IFAIR in English

About us

Welcome to IFAIR, an interdisciplinary students’ initiative on International Relations. Our German based network started in the beginning of 2011 and is quickly expanding. This page provides a short overview on our goals and methods, possibilities to contribute and English-language articles on IFAIR.eu. For any questions, please contact lukas.rudolph@ifair.eu.

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Our Concept

The challenges of the 21st century are of special concern for our young generation – it is us who shape the world that we are going to live in tomorrow. We do not believe in the much-alleged disenchantment with politics of our generation. Our interest in politics and our ideas rather have to be channelled appropriately. It is our mission to pool these interests and ideas in order to use their potential, turn them practically relevant and create an impact.

Struktur IFAIR 2013_06_website

Think. With our Open Think Tank we create a lasting framework where young people can interact and contribute to ongoing political debates. Even further, it is through our think tank that IFAIR members can keep contact beyond a single project or activity and network with interested IFAIR fellows.

Learn. Many young people want to work in international relations, but finding access is sometimes hard. IFAIR helps with competence building workshops, its network and connecting its members with professionals from the world of international relations and foreign affairs.

Act. Our generation is highly interested in exchanging ideas and advocating common goals. Still, concrete engagement is often discouraged if people are forced to identify themselves with a certain ideology or if they have to stick to fixed fixed structures over a long period. A platform for short term projects can thus unleash all this potential.  This platform addresses a central challenge: Finding fellows and working without infrastructure can be hard. The Impact Groups of IFAIR enable young people to work around just that: You can get engaged over a limited timeframe for a hands-on topic with impact in the sphere of international relations.

How to Participate

We want you to get involved with IFAIR: Write a guest contribution, why not even as regular author? Become member of an Impact Group and start shaping international relations! Increase your practical and theoretical knowledge through our workshops and panel discussions –  and finally join IFAIR to exchange ideas with like-minded students and young professionals interested in IR and get informed about our upcoming events.

Contributions are structured by regional affiliation and will be published in one of three categories: Detailed analysis and comprehensive essays in [Science], short essays on day-to-day politics, book reviews or recommendations in [Magazine], announcements and calls for bids, papers or jobs in [Practice].

Your proposals can be sent directly to lukas.rudolph@ifair.eu who will accompany the process of publication. To get an overview of our formal criteria click [here (PDF)]. We are looking forward to your contribution!

Become part of an Impact Group

IFAIR is constantly identifying relevant topics in international relations where action is needed. As a matter of course your proposals are also always welcome. Once the topic is identified, we determine common project proposals including a statement of the challenge, financing, timeframe and cooperation partners. Finally, via an open call for applications we identify a small, committed team for the project.

The concrete project work can consist of workshops, information campaigns, scientific analyses or hands-on policy recommendations.

A traceable project result shall be the outcome – such as the successful placement of an issue on the political agenda, the hand-over of a position paper or the creation of an enduring initiative.

Finally, an evaluation report is published. All participants are invited to become member of the IFAIR platform for further exchange and thus contribute to our lasting and dynamic network.

Contributions in English

Indonesia’s Regional Strategy: Quo Vadis, Economic Interests?
by Felix Sharief, posted Monday, 19.08.2013
While other countries in Southeast Asia are busy with their preparation towards the single market in 2015, Jakarta is still focused on maintaining regional cohesion against a rising China with its assertive policy towards its neighbors. But does this effort in ensuring regional integrity has made Indonesia ignore its economic interests in the region? Read more…

The Current State of the Discussion on Constitutional Amendment in Japan
by Thomas Tartemann, posted Thursday, 15.08.2013
Once again, the issue of constitutional amendment is flaring up in Japanese political discourse and gaining much attention in Northeast Asia. Why could the current situation actually be more favorable for a revision and which factors come into play when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes his decision for or against political action? Read more…

One set of goals for all! The “Post-2015” global development Agenda
by Dr. Steffen Bauer and Dr. Carmen Richerzhagen,  posted Friday, 14.06.2013
The reference period defined in 2001 for the international community to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ends in 2015. Whether a global development agenda should continue to be pursued is currently the subject of intense discussions within the United Nations (UN), referred to as to “Post-2015”. Read more…

Development of Economic Relations between Germany and Taiwan
by Benjamin Leipold, posted Monday, 06.05.2013
The Asia-Pacific region has become increasingly important to the German economy over the last years. Whether in emerging countries or with established trade partners, many German companies cannot and do not wish to pass up on these markets. It is therefore not surprising that the long-standing economic relations between Germany and Taiwan have undergone positive development within this dynamic context. Read more…

The EU’s poor record in promoting Democracy 
by Benjamin Ledwon, posted Monday, 25.02.2013
The populations of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have often been depicted as “politically apathetic”. The first paragraph of this essay stresses the opposite by outlining public demands for political change in the region as well as the unwillingness of political authorities to grant concessions. The essay then proceeds to criticise the EU’s democracy promotion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as inconsistent, largely neglecting the GCC states both historically and in modern days.  The last paragraph makes the case for a unified EU approach by establishing a comprehensive policy framework in order to support democracy promotion in the region. Read More…

Lessons for the West
by Sarah Wagner, posted Wednesday, 06.02.2013
As events of the Arab Spring are still unfolding, changing or even escalating two years after the initial start of the revolutions, the West can still take a lessons learned approach and should critically evaluate how it portrays the uprisings, interacts with authoritarian regimes and civil society and how it addresses contested political issues such as Palestine. Read More…

EU Energy Policy left out in the dark while Russia moves forward
by Philipp Nießen (guest contribution), posted Sunday, 20.02.2013
While energy policies of key European member states are increasingly at odds with the common EU energy policy framework, the EU’s vulnerability in external energy affairs is taken advantage of by foreign actors.  Read more…

Energy Markets and Regional Integration in North Africa
by Thomas Claes (guest contribution) posted Wednesday, 23.01.2013
The Arab uprisings, whether successful or not, unleashed a variety of new possibilities in many policy fields for the North African countries. One opportunity will almost certainly be a refreshed effort for regional integration, as the African Development Bank expects. Such regional integration is currently necessary and has been in the making for decades in the Maghreb. However, the Maghreb Union is at best a walking dead, as it is in a political dead end, blocked since decades by frozen conflicts or other animosities. Therefore, regional integration in the Maghreb will be primarily of economic nature and not political, at least at the beginning. To be more precise, this process will have to begin as an integration of the energy markets. Read more

Summary and Review of Chatham House paper – ‘Syria: Prospects for Intervention’
by Eleanor Kate Flanagan (guest contribution), posted Tuesday, 27.11.2012
Conflict in Syria is escalating by the day, with scenes of armed combat in Damascus and Aleppo sparking a cacophonous call for overt international intervention from within and outside Syria. Given both the defiance of President Assad to remain in government regardless of intensifying domestic and international outcry and the seemingly unshakeable will of the national insurgent movement, it is difficult to predict how, or indeed when, the hostilities in Syria will end. Chatham House, a London-based think tank, produced a useful report during the summer dealing with the situation and the prospects for international intervention. Read more…

Pakistan’s Competing Interests
by Matthias Scholz (guest contribution), posted Sunday, 25.11.2012
This paper addresses the goals of Pakistan’s foreign policy with regard to the US and India and argues that Pakistan is caught between incompatible goals. This results in growing tensions with the West and now poses a danger to the Pakistani state itself. Read more…

The Dokdo/Takeshima Dispute – Power, Institutions, and Identities in East Asia’s ‘other’ territorial conflict
by Kilian Spandler, posted Saturday, 24.11.2012
Since 2010, East Asia’s waters are becoming more and more stirred up. With China at the forefront, East Asia’s states are reaching out to satisfy their growing hunger for resources. But the People’s Republic is not the only bully in the schoolyard. Read more…

Is the EU asylum policy caught in a “Joint-Decision Trap”?
by Anna Oechslen (guest contribution), posted Monday, den 15.10.2012
Why does it seem so hard for the European Union to agree on a common asylum system? This essay looks for an answer in the institutional structure of the EU, based on Fritz Scharpf´s “Joint-Decision Trap”. Lies mehr…

Iran in a Global Context: Summary of a Lecture by Dr Mostafa Zahrani
by Steffen Murau (guest-contribution), posted Tuesday, 02.10.2012
Former Iranian diplomat Dr Mostafa Zahrani gave a lecture to Iranian and German students in Tehran on 11 September 2012. Dr Zahrani assessed the current situation of Iran and took position towards recent political questions concerning Iran’s foreign policy. He predicted a continuation of tensions between Iran and the so-called “international community” due to a lack of mutual trust and stressed that the Iranian nuclear program was purely civilian in nature. Read more…

Democratization in Burma? – Challenges and Perspectives
by Carola Göhlich (guest-contribution), posted Thursday, 12.07.2012
What changes happen in Burma? Are these changes a democratization process? Burma’s transformation has been currently discussed by several articles, journalists and professionals. This abstract should give an overview of the historical development and the nature of the current changes. Further it should give a short evaluation showing the perspectives for the country. Read more…

Burma’s Transformation? Give ASEAN Some Credit
von Kilian Spandler (guest-contribution), posted Monday, 28.05.2012
ASEAN’s stance towards Burma has often been criticized for being too soft. It’s true that the organizations policy options towards the country were restricted. But without the organization’s approach of continuous engagement, the change we are now witnessing might not have been possible. Read more…

The Myth of the Rising Powers
by Tanja A. Börzel (“Shifting Powers” contribution), posted Tuesday, 01.05.2012
Over the past five months, IFAIR’s “Shifting Powers” series inquired about the implications of the apparent changes in the global political landscape. As we are now looking forward to the concluding event of this series on Friday, we would like to anticipate our discussion with a leader exclusively submitted for this purpose by IFAIR Advisory Board member Prof. Dr. Tanja A. Börzel. Her article is dedicated to the one question that lies at the heart of our “Shifting Powers” discussion: Are the BRICS set for global leadership? Read more…

The Euro-Crisis: A Chance in Disguise 
by Matthias Scholz (guest-contribution), posted Saturday, 14.04.2012
The paper argues that the current crisis we are witnessing in Europe was inevitable, but should be seen as a chance in disguise. It is not only necessary to solve the defects of the euro, but the pressure created by the crisis should be used to further promote the integration of Europe. Read more…

Whos after Hu? The Bo Xilai Incident and the Future of Political Leadership in China
by Kilian Spandler (guest-contribution), posted Friday, 06.04.2012
With the change of leadership looming, recent events in Beijing evoked a sense of discomposure and polarization within the Chinese inner power circle. What do the incidents tell us about the upcoming personnel and, more importantly, policy decisions? Not much, to be honest. Still, the game of Chinese politics might be about to change. Read more…

Prospects for the Middle East – Democratization and the Arab Spring
by Ilyas Saliba (guest-contribution), posted Saturday, 31.03.2012
Roughly one year after the first protests in the region, what are the outlooks of the Arab Spring trajectories on the prospects for democratization? Relying on two seminal works of democratization literature Przeworski and Lipset, I will try to give explanations. Finally I point to shortcomings of a purely comparative and domestic-level perspective. Read more…

Power struggle in the Gulf: An assessment of the Saudi threat perception towards Iran’s nuclear program
by Christoph Schenkel, posted Saturday, 24.03.2012
This essay examines the threat perception of the Saudi public as well as the ruling elite towards Iran and its nuclear program. The demonstrations in Bahrain and the subsequent intervention of the GCC is hereby seen as a decisive factor of change in the threat assessment. Read more…

Contemporary ‘Power’ Shifts Resulting in a Polycentric World Order: Newcoming International Entities Lead the Way
by Hriday Ch. Sarma ( “Shifting Powers” contribution), posted Friday, 16.03.2012
With the advent of the 21st century new actors have risen to prominence in the international theatre. ‘Power’ is getting disseminated among these actors and US unilateral hegemony has eroded to a great extent, changing the balance of power equation across the globe. The resulting polycentric world order brings new opportunities but as well challenges and risks, making the present scenario extremely complicated. Read more…

Is the decline of the US inevitable?
by Rahim Rahimov (“Shifting Powers” contribution), posted Monday, 20.2.2012
The post-Cold war US has been suffering from a ‘psychological stagnation’. This kind of stagnation doesn’t necessarily imply the inability to make progress, but the inability to get the rid of outdated ‘habits’. Those habits have implications for the status of the US as a single global super-power. Read more…

China and India – New Kids on the Bloc
by Ole Engel (“Shifting Powers” contribution), posted Monday, 06.02.2012
China and India are often called emerging powers or the ‘new kids on the block’ in Africa. The question of this article will be to which extent this is an accurate description of their engagement with African countries. To investigate this question not only the historical engagement of these two countries is taken into consideration, but also the comparison to other important actors in Africa like the USA and Europe. Read more…

The Dragon in Africa – Emerging Powers and Shifts in Development Aid
by Sebastian Haug (Guest contribution), posted Monday, 30.01.2012
Does the advent of Emerging Powers change the landscape of development aid? A closer look on China’s role as aid donor sheds light onto a recent phenomenon of global interaction. This article briefly reviews the Western approach to development aid, presents a short discussion of recent contributions on the rise of Emerging Powers as donors in the realm of development assistance (with a particular focus on China in Africa) and finally asks for the implications of ongoing shifts in the realm of international development aid.
 Read more…

Russia’s stealthy information revolution
by Niklas Kossow (Guest contribution), posted Monday, 23.01.2012
From the Arab spring to the London riots- new media have been attributed an important influence on politics all over the world. In Russia, change is on its way as increased internet access is challenging the state control over the media. Read more…

Security Despite Austerity: Improving Europe’s Defense
by Atlantic Community, posted Wednesday, 23.11.2011
Europe’s defense sector needs reform. To cut costs and improve capabilities, states should consolidate national priorities to enhance political cooperation, streamline their administrative structures, further integrate their militaries and create an open defense market across the EU. Read more…

ICC Ratification Patterns in the Middle East
by Matthias Scholz (Guest contribution), posted Monday, 21.11.2011
This paper investigates the relationship between the ICC and the Arab states. Based on different existing theoretical explanations of international regimes, the reasons for Arab opposition shall be pointed out, before reaching further conclusions regarding the future relationship between the ICC and  the Arab states. Read more…

Deadline extension of contest “Shifting Powers” / Call for Papers until December, 15th 2011
by IFAIR, valid from Wednesday, 02.11.2011 to Thursday, 15.12.2011
The winner of our contest is awarded Fletcher School Professor Daniel Drezner’s book Theories of International Politics and Zombies, published by Princeton University Press, as well as free entrance to our upcoming capacity building Workshop in Berlin. Read more…

Sakharov Debate 2011: Role of Women in Democratic Transition
by Sakharov Prize Network, posted Friday 19.11.2011
Jerzey Bubak, President of the European Parliament, invites on behalf of the “Sakharov Prize Network” to the Sakharov Debate 2011 on the “Role of women in democratic transition” on 23rd November at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, Brussels. Read more…

US Grand Strategy 
by Leonard Ghione, posted Tuesday, 01.11.2011
George Bush’s “war against terror” led to the military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to many other covert or non-covert military operations, especially in Yemen and Pakistan. The Obama administration rather focuses on multilateral nation building efforts. Both administrations, however, worked towards two goals: maintaining American primacy and spreading democracy, that is “making the world over America’s image”, assuming that democracies are per se pro American. But what underlies this strategic approach? And: Are there alternatives that might be a better fit for achieving the declared long-term goals of American foreign policy, namely reducing the terrorism-threat and enforcing nuclear nonproliferation? Read more…

An unfinished act – the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
by Lukas Keller, posted Friday, 28.10.2011
On Friday October 21st, United States President Barack Obama signed into law three major Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia after Congress had approved these deals some ten days earlier. While in the two former cases the bilateral discussions that anteceded the closure of the agreements had been dominated by purely economic considerations, the ratification of the US-Colombia FTA had faced the possibility of yet another postponement due to major concerns over Colombia’s Human Rights record. Read more…

Community Building in the Asia Pacific – A New Role for the Expanded East Asia Summit?
by Kilian Spandler (guest contribution), posted Saturday, 08.10.2011
When Asian leaders convene in November to hold the sixth East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bali, presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama will be representing their countries as full-fledged members for the first time. What are the implications of Russia’s and the U.S.’ accession for Asia’s fledgling regional architecture? Read more…

Conflict Resolution and the United Nations: A Leadership Crisis? (Part 2)
by Phillip Panizza (Guest contribution), posted Sunday, 25.09.2011
Most United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions during the last two decades were perceived by the general public to have failed. This article draws upon lessons learned from the 1990 UN mission in Namibia and identifies necessary conditions to ensure a sustainable and successful peacebuilding process for the conflicts of today. Part two of this article outlines how domestic political capacity and support from key international stakeholders are necessary for a peaceful democratic transition and sheds light on timing issues as well as structural factors. Read more…

Conflict Resolution and the United Nations: A Leadership Crisis? (Part 1)
by Phillip Panizza (Guest contribution), posted Sunday, 18.09.2011
Most United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions during the last two decades were perceived by the general public to have failed. This article draws upon lessons learned from the 1990 UN mission in Namibia and identifies necessary conditions to ensure a sustainable and successful peacebuilding process for the conflicts of today.The first part gives a short background on the Namibian independence and the United Nations Transition Assistance Group and draws lessons for the success of such missions on the geopolitical and institutional level. Read more…

Do the Lilliputs matter in European Union Foreign Policy?
by Valentin Kreilinger (Wettbewerbsbeitrag), posted Tuesday, 30.08.2011
Small member states sometimes face difficulties to have a voice in the European Union. Do they “matter” in European Union Foreign Policy or is this policy area dominated by big member states like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom? Read more…

Amnesties for Arab leaders: A stable solution? – Lessons from South America
by Leonard Ghione (Wettbewerbsbeitrag), geposted Dienstag, 23.08.2011
As regimes in North Africa and the Middle East falter, we are left to wonder what happens with the elites that are washed away by the Arab Spring. A common instrument to facilitate political transition is the implementation of amnesty laws. Read more…

Dying For the Independence of Chechnya – Suicide Terrorism as a Rational Strategy in the Context of Chechen Resistance to Russian Occupation
by Niklas Kossow (Wettbewerbsbeitrag), posted Thursday, 21.07.2011
On June 6th, 2000 Khava Baraeva, cousin of the Chechen field commander Arbi Baraev, committed suicide by blowing up a truck in a Russian police station in Chechnya. It was the first of a series of suicide attacks carried out in the name of Chechen independence between 2000 and 2004. This article attempts to explain why Chechen terrorists chose to employ suicide attacks during this time. It will apply Robert A. Pape’s theory of suicide terrorism , which is lined out in his work “Dying to Win: Why Suicide Terrorists Do It” (2006). In a threefold argument this article will show that Chechen terrorist decided to apply suicide terrorism as a rational strategy in their struggle for national liberation. Opposing the idea that suicide attacks are the outcome of Islamic fundamentalism this article will claim that the decision to stage suicide attacks was based on the experience of other terrorist groups and the Chechen resistance themself.. Read more…

Prosecuting Crimes in Ongoing Intrastate Conflicts – Dilemmas of Peace and Justice
by Patrick Wegner (permanent author), posted Wednesday, 13.07.2011
When the Allied Forces brought some of the worst perpetrators of crimes committed by the Nazi Regime and its followers to trial in Nuremberg more than 65 years ago, there was a hope that delivering justice would prevent such crimes in future. This hope was abandoned for several decades as Cold War disagreements rendered the establishment of further international criminal tribunals all but impossible. Today, the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2003, has reinvigorated the approach to ensure peace through justice. Yet, little is known about the effects that international criminal tribunals have on conflicts. Despite this lack of knowledge, tribunals like the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the ICC have taken up their work in conflict contexts. The United Nations Security Council referral of the Libyan situation to the ICC in resolution 1970 is just the most recent example. Yet, the question remains whether judicial interventions in ongoing conflicts can help to end fighting or if they prolong and perpetuate the conflict. Read more…

Noble Credits: False Hope and True Despairs – On the Political Economy of Microcredit
by Rubel Abdul Hassan (guest contribution), posted Friday, 01.07.2011
The disbursing of small credit amounts is hailed as prime pathway out of poverty. But is it really? The case for their high interest rates is poor, the claim of high repayment rates doubtful. I found many former customers entrapped in a vicious cycle of loans. Lastly, micro-credit loans played their part in changing the consumption pattern of rural people, and, in passing, reshaped their life style by integrating them with the international capitalist system. Read more…

Lese-Empfehlung: Brazil and China – Partnership or Competition?
von Leo Ghione (guest contribution), geposted Donnerstag, 16.06.2011
The rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and formation of the BRICS-Block that began in 2006 was widely perceived as a prophecy for a new polypolar World Order. However, recent developments in the relationship between the largest developing country in the Western hemisphere (Brazil) and the largest developing country in the Eastern hemisphere (China) menace the block’s further cooperation. Read more…

India, China and the Influence-Seeking Game in Nepal
by Radu Botez (guest contribution), posted Thursday, 02.06.2011
Nepal has increasingly become a place of great power competition between its neighbors India and China. Both the decision not to allow the Tibetan refugee population to vote for its government-in-exile in March of this year and the recent visit of the Chinese army chief who promised a military aid package worth $19 million indicate strong Chinese presence. As India moves to counter Chinese actions, political progress in Nepal will be undermined. Read more…

Seeking Applications: Global Zero Student Program 2011
by Marion Doßner (guest contribution), posted Friday, 20.05.2011
Call for Applications for participating at the Global Zero London Instiute and the Global Zero World Summit in London.
Read more…

Impeding innovation or establishing exploitation? The question of subsidizing microcredit
by Lukas Rudolph, posted Tuesday, 10.05.2011
Microcredit bears the promise of financial sustainability, implying a quick outreach to billions of potential customers – the poor of developing countries. Proponents of financial sustainability argue that the widespread subsidization in the industry is hampering this spread, proponents of subsidies oftentimes fear high interest rates in financially sustainable institutions. Read more…

Freedom works! – Towards Democracy in the Arabic and Islamic World
by Felix F. Seidler (guest contribution), posted Sunday, 06.02.2011
Tunisia´s revolution succeeded, Egypt´s followed and Libya will be next. In all cases, people did not struggle for another dictatorship, rather rallied for their freedom. Furthermore, we saw no burning Israeli or US flags in Tunis, Cairo, Benghazi, Sana´ or Amman. Despite existing problems people will not give up their achievements. But as it is the Arab´s own revolution the West has no major role to play in the up-coming democratization processes. Read more…

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