International Security

Research Department I sets out to investigate and compare the security policies that states pursue. Our researchers analyze these policies in relation to the normative orientations and justice claims that they entail along with their potentialities for conflict. The policies are also evaluated in respect to the positive or negative contributions they may have for a peaceful world order. The question that interests us in particular is if recurring conflict among vastly differing national conceptions of international security leaves room for the development of non-hegemonic systems of norms. The empirical fields that comprise this research department include arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation, armament and military policies, deployments of armed forces, and national discourses about security. The associated studies are guided by a normative stance that aims at decreasing the level of violence in international relations. They work on the supposition that states continue to assume a crucial position in matters of war and peace, despite an ongoing process of globalization.


Studies within the research program Just Peace Governance have two primary tasks. First, they investigate the position assumed by justice claims within the foreign affairs and security policies of states, along with their influence on potentials for conflict in international relations. Second, they examine the opportunities for and constraints on a peaceful and just world order that emerge as a result of the way that states handle their instruments of force. Whereas the first perspective approaches justice as an “independent variable” that affects the actions and interactions of states, in the second perspective, justice appears as an “independent variable” which impacts the way that states behave.

Based on the insights we gained into the security policies pursued by democracies from last research program, Antinomies of Democratic Peace, we here focus on comparing policies among various political systems and cultures. We pose the question of whether systematic differences exist among groups of states that share certain characteristics. One may heuristically assume that world politics today are host to differing, and clashing, conceptions of justice: one side comprises the manifest or latent justice claims made by non-Western states. These entail the frustration and resentment stemming from perceived injustices in the contemporary world order, which have been supported by the hegemonic position of the West in global politics from past centuries until today. The other side comprises the universal ambitions of Western policies that demand considerable concessions from non-Western partner countries in terms of their national sovereignty. In this context, several of our research projects focus on the extent to which these confrontations in the area of security policy are accompanied by risks, and how they might be handled in a constructive and productive manner.

Along with the basic research carried out within this research program, the research department investigates current policy issues with a focus on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. These issues are, in part, addressed as a by-product of basic research as well as by way of independent projects.