The independent resource on global security



A deadly pandemic to control. An urgent nationwide vaccination programme to roll out. An economic crisis to navigate. Political divisions and distrust deep enough to spark mob violence and terrorism. The 46th President of the United States faces a barrage of critical domestic challenges from day one.

This SIPRI Essay was originally published in the print edition of the East African on 28 November and in the online edition on 12 December.

To accompany this commentary piece, SIPRI has also produced a video series (below) with interviews from representatives from East Africa.

Humankind depends on outer space for numerous services, ranging from telecommunications and navigation to disaster management and national security. While the use of space was once associated only with governments, the private sector has become increasingly involved in providing some of these services.

The scars left by the Islamic State group’s three-and-a-half-year occupation in northern Iraq are deep. Between 2014 and 2017, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, millions were displaced or succumbed to starvation or disease, as a result of Islamic State’s occupation and the military campaign to defeat it. Atrocities committed by the group included a genocide of the Yezidi minority in their ancestral lands in Sinjar, northern Iraq, as well as the killing and abduction of thousands of Yezidi women and girls.

In August 2020, Greek and Turkish frigates collided in the eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish ship had been escorting a Turkish seismic survey vessel, RV MTA Oruç Reis.

WritePeace blog

India’s no-first-use dilemma: Strategic consistency or ambiguity towards China and Pakistan

On 14 October 2020, in a statement to the Conference on Disarmament, Indian ambassador, Pankaj Sharma, reiterated India’s commitment to a policy of no first use (NFU) of nuclear weapons.

Russia’s nuclear doctrine moves the focus from non-Western threats

In June 2020 Russia made its nuclear doctrine more transparent in terms of why, when and how it would use nuclear weapons. Without naming potential adversaries, Russia is now more explicit about the regional scenarios that could lead to nuclear warfare. It seems to have confirmed that its updated nuclear doctrine is less focused on East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. At the same time, Russia continues to reserve the right to use nuclear weapons to end conventional military conflicts. This WritePeace blog explores what has changed in the new doctrine and what the changes signal.

China’s detachment from the South Asian nuclear triangle

In contrast with coverage of the recent China–India border conflict, Chinese analysis of nuclear issues in South Asia has been decreasing. As pointed out by Indian, Chinese and US experts, neither China nor India has sought to insert nuclear dynamics into border tensions.

Mali’s transition: High expectations and little time

On 17–18 August 2020, a military coup—the fourth since the independence of the country—led to the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), two years after his re-election. Led by high-ranking military officers, the coup concluded the persistent contestation of the regime that culminated in the country’s June 2020 protests

This WritePeace blog explains the diverse set of factors that led to the military coup and discusses the current challenges of the upcoming transition. It highlights the urgent needs to put Malian people’s needs and priorities at the top of the transition’s agenda. 

The Anthropocene and global politics: Rewriting the Earth as political space

Rickard Söder, Dr Malin Mobjörk and Dr Eva Lövbrand

Last year, the Anthropocene Working Group—a group of researchers responsible for investigating a potential formalization of the Anthropocene—agreed to recognize a new geologic epoch to mark humans’ profound impact on the planet. If the Working Group’s forthcoming proposal planned to 2021 is accepted by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the Anthropocene will replace the Holocene—the 12 000 year of relatively stable climate since the last ice age—as the current geologic time interval.

Expert Comments

With two new documents, the European Union (EU) has officially recognized the relevance of climate change to peace mediation.

Yesterday Honduras became the 50th state to ratify or accede to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), meaning that the treaty will enter into force on 22 January 2021.

While details remain scarce, the fighting that has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan appears to be more intense than the skirmishes that killed at least a dozen people in the summer of 2020. At the time of writing, roughly 100 people, both civilians and military personnel, have been killed since Sunday, and fighting continues. 

This SIPRI Expert Comment argues for a restart to dialogue on improving regional security and cooperation to the benefit of the Belarusian people and European security more broadly.

In 2019, when the European Union (EU) and six countries to the east of the EU (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) marked the 10th anniversary of their Eastern Partnership (EaP), foreign ministers underlined common work on trade, visa liberalization, economic development and human rights that had been encouraged by (or through) the partnership.


The international sanctions regime against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea, DPRK) is the strongest and most comprehensive set of sanctions currently in effect against any one country.

Autocracies are once again the global majority.

A freeze on the production of tritium is a different way to manage disarmament that will gradually bring an end to nuclear weapons.

A full account of the human consequences of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, beyond the immediate health effects, remains to be seen. However, it is clear that the global economic recession and physical, economic and social disruption are being borne by the most vulnerable.

This Topical Backgrounder is based on the results and activities of the first year of project implementation. It presents the main research findings for each of the indices, namely security, governance and socio-economic development, and the conclusions highlight four key evidence-based recommendations that could help strengthen current stabilization efforts and pave the way to sustainable peace in the two regions.