Category Archives: Intelligence

African Armies Governance: An expected transformation

Last year I wrote an article emphasizing the climate of uncertainty which prevailed within several African military institutions in particular Chad, Ivory Coast and Somalia, to take only these examples. Several countries being in phase of reconstruction because of successive military and political crises, know difficulties rebuilding their armies and maintaining a certain cohesion or often an exemplary discipline. Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso, are examples of country among which the armies for diverse reasons, remain fragile in spite of all the efforts of current reconstruction.

One must recognize that, the largest number of countries which armies are fragile, is because of internal crises and because of political manipulation of the military tool. The political instrumentalization for purposes of positioning, remains the main cause of the diverse unrests but you should not either hide the insufficiency of governance of these armies. The case of Chad reminds us of how much the non-payment of bonuses due to soldiers who intervened within a UN framework, is an aberration regarding  the governance of the defense sector. Worse, the Chadian President requested the international financial support, to support the actions of his soldiers in Mali within the framework of the fight against terrorism and it was the object of no reaction. Let us not forget that Chad remains one of the most committed countries in the fight against terror.

How do these countries manage not being able to settle arrears of bonuses promised in a context or an other one? How do they manage not to anticipate these unrests within the armies being regularly transformed into mutinies? It seems that the weaknesses of these countries are at the level of the governance of their armies. A Coherent and active governance of the Defense sector effectively allows to anticipate major crises such as mutinies. The governance of the Defense sector rests essentially on the bodies of the armies in charge of governance, which are  the inspection and control services, contributing to the stability of the military institution. Besides another mechanism of anticipation and governance of the Defense sector is the National Assembly which through democratic control of the armies, provides coherent governance of the military and alerts on possible deficiencies to consider. In fact this is about a major gouvernance watch device based on internal mechanisms to the armies (inspection and control) but also over external mechanisms (Civil society, NGOs, National Assembly, etc.) to anticipate crises which can destabilize the concerned countries.

So, the transformation of African armies on the basis of a sincere commitment of the decision-makers, is imperative more than ever. The general unrest of the armies which very often is only an accumulation of dysfunctions from inheritance, must be handled frontally with realism and political courage. When it turns out to be necessary, a simple revision can settle this discontent through a Security Sector Reform (SSR), in the worst case, a revival (dissolution and reconstruction) of the armies is inevitable. In any case, a brave political will matched by a consequent defence budget, determines the success of such an initiative, wether it is about restructuring, revision, or dissolution with the aim of reconstruction.

Outside the African continent, several countries experimented the dissolution of the armies with mixed results (Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama). For Costa Rica and Panama, the effort was put on a well equipped police force and Defense agreements, as for Haiti, which had dissolved its army in 1996, reconstruction was engaged since 2014. We thus recommend on the basis of this observation of general unrest of the African armies, that the African Union ( AU) can convene an emergency meeting to examine this thorny question and to establish an African special program for armies reconstruction of countries wishing it. This program could be financed by the AU countries themselves but also with the bilateral and multilateral cooperations. Finally, A fund raising campaign could support this vast continental program.

Addressing current security threats through intelligence-led peacekeeping – Celine Demeyer

In the context of rapidly changing context and the growing number of actors involved in the security sector, harmonising international responses will be paramount to stabilising countries facing security various and complex security threats. The end of the Cold War brought along a new set of challenges for peacekeeping. In this context, the Brahimi report (UN, 2000) advocated for wider peacekeeping mandates allowing missions to better address a large range of challenges on the ground. The different nature of conflicts now requires an understanding of a range of conflict drivers, including political, security and socio- economic ones. This poses serious challenges for peacekeeping missions in terms of information- gathering and necessitates structural reform.

In order to effectively contribute to stabilisation in the context of civil wars, terrorism and other complex security threats such as transnational organised crime and terrorism, UN peacekeeping operations should adopt an intelligence- led methodology. The need for such a capability is recognised and has been reflected in various structural changes implemented within a larger UN peacekeeping reform, including the establishment of a Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) and a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) to conduct information gathering using military, police and civilian sources (UN, 2016).

While this has been an important step, various challenges remain. The objectives of intelligence activities should for example be more clearly defined. Contrary to purely military operations, intelligence in peacekeeping should aim at a political settlement conflicts, requiring information relating to a broad range of conflict drivers and thus necessitates a human resources capacity combining military and civilian competencies. Secondly, relevant and useful information can only be gathered when done in a structured manner and respecting ethical limitations. Standard operating procedures and organisational structures should therefore be established, allowing military, civilian and police components to contribute to intelligence gathering. Also in this regard, information systems should be implemented that can allow for secure storage and transmission of data as well as to improve their analysis. Once such a capacity is established operating procedures should be established to allow sharing of analysis with the relevant mission components and other decision makers (Abilova and Novosseloff, 2016).

In the framework of upcoming discussions with member states on the development of a policy framework it is recommended that existing initiatives such as the All Source Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU), established within the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), should be analysed in a detailed manner and a lessons learned document presented to the member states for further discussion. Such a discussion should serve a twofold purpose. First, it should contribute to raising awareness among reluctant member states to grant sufficiently strong mandates to peacekeeping missions in order to allow them to deploy an adequate intelligence capacity tailored to a changing security environment and second, it should contribute to capitalising on existing knowledge as well as to mobilise member states to provide human and financial resources as well as technical expertise to further develop such a system.


From the start the term “intelligence” has been controversial as it is essentially opposed to the open and transparent nature of the UN and its work, leading to a quasi- avoidance of the term by the organisation. The problem is thus in essence one of confidentiality, as the UN is supposed to act as a neutral actor in conflict resolution. In addition, the issue of multilateralism versus unilateralism and thus the existence of political interests of certain UN member states prevents and will continue to prevent the development of a robust intelligence and information- sharing capability for UN Peacekeeping Operations (Diaz, 2007). On the operational level, the reluctance of states to contribute troops has led to low levels of expertise on the ground. There have however been a few exceptions, such as the case of MINUSMA where European countries in particular are providing expertise to enhance the information collection capacity of the mission. This is however the result of the interest of those countries in stabilising the Sahel region as it poses an indirect security threat to Europe, rather than a willingness to strengthen UN intelligence capacity in general.


Abilova, O. and Novosseloff, A. (2016). Demystifying Intelligence in UN Peace Operations: Toward an Organizational Doctrine. Available at: (Accessed on 15 September 2016).

Diaz, G. (2007). Intelligence at the United Nations for peace operations. UNISCI Discussion Papers, 13. Available at: (Accessed on 15 September 2016).

Karlsrud, J. and Smith, A. (2015). Europe’s Return to UN Peacekeeping in Africa? Lessons from Mali. Available at: (Accessed on 15 September 2016).

UN (2000). Report of the Panel on UN Peace operations (Brahimi report), A/55/305-S/2000/809. New York: United Nations.

UN (2016). Reform of peacekeeping. Available at: (Accessed on 15 September 2016).