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Summer Newsletter 2015

Apr 08, 2015


As the summer semester of 2015 comes to a close, field research at the SFB is in high gear! In this newsletter, we would like to give you an update on our work and present the results of empirical data collection in several research projects across the different disciplines. Early 2015 was already a big success for the SFB with our participation in the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) in New Orleans, USA. The first half of the year also included numerous events at our offices and those of our cooperation partners, which we look forward to telling you about here. Lastly we will use this opportunity to introduce a new Mercator Fellow at the SFB and to give you an overview of our recent publications.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and look forward to your feedback!

With kind regards,


Thomas Risse
Coordinator SFB 700

Stephen D. Krasner, New Mercator Fellow at the SFB

Mercator Fellow Professor Stephen D. Krasner

Mercator Fellow Professor Stephen D. Krasner
Image Credit: Stanford University

From the beginning of April to the end of June, the SFB 700 welcomed Prof. Stephen D. Krasner as our new Mercator Fellow.

Stephen D. Krasner is a professor of international relations at Stanford University in California, USA. His core areas of research include international regimes and state building.

At the Collaborative Research Center 700, Prof. Krasner is focusing on governance provision by external governance actors, supporting researchers in the individual projects with his experience in this area. In this capacity, he will make regular, longer visits to the SFB 700 from now until the end of 2017, enriching our work with his expertise.


The SFB 700 at the 56th Annual Convention of the ISA

Joint reception of the SFB 700 and the KFG at the ISA 2015

Joint reception of the SFB 700 and the KFG at the ISA 2015

In 2015, the Collaborative Research Center 700 participated once again in the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), now in its 56th year, in New Orleans, USA.

The ISA held its annual meeting from February 18 to 21, 2015, under the heading: “Global IR and Regional Worlds – A New Agenda for International Studies.”

As in previous years, the SFB 700 stood out in several different events during the conference. Especially successful were a poster exhibit, numerous panels, and a book and information stand. The highlight of the experience was a joint reception co-hosted with the Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe” for all interested participants, experts, and friends of both institutions. More than 350 guests attended the reception and, following a warm welcome by SFB Coordinator Thomas Risse and KFG Co-Director Tanja A. Börzel, used the opportunity to chat with researchers from the SFB projects and learn more about the research center’s work.

Over the course of the four-day conference, scholars from the SFB 700 introduced their research findings on eight different panels and in three round-table discussions. At the panel discussions, SFB researchers presented a total of 10 papers that addressed topics such as the legitimacy of state and non-state governance and governance transfer through regional organizations.

The SFB 700 would like to thank all conference participants for their interest in our work and for a successful ISA Convention 2015!

Transfer Project T3 Holds Seminar for Junior Staff in German Foreign Policy and Workshop on Security Sector Reform (SSR)

SSR workshop at the SFB 700

SSR workshop at the SFB 700

The SFB’s transfer project T3, which focuses on the implications of governance research for German foreign policy, held two large events in March and April 2015. From March 9 to 11, the project organized an interdepartmental seminar titled “Between Stabilization and State-Building: Interdepartmental Engagement in Fragile States” at the Foreign Service Academy. About 60 junior staff members participated from the German Federal Foreign Office and other government departments. The seminar was one component of cooperation between the SFB 700 and the Federal Foreign Office. It aimed to enable participants to draw on the SFB’s research findings in order to develop alternative strategies in dealing with fragile states.

On April 22, the transfer project hosted a workshop titled “Challenging Germany’s Approach to SSR” at the offices of the SFB 700. Participants from civil society, academia, and organizations on the ground discussed the framework of German engagement and the potential for further developing SSR in the German context. The program included lectures and panel discussions on the strategic framework and current practices, as well as a working group discussion on discrepancies between the theory and implementation of SSR. The event laid the groundwork for an international SSR conference hosted by the Federal Foreign Office on May 4 in cooperation with the SFB 700.

International Joint Workshop of the SFB 700 and the AidData Project on Development Aid and Effective and Legitimate Governance

SFB 700 and AidData Project joint workshop

SFB 700 and AidData Project joint workshop

On February 11, 2015, the SFB 700 and the AidData Project hosted a joint workshop on the topic of “Foreign Aid, Effective and Legitimate Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood” in Berlin. Twenty scholars from the research projects of the SFB 700 and the AidData Project’s international network met for one day to exchange research findings on the legitimacy and effectiveness of development aid programs in the context of limited statehood. After short input lectures by Michael J. Tierney (College of William and Mary), Helen Milner (Princeton University), and Audrey Sacks (World Bank), among others, participants engaged in productive discussions of the work presented. In order to grasp the complex relationship between development aid and governance, the workshop included presentations of recent empirical studies in countries such as India, Uganda, and Afghanistan. At the end of the workshop, the participants concluded that they could not definitively identify the consequences of development aid for effective and legitimate governance. Some empirical findings point to a positive effect of development aid, others to a negative effect. Many participants emphatically reiterated the role of local characteristics in development aid. Further research projects should be devoted to this topic, especially those focusing specifically on regional and local contexts.

Panel Discussion at the German Federal Foreign Office – German and American Perspectives on Fragile States

Panel discussion at the Federal Foreign Office on dealing with fragile states

Panel discussion at the Federal Foreign Office on dealing with fragile states

Focusing on how to deal with fragile states, the SFB 700’s transfer project T3 and the German Federal Foreign Office organized ajoint panel discussion on June 22, 2015, with experts from academia and politics. Titled “How to Deal with Fragile States? Perspectives from the USA and Germany,” the event revolved around German-American relations and examined the responsibility of both countries vis-à-vis fragile states, conflicts, and security. The Federal Foreign Office was represented by Thomas Bagger, director of the Policy Planning Staff, and Ina Lepel, appointee for Civilian Crisis Prevention, Humanitarian Aid, and International Counterterrorism. Andrew Loomis, senior advisor to the US State Department, provided an American perspective. The panel was rounded off with academic expertise from Prof. Thomas Risse, coordinator of the SFB 700, and Prof. Stephen D. Krasner of Stanford University, currently Mercator Fellow at the SFB. Dr. Gregor Walter-Drop, head of the transfer project T3, moderated the discussion. The evening took place in the reading hall of the Federal Foreign Office. It consisted of an input round from the panel experts followed by a broader conversation with questions from the audience. The discussion opened the stage for fundamental questions concerning transatlantic differences in dealing with fragile states and the implications of those differences for future cooperation and partnerships. The panel also discussed potential “lessons learned” from working with fragile states and dealing with conflicts so far. To conclude, the experts emphasized that in addressing fragile states, it is essential to focus on bi- and multilateral partnerships, local ownership, and the integration and/or development of country-specific expertise. The event was well attended with about 100 guests, and was accompanied by an information and book stand from the SFB 700.

Security Studies from the Porch of a Safari Hotel - Field Research Report on the Central African Republic

Tim Glawion talks to merchants in Bangassou, Central African Republic

Tim Glawion talks to merchants in Bangassou, Central African Republic

We must be strong and assert ourselves!” says the slender man and flexes the muscles in his arm, “it’s the only way we can get a grip on our country”.

On the table in front of him rest the official seal and a small flag of the Central African Republic. Feyomona is the Prefect of Bangassou, a small town in the south. He’s wearing sandals and an “international woman’s day” shirt. He made the porch of an abandoned safari hotel into his new office. First, Séléka rebels ransacked his original Prefect’s office and took electronics and money. Afterwards, thieves even dismantled the tin foil roof to sell it on the market. At that time, Feyomona had already fled into the Congo forest.

Now he’s seated in his wicker chair opposite us, Lotje de Vries and Tim Glawion, who arrived with an essential question for him: How can security be reestablished in such a situation? The Prefect talks about regional development plans that he coauthored and drops the names of Rousseau and Kant. He is a true patriot. But his state is weak: Security in Bangassou is not provided by the three national gendarmes, but rather by the 100 UN soldiers stationed in town. Public schools are in a devastating state, while the Catholic Church runs a nationally renowned boarding school. The Prefect himself possesses nothing but his desk – no employee, no car, not even a bicycle. And the budget coffers are empty.

The conditions in the other places Lotje and I visited are even worse: In the north, in Paoua, two policemen and three gendarmes are responsible for 240,000 citizens in the wider region. They are overwhelmed. 150 UN soldiers keep the peace – at least within town. The surroundings are ruled by bandits and rebels. In the southeastern corner, in Obo, people don’t dare leave their village. There, every couple of months the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army commits atrocities against the population despite the presence of 1500 Ugandan soldiers and 100 American advisors. Actually, by now the threats stemming from poachers and militias out of the border triangle region have become the largest threat.

The country is marked by hundreds of marauding armed groups that effectively cut off dozens of towns from the outside world. UN airplanes and armed convoys are the only ones reaching these isolated areas. Much more worrying and profound are the divisions within society: Distrust undermines peaceful cohabitation among religious confessions, ethnic and economic groups. Finding alternative means of security provision in such circumstances is a massive undertaking. Current security analyses are often limited to international intervention and national state-led reform processes. Within the Collaborative Research Center’s C10 project we compare developments in peripheries of the Central African Republic with remote areas of South Sudan to research alternative bottom-up approaches to reestablishing security.

About the author:

Tim Glawion is a research associate at the SFB 700 and the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and investigates for the Research Project C10  security provision in Areas of Limited Statehood in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Somaliland.

When Archives Become “the Field” – Field Research in Tianjin and Qingdao, People’s Republic of China

As a historical project examining adaptation and legitimation as explanatory factors of effective governance in the first eight years of the People’s Republic of China (1949–1957), our research is based primarily on documents. Unlike political and social scientists who can gather information directly through interviews, we can only access knowledge through the written word. Traces left by experts at these institutions of the past become our fields of research; field studies thus entail extensive trips to the archives.

The project’s research associates Vanessa Bozzay and Suy Lan Hopmann, as well as our research assistants Yuzhu Zhang and Vivien Chen, embarked on archival research trips in August 2014. Our destinations were the Chinese cities of Tianjin and Qingdao, the former a port city 150 km southwest of Beijing, the latter a former German colony on the coast of northern China. The main purpose of the trip was to assess the situation in the archives and evaluate the accessibility of relevant documents. We are specifically interested in the institutional development of local administrative structures, as well as in the measures that initiated and accompanied this process on a cognitive, emotional, and technical level. As indicators, we look at institutions of the propaganda and educational apparatuses, as well as political campaigns that played a major role as a political instrument especially under party chairman Mao Zedong.

The situation on the ground turned out to be more difficult than expected. Although Chinese archives have generally opened up in recent years, allowing historians new access to and perspectives on contemporary Chinese history since 1949, the last year has brought a trend in the opposite direction. The city archives of Tianjin and Qingdao, our bases of research in the last project phase, provided significantly less material compared to 2013, and we were no longer allowed to copy reports and documents that we found. Moreover, we discovered a classification of the material that regulated access differently for personnel, Chinese citizens, and foreign citizens. Our impression is that the Chinese archives will continue to tighten access in the coming years—an impression that has been supported by blog posts and conference papers from scholars working on Chinese history, as well as by personal conversations on the ground.

With the help of our Chinese assistants and through personal contacts, we ended up collecting a decent amount of material, which we are currently sifting through and evaluating. The results will form the basis of a further archival trip in July and August of this year.

About the author:

Suy Lan Hopmann is a research associate with Research Project B13. There she investigates how the Communist Party of China (CPC) consolidated their rule in conditions of limited statehood from 1949 to 1957.

The Politics of State- and Security-Building in Côte d’Ivoire and Lebanon

The Regional Office of the UNOCI in Korhogo, Côte d'Ivoire

The Regional Office of the UNOCI in Korhogo, Côte d'Ivoire

A sign at the famous St. George Hotel protesting against the reconstruction project of post-war Beirut and the company running it, both known as "Solidere" (Beirut)

A sign at the famous St. George Hotel protesting against the reconstruction project of post-war Beirut and the company running it, both known as "Solidere" (Beirut)

The SFB Research Project C6 seeks to examine the complex interactions between international and local actors and analyzes how power relations and politics at the domestic level change as a result of international state-building efforts. We focus on the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Lebanon, looking specifically at international assistance to the security sector and to the reform of political institutions. Both countries are marked by a fragile political order, sociopolitical cleavages and a long-standing presence of the international community.

In early 2015, research associates Tilmann Scherf and Sina Birkholz embarked on their field research to Côte d’Ivoire and Lebanon respectively to map the field of international state-building assistance. They each conducted qualitative interviews with more than 30 international and domestic experts and representatives from the security- and governance sector, including the UN institutions, foreign embassies, the national security forces, civil society and academia.

Côte d’Ivoire

Long regarded as a model for political and economic stability in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire has seen continued violence since the start of a protracted civil war in 2002, which has left the country divided along ethnic and identitarian lines into a rebel-held North and a state-controlled South for almost a decade. After contested elections in 2010, heavy fighting erupted once again, leading to the ousting of President Laurent Gbagbo and the establishment of a new government led by President Alassane Ouattara in 2011. The United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), established in 2004, is mandated to monitor a fragile peace and support the new Ivoirian government with the implementation of its national SSR (security sector reform) and DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants) strategies. UNOCI is supported by other international agencies (UNDP, GIZ, USAID, etc.) which implement externally-funded projects in Côte d’Ivoire, most notably in the field of police reform, DDR and democratic institution-building.

Tilmann’s field research has greatly benefitted from practical experience and information exchange with a variety of actors in Côte d’Ivoire. In the eyes of many, the presence of the international community has a positive effect on the general security situation in the country. However, peace remains fragile, as the Ouattara government still relies strongly on the calming effect and stabilization efforts of the presence of the international community. Supporters of the ‘old regime’ protest against alleged ‘victor’s justice’ exercised by the new government. The uncertainty around the status of ex-rebel fighters remains another security concern, as many of them await reintegration into the republican security forces. Counterbalancing these pressures from both sides will remain a tightrope act for the Ouattara government in the run-up to the Presidential elections in October 2015.

Tilmann has also participated in an academic workshop at Université de Bouaké and joined in a one-week UN field mission to northern Côte d’Ivoire.


This year, Lebanon commemorated the end of a 15-year long protracted civil war that was characterized by a sequence of different phases and conflict constellations, and (formally) came to a closure with the Taif Agreement in 1989. Establishing the foundations of the post-war political order, Taif also sanctioned Syrian ‘tutelage’ over Lebanon, resulting in a de-facto control of politics and security by the Syrian regime. The murder of (former) Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the ensuing ‘Cedar Revolution’ in 2005 led to the withdrawal of Syrian forces and fuelled hopes for a new beginning. Yet, instead of the emergence of a national consensus on the country’s identity and trajectory, the past 10 years have seen repeated political deadlock and episodes of violence, the reinforcement of sectarian and class divisions, along with a surprising resilience of the political system and the country as a whole. The most recent test to Lebanon’s stability has been the regional turmoil since 2011 and the Syrian war, with the number of Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon amounting to more than one million.

After the civil war, the UN, the EU, its member states and the US have repeatedly stepped up their support to institution-building in response to aforementioned turning points. Since about 2005/6 a considerable part of this external assistance goes to the state security forces. Sina’s field research aimed at producing insights into what kind of projects external actors have been focusing on in the fields of governance reform and security sector assistance, and how they try to achieve their goals. By talking to both donors and beneficiaries, expats and Lebanese, she tried to gain an understanding of mutual perceptions, practices of collaboration and competition, and engage critically with the narratives that are produced around the security-development sector.

During her research stay, Sina has benefited greatly from her affiliation with the Orient Institute Beirut (OIB). She was granted access to OIB’s internal research colloquia and the OIB’s library. The exchange with the community of OIB scholars has provided strong support to Sina’s research.

Both field trips have yielded important results for the C6 project’s research agenda. In the two countries examined, international state-building assistance is strongly shaped by state-society relations that are pervaded by either neopatrimonial (Côte d’Ivoire) or confessional (Lebanon) lines of influence. Specific forms of patron-client relations have been decisive in structuring the outcomes of international state-building processes – outcomes, which can be described as ‘mixed’ at best. In some cases we found that international assistance has involuntarily served to strengthen and ‘transnationalize’ local dynamics of favoritism and patron-client relations. These insights have provided the C6 agenda with important new directions for future research.


About the authors:

Sina Birkholz and Tilmann Scherf are research associates with Research Project C6. They investigate the role of international actors in Security Sector Reform and (re-)establishing national political institutions in areas of limited statehood in the Middle East and West Africa.

Recent Publications of the SFB700

Monographs and Anthologies

  Babayan, Nelli/Risse, Thomas (Ed.) 2015: Special Issue: Democracy Promotion and the Challenges of Illiberal Regional Powers, in: Democratization, Februar 2015, 22:4.
Börzel, Tanja A./van Hüllen, Vera (Ed.) 2015: Governance Transfer by Regional Organizations: Patching Together a Global Script, Palgrave Macmillan.
Kötter, Matthias/Röder, Tilmann J./Schuppert, Gunnar F./Wolfrum, Rüdiger (Ed.) 2015: Non-State Justice Institutions and the Law: Decision-Making at the Interface of Tradition, Religion and the State, Palgrave Macmillan.

Krieger, Heike (Ed.) 2015: Inducing Compliance with International Humanitarian Law - Lessons from the African Great Lakes Region, Cambridge University Press (to be published in August 2015).


Schmelzle, Cord 2015: Politische Legitimität und zerfallene Staatlichkeit, Campus. (to be published in August 2015)

  Schuppert, Gunnar Folke 2015: Wege in die moderne Welt: Globalisierung von Staatlichkeit als Kommunikationsgeschichte (Staatlichkeit im Wandel), Campus Verlag.
  Schüren, Verena 2015: Aufholende Entwicklung in der globalen Ökonomie -- Pharmazeutische Innovationssysteme in Indien und Brasilien. Nomos Verlag

Hölck, Lasse 2014: Kampf um Vertrauen. Die Comcáac von Sonora (Mexiko) unter kolonialer und republikanischer Herrschaft, 1650- 1850. Stuttgart: Hans-Dieter Heinz. Akademischer Verlag 2014.

From the SFB Working Paper Series

Börzel, Tanja A./Risse, Thomas 2015: “Dysfunctional Institutions, Social Trust, and Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”, July 2015

Ickler, Christian 2014: “Limits of Control – Challenges to Spatiotemporal Analysis of Sub-state War”, November 2014

Lee, Melissa/Walter-Drop, Gregor/ Wiesel, John 2015: „The Pillars of Governance. A Macro-Quantitative Analysis of Governance Performance” (to be published in August 2015)



Freie Universität Berlin
Sonderforschungbereich (SFB) 700
Alfried-Krupp-Haus Berlin
Binger Str. 40
14197 Berlin

Phone.: +49-30-838 58502
E-Mail: sfb700@fu-berlin.de

Web: www.sfb-governance.com
Editorial: Eric Stollenwerk/Alexandra Konzack

Coordinators of the SFB 700

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.

Partner Organisations of the SFB 700