Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Research programme

Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice

From 1 August 2018, Alanna O'Malley was appointed as Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice, focusing on the ‘lesser-known actors’ of the UN: women, the youth, the agents of informal diplomatic networks within the UN and actors from the Global South. This Special Chair has been created by the Municipality of The Hague to honor the work of Jozias Van Aartsen, former Dutch Foreign Minister and Mayor of The Hague.

2018  -   2021
Alanna O'Malley
Municipality of The Hague Municipality of The Hague

The Hague University of Applied Sciences

This Chair aims to increase the visibility and relevance of the UN to the general public in The Hague and beyond, capitalizing on The Hague a strategic centre for UN Studies.

If you have any questions or wish to know more about the UN Studies Chair, please email unstudies@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

This Chair is positioned halfway within the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University's Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs and the Faculty of Governance, Law and Safety of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The Chair is being funded by the Municipality of The Hague for a period of three years as part of the ‘Van Aartsen honours program’ in the field of UN Studies.

Aim of the Chair

The aim of the UN Studies Chair is to ultimately change perceptions of the UN.

It will do so by establishing a UN Studies Research Network connecting expertise at The Hague University of Applied Sciences with that of Leiden University. The Chair provides a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse set of actors relating to the UN and its activities in order to improve public visibility of and engagement with the organization.

The Chair is designed to act as an umbrella to connect different dimensions of UN proficiency by bridging academic and civil society and acting as a focal point for activities relating to the UN and associated ideas of global governance in the area of peace and justice.

Timing of the programme

This is a very timely moment at which to think about the UN for three main reasons.

Firstly, as the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020 draws closer, the time has come for more balanced, critical and representative views of the organization. The Chair will stimulate frontier research in a range of different areas.

Secondly, the historical legacy of international law in The Hague, its reputation in the area of peace and justice, alongside the wealth of researchers and experts here, make it the ideal place in which to develop contributions to current debates about UN reform and revitalization.

Thirdly, as The Netherlands has just completed a term as an elected member on the Security Council this is an opportunity for appraisal and reflection on a range of UN issues from the perspective of the Dutch experience which may be mined to develop broader action plans.

1. ‘Challenging the Liberal World Order from Within, The Invisible History of the United Nations and the Global South, 1945-1981.’ (INVISIHIST)

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, over half belong to the grouping known as the Global South (also called the Developing World or Third World). Since its creation in 1945, Global South actors have sought to redefine political dynamics and change normative practices through the UN. Yet, histories of the organization are predominantly from the Western perspective. Challenging this view, this research will make a ground-breaking contribution to the field, providing a new genealogy of the UN within the contextual frame of global history in order to investigate how Global South actors shaped global order. It will bring together different perspectives of the UN from archives across the Global South, revealing currently invisible histories of the organization by examining how it was developed by Global South actors between 1945-1981.

The project’s innovative contribution is in explaining the ways in which the UN has changed over time by placing an emphasis on the dynamic role of Global South actors. The research will elucidate histories of the ordering role of institutions at a moment when global governance is in crisis and the liberal world order appears to be fragmenting. Its primary impact will be in decolonizing the historiography by highlighting the historical agency of Global South actors, and transposing the importance of the organization in the longer history of the latter half of the twentieth century to provide a truly global history of the UN.   

2. Women and Peacebuilding, A Multilevel Perspective

This program examines women’s involvement in three key areas of peace and conflict: conflict prevention, peacekeeping and the post-conflict/peace-making.  Drawing on the Secretary-General’s emphasis on the role of women in conflict prevention in his last report (2018) and Security Council Resolution 1325 the central research question asks; What is the role of women in building sustainable peace?

The project will identify and analyse the specific contribution of women to building sustainable peace from their role in conflict prevention, women as peacekeepers and post-conflict peace-making capacities. It will draw together military and civilian experiences in this field to reflect on women as actors, rather than merely agents in peace-building processes.

With Dr. Vanessa Newby (Leiden University), Prof. Madeleine Hosli (Leiden University), Mr. Diego Salama (Leiden University), Mr. Wietse Stam (Leiden University), Mr. Tom Buitelaar (European University Institute), Ms. Christine Tremblay (THUAS), Ms. Szilvia Csevar (THUAS), Dr. Mihela Anghel (THUAS), Ms. Willemijn Aerdts (Leiden University), Ms. Benita Hickson (Leiden University).

3. The UN and I: What does the UN mean for My Future?

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word UN? Is it just the Security Council and the ‘blue helmets’ or is there more to it? These are some of the questions tackled by the Chair’s research group. To answer these questions the Chair will organise events, produce academic and practice-oriented research and engage with actors from different sectors of society. In order to succeed, it will need the active participation of young people who bring innovative ideas and passion for the UN. This project aims to inspire and encourage young people to take ownership over the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is an opportunity to grab the microphone, grab the steering wheel and change the course of direction of our future by heading towards the new world we want to see ourselves living in.

This project is a part of the Van Aartsen Honours Program (City of The Hague) and the Pre-University program of Leiden University.  This program brings together young people (under 35) who live, study, or work in the Netherlands and are interested in the United Nations and its various programs and specialized agencies.The idea is to discuss with young people how the UN is relevant for our individual and collective futures. The aim is to inform and provide young people with an understanding of the UN and its activities that goes beyond peacekeeping operations and the activities of the United Nations Security Council.

More about this research project...

25 June 2020, 21:00 - Online Webinar with Ambassador Samantha Power and Ambassador Karel van Oosterom

This year the United Nations turns 75 and June 26th is the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter. To mark this occasion Ambassador Samantha Power and H.E. Ambassador Karel J.G van Oosterom are taking part in an online event to talk about their experiences as international civil servants. Moderated by Chris Kijne, the interview will explore the intricacies of the United Nations, the Security Council, and how to make a difference in the world.

For more information about this event, click here

To join the conversation on Thursday 25th June at 21:00 (9PM GMT+2) please use the following Zoom link - https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88646593213

29 June 2020, 16:00 - Online panel on The Impact of the Coronavirus on the Future of Peacekeeping

On Monday 29th June, the Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice is hosting a panel discussion with experienced peacekeepers and experts in the field. Moderated by Dr. Alexandra Novosseloff, the panelists will reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the future of peacekeeping and answer questions from the audience.

For more information & registration, please click here.

Previous events


What are we going to do with our €840,000 UN Security Council seat?

In the Irish Times, Professor Alanna O'Malley  shared some thoughts on Ireland's successful campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN security Council. In the article she considers "what Ireland hopes to gain by this expensive experiment in internationalism?" Click here to read the full article. 

Impediments to implementing the women, peace, and security agenda

The unanimous adoption of resolution 1325 by the United Nations Security Council two decades ago constituted a landmark achievement for gender equality and triggered the passing of 10 other resolutions on gender-sensitivity and gender-awareness in peace and security operations. However, victims of conflict continue to be overwhelmingly female and women’s agency is frequently neither recognised nor harnessed.

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 and it is clear that action plans have been only partially implemented and progress remains slow if not stagnant. So, what are the factors inhibiting the full implantation of resolution 1325 and how can they be overcome?

In The Strategist Dr. Vanessa Newby, assistant professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University, reflects on a workshop hosted by the Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice titled, Where are the Women after resolution 1325? This article by Dr. Newby identifies some of the major challenges that peacekeepers and peacekeeping missions face when implementing the women peace and security (WPS) agenda. She also outlines a research agenda that can start to help practitioners and researchers understand the impediments to the WPS agenda and how they can be interrupted or eradicated.

Click here to read the full article that is part of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s 2020 series on Women, Peace and Security.

Gender, Climate and Security: Sustaining Inclusive Peace on the Frontlines of Climate Change

UNEP, UN Women, UNDP, UNDPPA, and the UN Peacebuilding have published a report titled Gender, Climate and Security: Sustaining inclusive Peace on the Frontlines of Climate Change. A report that features 17 case studies and a contribution by Ms. Szilvia Csevár (a member of the Chair’s research group) which analyses the impact of climate change on the indigenous women in West Papua. The report and Ms. Csevár article describe the different ways climate change is impacting peace and security for women, men, girls, and boys across the world. As the devastating health and economic consequences of COVID-19 unfold around us. This report draws special attention to the critical importance of addressing multiple intersecting crises using an inclusive approach that leaves no one behind.

The report “Gender, Climate and Security: Sustaining Inclusive Peace on the Frontlines of Climate Change'' describes the different ways climate change is impacting peace and security for women, men, girls and boys across the globe. As the devastating health and economic consequences of COVID-19 unfold around us, communities already suffering from the combined impacts of climate change and insecurity are especially vulnerable. At such an unprecedented time, this report draws attention to the critical importance of addressing multiple, intersecting crises using an inclusive approach that leaves no one behind.

Blog: The Impact of Coronavirus on UN Peacekeeping at the field, state, and global level

Due to the corona virus, the UN and its partners are facing major difficulties in their efforts to manage and resolve armed conflict. Mediators encounter problems with bringing parties around the table in a time of social distancing and humanitarian access is complicated by travel restrictions. Moreover, the spread of the coronavirus undermines the ability of UN peace operations to implement their mandate. While UN operations have had to deal with large public health emergencies before (such as, most recently, the Ebola virus outbreak in eastern Congo), the global scale of the crisis is unprecedented for UN peacekeeping too.

In this blog, we analyze the (potential) effects of the coronavirus on UN peacekeeping, making use of a number of recent blogs and reports from scholars and think tanks. We argue that peace operations are affected by the coronavirus on three levels: at the level of the operations themselves, at the level of the conflict context and, finally, at the structural level.

Read the blog here

Pandemics and Climate Change mean it’s time to consider ANZUS hospital ships

If the recent bushfire crisis and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have taught us anything, it is that Australia has an opportunity to evaluate its coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).

In The Strategist Dr. Vanessa Newby, assistant professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University, has published an article that explains why it is important for Australia and its ANZUS treaty partners to work more closely together, and why non-traditional security threats need to be factored more heavily into Australia’s military strategy, particularly its naval strategy.

This article by Dr. Newby discusses non-traditional security threats and Australia’s humanitarian and disaster relief plans (HADR). She draws out two key lessons that Australia and its ANZUS partners can learn from the recent bushfire crisis and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Click here to read the full article.

Turning Points: Defining Moments for the International Civil Service at the United Nations

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, an appropriate juncture at which to assess not just its historical achievements and failures, but a moment to consider different views of the organisation. From 1945 to the present day, it is possible to chart moments of crisis and opportunity which have both enhanced and limited the efficacy of UN experts and officials.

This paper by Professor Alanna O’Malley explores how certain turning points since 1945 have influenced, both directly and indirectly, the development of the international civil service. This publication is part of series issued by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation commemorating 100 years of international civil service, which originated in 1919 with the birth of the League of Nations.

Click here to read this reflective piece by Professor Alanna O’Malley.

The Lions UN Day 2020

On Saturday 7th of March, The Chair of UN Studies and UN Youth Impact in collaboration with Lions International, held a joint workshop at Leiden University to examine access to education and the current and future perceptions of the UN. This event was based on the proposals connected to SDG 4: Quality Education. The focus on education was twofold – touching on how the UN’s image could be changed through education, and how a quality education could aid the implementation of UN ideas and values. The attendees included representatives of the municipality, university officials, Lions members and young people interested in getting involved with the issues and challenges confronting the UN. The event was also the first of four UN@75 dialogues organised by the Chair of UN Studies.

Read the entire report.

Call for Blogposts: Rethinking Disability

Since 2015 the European Research Council-funded project Rethinking Disability (https://rethinkingdisability.net/  has undertaken the first study of the far-reaching implications of the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), a landmark event organized by the United Nations in 1981, which appears to have gone virtually unrecognized in scholarship. Its hypothesis is that the International Year, together with its counterpart, the International Decade of Disabled Persons (1982-1993) was the most significant watershed in the modern history of disability, which placed this issue into a global context.

Read more

Trip to the UN: Essays by young students of the Van Aartsen Honours Program

From 6-9 July, a group of young students from Edith Stein College, Rijswijk Lyceum and the Johan de Witt School travelled to New York City as part of the Van Aartsen Honours Program to present their visions of the UN to the Permanent Mission of The Netherlands. A compilation of the students' trip reports and essays can be found at the link below.

Download essays

The United Nations After Brexit

How does the looming exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union affect the work
of the United Nations? In the week of the United General Assembly in New York, on
Tuesday 24 September, the research groups of United Nations Studies and Changing Role
of Europe jointly organised a panel discussion on the UN after Brexit, in the Speakers
Corner of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. The audience during this lively event
were some 90 public officials from embassies and ministries, university lecturers and
researchers, and students from various backgrounds.

Read more

Just Peace X UN Youth Impact: Statelessness and Peaceful Societies

On Monday 16 September, UN Youth Impact held an event with The Lighthouse at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This event was part of the Just Peace Festival programme in The Hague. Comprising of three elements; a photography exhibition, crisis simulations, and a keynote speech from Ferry Zandvliet, this event attempted to question the meaning of peace in a less traditional sense.

Read more

Women face an ‘extra responsibility’ in the armed forces

The challenge of how to increase female participation in peacekeeping forces is currently under the international spotlight, as reflected in recent debates in the UN Security Council and in the EU. Deploying more women in the field is recognised as being urgently needed, particularly in places where conflict-related sexual violence and sexual exploitation and abuse are prevalent.

Read the blog in The Strategist by Vanessa Newby.

The Challenges of Winning Justice for Victims of Sexual Abuse in War and Peacekeeping.

On April 23 2019, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution 2467 on women, peace and security stating its concern over the slow progress in addressing and eliminating sexual violence in armed conflicts. Sexual violence in conflict as a topic has been gaining momentum over the last years, which led to two to two women’s rights advocates, Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
Blog by Suzanne Edelkamp (August 2019). 

Read more 

Dreaming Big Dreams of a Future UN

From 6-9 July 2019, a group of young students from Edith Stein College, Rijswijk Lyceum and the Johan de Wit School travelled to New York City as part of the Van Aartsen Honours Program to present their visions of the UN to the Permanent Mission of The Netherlands. Read Alanna O'Malley's report of the trip.

Read more

Women, peace and security: Defending progress and responding to emerging challenges

This is the third year ASPI has run a series on The Strategist to coincide with International Women’s Day and examine Australia’s approach to women, peace and security (WPS).

The series offered a timely opportunity to assess progress and identify some of the challenges that need further examination as the international community prepares to mark twenty years since the adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, and as Australia approaches the release of its second National Action Plan on WPS.

Read more

International Day of UN Peacekeepers, a day of reflection

Since the introduction of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers in 2002, every year the United Nations honours the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.  The 29th of May has been chosen because it was on this day, in 1948, that the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) was sent to monitor peace in the Middle East.
Read the blog by Wietse Stam, Leiden University

Partnering for Peace and Justice: Launch of the UN Studies Research Group

On Tuesday 7 May, Professor Alanna O’Malley, Chair of United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice at Leiden University and The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) hosted a networking event in the Peace Palace in The Hague.  Read the report

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: UN Youth Impact’s project launch

UN Youth Impact is a project that aims to create a network of students around The Netherlands who are interested in engaging at a local level with the United Nations and its strategies for youth. UN Youth Impact held its project launch event on Thursday 2 May 2019. Read the blog

This video can not be shown because you did not accept cookies.

You can leave our website to view this video.

Challenges for female peacekeepers can come from within UN militaries

Read the blog of Vanessa Newby on 4 April 2019 on the website of 'Australian Strategy Policy Institute: The Strategist' here.

Where are the women in global governance?

To commemorate International Women’s Day we gathered on 8 March at Humanity Hub in The Hague to hear a lecture by Professor Alanna O’Malley who is the combined Chair/Lector of UN Studies for Peace and Justice for both Leiden University and The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Read the report

Time for students to grab the microphone

On Wednesday 6 March 2019 Professor O’Malley presented the research agenda for the Lectoraat United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice and gave a talk entitled: ‘The United Nations, From Blue Helmets to Blue Skies'. Read the report

Internship Opportunity: Chair of UN Studies, Leiden University (location: The Hague)

The Chair of UN Studies is recruiting a student intern for a combined research and admin role to assist in the program of the Chair for 2020-2021, which includes a series of activities to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

Basic duties

  • To manage the social media and communications of the Chair;
  • To provide research assistance (when required);
  • To produce reports, blog posts on relevant topics and a short research paper;
  • To assist with events and activities of the Chair;
  • To actively contribute to discussions and provide assistance and innovative input for the development of the UN Youth Impact group.


  • A knowledge of and enthusiasm for the UN, international relations, global challenges, critical approaches to global governance;
  • An interest in activism and challenging the conventions of the world around us;
  • Excellent reading and writing skills in English;
  • Familiarity with social media, poster design, and the requisite technology;
  • Previous experience with student activities and organizations is an advantage;
  • Working knowledge of Dutch is not required but considered an advantage.


Minimum period of 12 weeks to be completed before 31st July 2021. Preferable start date October 2020.


Accumulation of credits for academic study.


Isi Madojemu

on behalf of Professor Alanna O'Malley 
Chair United Nations Studies in Peace and Justice 
Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, 
Leiden University/The Hague University of Applied Sciences 
Please submit your cover letter and CV as a combined pdf by 30th September 2020 (5pm) to unstudies@hum.leidenuniv.nl with the subject “Chair of UN Internship Application_[NAME]”.

Connection with other research

This website uses cookies.  More information.