unión Europea Orden mundial, diplomacia y gobernanza Documentos de trabajo

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

ESSAY /  María Rodríguez Reyero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and transitional justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promotion of the rule of law and its contributions to peacebuilding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


[1] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. [Accessed 5 April 2021].

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

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

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

[5] Sooka, Y., 2006. Dealing with the past and transitional justice: building peace through accountability. [online] International Review of the Red Cross. Available at: < > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

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

[7] Waldorf, L., 2006. Mass Justice For Mass Atrocity: Rethinking Local Justice As Transitional Justice. [online] Temple Law Review. Available at: < > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

[8] Gibril Sesay, M. and Suma, M., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Sierra Leone. [online] International Center for Transitional Justice. Available at: < > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

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

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

[11] Waldorf, L., 2009. Transitional Justice and DDR: The Case of Rwanda. [online] Intenational Center for Transitional Justice. Available at:    < >[Accessed 5 April 2021].

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

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

[15] WILLIAMSON, J. (2006), “The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers: social and psychological transformation in Sierra Leone”, Intervention 2006, Vol. 4, No. 3, Available from: <> [Accessed 5 April 2021].

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

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

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

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

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

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

[22] Young, G., n.d. Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone: A Critical Analysis. [online] PEACE AND PROGRESS – THE UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY GRADUATE STUDENT JOURNAL. Available at: < > [Accessed 5 March 2021].

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

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

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

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

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

[28] Veiga, T. G. (2019). A New Conceptualisation of Child Reintegration in Conflict Contexts. E International Relations: [Accessed 5 April 2021].

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

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


ENSAYO /  Ramón Barba

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

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

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

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

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

Las relaciones entre EEUU, China e India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

El grado de alianza entre EEUU e India

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

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

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

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

i) Una intensa cooperación en materia de Seguridad y Defensa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ii) Unidos por la democracia

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

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

iii) Creciente cooperación económica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

[3]Chilamkuri Raja Mohan, "Trilateral Perspective". Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkers., (accedido el 5 de febrero de 2021),

[4] Tanvi Madan,”India and the Biden Administration: Consolidating and Rebalancing Ties,” en Tanvi Madan, “India And The Biden Administration: Consolidating And Rebalancing Ties”,. German Marshal Found of the United States, (accedido el 11 de febrero de 2021).

[5]Darshana Baruah, Frédéric Grére, y Nilanthi Samaranayake, "Agenda 2021: A Blueprint For U.S.-Europe-India Cooperation”, US-India cooperation on Indo-Pacific Security. GMF India Trilateral Forum. Pag:1. , (accedido el 16 de febrero de 2021).

[6] “’QUAD’ Leaders Pledge New Cooperation on China, COVID-19, Climate”. (accedido en marzo 2021)

[7] Mereyem Hafidi, "Biden Renueva La Alianza De ‘QUAD’ A Pesar De Las Presiones De Pekín". Atalayar (accedido en febrero de 2021)

[8] “`Grandstanding`: US, China trade rebukes in testy talks". Aljazeera. (accedido, marzo 2021)

[9] Joseph R. Biden, “Why America Must Lead Again”. Foreign Affairs (accedido febrero, 2021).

[10] Maria Siow. "India Receives US Defence Secretary With China On Its Mind". South China Morning Post (accedido, 19 de marzo de 2021)

[11] Seeram Chaulia, “France and sailing toward the ‘QUAD-plus’”. The New Indian Express  (accedido, 4 de abril, 2021)

[12] Juan Luis López Aranguren. “Indo-Pacífico: El nuevo orden sin China en el centro”. El Indo-Pacífico como nuevo eje geopolítico mundial. Global Affairs Journal. Pág.:2. (accedido, Abril 2021).

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

[14] Íbid.

[15] Derek Grossman, "Biden's China Reset Is Already On The Ropes". Nikkei Asia (accedido, 14 de marzo de 2021)

[16] Ramón Barba Castro, “Nuevas tensiones en Asia Pacífico en un escenario de cambio electoral”. Global Affairs and Strategic Studies (accedido, abril 2021)

[17] Sankaran Kalyanaraman, "Changing Pattern Of The China-India-US Triangle”. Manohar Parrikar Institute For Defence Studies And Analyses (accedido, marzo 2021)

[18] Pang Zhongying, "Indo-Pacific Era Needs US-China Cooperation, Not Great Power Conflict". South China Morning Post (accedido el 19 de marzo de 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[26] Íbid., 231.

[27] Íbid., 71.

[28] Vijay Gokhale, “China Doesn’t Want a New World Order. It Wants This One”. The New York Times. (accedido en abril de 2021)

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

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

[31] Íbid.

[32] Wang Huiyao, “More cooperation, less competition”. Chinawatch. Conecting Thinkers (accedido, marzo 2021).

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

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

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

[36] Ibid.

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

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

[39] Tanvi Madan, “Democracy and the US-India relationship”. Brookings. . (accedido, marzo 2021)

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

[41] Bilal Kuchay, “India, US sign key military deal, symbolizing closer ties”. Aljazeera. (accedido, marzo 2021)

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

[43] Alex Lo, “India-the democratic economic giant that disappoints”. South China Morning Post. (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

[44] Simone McCarthy, “QUAD summit: US, India, Australia and Japan counter China’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ with pledge to distribute a billion doses across Indo-Pacific”. South China Morning Post (accedido, 13 de marzo de 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

[51] “US defense secretary Lloyd Austin says US considers India to be a great partner”. Hindustan Times (accedido, 21 de marzo de 2021)

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

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

[54] Annath Krishnan, Dinakar Peri, Kallol Bhattacherjee; India-U.S. 2+2 dialogue: U.S. to support India’s defence of territory. The Hindu (consultado, marzo 2021)

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

[56] Ibid.

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

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

[59] “Committed to achieving goal of $500 bn in bilateral trade with US: Ambassador Sandhu”.The Economic Times (accedido, marzo 2021).

[60] Joe C. Mathew, “India-US mini trade deal: Low duty on medical devices; pact in final stages”. Business Today (Accedido, marzo de 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

[67] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[72] IBIDEM pag.3

[73] IBIDEM. Pag. 6

[74] IBIDEM. Pag. 7

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

[76] Elisabeth Mearns, Gary Parkinson; “With a pandemic, populism and protectionism, have we passed peak globalization?”. China Global Television Network. (accedido, abril 2021).

[77] Abraham Newman, Henry Farrel; “The New Age of Protectionism”. Foreign Affairs (accedido el 5 de abril de 2021)

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

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