Signing of the agreements by Monika Sie (general director Clingendael Institute, r.) and André Haspels (director-general Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

As the analytical pillar of the Institute, Clingendael Research carries out independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges, with the aim of developing new ideas and identifying opportunities and recommendations for our target audience. Key areas of research are security, terrorism, engagement in fragile and conflict-affected situations, EU integration and the EU’s internal and external relations, as well as issues related to sustainability. In all areas, the target audience consists of legislators, policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders from governmental sectors, as well as non-governmental and business communities. We consider collaboration with these groups and a wide network of experts to be crucial for realistic and appropriate recommendations. In 2016 we invested heavily in laying new foundations for the future, by winning a multi-annual contract with the Netherlands ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence that will help to strengthen Clingendael’s function as a hub, as well as a new future foresight programme. In the area of conflict and fragility, a new Knowledge Platform on Security and Rule of Law contract was won, thus also strengthening the Institute’s function as a hub in that area. These developments provide a sound basis for 2017 and subsequent years.

Conflict and Fragility

Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit (CRU) conducts research on the causes and consequences of violent conflict. Its research aims to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of international efforts in response to conflict and fragility. Through independent, interdisciplinary and evidence-based advice to decision-makers in organisations with a significant foreign policy, investment or development portfolio, CRU wants policy-makers and practitioners to feel encouraged and enabled to take informed action against the suffering caused by conflict.

Tensions due to inequality, poverty and suppression have led to violent conflict in many countries, resulting in an unprecedented flow of refugees. International conflict mitigation mechanisms are increasingly unable to respond to current conflict dynamics, while countries that until recently seemed in a stable state of peace and democracy are being directly confronted with the negative consequences of conflict. CRU has therefore worked with a wide variety of clients and partners – including the European Commission, the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Folke Bernadotte Academy and International IDEA – on a wide variety of cases, ranging from the Sahel region to Afghanistan, and from Burundi to Tajikistan.

In response to the migration crisis in 2016, the unit is looking into the linkages between migration and conflict in order to enhance understanding of the conflict potential of irregular migration and of the international efforts to address migration challenges – aiming to increase the conflict sensitivity of these efforts. For example, CRU produced critical input for the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, as well as for discussions on the EU–Libya deal. CRU also conducted a study of irregular migration and human smuggling in the Sahel and Libya as part of its Politics & Crime line of work. Analysing the relationship between irregular migration and conflict and stability in Mali, Niger and Libya, the study found that current EU policies are misaligned with the reality of trans-Saharan migration.

CRU also analysed the role of private-sector actors in peace-building and stabilisation efforts. As part of its Business & Fragility line of work, the unit looked at ways of strengthening the conflict-sensitivity of private-sector engagement in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The unit also produced a study providing first-hand evidence on how local entrepreneurs perceive, experience and deal with fragility, to strengthen international efforts supporting such entrepreneurs for their positive economic contribution to development processes, and for their role in building social cohesion, fostering state legitimacy and restoring community security.

As part of its Security & Justice work, the unit conducted a research project on plural security provision in urban contexts, aiming to provide empirically based policy advice on how local governance structures in Beirut, Nairobi and Tunis interact with various local security providers to improve security outcomes for urban residents. CRU also co-organised workshops on how to strengthen security and justice programming and provided advice on strengthening community security programming and efforts to support customary justice processes.

CRU’s working relationship with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains an important pillar in CRU’s project portfolio. The Stability, Development and Rule of Law Research Programme was concluded (2013–2016), through which CRU has strengthened the Ministry’s work on peace, security and development. From 2017, CRU will enter into a new four-year partnership with the Ministry under the Conflict & Fragility Research Partnership. Through the management of the Secretariat for the Knowledge Platform on Security and Rule of Law – on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in collaboration with the Hague Institute for Global Justice – CRU contributes to the exchange of knowledge among policy-makers, practitioners and researchers working on the strengthening of security and rule of law in fragile settings. CRU will continue to manage this Secretariat for another four years, this time in collaboration with the UK-based NGO Saferworld and the International Development Law Organisation.

The Dutch National Postcode Lottery (NPL) is also an important partner for CRU. In 2016, CRU conducted research on how to contribute effectively to the ending of sexual violence in conflict areas, jointly with UNICEF and Stichting Vluchteling. Furthermore, CRU and Clingendael Academy obtained new NPL funding for a project aimed at strengthening the capacities of aid organisations that are improving the living conditions of refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan.

Security and defence

One of the Security Unit’s most eye-catching projects was the assignment by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence to organise three seminars during the Netherlands EU Presidency. The aim of these seminars at the Marine Establishment in Amsterdam was to launch concrete ideas and proposals on how to strengthen the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in light of the new security environment. The Security Unit was responsible for organising the three seminars in January, March and June, to provide three food-for-thought papers to stimulate discussions and to produce three reports once the seminars had taken place.

EU Presidency seminar ‘The Parliamentary Dimension of Defence Cooperation’ on 14-15 March 2016, Marine Establishment Amsterdam. (f.l.t.r.) Joylon Howorth, Guy Verhofstadt, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Alfredo Conte and Jacki Davis.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) commissioned Clingendael to write a research report on the future of this multilateral organisation. While one of the key missions of the OPCW is chemical disarmament, almost all chemical weapons in the world will soon be destroyed. In the meantime, the threat of non-state actors developing and using chemical weapons is increasing. How can the OPCW remain relevant to its member states in the post-disarmament era? The report will be published in 2017.

In the framework of the project in support of the Dutch EU Presidency in 2016 funded by the National Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism (NCTV), the Security Unit contributed to an in-depth study by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) into the phenomenon of foreign fighters in the EU. The final report entitled ‘Foreign Fighters in the European Union: Profiles, Threats and Policies’ was presented to the NCTV in April 2016 during a launch at which representatives from Europol, Eurojust and the NCTV commented on the ICCT’s findings. International media quoted the report’s findings widely, and various members of the ICCT staff appeared in media articles addressing the issue of foreign fighters.

Terrorism expert Bibi van Ginkel chairing a side event during the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy conference in New York, June 30, 2016

The Security Unit also published a number of policy briefs and reports within the From EU Strategy to Defence series, featuring Clingendael’s publications on the implementation of the Global Strategy of the EU.

Finally, worth mentioning is that the Security Unit, as part of a Framework Service Contract for the European Defence Agency (EDA), contributed to an extensive classified report on ‘Putting the Global Strategy into Action: Developing EU/EDA Added Value in Support of Security and Defence’. The specific contract is carried out by a consortium led by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI-Italy), comprising the Clingendael Institute, the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS - France), the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM - Poland) and the Real Instituto Elcano (RIE - Spain).

European Affairs

Europe and the EU

The year 2016 was another turbulent year for European integration. The multifarious developments in the EU’s ‘policrisis’ had their impacts on Clingendael’s agenda, which was reflected in the broad array of research outputs of the Europe Internal Unit. On the one hand, the existing fundamental threats (such as those relating to the euro crisis) persisted and continued to demand innovative policy responses, for example in the EU’s economic governance. This research led among other things to a paper entitled The EU's existential threat: Demands for flexibility in an EU based on rules, which was presented in early 2017. The Unit also addressed the need to deepen EU cooperation in migration, for which Clingendael launched the debating platform ‘De reactie van EU-lidstaten op de migratiecrisis’, and, as part of a bottom-up approach, the need to strengthen the rule of law in EU member states in view of failures in the traditional top-down approach. See, for example, Deepening and broadening the EU's Rule of Law agenda.

A debate with the audience during the event on the European approach towards the migration crisis.

The unit also explored public support for a social agenda as part of the economic governance programme and organised an expert meeting on Europe’s trade unions: social justice in economic governance. On the other hand, major, newly emerging issues cast their shadows ahead, such as the upcoming reforms of the EU budget. An analysis of budget reform was presented during the expert seminar on The future of the EU budget: between dream and reality. New situations, such as Britain’s forthcoming departure from the EU (Brexit), also found their places on the EU agenda and on the events’ calendar in the shape of the panel discussion After the Brexit, whither the European Union? In response to Brexit, discussion began in the Netherlands on the country’s position in the EU, which was reflected in the Unit’s study on Samenwerking en coalitiepatronen in de Europese Unie; Nederland op de Europese politieke assen. Similarly, given the tensions concerning the EU’s fundamental values, new and bottom–up ways have to be found to strengthen the Rule of Law in Member States. In addition, both the Brexit referendum and the Dutch referendum on Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU raised questions concerning the use of referenda in the EU. This topic was highlighted in the report Onvermijdelijke verdragswijziging vereist een ander EU referendum.

A question from the audience during the debate on the Dutch Ukraine referendum

Various of the EU activities which took place in 2016 were realised in close cooperation and with financial support of the Adessium Foundation.

Europe and its neighbours

Our 'EU in the World' knowledge group focuses on the EU’s neighbourhood and the EU’s global role.

On EU-Russia relations, the team published a report entitled From Competition to Compatibility: Striking a Eurasian balance in EU-Russia relations, followed by a policy dialogue in Brussels, which was organised with the European Policy Centre. A report on The Europeanisation of Moldova was also published, focusing on the efficacy of EU policies towards Moldova.

Looking further eastwards, two policy briefs were published on EU-China economic relations: Economic Diplomacy in EU-China Relations; and Who is afraid of European economic diplomacy? In addition, a number of seminars were organised on the EU’s new strategy on China, The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and One Belt, One Road: Dilemmas and Responses.

The team contributed to the EU Global Strategy debate with a report on The EU’s joined-up approach to security and an op-ed discussing How to make the new EU Global Strategy Effective? It also dedicated a European Foreign Affairs Review article – published in May 2017 – to the EU’s Partnership Instrument, feeding into its 2017 mid-term review.

On the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the team published the policy brief Communicating TTIP: challenges for the EU. Finally, a Roundtable on Diplomacy with Canada’s Foreign Minister Dion was organised, as well as a presentation on Europe’s place in the world, in cooperation with the Pew Research Center.

General director Monika Sie Dhian Ho welcomes H.E. Mr. Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada on the steps of Clingendael

Strategic Foresight

Clingendael Strategic Monitor

The 2016 update of the Clingendael Monitor focused on cooperation between the great powers within the international system. Cooperation between the United States and the European Union has become less paramount, while relations between the United States and China are expected to be decisive for the future world order. Clashing interests of various great powers are contributing to instability in three ‘hot spot’ regions: East Asia; Eastern Europe; and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Clingendael Monitor’s 2016 update nevertheless emphasises that rising tensions resulting from geopolitical rivalry do not preclude cooperation among the great powers in particular fields. Even in bilateral relations where geopolitical competition is significant, such as in the case of US-Russia and US-China relations, cooperation in certain domains continues to be part of the relationship.

Presentation of the Clingendael Monitor in Nieuwspoort with (from f.l.t.r.) Rob de Wijk (HCSS), Pieter Jan Kleiweg de Zwaan (Dutch MFA), Sebastian Reyn (Dutch MoD), former Clingendael general director Ko Colijn and Angelien Eijsink (former Dutch MP)

In addition to the annual update report, the Clingendael Monitor 2016 consists of an in-depth study on the European Union’s role as a security actor in Africa. This report focuses on how the so-called ‘integrated approach’ is evolving, and what consequences this has for the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. In June 2016, the Clingendael Monitor was presented jointly with the HCSS Monitor at a public event in the Nieuwspoort press centre in The Hague. The Clingendael and HCSS reports jointly constitute the Dutch Strategic Monitor, which is aimed at providing guidance for the long-term foreign and defence policies of the Dutch government.

In 2016, Clingendael also started to work on a new and improved Clingendael Strategic Monitor, entitled Multi-Order. In this report (2017) Clingendael will identify trends using a newly developed methodology based on recent foresight principles and a solid evidence-based methodology for all future-oriented research: the Clingendael Structured Expert Approach.

Geostrategic Risk Management

Clingendael Geostrategic Risk (CGR) was initiated as a new research and advisory service for the private sector. In recent years, the geopolitical context in which international companies operate has become more volatile and hence less predictable. Moreover, the interaction between geopolitics and the macroeconomic environment is increasingly vigorous. Working closely with other business-oriented initiatives within the Clingendael Institute, CGR offers various products that help companies to be more aware of geostrategic risks and opportunities, and to improve their capability in risk management and strategic planning.

New Silk Road

In 2016, the Clingendael Institute further strengthened its position as a leading knowledge centre on the New Silk Road. Also known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), the New Silk Road refers to China’s grand strategic initiative aimed at closer economic integration and increased Chinese influence throughout the Eurasia-Africa region. The Institute continued its weekly newsletter, Silk Road Headlines, which has been established in 2015. In cooperation with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Clingendael established the Dutch Silk Road Platform: a series of roundtable meetings bringing together representatives from central government, knowledge institutes and the business sector in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the Clingendael Institute published several reports on OBOR and acted as the coordinating institute for a major study on Europe and China’s New Silk Roads by the European Think-Tank Network on China (ETNC), which was completed in January 2017.


In 2016, the idea emerged of stepping up Clingendael’s profile in the realm of climate change, the circular economy, water and food scarcity, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On the basis of various interviews with relevant stakeholders, it was decided to establish a new Clingendael International Sustainability Centre (CISC), to be launched in February 2017. With CISC, the Clingendael Institute aims to connect its existing expertise on international and European (policy) discussions and processes explicitly to the realm of sustainability. The initiative builds on a solid track record and ongoing projects in this field.

Clingendael started in 2016 by implementing the Planetary Security Initiative as the head of a consortium of (international) think tanks. This Initiative was launched by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015. It aims to increase awareness, deepen knowledge, develop and promote policies, and good practice guidance to help governments, the private sector and international institutions better secure peace and cooperation in times of climate change and global environmental challenges.

The Planetary Security Conference was held at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 5 and 6 December 2016, with over 300 participants. The conference featured top-level (international) speakers and working groups discussing topics such as food and water security, and from the perspectives of different constituencies such as policy-makers and the defence community. The concept of planetary security was also applied and analysed for different regions in the world, including the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Based on the discussions held, policy briefs are now being published and planetary security is also present and being promoted in other international forums, including the intention to bring it to the UN Security Council. The Clingendael Institute will continue to implement this project over the next two years.

Three keynote speakers of the Planetary Security Conference 2016. (f.l.t.r.) Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Bert Koenders, Nigerian minister of Environment Mme. Armina J. Mohammed and Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp

Besides organising events, research was conducted with the support of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). This research project dealt with the political economy of energy security and green growth in Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya. The research combined energy sector analysis with political economy analysis (PEA) in order to include aspects of power, influence and stakeholder interests. It thus provides comprehensive insight into the challenges of – and opportunities for – energy security and green growth in middle-income countries.

In order to support the transition process, international investors and lenders will play an important role in providing much-needed capital. Green growth is being slowed by powerful forces allied to the extractive and fossil fuel industry. On the other hand, export revenue from fossil fuels could provide an important source of finance for domestic green energy growth. Whether green growth will be supported ultimately depends on the configuration of power and interests within each country. The project concluded that green energy growth is possible, as long as it offers a win-win option for both the climate and economic development.

Other projects in the field of sustainability focused on the geopolitics of water scarcity, the SDGs, the circular economy and the potential to make the EU’s transport policies more sustainable. A report was prepared on this project for the informal Council of Environment and Transport Ministers, which met in Amsterdam under the Dutch Presidency.

Processes of International Negotiation (PIN)

In 2016, the PIN Program – a sub-section of Clingendael Research with an international Steering Committee – hosted an international conference at Clingendael for its new book project: Negotiation Security in Eurasia. Work continued on three other books: Closure in Negotiations; Negotiating Reconciliation; and Focal Points. The first two have been completed in draft form. The Steering Committee published two issues of PINPoints magazine (#42 and #43) and opinions on the Colombian rejection of the peace accord with FARC on the Clingendael website. ‘Roadshows’ were held in The Hague and Paris, the latter during the Biënnale for Negotiations. PIN also conducted two ‘Policy Labs’ at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague.

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT)

ICCT is supported by a unique partnership comprising three renowned institutions based in The Hague: the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, the Clingendael Institute and the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University.

In 2016, ICCT continued to produce policy-relevant research on topics such as counter-terrorism, strategic communications, migration and terrorism, the human rights impact of policies countering the foreign-fighter phenomenon, as well as the associated mental health-related aspects. The Centre completed evaluation projects, including involvement in a study commissioned by the European Parliament to evaluate EU counter-terrorism policy. Beyond new contracts with the EU, the ICCT embarked on projects funded by the US State Department, the Government of Australia and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). 2016 also brought new external engagement for the ICCT: Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, King’s College London and the Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies. Throughout 2016, staff and fellows promoted the ICCT’s research and implementation capacities in numerous international conferences. With regard to staffing, a new acting director took on the leadership of the ICCT in 2016. Two project officers and one editor also joined the ICCT’s team. In addition, four Visiting Fellows from Italy, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom conducted research at the ICCT and four new Associate Fellows published articles in affiliation with the Centre.