Highly motivated we have embarked on our successfully granted third funding period. Our team has been expanded with more than twenty new colleagues selected from several hundred applications. From 2014 to 2017, we will focus this third funding period on the evaluation of previous research findings and on theory building.
During this period we will investigate the conditions of successful governance in areas of limited statehood. For our first granted transfer project, we have acquired the German Federal Foreign Office as a new and interesting collaboration partner and look forward to a continuously fruitful mutual exchange.
At the beginning of this year, Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop handed over the scientific management of the SFB 700 to Eric Stollenwerk. We are very excited to welcome Mr. Stollenwerk as our new managing director, especially since he already supported the SFB during its application stage for the third funding period. We wish Dr. Walter-Drop well in his new position as managing director of the Center for Area Studies (CAS) at Freie Universität Berlin.
And as always, we look forward to receiving your thoughts and comments!
Coordinator SFB 700
The SFB 700 at the Long Night of Sciences
At this year’s Long Night of Sciences in Berlin on May 10, the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 700 “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood” presented its research projects with a poster exhibition, an information desk, and a panel discussion.
The poster exhibition introduced the seventeen individual research projects in the SFB 700’s third funding period to the public and provided insight into their specific research. Visitors learned about the manifold activities and methodological approaches of the projects and engaged in lively discussions with our research staff. In this way, we could present many different topics ranging from security production in Latin America to development partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa. The SFB 700’s main event was a panel discussion titled “Attention! Handle with Care! Fragile Statehood as a Challenge for International Politics.”
The panel included Erik Kurzweil, deputy head of team Afghanistan and Pakistan at the German Federal Foreign Office; Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig, Jan Koehler, and Prof. Dr. Heike Krieger as staff representatives of the SFB 700 and Freie Universität Berlin; and Prof. Dr. Andreas Mehler as a scholar from both the SFB 700 and the GIGA Institute. Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop (SFB 700 and Freie Universität Berlin) moderated the panel.
Two new Mercator Fellows at the SFB
The SFB 700 is happy to welcome two new Mercator Fellows, Shalini Randeria and Stephen Krasner, to Berlin! Both scholars will support the SFB throughout the entire funding period from 2014 to 2017 with extended annual work stays. While Shalini Randeria from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva will strengthen the Research Center’s ethnological expertise, Stephen Krasner from Stanford University will promote the perspective of international political economy.
Book Presentation of the SFB 700
On June 10, 2014, two of the SFB 700’s most recent publications were presented at the Hertie School of Governance. This event kicked off a series of book presentations, to be organized by the SFB 700 on a regular basis from now on. The two books introduced this time were Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood, edited by Prof. Dr. Steven Livingston and Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop, and Business and Governance in South Africa: Racing to the top?, edited by Prof. Dr. Tanja Börzel and Dr. Christian Thauer. This new series of events aims at sharing the published research findings of SFB 700 staff with a broader public and opening a platform for mutual exchange with interested parties from media, science, and politics.
All Signs Point to Theory: Research focus and key issues for the SFB 700’s third funding period
On January 1, 2014, the SFB 700 moved with 17 research projects and more than 60 researchers into its third and final funding period. During this period, the Collaborative Research Center will continue working with a series of renowned and well-established partner institutions, such as the University of Potsdam, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), and the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). Additionally, the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) has been acquired as a new collaboration partner.
The dominant feature of the third funding period is theory building, thus our focus lies in researching conditions for successful governance. We aim to capture under what conditions the effective and legitimate provision of rules and collective goods is feasible in the context of limited statehood. Moreover, we will examine the consequences of governance in areas of limited statehood and the effects of governance on both national and international politics.
Four key aspects play a special role in our broader research framework, forming the subjects of more detailed investigations by cross-sectional working groups at the SFB. Under the supervision of research project B2 (Tanja Börzel), one of these groups will deal with the role of external actors and their governance contributions. A second group is concerned with issues surrounding the “plurality of norms” and is headed by project B7 (Gunnar Folke Schuppert). Project B9 (Bernd Ladwig) will take charge of a third cross-sectional working group, focusing on an in-depth understanding of issues related to normative evaluations. The fourth group, under the responsibility of project D9 (Stefan Rinke), will research the role of social trust in areas of limited statehood.
Overall, the SFB 700 will continue to develop a theory of governance in areas of limited statehood that is based on empirically sound data. Building on the findings of the first two funding periods from 2006 to 2009 and 2010 to 2013, our research agenda intends to make a productive and innovative contribution to the academic and policy discourse on governance in both the national and international contexts.
About the author: Since January 1, 2014, Eric Stollenwerk (M.A) is managing director at the SFB 700. He is also research associate of the research project A1 „Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood: Contributions to Theory Building“.
A new cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office
In the SFB 700’s final funding period, a distinctive feature of its structure is project T3 “Policy Implications of Governance Research for German Foreign Policy.” This project is directed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse and Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office. Such cooperative transfer projects are a unique funding category at the German Research Foundation (DFG) and aim to initiate a mutual transfer of knowledge between basic research and practical application. Both cooperation partners – the German Research Foundation and German Federal Foreign Office – agree that such transfer projects are too rare at collaborative research centers in the humanities and social sciences; thus, project T3 enters uncharted territory in its intensive exchange with a central federal ministry.
The third funding phase is a good time to initiate a transfer project such as T3. Since its founding in 2006 the SFB has operated in a politically highly sensitive environment, and its projects have often made reference to foreign and development policies. Yet, only on the basis of conceptual and empirical research results established in the last eight years does it now make sense to systematically deal with their political implications. Parallel to this, beginning in 2010 the German government underwent a process that led to the passage of “Interministerial Guidelines for a Coherent Government Policy on Fragile States” in September 2012. The next step will be to specify these guidelines, a point at which the mutual exchange between our Collaborative Research Center and the German Federal Foreign Office can be particularly beneficial.
Project T3 focuses on three main topics: promotion of rule of law, security sector reform, and democracy promotion. For many years, German foreign policy has been actively engaged in all three areas in various “fragile states,” and the SFB 700 has broad expertise and great range of information and knowledge about all three subjects. In order to achieve fruitful collaboration, mutual exchange will be organized in three formats. Firstly, three so-called scholars in residence at the SFB will each work in the German Federal Foreign Office for six months and will deal with one of the aforementioned topics. Secondly, we intend to organize interdepartmental workshops and conferences involving the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ) and other ministries. And finally, the SFB is involved in vocational and educational trainings on these topics for German Federal Foreign Office staff, including staff members at the headquarters in Berlin who deal with areas of limited statehood as well as diplomats posted in the respective regions.
In this newsletter you will find an article by Dr. Matthias Kötter who is our first scholar in residence working at the Federal Foreign Office. Based on his previous work for research project B7 (“Rule of Law and Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”) Dr. Kötter is now investigating the foreign policy issue of promoting rule of law in areas of limited statehood.
About the author: Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop is co-directing the research project T3 with Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse on the topic of „Policy Implications of Governance Research for German Foreign Policy“ (Cooperation Partner: German Federal Foreign Office). Moreover, Gregor Walter-Drop is managing the Center for Area Studies (CAS) at Freie Universität Berlin since January 1, 2014.
Research - Political Practice - Policy: Rule of Law Promotion in German Foreign Policy and from the Perspective of SFB Research
The starting point of knowledge transfer between SFB 700 and the German Federal Foreign Office is the Federal Government’s policy towards fragile states that correlates with our research on governance in areas of limited statehood. In the first year of our collaboration, the focus lies with the topic of rule of law promotion.
Rule of law promotion describes a policy towards countries whose ruling is considered not to comply with more or less universally acknowledged rule of law standards. Such policy intends to improve the quality of legislation including its enforcement in the respective countries. For the most part, this is achieved by means of consultation of judges, lawyers, or legislative organs of the partner country, and by collaborating with local civil society institutions.
The topic of rule of law promotion discloses a twofold transfer perspective: just like our transfer project, rule of law promotion is based on the intent to create a transfer of knowledge between institutions and contexts. In both cases, questions arise around conditions and means of transfer.
The practice of rule of law promotion deploys differing concepts of constitutional legality and the rule of law. It is always the user of the term who defines it and this determines the objectives of rule of law promotion. Yet, this flexibility of the term allows for very different understandings of law to connect to the global debates on this issue. While the concept of the rule of law is basically internationally accepted, differences only appear in the details, for example when defining contents of human rights.
Research on the rule of law and on rule of law promotion focuses entirely on conceptual issues. It separates prescriptive concepts that are rich in content from more stability-oriented formal and also pluralistic concepts of law and the rule of law. In contrast, empirical research on the rule of law is rare. Cases of empirical research investigating the effectivity of transfer are mostly practical evaluations that aim at proving the effectiveness of certain measures and programs. There is neither any overall research that critically scrutinizes the doctrine on rule of law promotion promising regulation of order and justice, nor analyses of tangible strategic objectives that governments and other institutions pursue with this measure, or any research on the question of how and under what conditions the intended implementation is achieved. Yet, these are all essential factors determining the legitimacy and success of such policy.
Only recently, the German Foreign Office developed an index on rule of law promotion giving an overview on more than 600 measures taken by German organizations in this context, the majority of which is being supported in one way or the other by the German Government. This index is providing a panoramic view on various projects and measures in about 100 different countries. Moreover, it gives an indication as to the multifarious strategic objectives behind those measures. Such objectives may vary from peace keeping in situations of crisis, establishment of legal security and order, improvement of investment security for German companies, to initiating a normative dialogue on violations of human rights.
However, research findings as well as experiences made by various units of the German Government suggest that expectations on the success of rule of law promotion efforts should be kept low. Transfer and diffusion research has oftentimes proven implementations of externally designed programs not to have sustainable effects. In some local contexts, even Acts of Parliament are not perceived as a contribution to law but as an illegitimate dictate enforced by the state. And even if adoption does take place, the process itself may transform the original idea beyond recognition.
Only more custom-fit solutions that are sensitive to their respective contexts are expected to have more sustainable effects. Such solutions need to be based on a local understanding of law and legitimacy and thus, in turn, an analysis of these local perceptions must mark the beginning of any transfer efforts. This points to the plurality of courts and legal norms which constitutes the focus of research project B7 at the SFB. The strengthening of traditional legal systems, surely with reservation as to the protection of a minimum standard, can offer an alternative to the building of state structures that usually lack recognition. As SFB research has shown, government institutions are not necessarily required for the provision of governance performance.
The more both sides actively and in equal measures support any transfer process, the more effective the transfer becomes. Any transfer requires translation efforts that can only be successful if there is a continuous mutual process. And if the transfer project takes lessons developed by the transfer research serious, it can grow with its subject; as the same principles apply for the transfer of knowledge between research and political practice.
So far we have already observed transfer working best in a casual daily work setting at the Federal Foreign Office. Advanced conceptual ideas on the rule of law promotion are being consolidated in a “tool box” that intends to facilitate the work of the responsible departments by helping them differentiate varying local contexts by means of their respective degree of the rule of law. Accordingly, the index will then also provide matching suggestions for means of action which incorporate previous experiences by the Federal Government related to the respective context. The perspective of our research at the SFB will explicitly show in the inclusion of various non-governmental forms of governance.
The state-centered perspective of foreign-policy is only seemingly contrary to the governance approach. However, the foreign-policy perspective in this transfer project demands specific requirements that constantly need to be considered. If governance input from non-state actors can only be included within state and international structures, we will need to inquire into corresponding forms or other alternatives. One example for such alternatives would be recognition and addressing of traditional legal and governance forms in the constitution, another one German participation in the „Syria Recovery Trust Fund“ supporting local reconstruction projects even in opposition-controlled areas.
About the author: Dr. Matthias Koetter is research associate at the research project „Rule of Law and Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood“. As part of the transfer project T3, Koetter is also scholar in residence at the German Federal Foreign Office since March 1, 2014.
Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse Spokesperson Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke Managing Director Eric Stollenwerk, M.A.
Research Program of the Collaborative Research Center 700
Governance has become a central focus within the field of research of the social sciences. The SFB 700 inquires into the conditions of governance in areas of limited statehood. This includes developing countries or those in transition, failing and failed states in troubled regions around the world, and, from a historical perspective, different colonialset-ups.
The center‘s main research questions are: How can effective and legitimate governance be sustained in areas of limited statehood? What problems emerge under such conditions? Which consequences may arise from non-state governance for national and international politics?
Der SFB 700 is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and was set up in 2006.