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Studying the United Nations: From Cyberspace and Peacekeeping to the UN's Public Image and Future

As an interdisciplinary institute in the field of Security Studies, the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) covers various topics in its research, one of which is the United Nations and the impact of this global organization in the world.

The United Nations is an important and unique international organization, founded in 1945 and nearing its 75th anniversary. At the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) alone, researchers study the United Nations and its impact from various angles: from exploring security and stability of cyberspace to the organization's public image, from women in peacekeeping and protecting civilians to the governance aspects of an organization made up of 193 member states. Below is a short summary of some of the United Nations-related research (projects) undertaken at ISGA.

Photo credit: UNMISS Protection of Civilians Site; Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice

The Chair was set up in 2018 and will run for three years, which includes the upcoming 75th anniversary of the UN itself. The research program is positioned halfway within ISGA at Leiden University and The Hague University of Applied Sciences' Faculty of Governance, Law and Safety The Chair is held by Alanna O'Malley, Professor by special appointment of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice and a historian with a background in the United Nations, the Congo and the Cold War.

The research project contains several research themes: The Invisible History of the UN and the Global South (INVISIHIST, which has received a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council), Women and Peacebuilding, youth engagement with the UN, and UN Diplomacy beyond the Security Council. The research group is currently interested in accepting PhD students to work on all themes mentioned. Finally, the focus is on the UN's image and visibility, looking at lesser known actors and areas, and asking: what can the UN do better in the future? Various researchers at ISGA and other departments at Leiden University have joined the research group.

From 18-19 December 2019, the Chair will host the two-day workshop "Where are the Women after Resolution 1325?", which includes two public events: a keynote on 18 December by prof. Séverine Autesserre on The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World and a panel on 19 December at The Hague Humanity Hub on the Responsibility to Protect, which will include Eamon Aloyo, Associate Professor, who has published extensively on the topic of R2P, and Karen Smith (also Leiden University), who is advisor on the topic to the UN Secretary General.

Publication of the Norms Commentary project's work

The Hague Program for Cyber Norms

This research program, set up in 2017, studies technical developments, and state and non-state behaviour in cyberspace to build up and disseminate knowledge about cyber norms. Part of the research focuses on the UN GGE (United Nations Group of Governmental Experts) and the OEWG (Open-Ended Working Group), both platforms for interstate cyber diplomacy and a place to discuss possible rules of the road in cyberspace.

From 2017 to 2018, the Program worked on a norm commentary of the 2015 UN GGE report, which was published by UNODA (United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs) as Voluntary, Non-Binding Norms for Responsible State Behaviour in the Use of Information and Communications Technology: A Commentary, with contributions by Els De Busser, Liisi Adamson and Zine Homburger.

In the week of 9-13 December 2019, Senior Fellow Dennis Broeders is in New York at the UN Headquarters as part of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs' delegation to the UN GGE, serving as an advisor to its governmental expert during the 2019-2021 round of negotiations.

Joachim Koops at recent workshop for the project

Protection of Civilians in UN Peace Operations

ISGA recently received a grant from the German Ministry of Defence to advise on how to strengthen Germany's approaches to the protection of civilians in UN peace operations. Led by Joachim Koops, Professor Security Studies and Scientific Director of ISGA, the project will analyse existing capacities across the German military, police and civilian forces and will advise on future potentials and international training and capacity-building partnerships at the national, regional (EU/NATO) and global (UN) levels.

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy: The Multilateral Politics of UN Diplomacy

The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, edited and co-founded by Paul Sharp (Professor of Political Science at University of Minnesota, Duluth) and Jan Melissen (Senior Fellow at ISGA, Leiden University), is a research journal for the study of diplomacy in its traditional form and more contemporary diplomatic expressions practiced by states and non-state entities, which includes the study of diplomacy at the United Nations, for example in its 2017 Special Issue on The Multilateral Politics of UN Diplomacy.

Book cover: The Changing Global Order

The Changing Global Order

Several researchers at ISGA recently contributed to The Changing Global Order, volume 17 in the United Nations University Series on Regionalism, edited by Madeleine Hosli, Professor of International Relations, and Joren Selleslaghs, PhD candidate at ISGA. The book evaluates the concept of global order, with a particular emphasis on the role of regional organisations within global governance institutions such as the United Nations. More information about the volume can be found here.

Online learning: The Changing Global Order

The Changing Global Order is also one of the MOOCs offered by the Institute of Security and Global Affairs on Coursera. The MOOC is hosted by Madeleine Hosli and the next course will start on 16 December.

Enroll now on Coursera
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