“First, do no harm: five questions the EU needs to keep in mind for a sensitive approach to conflict resources” (CIDOB Notes Internacionals)
The European Union acknowledges that when sanctions against resource-fuelled armed confrontations are not conflict sensitive, they can potentially exacerbate violence and instability on the ground. In many conflicts, sanctions are difficult to enforce due to limited state presence and rampant corruption in the affected regions. The question to ask is, therefore, how can the trade in conflict resources be effectively stop, and what is the expected impact (and the real one) of such a restrictive measure. In this brief policy paper, I discuss five criteria the EU should keep in mind when taking policy decisions against conflict resources: (I) the relevance of those resources for the conflict dynamics; (II) how effective and (III) efficient this policy can be; (IV) what (unexpected) impacts it can have on the ground; and, finally (V) how sustainable it is. Implementing restrictive measures in isolation is not a silver bullet to end resource fuelled conflicts and neither effective nor efficient.
“European Union Contested Foreign Policy in a New Global Context” (edited with Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués and Esther Barbé, Heidelberg & New York: Springer)
The European Union’s foreign policy and its international role are increasingly being contested both globally and at home. At the global level, a growing number of states are now challenging the Western-led liberal order defended by the EU. Large as well as smaller states are vying for more leeway to act out their own communitarian principles on and approaches to sovereignty, security and economic development. At the European level, a similar battle has begun over principles, values and institutions. The most vocal critics have been anti-globalization movements, developmental NGOs, and populist political parties at both extremes of the left-right political spectrum.
This book, based on ten case studies, explores some of the most important current challenges to EU foreign policy norms, whether at the global, glocal or intra-EU level. Besides the Introduction chapter (with Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués and Esther Barbé) I contributed the chapter “Good Natural Resource Governance: How Does the EU Deal with the Contestation of Transparency Standards”.
“The European Union and natural resources that fund armed conflicts: Explaining the EU’s policy choice for supply chain due-diligence requirements” (Cooperation and Conflict, 2019, Vol.54, Issue 3, 407-425)
Natural resources can be an important source of funding for warring parties in armed conflicts. Curbing the trade in these so-called conflict resources is, therefore, part of the European Union’s conflict management policies.
The article explores the EU’s policies in this field and asks, specifically, why the EU is using supply chain due-diligence measures to achieve this goal. I argue that they are the response to enforcement problems of most existing multilateral and unilateral sanction regimes because of state weakness in the targeted regions. This approach results from a broader idea from the EU that transparency can improve resource governance and, therefore, safeguard both its political and economic interests in conflict zones, such as the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
However, when the issue becomes specific—as in the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation—translating this idea into concrete policies becomes more contentious as the EU institutions set different priorities for the final policy design.
“Does international recognition matter? Support for unilateral secession in Catalonia and Scotland” (With Diego Muro and Guillem Vidal, Nations and Nationalism, Online First).
How much do the prospects of international recognition of a possible new state affect the domestic support for secession? To answer this research question, we adopted a most similar systems design and conducted a Web‐based survey experiment in Catalonia and Scotland. Respondents were presented with plausible scenarios regarding the international recognition of a hypothetical independent state by other countries and were subsequently asked whether they would support a unilateral declaration of independence. The results show that the prospects of international recognition as a sovereign and independent state influence the degree of support for a unilateral declaration of independence in both cases. This effect was moderated by the intensity of nationalist sentiment and the motivations for independence. Respondents with more outspoken nationalist sentiments were only marginally influenced by these scenarios or treatments. Moreover, participants whose preferences towards secession were driven by ethno‐political motivations were less influenced by international factors than those who wanted an independent state for economic or political reasons.