Consortium Leader: The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Consortium Member: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Subcontractor: Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)


Submitted by Inge on Tue, 02/20/2024 - 11:42

Confrontatie en samenwerking in een wereld van wisselende coalities

De wereld van morgen is er één van barsten en blokken. In deze wereld van groeiende belangentegenstellingen zullen grootmachten vaker botsen in het politieke, economische en mogelijk militaire domein. Competitie en confrontatie wordt dominanter ten opzichte van coöperatie. Te midden van deze rijk geschakeerde grootmachtcompetitie is er een verhoogd risico op de uitbraak van regionale conflicten uitgevochten door kleine en middelgrote mogendheden.


Koen Aartsma - Senior Research Fellow

Frank Bekkers - HCSS

Tim Sweijs - HCSS


Emerging Disruptive Technologies

Submitted by Inge on Thu, 12/22/2022 - 09:42

Emerging Disruptive Technologies in an Era of Great Power Competition

Emerging (and) disruptive technologies (EDTs) play a critical role in generating economic prosperity. But they also generate a bevy of challenges. International cooperation is therefore required but severely hampered by the fact that access to and control over EDTs is increasingly considered to be a zero-sum game. A previous HCSS study considered this phenomenon under the label of ‘techno-nationalism’. The current report builds on this study and updates and extends its recommendations.


The authors

Hugo van Manen, Stella Kim, Adam Meszaros & Michal Gorecki - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


The semiconductor and critical raw material ecosystem

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/19/2022 - 14:01

Reaching breaking point: The semiconductor and critical raw material ecosystem at a time of great power rivalry

This report covers new ground by specifically outlining pending disruptions in CRM value chains on which the EU relies for its access to semiconductors in the next five and ten years. The report also highlights key green technologies that rely on the same CRM value chains, as disruptions to these chains will also inhibit the energy transition. By doing so, an action plan is proposed for the Netherlands and the EU to deal with the risks and opportunities associated with the dependencies on the CRM needed for semiconductor production and green technologies. The action plan also outlines options to seize the opportunities related to the strengths of the Netherlands, the European Union and other technologically advanced democracies in the semiconductor value chain.  

The report relies on a literature review, desk research, prior research, stakeholder interviews, and expert interviews with both regional and thematic experts from academia, think tanks, government, and the CRM and semiconductor industry. Ten threats that may well disrupt the supply of CRM to Europe or its partners in semiconductor manufacturing (e.g., Taiwan) in both the next five and ten years were identified. Ranking of the threats (probability impact) was done on the basis of a foresight survey in which 49 experts participated. The formulation of the policy implications, opportunities, and recommendations relies on the findings of the previous chapters, additional desk research, and a global expert consultation with representatives from academia, think tanks, government and both the CRM and semiconductor industry from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, and European states.

Download survey and report


Joris Teer and Mattia Bertolini - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Contributors Survey Outcome: Saskia Heyster, Jeff Amrish Ritoe, Tim Sweijs and Jack Thompson

Contributors Report: Jeff Amrish Ritoe, Saskia Heyster, Tim Sweijs, Rob de Wijk, Michel Rademaker, Martijn Vlaskamp, Irina Patrahau, Jack Thompson, Stella Kim, Raffaele Minicozzi, Adam Meszaros, Giovanni Cisco, and Michal Gorecki.


Wars to come, Europeans to act

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 10/19/2022 - 10:34

A multimethod foresight study into Europe’s military future

“Watch out for War with a Capital W,” this new HCSS report concludes – based on the first comprehensive expert survey to study the future of European defence since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Authors Lotje Boswinkel and Tim Sweijs use a multi-method approach to explore where Europe is most likely to intervene militarily over the next ten years, and lay out a comprehensive policy agenda for European defence policy makers.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has been a strategic wake-up call for European leaders, leading to a boost in defence budgets across Europe and prompting Finland and Sweden to find shelter under the collective defence umbrella of NATO. If one thing is clear, Europe will need to assume a greater role in maintaining peace and stability in its own region and neighbourhood.

Using a multi-method approach, which includes the largest survey of European defence experts since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, consulting more than 80 experts from 22 countries, this report explores where Europe is most likely to intervene militarily over the next ten years. It anticipates where armed conflict and instability are most likely to occur, how European interests will be affected and lays out a comprehensive policy agenda for European policy makers.

Even with the current reinforcements of military postures across Europe, material and political constraints will not disappear. Therefore future-proof choices need to be made that address the principal security challenges and pinpoint necessary policy responses. This report includes predictive models of intrastate armed conflict and addresses the ‘dangerous dyads’, geopolitical features that make interstate wars likely, which would be most consequential for European interests.

There is an urgent need to think about necessary investments and capability portfolios in the long term, including but also beyond the current war in Ukraine. For fundamental decisions to be future-proof, a reflection on the future security landscape and operating environment is required. That is where the present foresight study comes in.

The study concludes that conflict between the major military powers is a defining feature of the current era and so European leaders must “Watch out for War with a capital W”. Europe must escape entrapment through a strengthened military posture combined with sustained diplomatic efforts. Moreover, efforts must be made to prevent and contain interstate conflict, particularly where dangerous dyads in Europe and its immediate neighbourhood come into play. Policy makers must continue to address global instability factors such as state fragility, polarisation and the democratisation of military technologies. Globally, policy makers must continue to address the climate-security nexus resulting from global warming.

This means an ever-larger variety of military capabilities will be required and expected from European states in a growing number of regions and across a growing number of issues.

Download report


Lotje Boswinkel and Tim Sweijs - The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)

Contributors: Collin Meisel, Saskia Heyster, Daan Sanders and Stella Kim


Cover photo source: NATO | troops taking part in the NATO exercise Swift Response at the Krivolak Army Training Range in North Macedonia, May 2022.

Strategic Monitor 2021-2022: Hanging Together

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 04/13/2022 - 09:54

Partners and Policies for the Netherlands and EU in Turbulent Times

The yearly report by the Clingendael Institute and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) analyses the most important trends and developments in the international regimes that form the international order, taking stock of the world of today and tomorrow. 

The focus of this report is identifying policies and partners for the Netherlands and EU that will further the goal of fostering strategic autonomy. The context for this process is an international system characterized by accelerating great power competition and eroding multilateral institutions.

Last year’s Strategic Monitor developed a broad blueprint for moving beyond the Netherlands and EU’s longstanding political and security dependence on the United States, in a constructive and open manner, and argued that this would be the best way to safeguard Dutch and EU interests in a geopolitical era. The need to implement strategic autonomy in this spirit – as a way to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and to protect European interests and values in an era of geopolitical competition – is the starting point for this year’s Strategic Monitor. It consists of several parts, including:

Five sub-reports:


Identity, Industry and Interoperability

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 01/19/2022 - 15:25

The drivers of European armaments collaboration

Strengthening European defence cooperation entails many aspects from deploying forces together to collaborative armaments acquisition programmes. Supplying the  armed forces of European countries with modern weaponry that is interoperable and standardised, is a key prerequisite for Europe to become a true geopolitical player. In this context, this report has identified nine drivers behind European armaments collaboration in three categories: political, industrial and military.

Regarding political drivers, it is the combination of a changing international security environment, the aim to reduce strategic dependency and fear of US retrenchment that contribute to European armaments collaboration. The most important industrial driver in Europe is the declining economic viability of an exclusively national approach to the generation of advanced military capabilities. Here, economies of scale, cross-border defence industrial consolidation, and the institutional deepening of European armaments collaboration via the creation of instruments such as the European Defence Fund (EDF), contribute equally. Finally, European armaments collaboration is a product of military policy initiatives that demand equipment commonality and interoperability. Also, symmetry in the requirements and the timing of acquisition of military equipment have an impact on the scope for collaboration.

Using these nine drivers as an analytical framework, three case studies of major future European collaborative armaments efforts were undertaken: the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) and the Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC). Each case was examined separately in order to assess the implications for future defence policy and armaments planning purposes.

Having analysed the FCAS, MGCS and NGRC programmes from the political, industrial and military points of view, this report concludes that all three of these major European collaborative armaments programmes should be on the future Dutch defence planning and armaments procurement agenda. The three programmes clearly support the objective of the Dutch government to strengthen European defence cooperation and to improve European military capabilities.


Danny Pronk, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute
Dick Zandee, Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute
Adája Stoetman, Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


Climate Security in Global Hotspots

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 12/15/2021 - 13:03

Policy Options for The Netherlands

Historically, the security policy landscape was reserved for policies focused on protecting and enhancing national security, such as defense and border control. Today, security risks are not limited to traditional ‘nation state’ concerns but also include ‘people’ concerns: i.e., the social, economic, political, and environmental aspects of human life. Part of these new security risks are also those brought on by the global climate crisis.

This report addresses these new and upcoming risks we face. It analyses from a Dutch perspective where the most relevant and feasible opportunities for international cooperation on climate-related security lie. This was done by:

  1. developing an overview of existing international, EU, regional, and Dutch policy and instruments;
  2. undertaking a data-driven assessment of hotspot countries of risk;
  3. designing a policy game to explore hands-on programming and collaboration opportunities for the Netherlands.

These three steps provide Dutch policy and decision makers with a composite framework to support their efforts to manage, mainstream and monitor Dutch-funded climate security programs and initiatives, taking into account vital security interests of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (including the Dutch Caribbean).

The study concludes with six main observations and provides policy recommendations on three levels: pre-engagement, engagement, and monitoring and evaluation.


Dorith Kool, Research Fellow at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Laura Birkman, Senior Strategic Analyst and Head of the Climate and Security Program at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Juliette Eijkelkamp, Assistant Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Marleen de Haan, Assistant Analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


21st century strategic competition with Russia and China

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 12/08/2021 - 12:00

Fifty Shades of Grey

This Strategic Alert examines the cases of Russia and China which successfully utilise such grey zone tactics to promote their strategic agendas.

Key take-aways

  • With the invention of atomic and sophisticated conventional weapons, conducting kinetic operations vis-à-vis states in the nuclear club is a risk too great to undertake. Wars between states, especially between the great powers, are therefore now fought in the grey zone, in which soft power and unconventional instruments dominate the arsenal.
  • As the frequency of direct interstate wars continues to decline, grey zone engagements will become increasingly prominent. The future conflict environment is dominated by increased competition between powerful nuclear-armed states and traditional militarised deterrence solutions are too risky as escalation may lead to unacceptable consequences.
  • Conflicts in the grey zone are essentially confrontations between states that do not pass the threshold of what is traditionally regarded as war. The participants in such conflicts utilise unconventional tactics, such as economic coercion and political pressure, non-state proxies and cyberspace to achieve their strategic goals.
  • Russia’s and China’s utilisation of different tactics in their engagement in the grey zone can be substantially attributed to their distinct geostrategic objectives. Ultimately both compete with opponents such as the US and its allies to influence the policy direction of third-party states. However, their trajectories of relative power determine the tools and tactics utilised, as well as their combination, within the grey zone.
  • Russia utilises a specific combination of conventional and unconventional military and soft power tools to counter the overall decline of its position in the world. It not only engages its opponents in grey zone conflict from a position of weakness, but operates in an environment of continuously declining relative power. On the other hand, it is the relative increase in China’s geostrategic power that influences the tactics it utilises in the grey zone.
  • Russia’s and China’s strategies and tactics in the grey zone are substantially different, and largely contingent upon their individual geostrategic momentum, on the descent and on the ascent, respectively. Both utilise their own distinct tools and combination of techniques, which therefore should be countered with tailored approaches.


Danny Pronk, Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute


Costing Conflict

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 12/01/2021 - 14:38

An early warning method to assess the impact of political violence on vital security interests

Early Warning and Early Action (EWEA) processes seek to identify the risk of conflict, instability and violence. A large number of foresight models can predict which countries and areas may experience what type and what levels of violence. From this, they produce lists of countries and regions at risk which then qualify for policy measures to help improve stability.

However, in order to prioritise countries and regions it is equally important to assess the implications (or the cost) of conflict. For example, Early Warning by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) seeks to “prevent tensions from escalating into conflict” and focus on all forms of tension accordingly. UNDP Early Warning seeks to understand how conflict impacts development initiatives and will prioritise countries with those problems. Mandates and interests thus determine priorities.

Assessing security interests of governments

What interests are at stake is however often assumed rather than explicitly considered. This report addresses this by building a methodology to assess interests, specifically the security interests of governments. The goal is to understand how the outbreak and intensification of conflict affect (security) interests. The method is built upon the notion that effectively designed EWEA processes need these impact assessments as much as conflict risk assessment.

Developing an impact assessment method is complicated for two reasons. First, methods need to be tailor-made for specific (country) interest. After all, instability in Libya will have different effects for France, Italy or Egypt. This requires explicit definitions of vital interests and a detailed specification of how potential instability might affect them. Second, impact assessment methods are often unavailable or are so specialised (e.g. only within the intelligence community) that there is very little fruitful exchange on how best to devise impact methods.

This report aims to tackle both problems. It provides a methodology for the Netherlands and proposes a quantitative approach that focusses on so-called ‘transmission belts’: patterns through which instability abroad manifest themselves in the Netherlands.

Fortunately, there is a tradition to build on as the government of the Netherlands has some open-source impact assessments. Yet, existing methods which assess impact need improvement. For example, how can one account for the interests of one’s allies? Do we distinguish between the effects of intra-state and inter-state conflict on Dutch security interests? Which transmission belts actually exist? What kind of method can be used?

A methodology for impact assessment

This report tackles these questions and proposes a methodology for impact assessment. The proposal is deliberately open source and relies heavily on methodology as it seeks to justify choices and sponsor dialogue. The hope is that an explicit and open discussion of choices will allow the Dutch government and the ecosystems of actors working on EWEA in the Netherlands to criticise and improve impact assessments. This report therefore aims to inform further discussions on the effectiveness of various impact assessment methods.

Reading guide
The report has the following composition. The first chapter reviews the existing Dutch impact assessment frameworks (ANV, Clingendael and HCSS) and arrives at a set of conditions with which EWEA impact assessments should comply. The second chapter develops an impact assessment method which is specifically tailored to Dutch EWEA efforts by tackling various limitations of the three previously analysed assessment frameworks (e.g. being too nationally focused). The third chapter presents and discusses specific indicators to measure impacts. The final section concludes and provides a guideline on how to interpret the results.


Kars de Bruijne, Senior Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute


From indices to insight

Submitted by Inge on Wed, 12/01/2021 - 14:32

A proposal to enhance the risk assessment of the Dutch Early Warning/Early Action process

Over the course of the last three decades, countless scholars, diplomats and experts have sought to develop reliable ways to predict and prevent violent conflict and instability. These efforts have yielded a vast array of analytical instruments, ranging from indices that measure various proximate and structural causes of instability to forecasting models that estimate the probability of an outbreak of violent conflict.

Predicting and preventing violent conflict and instability

Presently, there is a great deal of data available ranging from better measures of political violence and better predictors of violence. Moreover, as data sciences advance, social scientists have been able to develop new models and refine their predictions. However, as such tools proliferate, so do the challenges for policymakers.

First, more data does not always mean ‘better’ data. Key indicators such as on political inclusivity, local grievances and competition are often still not readily available. 

Second, more data and better methodologies have not always meant a better insight into conflict risks. While we have generally become better in predicting the continuation and intensity of ongoing conflict, it remains a major challenge to predict which countries will become unstable and when. 

Third, perhaps the biggest problem is that even when having a clear insight into conflict risks, converting these insights into actionable policies remains difficult. In these instances, it is often not a lack of information or insufficient early warning signals per se that pose the key obstacles, but rather the ability to convert these data points into policy-relevant analysis and to identify relevant entry points for preventive efforts.

The Government of the Netherlands

These challenges are particularly relevant for the Government of the Netherlands. In 2018 the Government of the Netherlands prioritised conflict prevention as the first goal of its Integrated International Security Strategy, emphasising the importance of ‘a solid information position, with up-to-date and detailed information, based in part on innovative big data solutions for peace and security’. 

Since the adoption of this strategy, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Defence (MOD) have made significant investments in enhancing their ability to provide early warning and early action (EWEA). As part of its focus on ‘Data for Peace and Security’ (D4PS) the MFA has developed a number of data-driven tools that rely on an array of indices and forecasting models in order to compile long lists, short lists and watch lists of countries that are at increased risk of experiencing violent conflict or instability. The process builds on a methodology proposed by the Clingendael Institute in 2020.

Within the framework of the multi-annual PROGRESS research programme, the Dutch MFA has commissioned the Clingendael Institute to provide recommendations on how to build upon these existing data tools and strengthen the capacity of the authorities to assess the risk of violent conflict and instability. The specific objective was to make better use of the available quantitative indicators and data and to design a process that did not require in-depth individual country assessments. As such, the method was meant to inform the decision to go from a long list to a short list of countries with likely higher risks. After that, more targeted in-depth studies could be commissioned.

The report

This report, hence, devises a method for a general scan of countries in order to identify those countries that should be monitored and studied in more detail. The focus of the report will be on the first, exploratory phases of the process, where open-source quantitative indices are used to make a selection of countries that should be further examined. In doing so, the report addresses the three challenges mentioned above (missing data, conflict theories and how to act) by providing a detailed methodology to enhance early warning processes.

To this end, this report will a) discern different types of indices (i.e. those that observe and predict violence and instability, and those that seek to explain it); b) categorise the vast array of indices on drivers of conflict and instability through a concrete proposal on how to cluster and interpret them; c) operationalise these quantitative insights within the context of the Dutch EWEA process; and d) integrate the quantitative data into a qualitative analysis process through an expert workshop and the use of several rounds of Delphi surveys.

Reading guide
In order to meet these objectives, this report is structured as follows. Chapter 2 will set out the overall methodology of the proposed process. Chapter 3 critically examines the advantages and disadvantages of many indices. Chapter 4 then puts forward a proposal on how to cluster these indices into those that observe conflict and violence and those that measure the underlying drivers of conflict and violence. Moreover, it proposes a disaggregation of the latter group of indices into four clusters of the main drivers of conflict and instability. Finally, chapter 5 puts forward recommendations on how this data can be interpreted, visualised and subsequently used in a qualitative expert workshop.


Bob Deen, coordinator of the Clingendael Russia and Eastern Europe Centre (CREEC) and Senior Research Fellow at the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute
Adája Stoetman, Junior Researcher at the Security Unit of the Clingendael Institute
Kars de Bruijne, Senior Research Fellow at the Conflict Research Unit of the Clingendael Institute