You are here: Home Forschung Publikationen Peer reviewed journal articles (english)
Document Actions


Peer reviewed journal articles in English language


Carmody, Pádraig, Zajontz, Tim and Reboredo, Ricardo 2022. ‘From “debt diplomacy” to donorship? China’s changing role in global development’, Global Political Economy, online first. https://doi.org/10.1332/UZHW7185.


Since the mid-1990s the Chinese state and the country’s businesses have significantly increased their activity throughout the Global South. In International Development, China’s impacts on this varied meta-region have generated substantial interest in recent years due to their scale, scope and distinctive nature. Understandably, given the complexity of the subject, most analyses have focused on discrete aspects of Chinese engagement rather than attempting to undertake more comprehensive assessments around its nature and evolution. This article engages this lacuna by identifying the main vectors of China’s engagement in the Global South, and examining their adaptive nature. In particular it identifies the main channels of impact and intersection before focusing on China’s signature foreign economic policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to ground the analysis. The article then examines the ways in which China is reconfiguring its foreign economic diplomacy in response to the issue of infrastructure-linked debt – perhaps the most controversial aspect of China’s growing global presence. We demonstrate that the Chinese ‘development’ policy is currently undergoing a substantial reorganisation towards soft power initiatives in response to (geo)political backlashes arising from the previous implementation of the BRI and the risks such loans present to the Chinese economy. We characterise this as an attempt at ‘normalisation’ of China as a ‘donor’, suggesting the power of global public opinion despite the ‘omni-channel politics’ and other power resources the country can bring to bear.



global political economy

Zajontz, Tim 2022. ‘Seamless imaginaries, territorialized realities: the regional politics of corridor governance in Southern Africa’, Territory, Politics, Governance, online first. https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2022.2092205.


Corridors are central to contemporary processes of spatial reordering. On the African continent, they feature prominently in development planning at national, regional and continental scales. This article sheds light on the regional politics and supranational governance of cross-border corridors, aspects that have remained underrepresented in the burgeoning literature on corridors. Combining theoretical insights from the New Regionalism Approach and critical political geography and focusing on the ‘corridor agenda’ pursued by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the article deconstructs dominant conceptions of corridors as archetypal spaces of flow and advances the argument that the spatial production and governance of cross-border corridors are contingent upon the compatibility of scalar and territorial articulations of state space. In the case of the Walvis Bay–Ndola–Lubumbashi Development Corridor, the incompatibility of Namibia’s decidedly regional ‘gateway strategy’ and Zambia’s (sub)national ‘pothole politics’ has yielded a connectivity patchwork. Efforts to institutionalize supranational corridor governance have been obstructed by state territoriality aimed at retaining political control over corridor space at the national scale. While commonly represented as spatial panaceas for attaining neoliberal meta-goals of global connectivity and seamless territorial integration, (trans)regional corridors are politically contested spaces that engender dialectical processes of de- and reterritorialization at various scales.



governance, politics

Julia Gurol, Tobias Zumbrägel & Thomas Demmelhuber (2022). "Elite Networks and the Transregional Dimension of Authoritarianism: Sino-Emirati Relations in Times of a Global Pandemic", Journal of Contemporary China DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2022.2052444


Scholarly debates on Chinese foreign policy in the Middle East and the international dimension of authoritarianism have gained momentum since Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. At the same time, the global pandemic provided a window of opportunity to autocrats worldwide to fine-tune their modes of surveillance for the sake of regime survival. This article deconstructs Sino-Emirati relations in the field of digital surveillance. Inspired by Social Network Theory, we explore three transregional public-private elite networks as multipliers for the traveling of authoritarian practices. We show that authoritarian diffusion under the umbrella of fighting the pandemic is not spatially bound to geograhical proximity or other structural similarities but rather a global phenomenon that state and non-state actors reproduce.



journal of contemporary china

Zajontz, Tim (2022). ‘”Win-win” contested: negotiating the privatisation of Africa’s Freedom Railway with the “Chinese of today”‘, Journal of Modern African Studies 60(1): 111-134. 2022, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X21000446


As infrastructure development has become a key ingredient in Africa–China relations, the role of African governments in co-determining the design, funding and governance of the continent's infrastructures has come under close scrutiny. This article sheds light on the rehabilitation of a symbol of Sino–African friendship: the Tanzania–Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA). Employing Jessop's strategic-relational approach, it is shown that the strategies of the shareholding governments in the negotiations with a Chinese consortium were informed by strategic learning from previous railway privatisations, corresponding cost–benefit analyses and reflection about Chinese commercial interests. Zambia's indebtedness and Tanzania's autocratic developmental state under President Magufuli formed crucial elements of the structural context in which the fate of Africa's Freedom Railway was negotiated. The article transcends both crudely structuralist accounts of a supposedly all-powerful China and voluntarist conceptions of African agency that are void of structure. Assessing (African) agency requires analytical sensitivity towards the dialectical interaction between specific strategic capacities and strategically selective political–economic contexts.



modern african studies

Chiyemura, Frangton, Gambino, Elisa and Tim Zajontz (2022). ‘Infrastructure and the politics of African state agency: shaping the Belt and Road Initiative in East Africa’, Chinese Political Science Review, online first, https://doi.org/10.1007/s41111-022-00214-8.


Infrastructure development has experienced a political renaissance in Africa and is again at the centre of national, regional, and continental development agendas. At the same time, China has been identified by African policy-makers as a particularly suitable strategic partner. As infrastructure has become a main pillar of Sino-African cooperation, there has been growing analytical interest in the role of African actors in shaping the terms and conditions and, by extension, the implementation of infrastructure projects with Chinese participation. This follows a more general African “agency turn” in China–Africa studies, which has shifted the research focus onto the myriad ways in which African state and non-state actors shape the continent's engagements with China. This article is situated within this growing body of literature and explores different forms of African state agency in the context of Tanzania's planned Bagamoyo port, Ethiopia's Adama wind farms, and Kenya’s Lamu port. We posit a non-reductionist and social-relational ontology of the (African) state which sees the state as a multifaceted and multi-scalar institutional ensemble. We show that the extent and forms of state agency exerted are inherently interrelated with and, thus, highly contingent upon concrete institutional, economic, political, and bureaucratic contexts in which African state actors are firmly embedded. In doing so, we make the case for a context-sensitive analysis of various spheres of state agency in particular conjunctures of Sino-African engagement.



chinese political science review

Zajontz, Tim (2022). ‘Debt, distress, dispossession: towards a critical political economy of Africa’s financial dependency’, Review of African Political Economy 49(171): 173-183, https://doi.org/10.1080/03056244.2021.1950669


With China's rise to become Africa's largest bilateral creditor, much research has focused on an evidence-based critique of the politicised narrative about China's supposed ‘debt trap diplomacy'. At a more fundamental level, this debate problematises the function of debt and related power differentials in late capitalism and calls into question development paradigms, notably the hegemonic infrastructure-led development regime, that have sustained Africa's financial dependency into the 2020s. As the International Monetary Fund is yet again shuttling between Addis Ababa, Lusaka, and Nairobi to resurrect fiscal discipline and to ensure debtor compliance for the post-pandemic ‘payback period', it is argued that (i) periodic cycles of debt financing, debt distress and structural adjustment are a systemic feature of the malintegration of Africa into the global capitalist economy, and (ii) critical research on the social costs and economic beneficiaries of renewed rounds of austerity and privatisation in Africa’s current debt cycle is needed.



review of african political economy

Carmody, Pádraig, Taylor, Ian and Zajontz, Tim (2022). ‘China’s Spatial Fix and “Debt Diplomacy” in Africa: Constraining Belt or Road to Economic Transformation?’, Canadian Journal of African Studies 56(1): 57-77, https://doi.org/10.1080/00083968.2020.1868014


Mounting overaccumulation of capital and material has compelled the Chinese government to seek solutions overseas. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with its transregional infrastructure projects connecting Eurasia and Africa, is the hallmark venture in this effort. Chinese road, railway, port and energy projects, implemented under the BRI banner, have become widespread in Africa. This article traces drivers of the BRI in the post-reform evolution of the Chinese economy and conceptualises the BRI as a multi-vector “spatial fix” aimed at addressing chronic overaccumulation. Focusing on Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, the paper documents how loan financing related to BRI projects reveals contradictions that arise from China’s spatial fix in Africa. Concerns about a looming debt crisis on the continent and the questionable economic sustainability of some BRI projects have become more pressing amidst the COVID-19-induced economic contraction. Hopes for Africa’s economic transformation based on increasing connectivity under the BRI are unlikely to materialise.



canadian journal of african studies

Zajontz, Tim (2022). ‘The Chinese infrastructural fix in Africa: Lessons from the Sino-Zambian “road bonanza”’, Oxford Development Studies 50(1): 14-29, https://doi.org/10.1080/13600818.2020.1861230.


This article scrutinises the surge in Chinese-funded road development in Zambia with the help of David Harvey’s theory of spatio-temporal fixes. The ‘moving out’ of Chinese surplus capital and material to Africa has been facilitated by an extensive disbursement of loans and export credits for infrastructure projects. Transcending Harvey’s analytical ‘imperio-centrism’, the article shows that the actualisation of the Chinese infrastructural fix has been contingent upon Zambia’s ambitious, debt-financed infrastructure development agenda. Particularities of Chinese loan financing have thereby fostered ‘not so public’ procurement processes and accelerated Zambia’s rapid debt accumulation. As rising debt has imposed structural constraints, the recent shift in the financial governance of road development towards private project finance is analysed with reference to the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway. The renaissance of public-private partnerships and the gradual privatisation of Zambian roads signify new rounds of accumulation by dispossession, as the Chinese infrastructural fix enters its next stage.


oxford development studies

Destradi, Sandra; Plagemann, Johannes & Cadier, David (2021): Populism and foreign policy: a research agenda. Comparative European Politics DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-021-00255-4


The worldwide rise of populist governments represents one of the most crucial political developments of recent years. In Europe in particular, a range of populist parties and leaders have been voted into power and have formed (or joined) governments over the past decade—this is true, for instance, in Austria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy or Poland. As populist actors leave the opposition to seize the reins of executive power, they have entirely new possibilities to directly shape not only domestic policies, but also their countries’ foreign policy and European politics more generally. This could have important repercussions on the European integration project, on relations among European member states and with external powers such as Russia and China, on EU policies in areas such as migration or support to democratization, and on international norms and organizations more generally.


comparative european politics

Destradi, Sandra; Plagemann, Johannes & Tas, Hakki (2022): Populism and the politicisation of foreign policy. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13691481221075944


Populists in power often resort to the politicisation of foreign policy to generate domestic support. This article explores this process. First, it conceptualises populist politicisation of foreign policy. Second, it develops expectations on how such politicisation will take place: the distinctive features of populism (the intensity of populist discourse, the relative weight of anti-elitism and people-centrism, and a transnational understanding of the ‘people’ or the ‘elite’) will have an impact on how foreign policy is politicised. The empirical analysis focuses on selected public speeches and tweets by two populist leaders from the Global South: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Narendra Modi. The analysis reveals huge differences: the more populist Erdoğan emphasises anti-elitism and extensively resorts to the politicisation of Turkish foreign policy by constructing foreign threats. Modi is less populist and his discourse emphasises people-centrism; as expected, he only marginally politicises foreign policy, highlighting the greatness of the Indian nation.



Rüland, Jürgen (2021): Covid-19 and ASEAN: Strengthening State-centrism, Eroding Inclusiveness, Testing Cohesion, The International Spectator, DOI: 10.1080/03932729.2021.1893058


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has responded to the Covid-19 crisis in a path-dependent way. The latter is shaped by a time-tested repository of cooperation norms, which give precedence to national sovereignty. Hence, belated, ad hoc and largely declaratory collective responses to the Covid-19 crisis are business as usual and are unlikely to have disruptive effects on ASEAN’s operations. Yet member countries’ emergency measures are intensifying ongoing processes of democratic backsliding and will have negative repercussions on the grouping’s inclusiveness. They will impair advancements towards a people-oriented ASEAN. Regional cohesion will be further jeopardised by relations with China, which have intensified due to Chinese “mask diplomacy”, but are also increasingly influenced by China’s encroachments on ASEAN member states’ claims in the contested South China Sea.



Weber, Anne-Katrin (2020): Corporate Role Conceptions in Global Forest Governance, Global Policy 11 (5), 611-627 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12874


Multinational corporations (MNCs) are increasingly seen as key actors in global governance. This article introduces the concept of corporate role conceptions as a new and interdisciplinary approach for analysing the self-conception of MNCs. To illustrate its analytical strength, the concept is used to explore how MNCs operating in major forest-risk supply chains, that is, cattle, palm oil, pulp, soy and timber, conceive themselves and their function in global forest governance. The empirical analysis shows that their self-conception is both complex and multifaceted as they seek to perform several functions at the same time: corporate decision-makers consider it appropriate for their corporation to be a pioneer, a role model, a supporter and co-creator, a dedicated worker, a force for prosperity, a good global citizen and a good steward. However, these corporate role conceptions are overlapping and partly incompatible, which leads to role conflict. I argue that this role conflict constrains corporate agency in global forest governance and therefore diminishes the potential of MNCs to promote positive change.

global policy 11

Shrma, Chanchal, Destradi, Sandra & Plagemann, Johannes (2020): Partisan Federalism and Subnational Governments’ International Engagements: Insights from India. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Volume 50 https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pjaa017


This article situates the international activities of subnational governments in India within the broader political economy of federalism. It argues that the nature and the extent of subnational states’ engagements in international affairs are a function of the partisan political relationship the state incumbents have with the national incumbents. The article takes a mixed methods approach. An analysis of 1,153 episodes of international engagements of India’s states from 1996 to 2017 reveals that shifts in foreign policy engagement of selected state governments primarily reflect alterations in the subnational incumbents’ political affiliation with the Union government. Several qualitative case studies shed light on how the central government’s inclusion of subnational governments’ perspectives and representatives in foreign affairs is highly partisan and profoundly political. Therefore, the Indian case reveals how subnational diplomatic interactions merge domestic and international politics.

Jenss, Alke & Schuetze, Benjamin (2020). Rethinking Authoritarian Power: The Logistics Space and Authoritarian Practices in and between Secondary Port Cities of the Global South. International Studies Quarterly. Open access. Online first.



How to rethink authoritarian power in ways that better account for authoritarian connections beyond nation-state boundaries? By reconceptualizing the context in which to analyze authoritarian power, we bring to light transregional authoritarian connections between the secondary port cities Aqaba/Jordan and Buenaventura/Colombia. We demonstrate that processes of privatization and a continuum of pre-emptive, technocratizing, and repressive authoritarian practices with the overall purpose of enabling capital accumulation occur in a remarkably entangled manner in both locales, even if located at seemingly unconnected geographical sites. By thinking of Aqaba and Buenaventura as occupying the same “transregional authoritarian logistics space” (TALS), we understand Buenaventura through Aqaba, and vice versa. This crisscrossing of established notions of context has important implications for our understanding of authoritarianism and future transregional research designs. As a unit of analysis, the TALS allows us to highlight the role of global logistics players and “developmental aid” agencies—actors rarely discussed in literature on authoritarianism—in rearticulating boundaries within and beyond the nation-state based on class and race. Our contribution calls for an understanding of authoritarian power as transregionally entangled, rather than separate and limited to the nation-state and builds on literatures on authoritarian practices, authoritarian neoliberalism, critical logistics, and transregional connections.
schütze authoritarian power

Müller, Lukas Maximilian (2020). Challenges to ASEAN centrality and hedging in connectivity governance—regional and national pressure points. The Pacific Review. Online first: https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2020.1757741 


Since 2010, ASEAN has made efforts to increase its coherence and visibility as an actor in regional infrastructure development, under the umbrella term of connectivity. Its most recent strategy, 2016’s Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, is notable for its more focused agenda as well as a tableau of institutional innovations, including new policy coordination mechanisms and a project preparation pipeline. Nonetheless, ASEAN struggles to maintain coherence in the implementation of its connectivity agenda, both internally as well as towards its dialogue partners. Utilizing the concepts of centrality and hedging as parts of a unified theoretical framework, this paper analyzes ASEAN’s efforts to mobilize and manage external resources in connectivity. ASEAN’s resource dependence and its failure to establish institutional centrality creates issues at the regional and the national levels. Regionally, ASEAN’s lack of centrality and its perpetuation of ASEAN+1 relations have contributed to the emergence of contesting agendas and institutional frameworks by external actors. Nationally, the hedging strategies of ASEAN member states are at odds with the regional vision, highlighting a lack of intra-ASEAN coherence. The perpetuation of contesting institutional frameworks by external actors at the national level solidifies existing incoherence in ASEAN’s connectivity governance, further undermining its centrality. ASEAN’s efforts to assert centrality and execute a hedging strategy in connectivity are emblematic of its attempts to extend its reach into new policy areas, but also of its persistent governance constraints.



Rüland, Jürgen (2020). Democratic backsliding, regional governance and foreign policymaking in Southeast Asia: ASEAN, Indonesia and the Philippines. Democratization. Online first: https://doi.org/10.1080/13510347.2020.1803284


This article examines democratic backsliding in the spheres of regional cooperation and foreign policymaking in Southeast Asia. It argues that backsliding is limited because the space for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states to promote democracy has always been strongly curtailed by ideational path dependencies. These include an autocratic type of regional corporatism and the ASEAN Way as the region’s established repository of cooperation norms. While ASEAN has thus largely failed to become more inclusive, democracy promotion policies of the grouping’s democratically most advanced member states, Indonesia and the Philippines, are more ambiguous. Despite eroding democratic practices at home, democracy is still a pillar of Indonesia’s foreign policy. By contrast, in the Philippines, the incumbent Duterte presidency increasingly securitizes foreign policy, relegating democracy to a backseat.


Rüland, Jürgen (2019): Old Wine in New Bottles? How Competitive Connectivity Revitalises an Obsolete Development Agenda in Asia. In: Journal of Contemporary Asia, 1-13.

In Asia connectivityis celebrated as a panacea to kick-start rapid economic growth in the regions less developed countries. In the process, China and Japan, but also India, Thailand and South Korea, have become major donors and investors in physical infrastructure. While infrastructure is an important facilitator of economic growth, it must be sustainable. This commentary argues that this is not the case in the current infrastructure drive. Many large-scale projects have unacceptably high social costs. This is due to the fact that in the implementation of connectivity schemes, Asian donors are guided by their experiences during their own phase of rapid development. These experiences are strongly influenced by the developmental state and authoritarian variants of modernisation theory. These are outdated concepts with the inherent danger of initiating a downward spiral in project quality, notwithstanding reassurances of the donors to be committed to quality infrastructure.


rüland 2019 - journal of contemporary asia 

Manea, Maria-Gabriela & Rüland, Jürgen (2019): The diffusion of parliamentary oversight: investigating the democratization of the armed forces in Indonesia and Nigeria. In: Contemporary Politics, 1-21.

Parliamentary control of the armed forces is a core norm of the liberal security sector reform paradigm. Western governments and transnational actors have spread this norm to democratizing states through financial and technical assistance. This article examines its diffusion to two new democracies of the Global South, Indonesia and Nigeria. Past research on civil-military relations has relied on historical and rationalist explanations of the ideational and institutional change. Employing diffusion theory, this article adopts an alternative approach. The findings display major differences while Nigerian reformers contented themselves with a mere mimicry of the externally propagated norm, the Indonesian contestation over parliamentary oversight has produces ‘constitutive localization’.


manea rüland - contemporary politics 

Müller, Lukas Maximilian (2019): ASEAN centrality under threat - the cases of RCEP and connectivity. In: Journal of Contemporary East Asia Studies, 1-22 .

This contribution takes stock of ASEAN centrality in trade and the emerging policy area of trade infrastructure, also known as connectivity. ASEAN centrality in the East Asian and Indo-Pacific regions has increasingly been called into question, but most studies have failed to specify what ASEAN centrality is and how it can be measured.

Outlining both a technical and a substantial definition, this study presents the state of affairs and current trends of ASEAN centrality in the areas of trade and connectivity. Disaggregating the concept, the paper assesses ASEAN’s role in the two policy areas as a leader, convener, convenience, and necessity.

ASEAN’s central position in trade is under threat due to a changing environment, with trade ties increasing between ASEAN’s partners. In addition, ASEAN leadership in the RCEP negotiations has been symbolic rather than substantial. In connectivity, ASEAN centrality is even more questionable. Its regional connectivity vision is contested by other states and relationships act as conduits for the exercise of power.

cover journal of contemporary east asia studies

Rüland, Jürgen (2019): From Trade to Investment. ASEAN and AFTA in Era of the "New Regionalism". In: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 92 (3): 533-540.

The article is part of the Pacific Affairs feature entitled “Enduring Issues, Changing Perspectives.” The feature revisits what can be claimed to be a “classic” article previously published in the journal, that has attracted significant attention. This article revisits Paul Bowles “ASEAN, AFTA and the ‘New Regionalism,’” published by Pacific Affairs in 1997. It reflects upon the article’s significance at the time it was published and how scholarship on the topic has developed and changed since then.

cover pacific affairs 

Rüland, Jürgen (2019): Good global citizen? ASEAN's image building in the United Nations. In: Asia Pacific Business Review, Vol. 25 (5): 751-771 .

Based on role theory, the article examines the images that ASEAN member governments project of their organization. It rests on a discourse analysis of 198 speeches in the United Nations General Assembly between 1998 and 2017. Findings suggest that ASEAN does not figure as a top priority for delegates and that an overarching ASEAN role conception is missing. However, their addresses reveal parameters on which a collective role conception can be built. Individual ASEAN countries undertake great efforts to project themselves as ‘good global citizens,’ a role conception that could also be applied to ASEAN.

cover asia pacific business review

Fünfgeld, Anna (2019): The Dream of ASEAN Connectivity: Imagining Infrastructure in Southeast Asia. In: Pacific Affairs, Vol 92 (2): 287-311.

Large-scale infrastructural development schemes are currently experiencinga worldwide political revival. Beyond establishing physical connections over distance, enhancing trade relations, and enabling service delivery, such schemes also play a central role in the construction of political entities. For the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), infrastructure development is crucial for the advancement of regional connectivity. Its Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) includes large-scale projects such as the trans-ASEAN highway, trans-regional power grids, and a regional gas pipeline network. Linking Henri Lefebvre’s conceptualization on the production of space with recent literature on the role of infrastructure imaginaries, this paper explores how the region’s future is envisioned in the Southeast Asian dream of connectivity. The study primarily relies on a hermeneutic analysis of video releases that promote the Master Plan. It shows that—similar to other infrastructure projects—the connectivity dream is closely related to imaginaries of movement and modernity. However, as it is almost exclusively an urban vision, the connectivity agenda seems not only to interconnect and homogenize regional space but it may also enforce preexisting disconnections and so potentially lead to more fragmentation.

pacific affairs - fünfgeld.jpg 

Rüland, Jürgen & Michael, Arndt (2019): Overlapping regionalism and cooperative hegemony: how China and India compete in South and Southeast. In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol 32 (2): 178-200.

This article examines the phenomenon of overlapping regionalism in South and Southeast Asia. Theoretically it rests on Thomas Pedersen's ideational-institutionalist realism' approach. We argue that in the two sub-regions under study the proliferation of regional organizations has been greatly stimulated by hegemonic and counter-hegemonic dynamics involving Asia's largest powers, China and India. We claim that sceptical world views highlighting vulnerability, victimization and national survival are deeply entrenched in the mental maps of the region's foreign policy elites. Regional institution building is thus informed by the tenets of realism. We trace how and why China and India seek to establish 'cooperative hegemonies' by building regional institutions for incorporating their neighbours into their sphere of influence while keeping rival powers at bay, and also show why smaller states in the region join these regional fora. 

panke 2017 studying small states in international security affairs. cambridge review of international affairs

Crawford, Gordon & Simonida Kacarska (2019): Aid sanctions and political conditionality: continuity and change. In: Journal of International Relations and Development, Vol 22 (1): 184-214. [Online First: 08 June 2017].

Political conditionality was first introduced by Western governments into their development aid policy a quarter of a century ago, threatening to invoke aid sanctions in the event of human rights abuses or democratic regression in aid recipient countries. This paper examines how political conditionality has evolved in the subsequent years and analyses what has changed and why. It does so through a review of sanctions cases in the EU and the US aid from 2000 to date, with discussion located within the post-2000 international environment in which foreign policy and aid policy are situated. The paper focuses on three regions: sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia. Patterns of change and continuity are identified in relation to how political conditionality has been implemented. Our findings are that political conditionality remains a significant policy tool, contrary to the perception that its use has declined. However, while selectivity and inconsistency in policy application continue, security interests have become a more prominent explanatory factor in the post-2000 period. Indeed, the initial normative agenda of political conditionality as a tool for the promotion of democracy and human rights, as stated in policy rhetoric, has been replaced by its use as an instrument to promote Western security interests in line with the securitisation of development.


Weber, Anne-Kathrin (2018):The Revival of the Honourable Merchant?Analysing private forest governance at firm level. In: International Environmental Agreements, Vol. 18 (4): 619-634 .

In the context of global climate governance, multinational corporations (MNCs) are increasingly seen as financial, technical and political partners. Looking at MNCs with core business activities linked to deforestation, this article analyses private governance activities focused on sustainability that occur at firm level. These activities include newly enacted, concrete policies and activities aimed at climate protection, such as the concept of carbon insetting. The current body of the literature on global governance focuses largely on collective action, with activities at firm level still under-researched and under-conceptualized. To better understand (a) what drives MNCs to undertake such activities and (b) why their performance differs both within and between industry sectors, three motives are proposed—preventing reputational damage, building resilience and assuming ethical responsibility—with the latter indicating a revival of the Honourable Merchant, an economic role model created in the early 16th century. The empirical analysis is, therefore, embedded in a theoretical framework that seeks to capture the complexity of corporate rationality.

cover rother

Panke, Diana & Gurol, Julia (2018): Small States as Agenda Setters? The Council Presidencies of Malta and Estonia. In: Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 56 (1): 142-151.

The Council Presidency is an important office rotating biannually amongst EU members. In 2017, two small states, Malta and Estonia, held this position. Being the Council Presidency resembles a window of opportunity for small states to pursue core interests in setting the EU’s political agenda and leaving national imprints on EU policy. This article examines similarities and differences of how these states approached their respective Council Presidencies. Although Malta is smaller, it was less selective and pursued a broader array of priorities than Estonia. Consequently, the latter succeeded in being recognized as leading country in digitalization and managed to trigger corresponding policy innovation in the EU. Malta also influenced the EU’s agenda but focused less on one particular policy field as a consequence of which, its impact stands less out. This suggests that smaller states are better off in concentrating their efforts on a limited number of priorities.


journal of common market studies 56 1

Piper, Nicola & Rother, Stefan & Rüland, Jürgen (2018): Challenging State Sovereignty in the Age of Migration. Concluding Remarks. In: European Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 17 (1): 118-133.

The multi-level dimension of migration governance is gaining increasing attention – and that includes the regional and sub-regional level. As a contribution to this research, Nicola Piper, Jürge.n Rüland and Stefan Rother have guest edited a two-part special Issue for the European Journal of East Asian studies (EJEAS). The theme is “Challenging State Sovereignty: A Multi-level Approach to Southeast and East Asian Migration” and the topics of the articles range from “Mobility Norms in Free Trade Agreements” to the migration industry, securitization of migrant, refugee protection, migrant domestic workers as agents of development and pilgrimage migration to Mecca. The seven empirical studies in this Special Issue thus examine current political, economic, social and legal dimensions of migration in Southeast Asia from an interdisciplinary perspective, linking the discussion of the migration–sovereignty nexus to ‘regional migration regimes’, ‘the transnational–national intersection’ and ‘grass-roots responses’. The common message that emerges from the papers in this issue — that state sovereignty in the area of migration is being challenged from multiple levels — leads us to argue for a future research agenda which would align the study of sovereignty more closely with governance studies as well as studies on norm diffusion. Such an agenda would contribute new insights into emerging forms of sovereignty beyond the confines of the state.

Cover Rother  

Mehler, Andreas & Glawion, Tim & de Vries, Lotje (2018): Handle with Care! A Qualitative Comparison of the Fragile States Index's Bottom Three Countries: Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan. In: Development and Change.

For the past four years, the Fund for Peace has ranked the Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan as the ‘most fragile states’ in the world, in its annual Fragile States Index (FSI). The three countries’ almost identical scores suggest comparability; however, critics raise concerns about the FSI's data aggregation methods, and its conflation of causes and consequences. This article treads the uncharted path of unpacking the empirical realities that hide behind FSI indicators. Drawing on data collected during field research in the three states, the authors investigate three security indicators (security apparatus, factionalized elites, and external intervention) and propose an alternative, qualitative appreciation. Each country's fragility is based on how security forces, elites and interventions evolved over time and installed themselves differently in each region of the country. The qualitative assessment presented here shows that not every indicator matters in all cases at all times or throughout the country. Most crucially, the authors unveil enormous differences between and within the FSI's three ‘most fragile states’. Such variations call for better‐adapted and more flexible intervention strategies, and for quantitative comparisons to be qualitatively grounded.


Rother, Stefan (2018): Angry birds of passage - migrant rights networks and counter-hegemonic resistance to global migration discourses. In: Globalizations, Vol. 15 (6): 854-869.

The past decade has seen the emergence of a global migration governance architecture. But while – unlike other ‘objects’ of global governance – migrants are able to speak for themselves, only limited participatory space has been reserved for them in global processes. In reaction to this glaring democratic deficit, migrant organizations try to challenge and bring about change in the nascent global migration regime. Drawing from neo-Gramscian approaches, this paper analyses the various political spaces where a cluster of migrant rights organizations and ‘networks of networks’ express and organize resistance and counter-hegemonic discourses to the current paradigms within global migration governance. Particularly, this article focuses on two spaces of organizing: the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), held by the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), and the Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) wherein temporary labour migrants, often referred to as ‘birds of passage’, form a large part of their constituency.


cover globalizations

Panke, Diana, Stapel, Sören (2018) Exploring Overlapping Regionalism. In: Journal of International Relations and Development, Vol. 21 (3): 635-662.

Overlapping regionalism results from the fact that states are members in multiple regional organization (RO) at the same time. This explorative paper provides the first comprehensive mapping of overlapping regionalism today and illustrates that it is not confined to Africa or Asia, but also prevalent in the Americas and Europe. Furthermore, all 62 ROs currently in place have overlaps to one another, but some are more interdependent than others. The paper examines why states are in more than one RO at a time and why the extent of overlaps varies between ROs. Since overlapping regionalism can have negative implications for the effectiveness of individual regional integration projects, due to the possibility or rule and action-conflicts, this paper not only maps the conflict potential, but also examines why overlapping regionalism varies. The paper shows that overlapping regionalism is driven by both, opportunities and incentives. While there are global pattern, such as the finding that RO dyads have greater overlaps, the stronger their institutional similarities and the longer they have coexisted, some regional particularities exist as well.

panke, stapel exploring overlapping regionalism 2019 jird 

Panke, Diana, Stapel, Sören (2018): Overlapping Regionalism in Europe - Patterns and Effects. In: British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 20 (1): 239-258.

European states have not only joined several regional organizations (ROs) over time, but ROs’ policy competencies have also broadened in scope. As a result, states are exposed to overlapping regionalism, defined as the extent to which ROs share member states and policy competencies at the same time. First, this article identifies patterns of overlapping regionalism in Europe. In second step, it sheds light on consequences from overlapping regionalism for RO effectiveness, more particularly non-compliance. We argue that an increase in the extent to which a member state is exposed to overlapping regionalism increases its probability for violations of RO norms and rules, which reduces RO effectiveness. When states have joined more ROs with similar policy competencies, the number of rules and norms that need to be complied with is higher. Non-compliance also becomes more likely when these rules and norms are not identical or even incompatible.

2018 panke, stapel _overlapping regionalism in europe _british journal of politics and int’l relations

Rüland, Jürgen (2018): Coping with crisis: Southeast Asian regionalism and the ideational constraints of reform. In: Asia Europe Journal, Vol. 16 (2): 155-168.

The key argument of this article is that during serious crises and external shocks, societal actors do not necessarily follow the predictions of theories on ideational change. This literature argues that crises and external shocks spur ideational change as expectations associated with the old order are no longer met. A study of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) shows that the Asian financial crisis of 1997/1998 stimulated a reform debate but that this discourse did not facilitate paradigmatic changes in the region’s repository of cooperation norms. What at first sight appeared to be an accelerating Europeanization of Southeast Asian regionalism proved to be a process involving the retention of major elements of the region’s “cognitive prior.” New ideas of regional integration have at best been emulated or localized, but have not led to a thorough transformation of Southeast Asian cooperation norms. This must be attributed to the entrenched nature of the region’s cognitive prior epitomized by the worldviews of political decision-makers who regard the external world as essentially hostile. This belief has been reproduced many times in the political experiences of the region’s foreign policy elites—not least by the Asian Financial Crisis—thus confirming the ideational orthodoxy that national sovereignty provides the best protection for nation states. A deepening of regional integration is faced with major ideational obstacles under these conditions.


Schütze, Benjamin (2018): Marketing parliament: The constitutive effects of external attempts at parliamentary strengthening in Jordan. In: Cooperation and Conflict, online first, April 23.

The Jordanian parliament is widely recognised as a patronage provider and means for authoritarian upgrading. Despite, or precisely because of this, it has over the past years become a linchpin of US and European attempts at parliamentary strengthening. The parliament’s highly marginalised position notwithstanding, this article suggests that such efforts provide us with an insightful opportunity to better understand the reconfiguration of authoritarian power via external intervention in the name of democracy. Discussing the contradictory effects of parliamentary strengthening programmes in Jordan, the article tries to shift the discussion of democracy promotion away from a concern with policy, conceptual debates and intentions to one with democracy promotion’s constitutive effects. As such, the article investigates the framing of Jordanian politics within a market rationale as central mechanism for the de-politicisation of uneven power relations. Further, it explores the ways in which democracy promotion serves to seemingly reconfirm interveners’ desired self-understandings via the maintenance of assumptions of cultural ‘difference’. Ultimately, it is suggested that decentring the study of democracy promotion by paying more attention to its constitutive effects provides us with a better understanding of why and how increasing democracy promotion portfolios have, in Jordan, had the effect of strengthening authoritarianism.


Michael, Arndt (2018): Realist‐Constructivism and the India–Pakistan Conflict: A New Theoretical Approach for an Old Rivalry. In: Asian Politics & Policy, Vol. 10 (1): 100-114.

The India–Pakistan conflict, one of the oldest unresolved interstate conflicts in the world, began in 1947 and has shown no signs of abating. Both realist and constructivist interpretations have offered several differing explanations as to the roots and persistence of this conflict. The article argues that a realist‐constructivist approach as suggested by Samuel Barkin provides a new and better angle for explaining the genesis, evolution, and persistence of the India–Pakistan conflict, in addition to allowing prediction of future developments. Importantly, realist‐constructivism combines several different analytical dimensions: It looks at the way in which power structures affect patterns of normative change in international relations and, conversely, the way in which a particular set of norms affects power structures. Both these dimensions have been overlooked as variables that can explain why it will be difficult to come up with lasting solutions for the India–Pakistan conflict.

Cover image

Panke, Diana & Petersohn, Ulrich (2017): President Donald J. Trump - an agent of norm death? In: International Journal, Vol. 72 (4): 571-578.

Since his inauguration, US President Donald Trump has made news by violating international and domestic norms, such as norms of diplomatic communication or the non-discrimination norm. This paper uses theoretical approaches to norm eradication in order to examine whether President Trump has turned into an effective agent of norm death leading to the abolition of domestic and international standards of appropriateness. It discusses how the precision of the respective norms, the stability of their contexts, and the actions of norm proponents have played out. This reveals that President Trump’s actions have so far lacked effectiveness, and have not led to norm death. The longevity of challenged norms cannot be taken for granted, however—especially if the challenger is a powerful actor. In order to avoid norm death under this circumstance, it is essential that norm proponents possess capacities and competencies to act, and employ them to defend challenged norms.


panke, petersohn 2017 president donald j. trump - an agent of norm death? international journal

Panke, Diana (2017): Regional Actors in International Security Negotiations. In: European Journal for Security Research, Vol. 2 (1): 5-21.

Since the end of WWII, states have formed several international organizations dealing with international peace and security issues. Among them are the Security Council, the Conference on Disarmament, the Arms Trade Treaty regime, and the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. Although regional actors, such as Economic Community of West African States, European Union or the Arab League, are at best observers in those international security organizations (ISO), their member states frequently get active on their behalf. This paper examines how regional actors engage in ISO negotiations. It shows that not all regional actors are equally vocal in the negotiations, which is puzzling given that negotiation activity is important for negotiation success. To explain the variance in regional actor vocality, this paper draws on international conflict and cooperation theories and develops hypotheses on activity of regional actors in international negotiations, which are tested with quantitative methods. It is striking that even in the traditionally state-dominated policy field ‘security’, regional actors are vocal and are, thus, contributing to the creation of international peace architectures. However, the role of regional actors varies, depending on the characteristics of the negotiation arena and of the regional actors themselves.


panke 2017 regional actors in international security negotiations

Panke, Diana & Lang, Stefan & Wiedemann, Anke (2017): State & Regional Actors in Complex Governance Systems. Exploring Dynamics of International Negotiations. In: The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 19 (1): 91-112.

Over the last decades, the number of international organizations (IOs) and regional groups (RGs) increased tremendously, and states are now simultaneously members of several RGs and IOs. This article inquiries how states act in settings of complexly nested and overlapping institutions on the regional and international levels. How frequently do states voice regional positions in international negotiations and why are some more active in this respect than others? Why are some RGs more vocal than others? Multiple state memberships in RGs foster the regionalization of international negotiation dynamics via burden-sharing mechanisms. In addition, state capacity and power, the age and policy scope of RGs and the institutional design of IOs also shape negotiation dynamics. This article concludes with reflections on implications of regionalized international negotiations for the efficiency and legitimacy of governance beyond the nation-state.

2017 panke, wiedemann, lang _state and regional actors in complex gov systems _bjpir

Crawford, Gordon & Gabriel Botchwey (2017): Conflict, collusion and corruption in small-scale gold mining: Chinese miners and the state in Ghana. In: Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, Vol. 55 (4): 444-470.

As gold prices soared from 2008 onwards, tens of thousands of foreign miners, especially from China, entered the small-scale mining sector in Ghana, despite it being ‘reserved for Ghanaian citizens’ by law. A free-for-all ensued in which Ghanaian and Chinese miners engaged in both contestation and collaboration over access to gold, a situation described as ‘out of control’ and a ‘culture of impunity’. Where was the state? This paper addresses the question of how and why pervasive and illicit foreign involvement occurred without earlier state intervention. Findings indicate that the state was not absent. Foreign miners operated with impunity precisely because they were protected by those in authority, that is, public officials, politicians and chiefs, in return for private payments. Explaining why state institutions failed in their responsibilities leads to reflection about the contemporary state in Ghana. It is concluded that the informality and corruption characteristic of neopatrimonialism remains predominant over legal–rational structures, albeit in a form that has adapted to neoliberal restructuring. Public office remains a means of private enrichment rather than public service. Such findings cast a shadow over the state and government in Ghana, and tarnish its celebration as a model of democratic governance for Africa.



Crawford, Gordon & Aijan Sharshenova (2017): Undermining Western democracy promotion in Central Asia: China’s countervailing influences, powers and impact. In: Central Asian Survey, Vol. 36 (4): 453-472.

This article examines whether and to what extent China’s involvement in Central Asian countries undermines the democracy promotion efforts of the European Union and the United States. Findings confirm that China does indeed challenge Western efforts, but in an indirect way. First, Chinese provision of substantial and unconditional financial assistance makes Western politically conditioned aid appear both ungenerous and an infringement of sovereignty. Second, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, inclusive of China’s leadership role, creates an institutional means through which the (semi-)authoritarianism of member states is legitimized and challenges Western emphasis on democracy and human rights. Finally, by the power of its own example, China demonstrates that democracy is not a prerequisite for prosperity, the rule of law and social well-being.



Brazys, Samuel & Kaarbo, Juliet & Panke, Diana (2017): Foreign Policy Change and International Norms: A Conceptual Framework. In: International Politics, Vol. 54 (6): 659-668. 

Foreign policy change (FPC) is an important topic and has therefore attracted much scholarly attention. Yet, the literature has largely overlooked how FPC is related to international norms. This special issue seeks to add value to the field of foreign policy analysis by strengthening the empirical literature linking FPC and international norms. The papers in this issue tease out the intervening factors in facilitating the relationship between foreign policy change and the international norm. The introductory article introduces the conceptual framework which draws on both the structure–agency and “push–pull” debates to provide the cohesive analytical structure for the issue.


brazys, kaarbo, panke 2017 foreign policy change and international norms international politics

Brazys, Samuel & Panke, Diana (2017): Why do states change positions in the United Nations General Assembly? In: International Political Science Review, Vol. 38 (1): 70-84.

Many international organizations deal with repeated items on their agendas. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is no exception as many of its resolutions reoccur over time. A novel dataset on UNGA voting on repeated resolutions reveals considerable, but variable, amounts of change on resolutions by states over time. To shed light on underlying causes for voting (in)consistency, this paper draws on IR literature on negotiations and foreign policy changes to develop hypotheses on the role of domestic and international constraints. Our findings suggest that states with limited financial capacity cannot develop their own, principled, voting positions on all norms on the negotiation agenda. Consequently, these states can be more flexible in adjusting their voting position for reoccurring IO norms and are more prone to change their positions over time. Moreover, states with constrained decision-makers change position less frequently due to pluralistic gridlock. Finally, while large and rich states make a small number of purposive vote shifts, poor and aid-recipient states engage in ‘serial shifting’ on the same resolutions, a finding suggestive of vote-buying. The prevalence of position changes suggests that the international norm environment may be more fragile and susceptible to a revisionist agenda than is commonly assumed.


brazys, panke 2017 why do states change positions in the un general assembly?

Panke, Diana (2017): Studying Small States in International Security Affairs. A Quantitative Analysis. In: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 30 (2-3): 235-255.

Todays’ international security architecture composed of international security treaties and international security norms has been established and formalized by negotiations. Owing to the great importance of international security negotiations for international security practices, this paper sheds light on negotiation activities. A study of 100 different international security negotiations shows that states vary considerably with respect to their negotiation activity. Some countries voice positions very often, while others remain completely silent. This is puzzling, as active negotiation participation is an expression of state sovereignty and a means to influence the shape of the international security architecture. The article distinguishes between capacity and incentives as driving forces of state activity in international security negotiations. The analysis reveals that, next to political and financial capacities, states that place high priority on military matters are more active, while smaller and poorer states are more likely to shelter under the security umbrella of larger counterparts.


panke 2017 studying small states in international security affairs. cambridge review of international affairs

Schütze, Benjamin (2017): Simulating, marketing, and playing war: US–Jordanian military collaboration and the politics of commercial security. In: Security Dialogue, Vol. 48 (5): 431-450.

The King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) was financed and established by the US Department of Defense, is operated by a US private business, and is owned by the Jordanian army. It not only offers a base for the training of international Special Forces and Jordanian border guards, but also for military adventure holidays, corporate leadership programs, and stunt training for actors. This article provides an analysis of the processes and technologies involved in US–Jordanian military collaboration by investigating some of the ways in which war is simulated, marketed, and played at KASOTC. Particular focus is paid to the stark biopolitical judgments about the different worth of human subjects and their role in intersecting processes of militarization and commercialization. The article argues that US–Jordanian military collaboration at KASOTC is marked by the simultaneous blurring and reinforcement of boundaries, as commercial security is moralized and imagined moral hierarchies marketized. While war at KASOTC is an interactive and consumable event for some, it engenders deadly realities for others. The article is an empirically-grounded contribution to critical security studies based on interviews and observations made during a visit to KASOTC in early 2013.