News from the IES

Interested in a trip to the Big Apple that will offer you first-hand experience in Transatlantic relations? And in a unique opportunity to work and learn in an exciting multicultural environment? And what about a visit to UN HQ? Then enroll in one of our 1- or 2-year study programmes and we might choose you to join nine fellow students for a trip you will never forget!


IES researcher Jan Claudius Völkel has published a new analysis of “Geostrategic, political and socio-economic interests and stragies of regional actors in North Africa and the Sahel” for the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (BpB, Federal Agency for Civic Education, in German language).

On 22 March, IES Academic Director Luk Van Langenhove will act as discussant to Prof. Luc Soete’s talk on “Europe’s future R&I policy – Visions and values for Openness”.

This event is the last of a Tour d’ Europe, organized by the E.C., in the 28 capitals of the EU in order to discuss the outcome of a report prepared by the RISE independent expert advisory group to Commissioner Carlos Moedas. 

Ólöf Söebech, Irina van der Vet and Florian Lang participated as project leaders from the IES at the SOURCE project review meeting at the European Commission Research Executive Agency on 7 March. The aim of the SOURCE Network of Excellence is to create a robust and sustainable virtual centre of excellence capable of exploring and advancing societal issues in security research and development.

Science Diplomacy as a practice has a long past but only a short history. It became a policy concern of Foreign Affairs only recently. This article points to the strengths and weaknesses of Science Diplomacy as a soft power instrument aimed at improving International Relations. It also lists a number of threats coming from populist and protectionist forces that hinder the further development of Science Diplomacy. At the same time, the current situation also bears opportunities such as the potential to develop a scientist-driven Science Diplomacy aimed at safeguarding the values of science and at strengthening the input of science in humanity coping with global problems. This can best be realised by establishing mission-driven networks of state policy-makers, scientists and relevant stakeholders.

The shared threat emanating from Pyongyang creates a centripetal force that binds Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul because the three partners need mutual assistance. On the other hand, however, the high stakes involved in the North Korea policy of these states also intensify discord over the means to address the threat, thereby producing a centrifugal force. Policies that hurt each other’s fundamental security interests have to be pursued only with careful consultation with the partners, for both the policies’ effectiveness and for the maintenance of the partnerships. For effective cooperation, the U.S., Japanese, and ROK governments must all embrace the centripetal force of the North Korean threat while being mindful of the centrifugal force.

The IES Doctoral researcher Matilda Axelson has been involved in the development of a recently launched report by IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) and the i24C (the Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness initiative), titled “Low-carbon innovation for sustainable infrastructure – The role of public procurement”.

Public procurement is a powerful tool which can be used to generate demand for innovative, low-carbon solutions that go in line with governmental goals, such as employment, sustainable development and a low-carbon transition for infrastructure. The public purse has a particularly strong impact on European goods, services and infrastructure, and can, if wisely managed, act as an enabler for driving markets towards more sustainable production patterns.

On 2 March 2018, Mathias Holvoet defended his PhD thesis entitled “A policy to commit atrocity, understanding the “policy element” for the purpose of defining crimes against humanity”. His promotors were Prof. dr. P. De Hert and Prof. dr. S. Smis.

As a PhD researcher at the IES, Mathias was affiliated with the Faculty of Law and Criminology.  He was a member of the IES’ Migration, Diversity and Justice Cluster. Within the field of International Criminal Law, his work focused on the law of crimes against humanity, the relationship of International Criminal Law with neighbouring fields such as International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law and the continuing relevance of hybrid or internationalized criminal mechanisms within International Criminal Justice.

Prof. Florian Trauner has signed contracts for two publication projects of Oxford University Press (OUP). He was asked to write articles for the ‘Oxford Encyclopaedia of European Union Politics’ , dedicated to the study of EU politics, and to ‘Oxford Bibliographies’, a peer-reviewed online reference resource meant to guide researchers through the literature. The theme of both contributions will relate to the field of EU Justice and Home Affairs.

Sebastian Oberthür has been appointed by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) to serve as a member of the expert panel G&M4: Social, Political and Communication Sciences for an initial term of one year (2018). The expert panel in particular is mandated to assess applications for PhD and postdoctoral fellowships submitted to the FWO. The FWO describes these expert panels as its beating heart. By submitting scientific advice to the Senate and the Board of Trustees, they play a crucial role in the development of research in Flanders. Professor Oberthür’s appointment is an acknowledgement of his expertise in International Relations and European Studies, and of the IES’ reputation as a trusted advisor to Flemish public authorities.