Research Projects

Initiating or participating in larger research projects and activities is one of the major objectives of the IFHV's research agenda. The results of the institute's research are published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals and book series, including the IFHV's own Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (JILPAC), the Bochumer Faxe ('Bofaxe'), the IFHV Working Paper Series and the Bochumer Blue Books.

Previous research projects concentrated inter alia on:

  • Internatonal Humanitarian Law 
  • Human Rights Law
  • Law of the United Nations and peace-keeping operations
  • International and European Refugee Law
  • Post-conflict rebuilding of states
  • The consequences of combining military interventions and humanitarian aid
  • International criminal law
  • Gender and armed conflict
  • The Responsibility to Protect
  • Independence and autonomy
  • Disarmament
  • Climate change and armed conflict.


6 rosenow williams Title: Humanitarian Reactions towards Climate Change: An Analysis of Humanitarian Organizations from an Organizational Sociology Perspective
Project manager: Dr. Kerstin Rosenow-Williams
Duration: 2013-2015
Funding Organization: Grant – Mercator Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR) ‘Starting Grant’
Abstract: Climate Change has short and long term impacts on local livelihoods and may increase the risk of conflicts and humanitarian crises. Humanitarian organizations must adapt themselves, and their project work, to respond to the growing number of national disasters and their life-threatening effects.  During this research project, the responses of humanitarian organizations to these new challenges will be analyzed from an organizational sociology perspective, thus contributing an innovative research approach to the evolving field of humanitarian studies. The study seeks to examine the organizational development processes of humanitarian organizations responding to climate change with regard to their projects, strategies and organizational structures. The study focusses on a variety of local, national and transnational contextual factors both internal and external to the organizations and their effects on organizational change. The core of the research methodology used in this project is constituted by interviews with employees from the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, in particular, the German Red Cross and its partners, as well as CARE International and other organizations in Europe and Africa. In addition, participant observations and an analysis of organizational documents and public discourses will be conducted.

6 thielboerger Title: Water Scarcity as Driver for Armed Conflict or Peaceful Cooperation –
Time for UN Green Helmets and a new EU Water Strategy?
Project partners: German Federal Foreign Office, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation,
Hertie School of Governance, et al.
Project manager: Prof. Dr. Pierre Thielbörger
Duration: 2012-2016
Funding Organization: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG), Call: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-CIG
Abstract: The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between water scarcity and armed conflict, and to develop legal and policy recommendations for the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to counteract water scarcity as a potential driving force of armed conflict. The study will explore three key objectives. First, the study will identify to what extent greater water scarcity as a result of climate change constitutes a threat to peace and security. By analysing empirical data and by conducting three in-depth case studies, the study will answer the question of how to appropriately re-conceptualise the connection between water scarcity and armed conflict. Second, the study will address the question of how the UN, as the most obvious global actor, should best tackle this connection. Suggestions within the UN system include the involvement of the Security Council, the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on the issue of climate change and international security, and the reform of existing international processes in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Third, the study will evaluate which policy the EU, with its tradition of promoting peaceful cooperation amongst nations, should develop on the issue of water scarcity and armed conflict. The study will answer the question with a focus on EU external relations: how should the EU best redesign its external action on this issue, in particular how should it reshape structures and processes for future negotiations with EU candidate countries?

6 heintze Title: Autonomy and other Sub-state Entities in International Law
Project partner: Åbo Academy, Finland
Project manager: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Heintze
Duration: Since 2011
Funding Organization: German Foreign Exchange Service (DAAD)
Abstract: The international community uses territorial autonomy as a means of conflict resolution in minority situations and self-determination claims of peoples. There are four typical elements, which can be identified on the basis of existing regulations: distribution of powers; participation through elections and referenda; executive power of territorial autonomy; and participation in international relations. Two workshops deal with a comparative analysis of existing examples and discuss possible solutions for other situations in which peoples or minorities fight for own statehood. The first workshop took place in February 2012 in Turku; the second workshop took place in March 2013 in Bochum.

6 dijkzeul
Title: International Governance and Humanitarian Action in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
Project partners: IRC, DARA, and Malteser International and other NGOs), as well as local institutions (e.g., Institut Superieur de Développement Rural)
Project manager: Prof. Dr. Dennis Dijkzeul
Output: Several international publications
Duration: Since 2002
Funding Organization: BMBF Funding of Junior Professors, Cooperation with NGOs and Funding Organizations (e.g., DFID, DARA, IRC, Malteser International)
Abstract: This ongoing program on the functioning and impact of humanitarian action in the eastern DRC began in 2002. It has mainly focused on the internal management of international humanitarian organizations, cost-recovery and performance-based financing in the local health care system, capacity building, and local perceptions of humanitarian action. Over the years, this research program has resulted in several international publications, including “Supporting Local Health Care in a Chronic Crisis: Management and Financing Approaches in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (2005)” and “Doing Good, but Looking Bad? Two Humanitarian NGOs in the Eastern DRC (2010)”. The program had several donors and included special grants for young professors in Germany. It took place in close cooperation with several NGOs, such as IRC, DARA, and Malteser International. Recent field research has been carried out in July 2007 and May 2009. Additional field research will take place in 2011.

6 heintze Title: Autonomy Regulations and International Law
Project partners: Autonomous Government of Macao, Government of PR China, European Union, Columbia University New York, University of Uppsala, Danish Institute of Human Rights, Copenhagen; Abo Academy University Turku, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
Project managers: Prof. Heintze; Prof. Paolo Cardinal, University of Macao; Prof. Bartoli, New York; Prof. Nordquist, Uppsala; Prof. Markku Suksi, Turku; Prof. Skurbaty, Copenhagen; S. Zöllner, Wuppertal; -R. Samaddar, Kathmandu; Prof. Hilpold, Innsbruck
Output: Conferences and Books
  • World Conference “One Country, Two Systems, Three Legal Orders - Perspectives on Evolution” Macao 2008, , Presentation at the Plenary by Dr. Heintze on the Evolution of Autonomy and Federalism, Published in 2010
  • Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker und Südtirol, Bozen 2008 (Workshop), Published 2009
  • Autonomy in Europe and Asia, Bochum 2007 (Workshop)
  • Beyond the One-Dimensional State, Copenhagen 2004 (Conference), Published in 2005
  • Autonomy regulations and international human rights protection, Uppsala 2002, presentation on legal preconditions of autonomy regulations (Workshop)
  • Autonomy regulations and international human rights protection, Bejing 2000, Autonomy and conflict settlement (Conference)
  • Autonomy for Papua, Berlin 2003 (Conference), Published in 2003
Duration: Since 1998
Funding Organization: European Union, Ford Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and several other Foundations
Abstract: Autonomy relates to the institutional organization of a country at the sub-national level whilst possibly containing qualities that promote the protection of minorities. For this reason it is interesting from point of view of international law. Moreover, the term autonomy seems to be very elastic and capable of stretching into a multitude of social and legal relationships. In fact, the concept of autonomy seems to be full of loose ends of all kinds. The project done with different partners and sources of finance tries to identify some loose ends.