Monika Sie Dhian Ho
General Director

2018 was the year in which the concept of Interregnum became the fashionable way of characterising the international situation. The multilateral world order is on the wane, but as of yet there is no new, dominant type of world order. What is now coming into being - as we wrote in our Strategic Monitor 2018-2019 - is a sort of hybrid global ‘multi-order’, as we are now seeing international players collaborating in one area of policy, whilst opposing each other in another. Against the background of a negative threat assessment and the increasing polarisation of the great powers, it is European cooperation that is gaining in importance. Within the European Union, debate is raging about the Union’s new strategic agenda, whilst at the same time the balance of power is changing as the result of the much-heralded Brexit, driving the Netherlands to form new coalitions. What’s more, globalisation and digitisation mean that foreign trends are having an increasing impact domestically, a development that has led to more and more actors wanting to have the right tools at their disposal for their dealings with other countries. In addition, the general public is becoming increasingly affected by – and involved in - international and European issues.

Clingendael’s response to these developments is to offer its research and training facilities to both advise and equip policymakers, diplomats, politicians, humanitarian aid workers and companies to deal with these issues and to help bring about - through opinion pieces in the media, the organisation of public meetings, and public opinion research - an evidence-based public debate. A deteriorating threat assessment and an increase in the number of players operating internationally are factors that are also having an impact on Clingendael’s operations. For example, our Conflict Research Unit has grown in size because it is not only carrying out political economy analyses in the research programmes in the Sahel, Levant and Horn of Africa regions for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also (and increasingly) for international and local clients as well. Our Security Research Unit - in cooperation with The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies - once again prepared the Strategic Monitor for the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence but also scaled up its integrated threat analyses for the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, in preparation of an interdepartmental national security strategy. The Research unit EU in the World has not only advised the European External Action Service about EU-Asia relationships but has also written about China’s relevance for regional governments, commissioned by the Dutch Province of Brabant. Traditionally, the Clingendael Academy has trained the young Dutch diplomats (known as the ‘Klasje’) at Clingendael but it has also seen demand for its expertise in the international field increase significantly, for example to give humanitarian aid workers training in negotiation skills and to advise in the development of partner training institutes abroad.

Clingendael has responded to the continuing trend towards digitisation by further increasing the professionalisation of its activities in the field of online outreach (including by expanding our modernised English website, by having more accessible long reads and by building relationships through social media), as well as by developing new e-learning modules by the Clingendael Academy.

In response to both the greater impact that foreign trends are now having domestically and to the politicization of foreign policy, in 2018 we invested in partnerships that are helping us to reach a broader and more diverse section of the public. This includes the work we are doing with Humanity House, the National Theatre and the Haagsch College. In 2018 we were able to reach out to a broader public, including to a more international and younger section of the public.

In addition to our media appearances and the organisation of public meetings, Clingendael has consistently invested in innovative public platform functions. Clingendael is currently focussing on carrying out systematic research into the public’s attitudes and preferences with regard to foreign policy. For example, Clingendael - working with the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) - was involved in the citizen consultation process ‘What Dutch people want from the EU’ that was set up in the European member states on the initiative of French President Macron. In addition, preparations have been made for the regular Clingendael survey ‘The Netherlands in the world’. The aim of this foreign policy barometer is to understand both Dutch people’s opinions about the foreign policy being pursued, and the reasons why they hold these opinions. The results of this survey then serve as useful input for public discussions all over the country about foreign policy issues. With this in mind, we entered into a partnership with the Dutch daily newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and its regional titles as our new media partner. We took this step in order to get the results of our survey across to a broader readership, to get the public in a number of regions in the Netherlands involved in the international issues and to jointly organise a series of public meetings all over the country about strategic foreign policy issues.

The year 2018 was Clingendael’s second year of transition. After being ‘statutory decoupled’ from the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Clingendael had to be put in position both internationally and within the Netherlands, to carry out its mission as an independent Institute. We ended 2018 with a favourable financial result, increased revenue and an even more diverse portfolio.

Just as it did in 2017, in 2018 Clingendael rose in the rankings of the TTCSP Global Think Tank Index. Ranked against more than 8,160 other thinktanks from all over the world, Clingendael rose 4 places to be ranked 26th in the whole world. In the category ‘Non-US Think Tanks’, Clingendael rose 6 places to be placed 13th. In the category ‘Best Think Tank in Western Europe’, it continued to be ranked in 10th position.

Photo credits

Marjolein Vinkenoog