Context Column



The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy is an independent research institution at the University of Hamburg. The two terms in the institute's name highlight the central hypothesis underlying its work: Ensuring peace and providing security are two sides of the same coin. They cannot be pursued in isolation from each other. This is equally true of the situation - now receding into history - in which Europe knew peace under nuclear deterrence as it is of the contemporary situation, in which threats to security emanate from regional armed conflicts, transnational terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The work of the institute is thus underpinned by the postulate of a security policy that is both effective and geared to the use of peaceful means. The institute's current research programme, under the banner "Contemporary Peace Strategies - Peace and Security Policy at the Fault Lines of Globalization", gives concrete form to this approach. The IFSH's research profile demonstrates an awareness of political realities, a focus on problem solving, and an international mix of staff and project partners.

Research Units

The IFSH is divided into three specialized research units. The Centre for European Peace and Security Studies (ZEUS) focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of the European Union's efforts to strengthen peace and security in the various fields included within the scope of the Common Foreign and Security Policy - both within and beyond Europe. The Centre for OSCE Research (CORE) is the world's first research institute dedicated to studying the work of the OSCE in the areas of conflict regulation, system transformation and democratisation, especially in south-eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Interdisciplinary Research Group on Disarmament, Arms Control, and Risk Technologies (IFARª) applies the expertise the institute has gathered over decadesin the area of arms-control policy to new security-policy challenges arising from technology in general and military technology in particular. The IFSH's three research units combine to develop cooperative strategies for conflict resolution and prevention that pay special attention to the courses of action available to the German government. Additionally, the IFSH comprises a military component/military fellow, which is quite unique for civilian scientific institutions. This military component is appointed by a staff officer of the German Federal Armed Forces whose research projects are integrated into one of the research units and who is an assigned lecturer at the MPS postgraduate program.

Types of Activity

There are three main types of activity performed under the aegis of the IFSH. The principle focus of the institute's work remains research, but teaching and consulting are growing in importance. With the launch in autumn 2002 of the international postgraduate degree course "Master of Peace and Security Studies" - developed by the IFSH for the University of Hamburg - and the simultaneous start of a Doctoral Supervision Program, the teaching duties of the institute's staff have increased significantly. The general aim of the IFSH's teaching and supervisory activities is to familiarise young scholars with current developments in peace research and to prepare graduates from a range of disciplines for careers in this and related areas.

The IFSH's growing involvement in policy consulting can largely be traced back to the founding of CORE in January 2000. The institute provides governments, parliaments, international organisations and other key political actors with services based on its academic knowledge, policy expertise and regional know-how. This demand-driven area of activity has expanded solidly in recent years. The various unique projects the IFSH has undertaken in this area range from creating information packs for new members of international missions to carrying out evaluation of field missions and helping to establish new educational institutions.

The IFSH's work to raise political awareness and disseminate information can be seen as part of its consulting activities in the broadest sense. The institute aims to use its specialist knowledge and problem-solving expertise to strengthen the ability of politicians, opinion leaders and the general public to make effective decisions on questions relating to conflicts, peace, and security policy. To reach a wider public, the IFSH does not limit itself to addressing experts in the field, but also uses the opportunities provided by the mass media and education systems.


The institute publishes the series of books entitled "Demokratie, Sicherheit, Frieden" (Democracy, Security, Peace), the quarterly journal "S+F. Sicherheit und Frieden. Peace and Security", and two further series of books. It is also the co-publisher of two yearbooks: the OSCE Yearbook and the Friedensgutachten (Peace Report).


The IFSH was established as a civil-law foundation in 1971 following a recommendation of the German Science Council ("Wissenschaftsrat") to promote peace-related research. The foundation is funded by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The key decision-making offices and bodies of the IFSH are the Chair of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees, the Academic Advisory Board and the Institute Council. The Institute has had five Directors: Count Wolf von Baudissin (1971-1984), Egon Bahr (1984-1994), Dieter S. Lutz (1994-2003), Reinhard Mutz (2003-2006), Michael Brzoska (2006-2016) and the current Director, Ursula Schröder. Around 50 people are employed at the IFSH.