IRSEM published it's main strategic papers in this collection. 


l subscribe to receive IRSEM news 



Visuel Report 110 EN

  • Report No 110 - 2023
    "Establishing norms of behaviour in outer space from the earth to the moon, and beyond"
    Author: CNE Béatrice Hainaut
    Ongoing space revolutions (change in the relationship between state and private partners, access to space technologies facilitated for many players, technological evolutions, etc.) modify risks and threats players using space are confronted with. It would be useless to try to describe with certainty the space landscape of tomorrow, as evolutions are rapid, and the consequences of the latter more or less known, understood and controlled. Despite these uncertainties, it seems essential for most of the space players to establish new norms in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of space, i.e. to perpetuate its use to the benefit of everyone. To this end, the promotion of binding and non-binding norms is carried out through a number of initiatives under different formats, such as the United Nations Open-ended Working Group on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours, which held in May 2022 and September 2023 four distinct sessions. The precise analysis of the third session permits, through interstate exchanges, to grasp current space challenges, and to notice the impact of the international context on space discussions. In this regard, the report that should result from these exchanges will not be published. In fact, the states did not succeed in coming to an agreement, by consensus, on its content. If this can be seen as a failure, the favourable evolution of the positions of certain states, once reluctant to accept non-binding norms of behaviour, suggests the discussions are not closed. The purpose of this study is to analyse the mechanisms for the emergence and cascade of norms of behaviour in space, be it for terrestrial orbits, the cislunar space, or the Moon. It also outlines the role and influence of each of the state actors in the promotion of these norms.
  • Report No 109 - 2023
    "The dynamics of chaos : Revolution, war and political transitions in Sudan."
    Author: Clément Deshayes
    In April 2023, a violent conflict broke out in Sudan between the Sudanese army and a paramilitary group named the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This clash constituted the climax of a multidimensional political crisis, one that stemmed from Sudan’s popular uprising of 2019. In order to understand the dynamics underlying this power struggle, we first need to grasp certain – more or less lengthy – historical processes: the reconfiguration of power, sparked by the fall of Omar al-Bashir; the counter-insurgency practices that emerged during the country’s civil wars; the interweaving of the armed forces’ political, security and economic interests; and finally, the concentration of power in the “center” of the country, which fueled forms of marginalization in other regions. The Sudanese revolution ushered in a period of change, officially putting an end to the Islamic Republic and to the hegemony of the National Congress Party (NCP). Thus, the balance of power in Sudan began to shift between various groups, as illustrated by five major sequences of events – which we will analyze further on. The first sequence consisted in a multi-faceted confrontation between protesters and the Sudanese regime, culminating in a sit-in in front of army headquarters and the coup d’état that ousted Head of State Omar al-Bashir on April 11, 2019. The second sequence was defined by intense competition between the Transitional Military Council and the revolutionary forces – the latter having essentially become united within the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) – that culminated in the massacre of June 3 and the Million March of June 30. This sequence of events resulted in a constitutional document being signed in order to organize the distribution of power. The third sequence consisted in an attempt to establish a transitional civilian government which, following the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), included certain rebel groups from the states of Darfur and Blue Nile, despite resistance from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF. The fourth sequence began with the coup d’état of October 2022 ,25. The latter was soon contested, thereby giving rise to a new phase of intense mobilization and confrontation. Finally, the fifth sequence began in April 2023 with the outbreak of large-scale armed conflicts between the SAF and the RSF. This outbreak of violence was initially sparked by the fact that armed groups refused to transfer power over to civilians, as well as by issues surrounding the reform of the security sector. However, the conflict is rooted in a longer-standing history, as well as in transformations brought about by rapid political shifts in recent years. In order to truly understand the violence that has erupted since April 15, 2023, we need to look back on the challenges and failures of the political transition, particularly regarding the representation of peripheral areas and marginalized groups. We must also highlight the fact that this conflict is rooted in governance and counter-insurgency practices inherited from the NCP regime (1989-2019) and that it extends beyond a mere competition between rival generals. The aim of this study is to clearly situate the various protagonists – of both the war and the transition – within specific social, political and economic dynamics, in a country that stands at the crossroads of the Arab and African worlds. The upheavals and violence that defined the Sudanese transition can only be understood in light of three distinct processes: the political shift that occurred following the popular uprising; the reshuffling of the former regime; and the dynamics of Sudan’s civil wars. These events produced different effects, which the present study aims to explore: competition for control over the state, the emergence of new actors from peripheral areas and marginalized groups, and the gradual militarization of the transition.
  • Report No 105 - 2023
    « The Return of Tactical Nuclear Weapons? »
    Author: Tiphaine de Champchesnel
    Over the past decade, strategic experts have noted that nuclear weapons have become more prominent on the international stage, despite them not having been used since 1945. A recent and significant milestone in this regard is the way Russia used nuclear signaling during the invasion of Ukraine. Questions regarding the possibility of Moscow using nuclear weapons extended beyond expert circles, as the media began to question whether people should fear the use of a tactical nuclear weapon and an escalation into nuclear war. These concerns echoed the questions raised by several researchers regarding a possible “return” of tactical nuclear weapons, which seemed to have been relegated to the background of the geopolitical arena since the end of the Cold War.
  • Report No. 97 - 2023
    "A Foreign Policy by Proxies? The two Sides of Russia's Presence in Mali"
    Author : Maxime Audinet, Emmanuel Dreyfus
    Relations between Mali and Russia were, until recently, mostly based on defense cooperation, revived in the early 2000s on the underlying foundation of ties established during the Soviet era. However, they have gained new momentum since the two coups d’état of 2020 and 2021, and the negotiations initiated by the Malian authorities with the paramilitary organization Wagner. Already deployed in other African countries, the deployment of the Wagner Group in Mali one year ago, in December 2021, is one of the most emblematic illustrations of Moscow’s reengagement in sub-Saharan Africa initiated over the past few years. It also took place in a context of regional and international isolation of Bamako, a major political crisis between France and Mali, and the ever-deepening deterioration in relations between Russia and the West since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.




  • Report No. 86 - 2021
    Authors : Camille Morel and Friederike Richter
    This study deals with the diversification of defence cooperation in the 21st century and proposes a typology for today’s cooperation. It classifies defence cooperation schemes according to i) their level of cooperation (bi-, mini- or multilateral), ii) their objectives (specific or general), iii) their length in time (transient or permanent), iv) their domain (related to operational aspects or investments), and v) their framework (institutionalised or not). Given the variety of cooperation forms, this study argues that it is necessary to examine their goals. More specifically, do states cooperate to ensure greater legitimacy or greater efficacy? Is it possible to combine the two? If so, what types and formats of cooperation should be favoured to achieve both efficacy and legitimacy? The study covers different defence cooperation schemes in the 21st century and questions their legitimacy and efficacy while taking into account the regional specificities of the cases being analysed.

  • Report No. 80 - 2021
    Author : Fatiha Dazi-Héni
    This study examines the way in which Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), designated heir to the throne in 2017, is putting the kingdom’s youth at the heart of his economic and social transformation program, Vision 2030. Lacking support from his family, apart from that of his father, King Salman, which bestows upon him a measure of kingly legitimacy, the Prince chooses to rely on the majority class of the population, young people. He is using the enthusiasm among urban youth for his reform plans to consolidate his power through a communications strategy based on new technologies. By claiming to embody the aspirations of Saudi youth, MBS is laying the groundwork for a new type of governance, which is studied here in parallel with perceptions and expectations among a sample of young urban Saudis in Riyadh. Looking beyond the ultra-repressive authoritarian approach that characterizes the Prince’s governance, this study shows that by gambling on the allegiance of connected young urbanites, MBS is preparing his long-term political future. By reforming school curricula, prioritizing certain career paths, promoting a nationalist narrative and an Islam of the “righteous path”, he is turning away from Wahhabism in order to mold young urban Saudis via Vision 2030.


  • Report IRSEM No.75 - 2020 
    Authors: François Delerue, Frédérick Douzet et Aude Géry
    International law and norms of responsible behaviour are at the heart of the discussions at the United Nations (UN) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security. The purpose of the present study is, therefore, to analyse – and provide food for thought on – the place of international law within the framework of the two processes underway at the UN, the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (GGE). It will also explain how international law is being instrumentalised in the present negotiations.
    The study is comprised of three parts. First, it sets out the context in which these two processes arose, their respective mandates, and the place of international law in their work. Secondly, it examines the ambiguities and consequences associated with the distinction between norms of responsible behaviour and international law. Finally, the last part focuses on the interpretation of certain rules of international law, such as, on the one hand, the responses authorised by international law in reaction to a cyber operation and, on the other hand, the principle of sovereignty. The study then analyses the geopolitical motivations behind this.




  •  Report IRSEM No. 69 - 2019 
    Authors: Jonathan (Yoni) Shimshoni and Ariel (Eli) Levite
    Shimshoni and Levite offer a fresh look at the transformation of warfare, focusing on its evolution from post-Westphalian struggle predominantly taking place between opposing military organizations into society centric confrontations. They submit that all contemporary opponents of the West have made the social dimension central to warfare, de facto pursuing society-centric strategies even when they apply traditional force. They argue that several Western states currently similarly engage in such warfare, but without fully admitting as much or effectively adjusting their strategies, doctrines and force structures. Building on their recent expose in Survival of the theoretical and historical underpinnings of this phenomenon, the authors turn to the rich and varied Israeli warfighting experience for additional insights into the nature and dynamics of contemporary societycentric confrontation.
    In this paper the authors examine the societal warfare phenomenon in four Arab-Israeli cases: Ben Gurion’s formulation of Israel’s foundational grand strategy and doctrine; the Egyptian-Israeli War of Attrition; Israel’s ongoing confrontation with Hamas; and with Hezbollah these past two decades. They conclude with observations on factors that tend to escalate and increase the undesired societization of warfare, discussing critical implications for the study and practice of strategy.





  • Étude n° 59 - 2018
    "France and Poland Facing the Evolution of the Security Environment"
    Authors:  Barbara JANKOWSKI and Amélie ZIMA (eds.)
    The purpose of this study is to propose an analysis of the security environment in the late 2010s. For several years now, the states of the European continent have been facing renewed tensions and political uncertainties. On the one hand, the annexation of Crimea, which constitutes a major break in respect of international law, and the war in the Ukrainian Donbass impact the European stability. On the other hand, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has raised many questions and instilled doubt about solidarity among allies. Brexit poses a challenge to the construction of the European Union since, for the first time, a state has used article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty allowing the exit of a state, which means that the debate on the EU’s future no longer only concerns the practical criteria for deepening European integration but also the appropriateness of this integration. However, the initiatives of European states demonstrate their resilience and their ability to respond to security challenges.



  • Étude No. 51 (EN) - 2018
  • "Making Peace, Building the State. Relations between Central Government and the Sahelian Peripheries in Niger and Mali"
    Authors: Yvan GUICHAOUA and Mathieu PELLERIN






  • Étude n° 41 - 2015
    "Defending Europe? A Stocktaking Of French and German Visions for European Defense"
    Author: Barbara KUNZ


  • Étude No. 39 (En) - 2015
    "Parliaments and Democratic Legitimacy of the Common Security and Defence Policy Major"
    Authors : General (2S) de Langlois M. and Sarah Canto





  • Étude No. 30 (En) - 2014
    "Access to the global commons and grand strategies : a shift in global interplay"
    Author : Frédéric RAMEL