The case for digital official development assistance (ODA)

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 13:55

Digital connectivity will feature prominently in the upcoming EU–Japan summit scheduled for May 2020, and in the EU–Africa summit of November 2020. On both occasions, digital Official Development Assistance (ODA) deserves a more prominent place on the agenda than seen so far. For Japan, this means implementing coordinated digital development initiatives and aiming for greater contributions to the e-economy and e-government, and for African governments, the European Union (EU) should identify real needs that inform targeted, request-based action on digital ODA.

While acting on long-term challenges, digital ODA addresses several key priorities identified by the European Commission. An updated EU digital ODA agenda also responds to global trends such as the impact of the fourth industrial revolution in Europe and its backyard, life in a post-COVID-19 world, international migration and climate change, as well as geostrategic challenges like the US–China technology conflict and China’s Digital Silk Road.

With an eye to practical implementation, this Clingendael Policy Brief adds conceptual clarity to what digital ODA is (or can be) and discusses where the EU stands today. It offers opportunities for best-practice learning from Asian players that have more experience in this field. Clearly, digital ODA is no longer just a technical but also a (geo)political issue.

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The author

Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)


The case for EU-Japan connectivity and digital ODA 

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 04/28/2020 - 13:01

This publication was originally published by the Elcano Royal Institute on 25 March 2020.

The 2019 EU-Japan Connectivity Partnership paves the way for EU-Japan cooperation on all three practical elements of digital connectivity: telecommunications infrastructure, business and regulation. Cooperation should be implemented at both the practical and strategic levels, and beyond the bilateral agenda.

In implementing the EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure, the digital field offers practical opportunities for the two partners to further shared objectives. Set against the context of a hardening US-China trade-tech conflict, the EU and Japan should focus on the promotion of data security and trust in data flows at the global level, and on nurturing competitive digital businesses with a strong global presence. In addition, cooperation on the digital development agenda is crucial to ensure that third countries also benefit from the data revolution in their development and can contribute to a convergence of norms on data governance. A broader engagement between stakeholders with each other’s strategic thought on digital connectivity’s defensive strand is required for success in these fields. Taken together, this means pushing cooperation beyond the bilateral agenda, while also creating more lines of communication to compare notes on the notion of digital strategic autonomy.

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The author

Maaike Okano-Heijmans (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)


The future of Arctic security 

Submitted by Inge on Tue, 04/28/2020 - 12:55

The Arctic environment is changing rapidly due to climate change. Despite continued cooperation between the Arctic states and other countries, the risk of the region becoming a playground for great power competition is increasing. Current trends point to a further geopolitisation of the area, multiplied by the melting of ice. Increasingly, Russia, China and the United States will compete in the Arctic in the context of the global power game. Moscow is stepping up its military activities and securitisation is increasingly characterising the American Arctic policy. Beijing is increasing its financial- economic investment in the region, which serves its long-term agenda of becoming a global superpower. The US administration has already started to respond, both by accusing Russia and China of their geopolitical activities as well as by stepping up its own involvement in the region. As a result, Arctic security is more prominently on the agenda than ever before.

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The authors

Dick Zandee (Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Security Unit at the Clingendael Institute).

Kimberley Kruijver (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)

Adája Stoetman (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)


Towards a realistic contingency approach to negotiations

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 04/16/2020 - 16:15

One of the most praised elements of the workings of the European Union (EU) is its ability to reach compromises between its Member States. Yet, evidently, the integration process of the EU is also characterised by protracted decision-making, resulting in poorly-functioning policies in domains that are highly politicised, like migration, enlargement and Eurozone policy. Even when difficult compromises could be stuck, compromising on salient political issues has proven to be problematic in several ways: policies are not functioning as intended because some of their actual consequences were unforeseen; policies are not functioning as well because they were poorly thought through; policy initiatives have suffered from questionable (ideological or overoptimistic) assumptions; policies suffer from poor substantiation; or policies stretch the interpretations of EU treaties (also known as creeping integration), for example in taxation policy. Difficulties related to enlargement, the functioning of the eurozone and border control can be related to the dynamics in the ways in which compromises were substantiated and agreed. One simple solution, often is to streamline EU decision making e.g. by abolishing unanimity voting in sensitive areas such as in economic governance. Before going down that road, this policy brief critically examines whether institutional short-cuts to pre-empt tough and protracted EU decision making should be supported.

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The authors

Adriaan Schout (Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute)

Adriaan Nunes (Junior Researcher at the Clingendael Institute)


Nederland zoekt nieuwe Europese ankers

Submitted by Inge on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 12:22

Het jaar 2019 was in twee opzichten een kanteljaar. Na de verkiezingen in mei is een nieuwe Europese Commissie aangetreden met opnieuw grote ambities. De grote ambities van Juncker zijn deels vastgelopen op de lidstaten en hetzelfde dreigt te gebeuren met de ambities van Von der Leyen. Ten tweede sluit 2019 een woelig decennium af. De lessen van de afgelopen periode zijn essentieel om het draagvlak in de jaren 2020 te bewaken. Kwaliteit van beleid en van het gezamenlijke Europese bestuur moeten voorop staan.


Adriaan Schout


Global Security Pulse: Hybrid Conflict

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:31

The Global Security Pulse (GSP) tracks emerging security trends and risks worldwide, allowing you to stay ahead in new security developments. This month we present novel developments and must-reads on hybrid conflict. 

Our research suggests that the international security environment is increasingly characterized by hybrid strategies that fall under military, political, economic, information, and cyber domains. Hybrid threats are characterized by their complexity, ambiguity, multidimensional nature, and gradual impact, making them difficult for states to effectively respond to and posing a significant challenge to the international order. Whilst hybrid tactics in and of themselves are not entirely new, the availability of diverse and sophisticated (technological) tools is enhancing the impact, reach, and congruence of these strategies. This aspect, paired with states’ unprecedented aversion to engage in conventional war due to nuclear, economic and political deterrence, and recent shifts in global power means that hybrid conflict constitutes an increasingly desirable strategy to achieve political goals.


Bianca Torossian, Tara Görder, Lucas Fagliano (HCSS)

Contributors: Tim Sweijs, Hugo van Manen, Dylan Browne-Wilkinson (HCSS), Danny Pronk (Clingendael)


NATO’s Futures through Russian and Chinese Beholders’ Eyes

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/23/2019 - 16:35

As NATO celebrates the 70th anniversary of its Founding Treaty this year, many fundamental aspects of its future are widely debated within the Alliance itself. Western views on NATO’s future have, throughout the seven decades of its existence, ranged from those who predicted NATO’s imminent demise to those who claimed that the many ties that bind the two sides of the Northern Atlantic are so deep and enduring that they are bound to last for decades to come. Throughout this period, the center of gravity in this debate has always tended to lean towards the latter view. More recently, however, the Western outlook on NATO’s future is increasingly being painted in decidedly more somber hues.

But what do other key players in the international system think about NATO’s future(s)? 

To answer this question, the Dutch ministries of Defense and of Foreign Affairs asked HCSS to take a closer and more systematic look at how Chinese and Russian experts have been analyzing NATO’s future in their languages over the past three years – basically since the beginning of the Trump presidency. Many of the key Chinese and Russian scholars working on these issues also publish in English. Given the nature of these countries’ regimes, however, it is often unclear to what extent they are signaling to the broader Western or international community as opposed to reflecting their own opinions or views. This may differ from publications in their own language primarily targeted at domestic audiences, which also clearly include part of their countries’ elites whose knowledge of the English language might preclude them from being exposed to their projections and ideas.


Yar Batoh, Stephan De Spiegeleire, Daria Goriacheva, Yevhen Sapolovych, Marijn de Wolff and Frank Bekkers.


The European Intervention Initiative

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 09/23/2019 - 15:10

Developing a shared strategic culture for European defence 

In September 2017 President Emmanuel Macron suggested a European Intervention Initiative (EI2) as part of his vision of a “sovereign, united and democratic Europe”. Some commentators labelled his proposal, which stands outside of existing structures (e.g. the European Union), as the launching of a European intervention force. In reality, EI2 is aimed at bringing able and willing European countries together to prepare themselves better for future crises – not by creating a new standby force but by ultimately creating a shared strategic culture. At the invitation of France, ten European countries have joined the initiative.

The key challenge is how a shared strategic culture can best be achieved.

The key challenge is how a shared strategic culture can best be achieved. To answer that question, this report will start with a short background description of EI2 and what has been achieved so far, followed by an analysis of what constitutes a ‘strategic culture’. Based on that analysis the ten EI2 countries will be assessed according to several criteria related to their current national strategic cultures.

Strategic cultures are notoriously resilient to change, but can particular entry points for strategic cultural convergence be identified that make the most impact? The report concludes with recommendations on these entry points in order to best achieve a shared strategic culture. 

About the authors

Dick Zandee is Head of the Security Unit at the Clingendael Institute. His research focuses on security and defence issues, including policies, defence capability development, research and technology, armaments cooperation and defence industrial aspects.

Kimberley Kruijver is Junior Research Fellow at the Clingendael’s Security Unit. Her research concentrates on (European) security and defence matters.


The multilateral system under stress: Europe’s path forward

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 09/04/2019 - 10:38

The multilateral system under stress: Charting Europe’s path forward

Case studies of the WTO, arms control and human rights 

The retreat of the United States (US) from the international order that it helped to build marks a significant turning point in international affairs. The Netherlands, as a European Union (EU) member state, now has to reposition itself in a world defined by great power rivalry and without a guaranteed strong transatlantic partnership.

Facing an increasingly powerful, confident and capable China, and a Russia that – especially in the military realm – is trying to regain and strengthen its great power status, the US has withdrawn from institutions and agreements that have epitomised world trade, arms control and human rights standards for decades. Shifts in the direction, scale and composition of trade flows, the increasing complexity and changing capabilities of 21st century weapon arsenals, and an apparent backsliding of the international human rights agenda call for new approaches to repair or build institutional arrangements that are capable of governing these issues on a multilateral level.

Going forward, the Netherlands and the EU need to deliver on new thinking and action on four parallel tracks: continued engagement with the United States; deepened and renewed engagement with other partners and stakeholders; a broadening of multilateralism to new areas; and, in certain cases, new approaches.

About the authors

Brigitte Dekker is a Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ in The Hague. Her research focuses on various dimensions of EU–Asia relations, with a specific interest in South-East Asia and China.

Sico van der Meer Sico van der Meer is a Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. His research focusses on non-conventional weapons such as Weapons of Mass Destruction and cyber weapons from a strategic policy perspective. 

Maaike Okano-Heijmans is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ in The Hague. She is a Scientific Coordinator of the Asia–Pacific Research and Advice Network (#APRAN) for the European Commission and the European External Action Service. 


Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands and President Trump of the United States in the White House on 18 July 2019

Global Security Pulse: Weapons of Mass Destruction

Submitted by Inge on Mon, 08/26/2019 - 22:04

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Weapons

The Global Security Pulse (GSP) tracks emerging security trends and risks worldwide, allowing you to stay ahead in new security developments. 

The fourth Global Security Pulse of 2019 focuses on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Weapons, or CBRN Weapons. These are often labelled as Weapons of Mass Destruction, although especially radiological weapons could better be considered as Weapons of Mass Disruption, as they will generally not be able to cause massive destruction but merely chaos and panic.

An important characteristic of CBRN weapons is that the specific materials to develop them are dual-use; with a few exceptions, materials required to build CBRN weapons can also be used for peaceful purposes. To prevent that any CBRN dual use material would be considered as weapon material, this Global Security Pulse uses a broadened version of the so-called General Purpose Criterion of the Chemical Weapons Convention: “A CBRN Weapon is CBRN material used to cause intentional death or harm through its CBRN properties.” Munitions, devices and other equipment specifically designed to weaponize CBRN materials also fall under the definition of chemical weapons.

Building upon previous Strategic Foresight publications on CBRN Weapons, we have looked for new and/or important signals regarding these weapons in relation to five key topics: proliferation, modernization of weapons, escalation potential, international CBRN regimes, and non-state actor access. In addition, we have scanned for new and/or important signals that can tell us something about the status of and developments with regard to the international order regarding CBRN weapons, especially concerning international norms and rules.

Read more Global Security Pulses.


Danny Pronk, Sico van der Meer and Kevin Raat (Clingendael Institute)

Contributors: Tim Sweijs and Patrick Bolder (HCSS)

Danny Pronk and Sico van der Meer are one of the trainers of our 8-day course International Security from 23 October until 1 November. Go to Training Course International Security.