Context Column


Introducing the IFSH:

The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy is an interdisciplinary research institute at the University of Hamburg, which is funded by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The IFSH works and researches independently.

If we want peace, we must ensure security. That already held true during the Cold War – with the nuclear deterrence peace between the two superpowers. And today it applies all the more – as a glance at the current world-wide conflicts and threats shows.

The IFSH brings the two together: The basic research on the current questions of peace and security policy. The IFSH scientists research the conditions for peace. They analyse, test and develop strategies for avoiding or reducing violent conflicts: What constitutes a successful peace and security policy? In particular, under the conditions of globalization and the upheavals in the world connected with it? What endangers peace? How can the insecurity factors be curtailed? What conclusions should politics draw from this?

Research – Teaching – Policy Consultation

The expertise of our scientists and the results of their work serve, thereby, not only science, but also decision-makers in politics and the society. The experts from IFSH advise, among other organizations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the (German) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the (German) Ministry of Defence and the members and expert committees of the German Parliament (Bundestag).

And: our staff are sought-after interview partners by the media.

Our Working Priorities: Europe as a Peacemaker - OSCE - Disarmament and Arms Control

Peace and Security in Europe, the work of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and arms control: these are the three major working priorities of the Institute.

The Centre for European Peace and Security Studies (ZEUS) studies what role the European Union plays in peace and security – both within and also outside of Europe. What can a joint foreign and security policy of the 28 member states achieve? And where are their limits?

Avoid conflicts; redress their consequences; manage crises: the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is of particular importance for this. Founded as a dialogue forum for (disarmament-) negotiations between East and West at the peak of the Cold War, it has, meanwhile, considerably expanded its range of tasks. 57 countries in Europe, Asia and North America now belong to the OSCE.

We research: What contribution does the OSCE make to peace and security? How can the OSCE intervene in conflicts in a modulating way? And how can it help in the transformation of systems and with democratization? In particular, in Southeast Europe, in the Caucasus and in Central Asia?

The IFSH is the only institute world-wide that scientifically supports and analyses the OSCE. This is why the expertise of our scientists is particularly sought after. And: the IFSH is the publisher of the renowned OSCE Year Book.

Curbing the Arms Dynamics

Disarmament; arms control; risk technologies: another interdisciplinary working group of the Institute – the research group, IFAR², - deals with this. What risks are involved with the new arms technologies, what security policy challenges arise from the new arms dynamics?

There is a team, made up of both natural and social scientists, to answer these questions. This interdisciplinary nature – the interplay between different scientific disciplines – is a unique feature of the IFSH.

Training and Promotion of Young Scientists

For: In 2002, as the first institute Germany-wide, the IFSH introduced the post-graduate course of study, “Peace and Security Policy” for university graduates. Since then, up to 25 German and international university graduates from the most various disciplines train at the Institute each year. The two semester post-graduate program concludes with a Master of Peace and Security Studies.

IFSH as a sought-after Training Centre

Every year, the number of applicants exceeds the number of study places by far. Its strong relationship to practice and its interdisciplinary orientation make this course of study particularly attractive. The later employers of the graduates are ministries, the United Nations, the OSCE, non-governmental organizations, the media or other institutions in which peace and security policy expertise is sought. Since the introduction of the post-graduate course of study, the participation of the members of the Institute in academic teaching has multiplied.

Moreover, the IFSH supervises countless doctoral candidates.