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A new cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office

News from Jul 15, 2014

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.

Bild: Gregor Walter-Drop

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.