Past Research Projects

For more information regarding our past research projects please contact the project manager(s) or the secretary of the IFHV.

Water Scarcity as Driver for Armed Conflict or Peaceful Cooperation – Time for UN Green Helmets and a new EU Water Strategy?

Project Manager: Pierre Thielbörger
Project Partners: German Federal Foreign Office, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation,
Hertie School of Governance, et al.
Duration: 2012-2016
Funding Organization: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG), Call: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-CIG

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?



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’

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.



Autonomy and other Sub-state Entities in International Law

Project Manager: Hans-Joachm Heintze
Project Partner: Åbo Academy, Finland
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.



International Governance and Humanitarian Action in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Project Manager: Dennis Dijkzeul
Project Partner: IRC, DARA, and Malteser International and other NGOs), as well as local institutions (e.g., Institut Superieur de Développement Rural)
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.



Autonomy Regulations and International Law


Project Manager: Hans-Joachm Heintze
together with 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 and Prof. Hilpold, Innsbruck.
Project Partner: 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
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.



Organisational Perspectives on Human Security Standards for Refugees in Germany

Project Manager:

Dr. Kerstin Rosenow-Williams

Dr. Katharina Behmer-Prinz

Duration: 2017 - 2021  
Funding Organization: Gerda-Henkel Stiftung  
Abstract: 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.    



Preparedness and Resilience to address Urban Vulnerability (PRUV)

Project Manager: Hans-Joachim Heintze
Project Partners: Centre for Humanitarian Action, University College Dublin; Concern Worldwide; Future Analytics Consulting; Plan International; Globalisation Studies Groningen, University of Groningen; Human Rights Institute, University of Deusto; Center for Reproductive Health, Gadjah Mada University; Yayasan Cipta Cara Padu (YCCP); Jesuit Refugee Service (Latin America and the Caribbean)
Duration: 2016 - 2019
Funding Organization: Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation, European Union 
Abstract: The challenge posed by urban vulnerability is immense and is being compounded by rapid unplanned urbanisation, climate change and resource pressures. While the realisation that there is a fundamental shift in the landscape of crises to cities is no longer contested, aid actors are nonetheless grappling with the complexities of adapting their approaches to the urban context.

The PRUV project aims to inform the pressing need to reshape how humanitarian action and development aid is undertaken in urban areas in order to address the challenge posed by urban vulnerability. It seeks to combine existing best practice with innovative thinking and technology to challenge current state of the art thinking in order to arrive at a novel approach with affected urban populations at the centre. Furthermore, the opportunities to carry out the research in test-bed sites in Africa, Asia and Latin America adds to the potentially broad utility and transferability of the findings globally.



European Humanitarian Action Partnership (EUHAP)

Project Manager: Hans-Joachim Heintze
Project Partners: Institut Bioforce, France; Aktion Deutschland Hilft, Germany; RedR, United Kingdom; University of Graz, Austria; Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; Sofia University, Bulgaria; Palacký University, Czech Republic; University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Aix Marseille University, France; University of Iceland, Iceland; University College Dublin, Ireland; University of Pavia, Italy; Vilnius University, Lithuania; University of Malta, Malta; University of Groningen, Netherlands; Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; University of Warsaw, Poland; Alexandru Loan Cuza University, Romania; Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia; University of Deusto, Spain; Uppsala University, Sweden; Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom

Duration: 2014 - 2017
Funding Organization: European Commission Erasmus+ Programme
Abstract: EUHAP is a collaborative community of humanitarian stakeholders representing academia, training providers, employees and employers. The initiative aims at strengthening the professionalisation of the delivery of humanitarian aid, through exchange of best and innovative practices as well as improvement of the quality and efficiency of the education, and exploring the linkages between competencies, occupations and qualifications. Its goal? To provide four primary outputs, each addressing a specific aspect of humanitarian action professionalization: Humanitarian Action Professions, Humanitarian Action Recognition, Humanitarian Action E-learning and the European Map of Humanitarian Action. This initiative builds upon the former project EUPRHA (European Universities on Professionalization on Humanitarian Action) (for more information follow the link to EUPHRA project).



European Universities on Professionalization on Humanitarian Action (EUPRHA)

Project Manager: Hans-Joachim Heintze
Project Partners: University of Graz, Austria; Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; Sofia University, Bulgaria; University of Cyprus, Cyprus; Palacký University, Czech Republic; University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Tartu, Estonia; University of Turku, Estonia; Aix Marseille University, France; University of Macedonia, Greece; Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary; University of Iceland, Iceland; University College Dublin, Ireland; University of Pavia, Italy; Riga Graduate School of Law, Latvia; Vilnius University, Lithuania; University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg; University of Malta, Malta; University of Groningen, Netherlands; Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; University of Warsaw, Poland; Fernando Pessoa University, Protugal; Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Romania; Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia; University of Ljubljana, Slovenia; University of Deusto, Spain; Uppsala University, Sweden; Geneva Center for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action, Switzerland; Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom; NOHA Alumni, Brussels, Belgium; International Council of Voluntary Agencies, Geneva, Switzerland; The Sphere Projekt, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 2011 - 2014
Funding Organization: Erasmus Plus and Life Long Learning Programme

EUPRHA is a project which sought to contribute to the professionalisation of the humanitarian sector by promoting a competences-based framework for the education of humanitarian professionals. Actively involved were 30 European universities, including ten universities of the NOHA Network, two important humanitarian associations (the Sphere Project and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies), a global network of non-governmental organisations, and the NOHA Alumni Community, a significant body of humanitarian professionals.

The project created an area for debate among all stakeholders, laying the foundations for the articulation of a Qualifications Framework for the Humanitarian Sector taking stock of the new global humanitarian trends, and the existing potentialities and capacities of the sector across Europe. EUPRHA benefited the Humanitarian Sector as a whole: people affected by humanitarian crises, the society at large, the humanitarian actors, the educators, the policy makers as well as students and volunteers.

During the last years, EUPRHA has worked on

  • a Qualifications Framework for the Humanitarian Sector that responds to the growing number of professions in the field of Humanitarian Action based on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).
  • A European Map of humanitarian actors and educators (EUMAP).
  • The identification of new skills and competences required in the Humanitarian field.

The concept of EUPRHA had its origins in the NOHA Network. The EUPRHA Network brought together existing NOHA universities and new partners from member states to work on core issues that would progress the sharing of humanitarian education.

The project ran between 2011 and 2014. EUHAP is a continuation of the EUPRHA initiative.



ResOrt - Resilienz durch sozialen Zusammenhalt – Die Rolle von Organisationen


Project Manager: Dennis Dijkzeul
together with Prof. Dr. Frank Fiedrich (BUW); Dr. Tim Lukas (BUW) and Dr. Matthias Max (DRK)
Project Partners: Bergische Universität Wuppertal (BUW), Lehrstuhl Bevölkerungsschutz, Katastrophenhilfe und Objektsicherheit
Generalsekretariat Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK), Abteilung Forschung und Bevölkerungsschutz
Caritas, Verband für sozial-kulturelle Arbeit, Global Disaster Preparedness Center.
Duration: 2017 - 2020
Funding Organization: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Abstract: Internationale und nationale Studien zeigen, dass sozialer Zusammenhalt ein entscheidender Faktor für die Erhöhung der Resilienz der Bevölkerung im Krisen und Katastrophenfall ist. Die Erfahrungen vergangener Krisenereignisse zeigen aber auch, dass verschiedene Organisationen, die zur Verringerung von Vulnerabilität beitragen, diesen Faktor sehr unterschiedlich berücksichtigen. Ebenso unterscheiden sich das internationale und das nationale Hilfeleistungssystem hinsichtlich der Einbindung sozialer Netzwerke in ihre Arbeit. Das geplante Verbundvorhaben widmet sich vor diesem Hintergrund der Frage, welche Rolle der soziale Zusammenhalt in der Arbeit von Katastrophenschutzorganisationen, Wohlfahrtsverbänden, Nachbarschaftsorganisationen und Kommunalverwaltungen bei der Bewältigung von Krisen und Umbrüchen spielt und wie sozialer Zusammenhalt durch die (Zusammen-) Arbeit unterschiedlicher Organisationen gestärkt werden kann. Auf der Basis eines, in vier deutschen Referenzregionen umgesetzten, repräsentativen, gemischt qualitativ-quantitativen Untersuchungsdesigns sollen Handlungsempfehlungen für Organisationen erarbeitet werden, wie Aspekte des sozialen Zusammenhalts als Resilienzfaktoren in die Strategieentwicklung einbezogen werden können und der soziale Zusammenhalt gestärkt werden kann.  Zugleich wird damit ein Beitrag zur Theorieentwicklung geleistet, der Aspekte des sozialen Zusammenhalts im Kontext  von Krisen und Umbrüchen konzeptualisiert.