Research team

International Politics

Expertise

International peace and security - Special expertise: policy and politics of nuclear weapons/atomic weapons, weapons of mass destruction: -- deterrence; nuclear doctrines of nuclear armed states, esp. US and Russia -- proliferation: Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea -- nonproliferation: Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- NATO nuclear policy, incl. US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe -- Belgian nuclear policy (Kleine Brogel, F-16/F-35,…) -- bilateral arms control agreements US-Russia (ABM, INF, New START,…) -- Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) -- nuclear security; nuclear terrorism -- missile defense - European security: -- NATO -- European defense -- relations with Russia (Ukraine, Putin,…) - terrorism: -- radicalization (e.g. Belgian Syria fighters) -- terrorism -- nuclear and radiological terrorism - insider threat - coercive diplomacy

Inside threats. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The general objective of this research project is to analyze the insider threat in sensitive sectors in our country and to provide some recommendations to deal more adequately with this threat. Thousands of employees are yearly screened on trustworthiness. Due to the terrorist attacks in our country, the numbers of employees to be screened will increase substantially. One of the problems is that radicalization can happen rather quickly, also after a security clearance has been given. As a result, there is need for a better "after care".

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Inside Threats. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The general objective of this research project is to analyze the insider threat in sensitive sectors in our country and to provide some recommendations to deal more adequately with this threat. Thousands of employees are yearly screened on trustworthiness. Due to the terrorist attacks in our country, the numbers of employees to be screened will increase substantially. One of the problems is that radicalization can happen rather quickly, also after a security clearance has been given. As a result, there is need for a better "after care".

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Cooperation within the European Think Tank Network. 01/02/2021 - 30/04/2021

Abstract

The goal of this project is to describe the nuclear disarmament debate in Southern Europe ('Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta), since the conclusion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017)

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Internship within the European Think Tank Network. 01/10/2020 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

The goal of this project is to find out to what extent the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017) that will enter into force in January 2021 has already impact in NATO member states like Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France.

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EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Internship. 30/07/2018 - 26/10/2018

Abstract

The objective of this research project is threefold: 1) to analyse the threat of nuclear transports in Belgium; 2) to describe how this threat is communicated towards the general public; 3) to do further suggestions to improve the communication in this regard.

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Politically motivated crime in the light of current migration flows (PoMigra). 01/10/2017 - 28/02/2018

Abstract

This report is drafted in the framework of the ISF-funded project 'PoMigra' (= Politically motivated crime in the light of current migration flows). It provides a systematic literature review of the research published between 2012 and 2017 on different types of politically biased crime in Belgium, and what research stated about the data collection methodologies on these crimes by law enforcement agencies in Belgium. To be precise, we have collected and analysed research publications related to (a) Salafist/jihadist crimes, (b) xenophobic crimes, (c) extremist crimes and (d) inter-migrant crimes. This report thereby enables a better understanding about contemporary research on these topics in Belgium, which is essential in better understanding its challenges, threats, and links to the issue of migration. It first became clear that the theme Salafist/jihadist crime accounts for the bulk of research on politically motivated crimes in Belgium. Different forms of politically biased crime – such as xenophobic crime and extremism – receive substantially less attention by researchers in Belgium. Moreover, it became clear that there is hardly any work published on left-wing extremism, and inter-migrant crimes with an political bias. These are substantial knowledge gaps in the literature on this theme. Second, the available research tends to focus on describing the nature and causes of these phenomena. It did, however, became clear that neither of these two issues is an easy task. The conceptual and practical ambiguity of different forms of politically biased crime complicate this endeavor. This impacts assessments on the size and causes of this phenomenon (especially with respect to xenophobic and extremist crimes). There are few objective datasets available. Some of the overarching lessons that are often drawn by research on this topic, however, focus on the importance of a locally embedded, comprehensive and inclusive approach in preventing these types of politically motivated crimes. Finally, with respect to the data collection methodologies by law enforcement authorities, it comes as no surprise that we did not found a lot of research on the data collection methodologies with respect to these themes. In general, it became clear that it is hard to define and grasp the phenomenon of politically biased crime empirically. Both law enforcement authorities and research grapple with this problem.

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The European network of independant non-proliferation think tanks. 13/03/2017 - 09/06/2017

Abstract

The project wants to approach the Humanitarian Initiative with respect to nuclear elimination from the theoretical perspective of framing. More in particular it wants to find out how and why the effectiveness of the rhetorical frame of the Humanitarian Initiative around nuclear disarmament on public opinion differs between the UK and the US.

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Politically motivated crime in the light of current migration flows (PoMigra). 31/01/2017 - 31/07/2017

Abstract

The project wants to find out to what extent current migration flows influence the communication about crime and terrorism: 1) in the Belgian media (journals in the 2012-2016 timeframe); 2) in political party programs; 3) and on websites of some specific extremist organisations. Case-study: Belgium. The project (on demand of OCAD-OCAM) is part of the European project Pomigra.

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Implementing the EU non-proliferation and disarmament internship. 03/10/2016 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

This project wants to find out how stigmatization can help in delegitimizing nuclear weapons and the role they play in the current defense policies of the nuclear weapon states. Assuming that norms play a significant role in international politics, the project will focus first of all on how stigma (in general) can play a role in changing policy. Different reactions by those who are stigmatized can be listed. In its last part, the project implements the notion of stigmatization to the current Humanitarian Initiative that aims to delegitimize the role of nuclear weapons, including in the form of a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. The hope is that by stigmatizing nuclear weapons and their possessor states, a societal and political debate inside the Nuclear Weapons States will be started up that may end up in changing their defense policy fundamentally.

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Research into the safety of radioactive materials. 01/12/2013 - 30/11/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand FANC. UA provides FANC research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Motivations, decision-making process and non-technical indicators of nuclear proliferation. 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2012

Abstract

The aim of this research project is to analyse the motivations of states that are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons (or not). In the past, most research focussed on the supply side (safeguards of IAEA). More research is needed with respect to the demand side. More in particular, the following research questions will be dealt with: 1. Why do states want to acquire nuclear weapons ? 2. Why do states decide to halt their nuclear weapons programs, or why do states not pursue nuclear weapons programs in the first place ? 3. Are there patterns of decision-making that can be detected inside those states that are relevant to the questions above ? 4. Which non-technical indicators can be detected that can be useful in predicting proliferation ? 5. What policy recommendations can be drawn from the outcome of this analysis ? After working out a theoretical framework based on the existing literature, the objective consists of building a model with non-technical indicators that can be used for predicting proliferation. Both the theoretical framework and the model will be tested and further adapted thanks to the detailed study of a few case-studies (Belgium, Sweden, Argentina, South-Africa).

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Peace and discipline. A study in political theory on peace education in international politics: the North-Atlantic region (1945-2007). 01/10/2008 - 30/09/2009

Abstract

This research project seeks to reflect on the meaning of peace, and on the role of peace education in bringing about international peace. We will suggest an understanding of peace as 'disciplined order' as opposed to its conventional definition (in IR theory) as the 'absence of war.' Inspiration is drawn from classical political theory, strands of which have highlighted the role of education in shaping virtuous citizens, and consequently in bringing about a peaceful society. The empirical validity of the model will be tested in the case of the reigning North-Atlantic peace.

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Investigation peace: a political-theoretical study of the role of education and power in establishing peace. Case-study: Europe after 1945. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2008

Abstract

This project seeks to elucidate the meaning of peace. It is hypothesised that education and power are central concepts and practices for understanding the establishment and consolidation of peace. Support for this claim will be sought at three levels: political theory, international relations theory, and history. European peace and security will be our case-study.

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Coercive diplomacy as an instrument of the foreign and security policy of the European Union (EU). 01/02/2007 - 30/09/2008

Abstract

Coercive diplomacy aims at convincing the opponent to halt his action by backing one's demand with a threat to punishment, possibly including the limited use of violence. Factors that make that coercive diplomacy is effective, are: the motivation of both parties (in absolute terms), which is related to the size of the demand and the size of the related interests; asymmetry with respect to motivation and interests (in relative terms); the fear (by the opponent) of escalation; sensitivity to sanctions by the opponent; the credibility of the one that threatens, which on its turn depends on the means available and his reputation; the support of public opinion, both internally and externally; the role of time (for instance ultimatum); and the availability of positive incentives. The research question is dual: 1) To what extent is coercive diplomacy an effective instrument for the EU Foreign and Security Policy ? In other words, to what extent correspond the characteristics of the EU with the higher mentioned factors that determine the success rate of coercive diplomacy ? 2) To what extent does the possible succesful use of coercive diplomacy by the EU the existing theoretical framework of coercive diplomacy ? More in particular, are economic instruments (like economic sanctions) enough, or should there be a military stick available ? The analysis is of a qualitative nature; more in particular we will use the case-study method on the basis of a review of the literature and interviews. Case-study: the EU policy vis-à-vis the nuclear program of Iran since 2003.

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Project website