Human Security Project

The project analyses the integration of refugees in Germany from a human security perspective. Comparing key actors at the municipal level through field research and expert interviews, their strategies are studied in a longitudinal research framework influenced by organisational sociology. This approach contributes a new research perspective on recent developments in Germany’s refugee regime.

Project description

2015 was characterized by an intense political debate over refugee law and how to register, accommodate and integrate the projected one million people arriving in Germany between January and December 2015. The German State has accepted its international legal responsibility under Geneva Refugee Convention, European Law and German constitutional law to welcome individuals who are persecuted or fleeing generalized violence in their countries of origin.

Municipalities bear many key responsibilities in the organization of Germany’s shifting refugee regime. For them, the human security situation of refugees poses considerable challenges. Both public administrations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in the area of refugee admission and integration have to execute their responsibilities despite ongoing polarizing societal debates.

In response to these shifting debates, and current factual, political and legal changes in Germany’s refugee regime, the research closely examines the impact of these developments upon public administrations at the local level and their interplay with other organized local actors through empirical fieldwork.

This research is based on the application of a gendered human security perspective. The project will identify challenges and solutions for the admission and integration of refugees and asylum seekers along the seven human security dimensions economy, environment, food, health, personal, community and political rights. It argues that a thorough analysis along the seven human security dimensions strengthens our understanding of the current situation enabling a balance between the need for structured policy planning and an individualized perspective.

More specifically, the study applies an innovative gendered human security perspective that addresses the specific needs of women, men, girls and boys as well as their intersection with other indicators creating vulnerability and insecurity (such as health, age, sexual orientation, religion, and socio-economic status). This requires the collection of disaggregated data and a structural gender-sensitive analysis of the multilayered human security situation on the ground.

Overall, this research poses the question in how far the pressure on Germany’s refugee regime affects the human security standards for asylum seekers. In analysing the current status quo, important conclusions on the long-term integration of refugees can be drawn. Integration is understood in this context mainly with reference to the structural dimension of integration, which includes the access to rights, and membership within, the key institutions of host societies such as the education system, the economy, the housing market and the political system.

Research methods

The interdisciplinary project deals with various working packages, combining a theoretical analysis of the concept of Human Security with an intersectional perspective. A desk analysis looks at the legislative and conceptual developments from 2015 – 2017. Empirical data will be gained from interviews and participative observations with administration staff, NGOs, volunteer organizations and refugees within two municipalities in the federal state North Rhine Westphalia.



Rosenow-Williams, Kerstin; Zimmermann, Inga; Bergedieck, Alina (2019): Human Security Perspectives on Refugee Children in Germany. In: Children & Society 33 (3), S. 253–269. DOI: 10.1111/chso.12330.

Rosenow-Williams, K., Behmer, K. 2015, ‘Gendered Environmental Security in IDP and Refugee Camps’. Peace Review 27(2): 188-195.

Rosenow-Williams, K., Behmer, K. 2015, ‘A Gendered Human Security Perspective on Humanitarian Action in IDP and Refugee Protection’. Refugee Survey Quarterly 34(3): 1-23.


Bergedieck, Alina: ‘Migration’ (Seminar) , winter term 2016/2017, B.A. Cultural and Social Anthropology, Institute for Ethnology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.
Rupprecht, Kathrin; Zimmermann, Inga: ‘(Hu)Man Security: Flight and Masculinity in Hamburg. An exercise on methodological work with interviews.’ (Seminar), winter term 2017/2018, M.A. Peace and Security Studies, Institute for Peace and Security Studies at the University of Hamburg (IFSH).

Presentations at conferences & panels

02/2019    Bergedieck, Zimmermann: Addressing the multi-layered security situation in refugee accommodations: Shifting responsibilities to the local level?, paper presentation, BISA/IPMRD Workshop on The Migration – Security Nexus from a Transnational Perspective, organized by Foteini Kalantzi and Maria Koinova, St Antony's College, University of Oxford (Great Britain)

01/2019    Zimmermann: Flucht und Geschlecht, presentation, workshop on ‘Integration von Menschen mit Fluchterfahrung in NRW´, organized by Dr. Anna Mratschkowski, Ruhr University Bochum (Germany).

01/2019    Zimmermann: Männerherzen sind stärker als Frauenherzen – Männlichkeit und Flucht, keynote speech at the student conference "Geschlecht erforschen - Männlichkeiten und Subjektivierung‘, University of Osnabrück (Germany)

10/2018    Zimmermann: (Hu)Man Security und Organisationen in der kommunalen Unterbrin-gung geflüchteter Männer, paper presentation, 2. Konferenz     des Netzwerks Flucht- und Flüchtlingsforschung, Eichstätt (Germany)

08/2018    Zimmermann: Organizational Implementation of German Refugee Legislation – Communal Case Studies from a Human Security Perspective, paper presentation, ECPR General Conference in Hamburg, Hamburg (Germany)

07/2018    Bergedieck, Rosenow-Williams, Zimmermann: Gendered Organizational Perspec-tives on Human Security of Refugees in Germany, paper presentation, XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology on Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses and Responsibilities, Toronto (Canada)

07/2018    Rosenow-Williams, Zimmermann: Human Security Perspectives on Refugee Children in Germany, paper presentation, XIX ISA World Congress of Sociology on Power, Violence and Justice: Reflections, Responses and Responsibilities, Toronto (Canada)

07/2018    Horn: Human Security Perspectives on Refugee Children in Germany, paper presentation, workshop "Arbeit und Kooperation asylbezogener Organisationen für die Aufnahme und Integration von Flüchtlingen in Bochum”, Bochum (Germany)

06/2018    Rosenow-Williams, Zimmermann: First Project Results, 2. Networking Event of re-searcher within the field on forced migration and migration at Ruhr University Bochum, organisation, moderation and presentation, Bochum (Germany)

06/2018    Bergedieck, Rosenow-Williams, Zimmermann: Human Security Standards for Refu-gee Children in Germany, presentation, 5. Round Table: Forschung zu Flucht und Integration, connectNRW, Düsseldorf (Germany)

01/2018    Behmer, Rosenow-Williams, Zimmermann: Organizational Perspectives on Human Security Standards for Refugees in Germany, 1. Networking Event of researcher within the field on forced migration and migration at Ruhr University Bochum, or-ganisation, moderation and presentation, Bochum (Germany)

11/2017    Zimmermann: One´s Security, Our Security, One Security?, paper presentation, workshop: Changing Societies: Migration, Integration, Participation, WZB Berlin Social Science Center / Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme (FMSH), Paris (France)

06/2017    Bergedieck, Zimmermann: Human Security Standards in Germany´s Refugee Re-gime, paper presentation, workshop: Security, Society, and the State, Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Kloster Hegne / Konstanz (Germany)

Further project activities

Network on current research on forced migration and migration at Ruhr University Bochum:

The members of the project initiated and organised the first two networking event to bring to-gether various research projects on forced migration which are centred at Ruhr University Bochum.


Dr. Alina Bergedieck (researcher)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +49 234 32 27727
Fax: +49 234 32 14208 Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Bochumer Fenster
Massenbergstraße 9-13
44787 Bochum


Project managers
Kerstin Rosenow-Williams, Dr. habil.
Katharina Behmer, Dr. des.

Project team
Alina Bergedieck, Dr. (project coordinator) - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Inga Zimmermann, M.A. (researcher) - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Project assistants
Pauline Grashoff
Jonas Horn, B.A.

Associated researchers
Charlotte Lülf, Dr. LL.M.


Kerstin Rosenow-Williams, Dr. habil.

Since June 2016, Kerstin Rosenow-Williams (Dr. habil.) is the Regional Coordinator West for UNICEF Germany. Before, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. She studied sociology in Arcata, CA, USA, and in Bielefeld and Bamberg, Germany. From 2007-2010 she was awarded a Ph.D. scholarship by the Ruhr-Universität Bochum Research School funded by the German Research Foundation. In 2011, she received a Ph.D. in social science (with distinction) for her research on Islamic umbrella organizations in Germany, which she analyzed from an innovative research framework based on organizational sociology. Her Ph.D. research was awarded the second prize of the Deutscher Studienpreis 2012 competition funded by the Körber Foundation, which supports excellent and socially relevant dissertations. Her research focuses on international migration, humanitarian action, and civil society organizations. Rosenow-Williams has published on integration and migration policies from a German, European, and transatlantic perspective.

see Kerstin´s profile on IFHV webpage

Katharina Behmer, Dr. des.

Katharina Behmer is employed as research associate at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, where she holds the position of the general manager since 2015. Her PhD project is on “Global Norms and Local Interactions in Post-Conflict Settings: A Case Study on Gender in the Cambodian Transitional Justice Process”. She studied in Berlin, Frankfurt (Oder), Granada and Bochum, and holds a B.A. in Cultural Studies from the Europa-University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and an M.A. in Social Science from Ruhr-University Bochum. She has conducted fieldwork in Nepal and Cambodia. Since 2012 she is a lecturer in the NOHA Master Program in International Humanitarian Action. Her research focuses on the study of international norms in global governance, gender in humanitarian action and transitional justice. Since 2016 she is involved in voluntary work with refugees in Dortmund in cooperation with the German Red Cross.

see Katharina´s profile on IFHV webpage

Alina Bergedieck, Dr.

Alina Bergedieck is a post-doctoral research fellow of the Gerda Henkel Foundation and she holds the position of the project coordinator of the research project ‘Organisational Perspectives on Human Security Standards for Refugees in Germany’, which is located at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) at the Ruhr-University Bochum. Alina studied in Münster and Leiden (NL) and conducted research in Strasbourg and the Münsterland.  She holds a B.A. in Culture and Social Anthropology and German and a M.A. in Social Anthropology from the University of Münster . Before starting at the IVHF Alina was a PhD student at the Institute of Ethnology of the University of Münster and wrote her PhD thesis on the topic ‘Hoping for a ‘Safe Haven’. Biographical research among Migrants in Münsterland’. Her dissertation will be published by Nomos Verlag in 2019. Alina is a member of the “Netzwerk Fluchtforschung” and a member of an expert group on the topic “Refugee situation in Europe and Germany”, organised by Europe Direct Informationszentrum (EDIC) in Dortmund.

see Alina´s profile on IFHV webpage

Inga Zimmermann, M.A.

Inga Zimmermann studied in Marburg, Helsinki, Aarhus, Hamburg and Kennesaw (Georgia, US) and holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from Philipps-University Marburg and a M.A. in Peace and Security Studies from Hamburg University. Her research interests are transnational migration and conflict, forced migration, labour migration, and gender studies. Before starting at the IFHV, Inga worked as the supra-regional coordinator on complaint management for federal refugee accommodation at the Refugee Council North Rhine Westphalia (Flüchtlingsrat NRW e.V.). Previously, she has gained professional experiences in refugee assistance on international and federal level, development cooperation and market research. In more details, she was employed as a social worker in a refugee camp in Hamburg, volunteered in transition camps of the Balkan route in Serbia and Macedonia and worked in the GIZ project German Information Point on Migration, Vocational Training and Career (DIMAK) in Pristina, Kosovo. Her PhD project deals with the organizational perspective on the situation of male refugees.

see Inga´s profile on IFHV webpage

Charlotte Lülf, Dr., LL.M.

Charlotte Lülf wrote her dissertation on “The legal protection for persons fleeing conflict and vio-lence under International Refugee law, European Union Asylum Law and European Human Rights Law” at the faculty of law and until May 2018 she held the position of a post-doctoral research asso-ciate on international humanitarian law at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV), Bochum, Germany. Prior and on-going work engagements include EU-funded pro-ject research on “Preparedness and Resilience to Address Urban Vulnerabilities” and the “Profes-sionalization of Humanitarian Action”. She is Co-lead of the interdisciplinary research-cluster on “the Protection of Vulnerable Groups” and coordinator of the NOHA Master's displacement course. Charlotte Lülf has worked and researched with UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, the Lauterpacht Center for International Law at the University of Cambridge (UK), the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund University (Sweden) and the University College Dub-lin (Ireland).  She lectures on international law, humanitarian law, criminal law and migration law, and has published on related issues among others with Cambridge University Press, Roundlege and Hart Publishing. She holds an LLM in Public International Law from the University of Leiden (the Netherlands) and an M.A. in Political Science, Public Law, History and Philosophy from Kiel Universi-ty.
see Charlotte´s profile in IFHV webpage

see Charlotte´s profile in IFHV webpage

Pauline Grashoff

Pauline Grashoff is a legal studies student at the Ruhr-University Bochum since the winter term 2012. She has worked at the IFHV as a student assistant since October 2013 and was part of the project until December 2018.

see Pauline’s profile in IFHV webpage

Jonas Horn, B.A.
Jonas Horn is a masters student in the Social Science program “Globalisierung, Transnationalisierung, Governance” at the Ruhr-University Bochum since the winter term 2016. He holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from Ruhr-University Bochum and studied Political Science in Istanbul.

see Jonas´ profile in IFHV webpage