Related commentary: Europe
This topical backgrounder presents several indications that a more regionally grounded, cohesive perspective and approach for Afghanistan is emerging—small seeds from which a sustainable response to Afghanistan’s peace, security and development challenges might grow.
Last week saw the launch of SIPRI’s major policy report Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk.
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.
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.
On 6 March 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the ‘Basic Principles of Russian Federation State Policy in the Arctic to 2035’ (Basic Principles 2035). The new policy document defines Russia’s Arctic interests, goals and mechanisms of implementation for the next 15 years. The document is published at a time where tensions between Russia and its Arctic neighbours are increasing and just ahead of Russia chairing the Arctic Council in 2021.
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.
This month, 18 countries are participating in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) naval exercise in the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise is noteworthy because it will be led by the 2nd Fleet of the United States Navy, which was disbanded in 2011 but reconstituted in 2018 with a wide area of operations from the east coast of the USA to the Barents Sea.
The wider Black Sea region contains both a high degree of nuclear security risk and rich experience in efforts to cooperate on risk reduction. Given that some of the most significant known cases of illicit nuclear trafficking have taken place in the wider Black Sea region, it is important to understand whether recent events, including the conflict in and around Ukraine, have increased existing nuclear security risks or created new ones.
Under the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Export, which was replaced in 2008 by the EU Common Position on Arms Exports, member states of the European Union have committed themselves to achieving ‘high common standards’ and ‘convergence’ in their arms export controls.
The French initiative is a commendable effort to hold facilitators and supporters of CW use in Syria legally accountable and thereby to help ensure that the CWC norms are not fundamentally undermined through inaction or neglect.
On 26 January 2018 China’s State Council Information Office published a white paper clarifying China’s vision of the Arctic, its intentions, goals and objectives in the region.
The announcement that Russia had completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile was rightly applauded as a milestone in multilateral arms control. However, it was also a reminder of the significant part that international non-proliferation and disarmament assistance played in facilitating the implementation of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
On 6 July 2017, in his first major speech on foreign soil addressing security issues, President Donald Trump focused his attention on the need for states that constitute ‘the West’ to take the steps needed to address what the President labelled ‘dire threats to our security and to our way of life’.
The EU Global Strategy is considered the outcome of a review of the European Security Strategy (ESS) in light of the dramatic changes in the EU’s security environment since 2003, alongside the substantial institutional and legal developments caused by enlargement and the Lisbon Treaty.
The EU has so far reacted hesitantly to China's Belt and Road Initiative amid concerns over transparency, feasability and sustainability. However, it risks being left behind as China takes a stronger lead in shaping the Eurasian landscape.
On the day of the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting, this backgrounder looks at the status of Chinese–Russian cooperation in the Arctic.
Dr Lars-Erik Lundin looks back at the role of dialogue in resolving previous European security challenges and argues that a simliar approach is needed today.
China's ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt aims to provide critical infrastructure across Eurasia. How does this interact with security dynamics in Central and South Asian states?
SIPRI’s Ian Anthony reflects on the 1997 Helsinki Summit
Throughout a turbulent 2016, SIPRI's vision of a world of sustainable peace remained unchanged. Here are some of SIPRI's highlights of 2016.
China has seen dramatic domestic growth in agricultural production, but now it must navigate the pressures of a growing food demand and the negative effects of climate change.
Amidst all the current political and economic uncertainty from the UK vote to leave the EU one thing is clear: Brexit is bad news for peace.
What implications will Brexit have for arms export controls in the UK and the EU?
The six main topics likely to dominate the Warsaw Summit in July.
The Minsk II agreement has not provided a framework for ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The tone of this year’s Munich Security Conference was captured by the Munich Security Report’s theme: ‘Boundless chaos, reckless spoilers, helpless guardians.’
What tactics—military and non-military—can be used to fight this new war.
Terrorist attacks in Ankara, Beirut and Paris have triggered tremendous shock and sorrow, but also anxiety and insecurity in other cities in Europe and beyond.
Last week, Nato's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg launched the idea of reworking the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures.
Although small arms control has been an issue on the humanitarian arms control agenda for a long time, small arms manufacturers and civilian consumers have enjoyed a relatively liberal market in large parts of the world. In Europe and the United States, for example, the guiding principle has been to remove barriers for law-abiding adults in good mental health to access weapons for cultural, recreational or self-defence purposes. One could argue that the same principle has been adopted for international transfers of small arms.
The recent increase in Russia’s military activities in the Arctic have raised concerns over whether the Arctic can continue to be a ‘zone of peace and cooperation’ in the foreseeable future.
Russia's termination of its participation in the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) is a blow to the integrated system of arms control and confidence- and security-building measures that was put in place to reduce the risk of major armed conflict, even if its practical impact is limited.
The current pattern of Russian behaviour has been labelled inconsistent with the norms, values and laws that make up the European security order—to the point where EU leaders stress that relations with Russia cannot be ‘business as usual’.
In the wake of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, the European Union and its member states face growing public calls to address internal and external threats, and particularly terrorism. The EU, through its High Representative, should promote political dialogue on comprehensive approaches to conflict and crisis prevention, which can deal with both the symptoms and the causes of these threats.
Desipte firearms being present is nearly every major conflict today, relatively little is known about the firearm industry.
While the threat of nuclear war during the cold war era was all too real, in one sense the world is worse off now: even the notion of rebuilding trust on the basis of international commitments is seen as idealistic and unrealistic.
Momentum is building for a new, common approach to energy within the European Union (EU) that balances the need for competitive pricing against security of supply and the need to reduce carbon emissions.
The main role of the arms control agreements reached in Europe in the 1990s—along with associated politically binding confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs)—is to ensure predictability in military behaviour and promote confidence that armed forces exist only for legitimate defensive purposes. Concern has been expressed about whether they still play that role.
Although strengthening Russia's engagement in the Arctic may be a key building block in the development of the region, an over-emphasis on sovereignty issues risks overlooking the importance of economic and strategic developments beyond the region.
The Arctic Council's ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden, this week highlighted the global interest in the Arctic region. The fact that six non-Arctic states (China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore) were granted permanent observer status indicates an opening up of the Council to the world and signifies a breakthrough that rejects ideas of Arctic isolationism.
Making nuclear weapons requires access to materials—highly enriched uranium or plutonium—that do not exist in nature in a weapons-usable form. To constitute a threat, natural uranium needs to go through a challenging and time-consuming process of transformation as it moves through the nuclear fuel cycle.
July 2011 saw the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice for that month since satellite measurements began in 1979. An increasingly accessible Arctic, and the economic and other potential benefits it offers, has sparked new interest in the region, not only among those states with territory in the Arctic but also among a range of non-Arctic states and organizations. To date, the Arctic states have sought to deal with Arctic matters among themselves, while keeping non-Arctic countries and organizations at arm’s length.
Prior to the recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance continues to need a credible nuclear deterrent for ‘as long as there are rogue regimes or terrorist groupings that may pose a nuclear threat to us’. The most recent report from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly also noted that both deterrence and the concept of extended deterrence still play a fundamental role in ensuring stability and preventing conflict in the Euro-Atlantic region.
Twenty years after the end of the cold war, the need for a sincere and critical effort to review the European security architecture is increasingly recognized on both sides of the Atlantic.
A renewed atmosphere of friendship and willingness to cooperate is apparent in relations between Europe and the United States. US Vice-President Joe Biden, in his speech at the 2009 Munich Security Conference, set out the USA’s position: ‘We will engage. We will listen. We will consult.