In 1997, the international community signed the Ottawa Treaty as a response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the global proliferation of anti-personnel mines. They agreed on banning the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines. Twenty-six years later, these explosive remnants continue causing around 5000 casualties per year. This number is significantly rising. In 2020, Syria was most affected by anti-personnel mines with at least 2729 casualties.
This Info Flash outlines the history of Operation Barkhane, offering a general overview of French and European efforts to maintain stability in the Sahel region over the past ten years. The principal causes of France’s disengagement are analysed taking into account external factors, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war at the end of February 2022. Because of the sensibility of this issue, Professor Luca Ranieri, one of the most prominent scholars dealing with security problems in the Sahel region, builds in an interview a critical assessment of Operation Barkhane. Understanding the main weaknesses of this initiative poses extreme usefulness in order to avoid repeating the same errors in the future.
The desire to access the Arctic's vast mineral reserves has always been a major driver of international attention towards the region. The Arctic is believed to contain 1,699 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and various other fuels, equal to the entirety of Russia’s oil reserves and three times those of the US (U.S Geological Survey, 2008). On top of this, by 2050, it is believed that the region above the Polar Circle may be completely ice-free, considering the rate at which the ice sheet is shrinking and the multiplier effect of warming seas and surface temperatures (La Rocca, 2022). This potential development could further increase the international race for Arctic raw materials.
From 13 to 14 July 2022, London hosted the Global Air and Space Chiefs’ Conference, where British Air Chief Marshall Sir Mike Wigston announced that the Royal Air Force had successfully conducted the testing of drone swarms with the purpose of striking air enemy defences: “Our swarming drone trials point to the enormous operational potential for these systems to confuse and overwhelm an adversary’s air defences. In the last three years, 216 Test and Evaluation Sqn, alongside the Rapid Capabilities Office, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and industry will have trialled five drone types in thirteen trials of new payloads, new platforms, and new control systems. We are exploring new models of capability delivery and accelerated production “when we need them” rather than “in case we need them” from the twin jet 3D-printed Pizookie, to commercially available large drones fitted with novel payloads, to large quadcopters.”
Nowadays, the forces deployed in the field are not only composed of people but also of artificial intelligence (AI) systems that take the conflict to the next technological level. Robots and especially drones have played a central role in Ukraine’s defence against the ongoing Russian attack.