Established in 2015, “Frozen and Unfrozen Conflicts” was the first junior research group (Nachwuchsgruppe) at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. It was the first research group working with a political science research focus. Between 2015 and 2019 the junior research group built the foundations for a lasting political science expertise at IOS with its research profile, its activities at the institute and beyond, as well as its commitment to high quality academic publications and to knowledge transfer.
In 2019, the project “Between Conflict and Cooperation: The Politics of International Law in the post-Soviet Space”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), started its work under the umbrella of the junior research group. The principal investigator is Dr. Cindy Wittke, who also has been leader of the junior research group since 2017. The new project is building on her research profile at the intersections of international law and international politics.
In the course of its new working period between 2020 and 2022 the junior research group will continue to advance political science research and expertise at the IOS by developing new projects with young scholars in political science and by building multi-disciplinary networks and work relations.
Between Conflict and Cooperation: Politics of International Law in the post-Soviet Space (2019-2022)
A new 3-year project group funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) focuses on the politics of international law in the post-Soviet space. It started in March 2019 and was joined by two young scholars, Nargiza Kilichova and Elia Bescotti in April 2019. The project group explores the differences and similarities of the politics of international law in the so-called post-Soviet space. The investigations depart from the observation that since 1991 the states that emerged from the dissolution of the Soviet Union have all been facing the enormous challenge of formulating and implementing their own politics of international law in the course of their state-building and transformation processes. At the same time, strong conflict dynamics in the post-Soviet region – recent examples are the Russian-Georgian War of 2008 and the annexation of Crimea as well as the outbreak of violent separatist conflicts in the eastern regions of Ukraine in 2014 – confront the international community of states with what appears as the questioning of fundamental principles of international law in regional legal and political order(s). The focus of the project is therefore on analysing the complex dynamics of conflict and cooperation in the politics of international law in the post-Soviet Space since 1991. In addition to filling research gaps and bringing conceptual innovation, the project will also lead to practice- and impact-oriented findings.
Wittke, Cindy (2020), The Politics of International Law in the Post-Soviet Space – Do Georgia, Ukraine and Russia Speak International Law in International Politics Differently?, in: Europe-Asia Studies 72/2, 180-208.
Cindy Wittke (2018), “Test the West”: Reimagining Sovereignties in the Post-Soviet Space, in: Review of Central and East European Law 43/1, 1-22.
Knowledge Transfer Activities
Länderanalysen (since 2018)
In January 2018, the junior research group took over the editorial responsibilities for the Länder-Analysen (Country Analyses) at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. The different formats of the Länder-Analysen (Belarus-Analyses, Poland-Analyses, Russia-Analyses, Ukraine-Analyses and Central Asia-Analyses) are published in German by a consortium of editors consisting of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the Centre for Eastern European and International Studies, the German Association for East European Studies, the German Poland Institute, the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. In close cooperation with the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the junior research group edits altogether ten to twelve editions of Russia- and Ukraine-Analyses each year. Both are successful transfer formats subscribed by experts, decision-makers in politics, business and society, as well as by a broader audience of specialists. The leader of the junior research group, Dr. Cindy Wittke, has been a member of the scientific advisory board of “Russia Analyses” since 2018.
The junior research group was and is strongly engaged knowledge transfer, which includes organizing public lectures and other events. In addition, the members of the junior research group are very much in demand as part of the “Leibniz im Bundestag” (Leibniz in the Bundestag) initiative. The members of the junior research group also provide expertise for the media and civil society. Examples for cooperation with media outlets are:
Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft 2018; „Gewinner war nicht Putin, sondern die Bevölkerung“ (Football World Cup 2018: The Winner was not Putin but the Population), Evgeniya Bakalova im Gespräch mit Moritz Behrendt (Evgeniya Bakalova in a conversation with Moritz Behrendt); radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur.
Wittke, Cindy (2019), Is international law “fit” to deal with Crimea?, coordination of and contribution to Law-Section of the Dossier The Crimean Archipelago, Dekoder March 2019 (last access 20 November 2019).
SWR2 Forum: Was bringt der Ukraine-Gipfel? (What will be the effect of the Ukraine-Summit), a discussion with Rudiger von Fritsch from 2014 till 2019 German Ambassador in Russia, Sergej Sumlenny, head of the Heinrich Boell Foundation office in Kyiv and Cindy Wittke, radio SWR2.
Projects and Activities (2015-2019)
Frozen and Unfrozen Conflicts (2015-2019)
The junior research group Frozen and Unfrozen Conflicts was established in 2015 supported by a special funding of the State of Bavaria. It was the first junior research group to be established at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies. The group consisted of a group leader, a postdoctoral senior researcher and two PhD research associates. In their research at the cutting edge of political science, conflict research, political sociology and international relations, the members of group focused on so-called frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav regions. They found that these conflicts are not static but in fact shaped by complex dynamics and practices of conflict and cooperation on the local, national, regional and transnational levels.
Members of the junior research group between 2015 and 2019:
Wittke, Cindy (2020), Post-Soviet Conflict Potentials (introduction to special section), in: Europe-Asia Studies 72/2, 151-154.
Bakalova; Evgeniya & Jüngling, Konstanze (2020), Conflict Over Peace? The United States’ and Russia’s Diverging Conceptual Approaches to Peace and Conflict Settlement, in: Europe-Asia Studies, 72/2, 155-179.
Wittke, Cindy; Rabinovych, Maryna (2019), Five Years After: The Role of International Actors in the ‘Ukraine Crisis’, in: East European Politics 35/3, 259-263.
Cindy Wittke (2019), The Minsk Agreements – more than “scraps of paper”?, in: East European Politics 35/3, 264–290.
Relitz, Sebastian (2019), The Stabilisation Dilemma: Conceptualising International Responses to Secession and De Facto States. in: East European Politics 35/3, 311–331.
Wittke, Cindy (2018), Law in the Twilight – International Courts and Tribunals, the Security Council and the Internationalisation of Peace Agreements between State and Non-State Parties, Cambridge University Press (244 pages).
Review: Ozcelik, Asli (2018), in: Journal of Conflict and Security Law, published 06 December 2018.
Mironova, Vera; Zawadewicz, Bogdan (2018), Putin Is Building a Bosnian Paramilitary Force. With Elections Approaching in October, Russia Has Ramped up its Support for Bosnia's Serb Separatists, in: Foreign Policy 8/2018
Relitz, Sebastian; Biermann, Rafael (2017), Raus aus dem Schatten. Stand und Perspektiven der Forschung zu De-facto-Staaten, in: ZeFKo Zeitschrift für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung 6/2, 207–258.
Jüngling, Konstanze (2017), Russia Under Threat? North Caucasian Foreign Fighters and Their Place in Moscow’s Legitimization Narratives, in: Rotaru, Vasile; Troncotă, Miruna (eds), Russia and the Former Soviet Space. Instrumentalizing Security, Legitimizing Intervention, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 308–334.
Jüngling, Konstanze (2016), Russlandpolitik: Mut zur Kritik. Lehren aus dem Umgang mit dem Tschetschenienkrieg, in Osteuropa 6-7/2016, 159–169.
Conferences: “Breaking the Ice” – 4th Annual Conference of the IOS 2016
The 4th IOS Annual Conference, titled “Breaking the Ice on Frozen Conflicts? Understanding Territorial Conflicts in East and Southeast Europe” was organised by the research group with the focus on Dynamics of Conflicts and Cooperation (DCC). The conference revealed the complexities of actor constellations and the ambivalent nature of international conflict resolution efforts with respect to de facto states, while at the same time stressing both the need and the opportunities for their international engagement. Further information can be found here.
Policy Advice: OSCE Network Project on Protracted Conflicts (2016)
The research group prepared a policy paper for the OSCE Network, titled “New Corridors of Dialogue: Strengthening Durable Formats for Engagement across the Protracted Conflict Zones.” Group members shared their policy recommendations at an OSCE Network Workshop in Vienna during the “The OSCE as Mediator: Instruments – Challenges – Potentials” conference organized by the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin on 6 July 2016 as well as on the side-lines of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Hamburg on 8 December 2016. Further information can be found here.
Knowledge Transfer: Corridors for Dialogue through Cooperation – Research and Dialogue Project (2016-2018)
Corridors has been a DAAD-funded initiative. It aims to foster "Dialogue through Cooperation" between societies affected by protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet space. Within this framework, projects that enhance knowledge transfer and create new opportunities for direct people-to-people contact over the divide are developed and implemented. Sebastian Relitz, former member of the research junior group, is continuing the project: https://www.opencorridors.de