In the Media

Contributions to Current Debates


Between House of Cards and political reality

31 October 2018 - TV series such as House of Cards, Borgen or 24 offer more than entertainment. As contemporary works, they depict a societal image of politics, they sometimes provide insights into complex political decision-making processes, and they can have a real effect on voters' understanding of politics. In a WDR 5 Scala podcast, Niko Switek, editor of the book 'Politik in Fernsehserien' (Politics in TV Series) and contributing author Frank Gadinger discuss the relationship between series and politics.

Switek, who deals with politics in TV series as part of his university teaching, examines the feedback effects between series and the assessment of real political events by their viewers. It comes as no surprise that House of Cards' story about Frank Underwood - a power-hungry, corrupt, murdering politician - promotes political cynicism among voters. A development that is particularly thought-provoking against the backdrop of Donald Trump's presidency, as Frank Gadinger notes. House of Cards does not only influence voters' understanding of politics in the USA or Europe. In China, for example, the series is shown uncensored and is intended to give viewers a specific picture of US politics. At the same time, the government of the People's Republic is offering a counter-project in form of the state-run series In the Name of the People.

However, political science is not only interested in the prime example House of Cards and its Chinese counter-project. Frank Gadinger contributes an analysis of the US TV series 24 to Switek's book. Here, too, the feedback effects between the television series and reality are both worrying and disturbing. In the podcast, Gadinger illuminates the vicious circle between CIA-inspired torture scenes and later CIA-inspired torture practices in Iraq.

Politik in Fernsehserien Analysen und Fallstudien zu House of Cards, Borgen & Co. was published in German by Transcript Verlag and is freely available online.

Frank Gadinger und Nico Switek: "Politik im Serienformat", WDR5 Scala, 22.10.2018.

Switek, Nico (2018). Politik in Fernsehserien, Bielefeld: Transcript, 297-317.

Just & In–Time Climate Policy Four Initiatives for a Fair Transformation

5 September 2018. How can climate policy be designed in a fair and modern way? For too long, the social impacts of climate change have been neglected. Dirk Messner, Co-Director at the Centre and his colleagues at the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WGBU) therefore propose four policy initiatives which could be crucial in dealing with the societal impacts of climate change.

The first demand in their recently published Policy Paper is an early and professional support for a socially balanced structural change in transformation regions and sectors, such as coal mining regions. As a second measure for more justice in climate policy, they call for legal protection for people all over the world who are harmed by climate change. They are to empowered by the governments of the Global North to sue those responsible for climate change, such as large energy companies. In an interview with the German daily newspaper ZEIT Online, Messner points to the unequal relationship between individuals and corporations. Companies are indeed entitled to compensation if their factories or power plants are closed as a result of the withdrawal from coal or nuclear power. However, a farmer whose land is withered or flooded does not receive any compensation. Their third demand, the introduction of a climate passport for people displaced by climate change is discussed in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau. This instrument could grant citizenship rights to people such as inhabitants of Pacific islands and enable human migration. In order to be able to finance these measures, the scientists finally propose a transformation fund, which wiould be fed by taxes on CO2 emissions and a slight increase in inheritance tax.

'Policy Paper 9: Just & In–Time Climate Policy, Four Initiatives for a Fair Transformation', WGBU, 2018

Dirk Messner:' Der Ausstieg aus der Kohleverstromung wird kommen', ZEIT Online, 31.08.18.

'Ein Pass für Klimaflüchtlinge', Frankfurter Rundschau, 04.08.18.

China is powerful - but not a model for the world

14 February 2018. As a model, Western democracy is losing attraction, while China’s autocratic system is being perceived as a new ideational model, legitimated by its economic success. Western entrepreneurs and politicians who are blinded by growth rates outweigh social participation against supposed efficiency and developing countries pay respect to China's economic rise and thereby legitimate China’s autocratic structures. In their guest commentary in the Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Nachrichten, Founding Director Claus Leggewie and Co-Director Dirk Messner criticize this recognition of China’s autocracy and show why this model does not represent an alternative for the world community.

Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner:'China strotzt vor Kraft – doch als Modell für die Welt taugt es nicht', Neue Züricher Zeitung, 05.02.18.

Credibility needed in Development and Climate Policy

8 January 2018. At the beginning of the year, Dirk Messner, co-director of the Centre, demands more effective collective action in development policy and climate protection - from the Federal Government currently forming in Germany and from the European public. In an interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, he calls on the new government to redesign its development policy - away from an uncoordinated aid relationship based on a north-south asymmetry, towards cooperation at eye level. This eye level can only be achieved through credibility. For example, Western donors need to implement climate protection programmes at home with the same seriousness as they demand from their partners in the Global South. Preventing dangerous global warming is a question of social justice and cross-border cooperation, reminds Messner in the Frankfurter Rundschau. Despite of arising nationalistic movements, we have to act collectively and we need to keep in mind that we are living in the century of  ‘Global Commons’ instead of ‘Our Country First’. A fact that can't be denied in the face of the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Convention, states Messner in the social democratic newspaper Vorwärts.

Dirk Messner: 'Der Westen hat als Vorbild dramatisch gelitten', Süddeutsche Zeitung, 08.01.18.

Dirk Messner: 'Plädoyer für starke Allianzen, Frankfurter Rundschau', 05.01.18.

Dirk Messner and Nebosja Nakijenovic: 'Ohne soziale Gerechtigkeit gibt es keinen Klimaschutz, Vorwärts', 22.12.18.

EU and West Africa: Isolation or Partnership?

5 January 2018. In the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis, migration shapes the relationship between the EU and West Africa. In his recent article in the german newspaper Badische Zeitung, senior expert Fellow Winfried Veit presents four future scenarios for this relationship, projected to the year 2030. The scenarios cover 'unequal relations', which describe a high influx of migrants due to worsening conditions in West Africa, 'confrontational relations', 'pragmatic relations' and 'equal relations'. The latter represents a young, revolutionized West Africa that is characterized by economic development and good governance. The scenarios where developed in simulation workshops that where organized by the Centre and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and where held last year in Berlin, Dakar and Brussels. Now its up to political actors to make the most preferable of the outlined future projections become reality.

Winfried Veit: 'Abschottung oder Partnerschaft?', Badische Zeitung, 05.01.18.

Not Hell: What to Expect from the G20 Summit in Hamburg

4 July 2017. In another contribution at the German newspaper taz. die tageszeitung, Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner, both Co-Directors of the Centre, have concrete ideas of how to revive multilateral cooperation: For them, the central question to the upcoming G20 summit is how a new financial architecture could be created, and how this architecture could co-finance global climate protection. This requires massive investment in key industries of the transformation, investment in social and structural policies, international climate policies, and national sustainability taxes. Against the background of rising nationalism, other G20 states could capture the roles that former leading nations have lost within their ‘our nation first’-doctrines. This summit could mark a turning point – against the world of yesterday’s autocrats and unilateralists.

Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner: 'Nicht die Hölle: Was man vom Hamburger G20-Gipfel erwarten kann: eine entschiedene europäische Initiative für Nachhaltigkeit, Solidarität und Teilhabe',, 04.06.2017.

See also for a similar contribution in English:
Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner: 'What we can expect from the Hamburg G20 Summit', T20 Germany Blog, 05.07.2017.

German Experts Expect Positive Globalization Signals in G20

2 July 2017. The G20 summit on 7 and 8 July in Hamburg takes place in a time of high political uncertainty, when the Brexit, 'our nation first'-ideologies, a rise of autocratic tendencies in many countries of the world, ongoing wars, or the current diplomatic deadlock in the gulf region seem to make global cooperation virtually impossible. In a recent interview on Xinhuanet, Dirk Messner, Co-director of the Centre, and his colleague Xuevo Gu, Director of the Center for Global Studies Bonn, are nevertheless positive. Especially in these times amid uncertainties, the G20 could convey a positive signal for building a strong culture of global cooperation and strengthening a fair and inclusive multilateralism.

'German experts expect positive globalization signals in G20', interview with Dirk Messner and Xuevu Gu on Xinhuanet, 02.07.2017

Liberalism vs. Populism: Competing Narratives

2 April 2017. In times of rising populist movements, skepticism towards political elites, and 'alternative' facts, liberal and cosmopolitan ideas are getting challenged increasingly. Who's got the better, the more convincing, the more powerful narrative? Der Tagesspiegel now has reported about the two-day public convention entitled 'Competing Narratives: On the Global Crisis of Liberal Narratives' in Berlin that was jointly organised by the Goethe-Institut, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, The Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21). About 200 international activists, artists and scholars discussed the role of (il-)liberal narratives, images and symbols, facts, and political storytelling.

"Erzählen um die Wette", Der Tagesspiegel, 02.04.2017

Culture as an Instrument of Dialogue Among Peoples: A New Role for G7?

30 March 2017. More and more the fights in Iraq, Syria, Mali and others are accompanied by the destruction of cultural artifacts as a tool and a means of militant conflict and conquest. On 30 March 2017, therefore, the the first G7 Ministerial Meeting on Culture took place in Florence, Italy. At the heart of the meeting was the protection of global cultural artifacts. Against this background, the Centre’s Alumni Postdoc Fellow Dr Jennifer Gronau talked with ZDF heute. de about the securitization of culture, the possibility to punish the destruction of cultural artifacts as war crime, and the future role of the G7 as a—as they termed themselves—'guardian of democratic values'. 

 "G7 kämpfen um Daseinsberechtigung", Interview with Jennifer Gronau at ZDF, 30.03.2017.

Building borders would be suicide

29 November 2016. Populists from both the right and the left spectrum consider Globalisation as the root of the evil. The lines between left and right become more and more blurred with the result that we distinguish between 'globalists' and 'territorialists'. But globalisation has brought many advantages for the people and to abandon it would have catastrophic consequences, argues Claus Leggwie, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies Essen (KWI) and Co-director of the Centre, at Tagesspiegel.

Claus Leggewie: 'Globalisierungskritik und Populismus: Grenzen hochziehen wäre Selbstmord aus Angst vor dem Tod', contribution at Tagesspiegel, 25 November 2016.

Global Governance: Historically unprecedented

24 November 2016. Only international cooperation can prevent looming disasters. However, global governance thought as multilateral agreements by sovereign states with binding rules for all partners is not working. Nevertheless, Dirk Messner, Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), Director of the German Development Institute and Co-director of the Centre, sees in an interview with Hans Dembowski in Development and Cooperation opportunities for success. However, he emphasizes, crises have always been the motor for human civilisation and change and there is already a range of success stories of global governance.

Interview with Dirk Messner: 'Global Governance: Historically unprecedented', D+C Development and Cooperation, 24 November 2016.

Paris Climate Agreement: Europe can fill the gap

22 November 2016. 'The election victory of Donald Trump can paralyze global climate and development politics for years. But it's not only up to the USA, whether it will come this way' argues Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute, Co-director of the Centre, and Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In his recent guest contribution in Zeit Online he reflects the implications of Trump's victory on current global challenges. However, his election could also be seen as a wakening call for Europe: The Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement could be starting points for a new modernization, justice and peace project, and Europe could develop a strategy to gain international partners. Against this background, the German G20 Presidency gains an entirely new importance.

Dirk Messner: Europa kann die Lücke füllen, Zeit Online, 16 November 2016.

The transformative power of cities: New WBGU report in the forefront of UN Habitat III

5 June 2016. The 21st Century seems to be the century of the cities. So many people live in urban centres like never before. While this trend is continuing, cities are in their current form, however, tremendous resource hogs and without any ecologic sustainability. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), including Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute and Co-director of the Centre, therefore demands in his new flagship report more responsibility and planning freedom for the cities of our world. This gains even  more significance against the background of the upcoming third UN Habitat Conference in Quito, Ecuador.

WBGU Press Release: 'Humanity on the Move: Unlocking the Transformative Power of the Cities', 24 April 2016. 

WBGU Report: 'Humanity on the Move: Unlocking the Transformative Power of the Cities', Berlin 2016.

"WBGU-Gutachten über Riesenstädte: Der große Umzug in die Megastädte",, 1 May 2016.

"Habitat-Konferenz zur Zukunft der Städte: Der Umzug der Menschheit", Der Tagesspiegel, 1 June 2016.

Understanding the Human Factor

21 April 2016. Conventional theories of international relations are distorted, because human beings are much more cooperative than assumed. An inadequate understanding of human nature, however, has a bearing on global governance, making cooperation more difficult and more likely to fail. This human factor in international relations is subject of the book of the Routledge Global Cooperation Series, that is edited by Dirk Messner and Silke Weinlich, which was reviewed by Hans Dembowski in the renown Development and Cooperation.

D+C Development and Cooperation, 'Global Governance: Understanding the Human Factor', 21 April 2016.

Messner, Dirk, and Weinlich, Silke (eds.) (2016). Global Cooperation and the Human Factor in International Relations, London, New York: Routledge.

Europe Must Send Global Cooperation Signals

11 January 2016. 2015 was a remarkable year. On the one hand, it saw grave crises like Ebola, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Islamic terrorism, countless refugee movements, and a new record temperature. On the other, it saw notable multilateral breakthroughs like the Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Climate Agreement. In his guest contribution at Katoikos, Dirk Messner, Director of the German Development Institute and Co-director of the Centre, reflects factors exacerbating global crises, such as poverty, the disrespect of planetary boundaries, transnational terrorism and the international ensemble of authoritarian nationalists and xenophobes, and outlines elements for a globalisation compass with a key role for Europe.

Dirk Messner, 'Global crises, world views and crossroads', in, 11 January 2016.

Dictatorship of the Climate

10 December 2015. For a few climate researchers, democratic systems pose the main obstacle for coping with global environmental challenges. They attribute more agency to autocracies or even dictatorships. What we can observe, however, is not a deficit of democracy in general, but a crisis of the UN-system's multilateralism. Especially autocratic regimes often bog multilateral negotiations down, says Claus Leggewie, Co-director of the Centre, in an interview with Nordwestradio. Hence, the more democracy, the better climate protection, he argues.

Claus Leggewie, 'Die Klimadiktatur', interview with Nordwestradio: Der gute Morgen, 10 December 2015.

New Sustainable Development Goals

6 August 2015. Dirk Messner, director of the German Development Institute (DIE/GDI) and co-director of the Centre, is also co-chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In a recent video Dirk Messner addresses the concept of planetary guard rails for longterm sustainable global development. Those guardrails relate to the recently released new Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations. Those guard rails include the limitation of global warming to 2°C and the limitation of ocean acidification, the preservation of biological diversity, the stop of land and soil degradation, the control of long-lived and harmful anthropogenic substances and the stop of the loss of phosphorus – since this element is the limiting factor in food production.

WBGU Co-Chair Dirk Messner on the new Sustainable Development Goals

Global challenges can only be resolved through global cooperation

10 July 2015. On the occasion of the Centre's Midterm Conference, Markus Böckenförde, Executive Director of the Centre, talked with Deutschlandfunk about the challenges of global cooperation, the upcoming COP21 in Paris or the role of China in the future world order. Under the title 'Global Cooperation: Can We Build on It?', the international conference of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research brought together around 100 academics for both retrospective and prospective reflection of its own work and trends in global cooperation research.

For more information, see Deutschlandfunk from 09.07.2015 and the Centre's events.

A common, comprehensive and consistent EU global strategy? Dirk Messner signs ETTG Policy Statement

9 July 2015.  Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will prepare an EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy by June 2016. Her report on 'The European Union in a changing global environment' was presented last week in Brussels in the shadow of media attention for the elections in Greece. Since the 2003 Security Strategy, the EU’s strategic environment has changed radically and a 'common, comprehensive and consistent EU global strategy' is badly needed. Mogherini's presentation of the report last week was intended to launch a 'reflection process' and immediately triggered an insistent policy statement, published by the European Think Tank Group (ETTG), of which the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), one of the Participating Institutes of the Centre, is a member. Alluding to the deficits in efficiency the statement complains that 'Europe’s many different interests and capabilities repeatedly act as a barrier to collective action'.  The ETTG statement calls for 'a truly integrated approach' of European foreign affairs and security policy and 'concerted action across the full range of EU external and internal policies'. In applying a careful wording the statement sees present Europe 'still' as an 'enabling power in the world', positioned as a best practise in global sustainability with its long-term approach to global public goods, shared well-being and prosperity. This position, as the statement clearly indicates, is put to test now.

The attribution of a new EU strategy as 'global' may mask a systemic conflict at least indicated by the Think Tank Groups statement: that increasingly blurring line between internal and external European relations.

ETTG: Why Europe needs a global strategy (Euractive Website)

Strategic Review:The European Union in a changing global environment

European Think Tank Group (ETTG)

German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Manipulating diaspora for political gain serves only to divide rather than unite Canadians, says David Carment

9 July 2015.  Diaspora groups, which constitute a frequently debated issue at the Centre, may well become the object of a vote buying exercise at times, as David Carment suggests with regard to recent moves of the Harper government in Canada. In 'Diaspora Politics: When domestic votes trump foreign policy' Carment argues that such an instrumentalization of groups tends to establish a 'two-way street',  when diaspora groups start lobbying for foreign policy of the host country as the government uses foreign affairs and allied symbolic policy to get a footing in the mind of voters.

David Carment, fellow at the Centre until June 2015, made his comment on, an open platform of The Canadian International Council (CIC). He is the editor of the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal.

'Diaspora Politics: When domestic votes trump foreign policy'

Stephen Brown calls confidential briefing memo 'quite shocking'

15 June 2015. While sitting at his fellow desk at the Centre, Senior Fellow Stephen Brown was interviewed as an expert on foreign aid by Radio Canada International. The cause of concern was a confidential briefing memo prepared for Canada's International Development Minister Christian Paradis and obtained by the Canadian Press. In that memo Canada’s government recognizes that it is falling considerably short when it comes to investing in foreign aid. In addition, private sector funding is called for to fund new initiatives.

The document according to RCI also reveals that Ottawa will not implement at home the Post-2015 Agenda — a continuation of the soon-to-be-expired Millenium Development Goals — which is to be approved at a United Nations summit at the end of September.
While the United Nations’ target for official development assistance stands at 0.7% of gross national income (GNI), the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently said that Canada only spent 0.24% of its GNI helping the poorest countries last year and 0.27% in 2013.

Brown puts these figures into context. 'Canada used to have a great reputation - they used to be leaders - not just in doing things but also in innovative ways of thinking about foreign aid, of supporting gender equality and foreign NGOs'. Being asked, how Canada is perceived in light of recent revelations, Brown states that the reputation of his country 'has dropped tremendously'. According to recent OECD figures, Canada finds itself in the bottom tier of countries now in terms of spending of foreign aid.

(Using Material from Caroline Arbour, RCI Radio Canada International)

Canada’s foreign aid spending is ‘relatively low’ and ‘declining’, concedes government (RCI)
(includes audio link: Listen to the interview with Stephen Brown)

Dirk Messner a Prominent Voice on G7 and Climate Change

10 June 2015. In a series of statements and interviews Dirk Messner, Co-Director of the Centre and Director of the German Development Institute, stressed the importance of substantial progress on multilateral negotiation platforms during this year.

We're providing reference to a—possibly uncompleted—list of links to recent texts and videos here:

On the G7 Summit

  • Claus Leggewie, Dirk Messner
    Ein Lob dem G-7-Gipfel! Was soll der Protest gegen Elmau? Etwas Weltregierung muss schon sein ['A little world governance is unavoidable'], DIE ZEIT, 6 June 2015
  • titel thesen temperamente (Magazine Programme, ARD, German Public Broadcaster)
    Dirk Messner: Expert Comments on G7
  • (ZDF News Channel, German Public Broadcaster No. 2)
    Dirk Messner: Commentary on the G7 Summit
  • Bremen Regional Radio Station
    Dirk Messner: Commentary on the G7 Summit
  • Dirk Messner: Panel Discussion with Melinda Gates at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (German Protestant Church Congress), Stuttgarter Zeitung 5 June 2015 (German)

On Climate Change

  • Dirk Messner: at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag (German Protestant Church Congress) on Climate Change, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 5 June 2015 (German)
  • Rome Symposium on Climate Change (Euopean Space Agency), 29 May 2015
    Dirk Messner: Concluding Discussions

'Fortress Europe' - Keeping the Drawbridge down

03 June 2015. Volker Heins, Head of Research Unit 2 'Global Cultural Conflicts and Transcultural Cooperation', Professor for Political Theory at the Ruhr University Bochum and also Head of the Research Unit 'Transculturality' at the Institute for Advanced Study In The Humanities' (KWI) in Essen, recently held an interview with the culture magazine of German TV station 3sat. In the interview he submits a shifted perspective on the notion of 'Fortress Europe': in his opinion the focus of European governance should not lie on sealing off Europe, but rather on solidly regulating legal ways of migration. Following this argument, a naval blockade off the non-governed Lybian coast could constitute a starting point for legal and regulated migration. This blockade could also discourage those forms of 'social darwinism', accompanied with the dangerous process of illegal migration, which since the year 2000 cost 23.000 lives.

'Seeblockade muss her!", 3sat: Kulturzeit, 03.06.2015 (video clip and article in German)

'Cooperation at eye level'

30 January 2015. Dirk Messner from the German Development Institute (DIE) talks with the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau about fighting poverty, the arrogance of donor countries and the necessity of climate protection. Indian scientists help with the German energy turnaround (Energiewende). An absurd thought? No, says the Director of the German Development Institute (DIE) and co director of the centre, Dirk Messner. The classic development aid which was implemented by the West for the last 50 years is outdated. Globalisation and particularly climate change require a completely new kind of cooperation between all states.

„Zusammenarbeit auf Augenhöhe“, Frankfurter Rundschau, 30.01.2015 (article in German)

Dirk Messner on the dynamics of global change

30 January 2015. In recent years, the analysis of new emerging powers and shifting global order has become central to the study of international relations. While International Relations, aiming to evolve into a truly global discipline, is only just about to start opening up towards Non-Western perspectives, global power shifts have already led to a restructuring of global governance architecture in large fields of political reality and practice. Dirk Messner illustrates how far global power shifts have to lead to new patterns of international cooperation using international science and technology cooperation as a case in point. He argues that investment in joint knowledge creation and knowledge exchange is vital for managing the earth system. Messner also points to the multitude of tasks related to socio-technical systems which the political sphere is currently facing, particularly with regard to the challenge of managing the climate system.

Theory Talk #67: Dirk Messner on the dynamics of global change and the significance of international science and technology cooperation in the post-Western world, Theory Talks, 30.01.2015

"Charlie Hebdo" as a turning point in world politics?

25 January 2015. Up until a few days ago, when we heard “Paris 2015” we thought of the climate conference in the French capital at the end of this year. Following the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, “Paris 2015” is becoming synonymous with fears of a jihadist movement with global reach. The attacks raise many questions, and present also a challenge to Europe's foreign relations, says Dirk Messner in a commentary published in the German newspaper Die Zeit.

Dirk Messner is Co-Director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) and Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).

Dirk Messner: 'Dschihadismus: "Charlie Hebdo" als Wendepunkt der Weltpolitik?', Die Zeit (25.01.2015)

The commentary is based on Messner's Current Coloumn 'Charlie Hebdo as a turning point of world politics? What Europe can do', 21 January 2015, Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). The full English version can be downloaded here

Prof. Dr. Claus Leggewie

A Chance? - Global Cooperation

A culture of cooperation and mutual recognition is the fundamental prerequisite for sustainable and effective actions when facing urgent global problems. Claus Leggewie, co-director of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research and director of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut / Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) subscribes to the idea of human being as “ultra-social animal” and its disposition to cooperation, as an anthropological fact. The idea of human being as “Homo Cooperativus” contrasts and questions the idea of the rational and short-sided, utility maximizer “Homo Oeconomicus” and its totality, but does that without doubting self-interest as genuine motivation. The idea of the “Homo Cooperativus” rather starts from the assumption of motivational heterogeneity, which also implicitly includes phenomenon’s like reciprocity and trust. In the course of the interview Claus Leggewie describes the chances and challenges of cooperation research, which he locates within the field of scientific reflection on relational interdependencies which are exponentially increasing in a globalizing world. For Leggewie the particular focus of this research lies in the examination and possibly strengthening of human, cooperative dispositions for example by specific institutionalization or visualization of (successful) cooperational mechanisms.

Interview with Claus Leggewie for the "Philosophical Radio"; 21.11.2014, WDR5 (Audio in German)

Tobias Debiel on war in Europe and the Near East, deliveries of arms and the democratic conditions of peace

Tobias Debiel, director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21), as well as the director of the Institute for Development and Peace, discusses the dangers of a second "Cold War", arms delivery as a symptom of shortsightedness and political helplessness and the democratic conditions of peace in an interview with the German "Ruhrnachrichten". In the course of the interview, Tobias Debiel tackles several urgent topics, for example the, in his opinion, de facto state of war in Europe, the successful establishment of peace and democratization in other regions of the world, the important role of diplomacy, the decreasing significance of the United Nations, and of course, cooperation., 01.09.2014 (German)

How can global sustainability succeed? A strategy for sustainable global development

Dirk Messner, Co-Director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21), Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut fuer Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Co-Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) explained his view on pending issues in German Foreign Policy in a strategy paper, published in Review 2014 – Außenpolitik Weiter Denken, an online platform for debate, recently set up by Germanys Federal Foreign Office.

Taking as his point of departure the conviction that global interdependencies produce power effects that can be shaped and managed only by cooperative action, the policy paper demands a long-term approach beyond those agenda-setting speeches that are at times necessary and as well beyond the reduction of challenges to isolated security issues quite seducive under present circumstances. In contrast, steps accordant to a 'transformative pragmatism' are in demand, a creative, techo-conceptual skillfulness, radically motivated by the insight into forms of cooperation that are and will be necessary across identity borders to secure the sustainable and successful management of those global interdependencies.

A German strategy for sustainable global development, according to the author, could comprise four components: 

1. An effective international energy policy
Here Messner reclaims his plea for a 'transformative Energy Club' formed by ambitious countries to accelerate pressing change.

2. Transformation alliances for the sustainable management of urban change
Messner reflects the global development of middle classes and its relation to an overall demographic trend of an accelerated metropolization with its accompanying challenges for solutions in energy efficiency as a possible point of departure for innovation paths that may trigger special advantages for German and European economy.

3. The global distribution of knowledge
Messner asks for knowledge cooperation, related to the example of the World Bank and the Banks definition of that special field of cooperation as a part of its future strategy. Germany may 'become a major global node in the fields of knowledge that engage with worldwide sustainability issues'.

4. A differenciation of stategies for development cooperation
Here the author distinguishes 'in-between societies', that are not part of the group of ascending newly industrialized countries nor fragil states, and he states, notwithstanding the just demand for quality of those cooperations at eye level, that this is 'also about quantities and real investments'.

Dirk Messner, How can global sustainability succeed? A strategy for sustainable global development (12 June 2014), in Review 2014 – Außenpolitik Weiter Denken

f.l.t.r.: Peter Lemke (WBGU-Member), Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller, Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, Dirk Messner (WBGU-Chair; Co-Director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, KHK/GCR21), Sabine Schlacke (WBGU-Member) / photo: WBGU

Fight poverty – by protecting the environment!

Berlin, 4 June 2014. Environmental protection and poverty eradication are not opposites – on the contrary, measures to preserve humanity's natural life-support systems are not only a prerequisite for increasing prosperity among the world's lower income groups; they can also become the driver of such increases. However, these measures cannot be financed by the poor themselves. This is the conclusion of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) in its policy paper 'Human progress within planetary guard rails. A contribution to the SDG debate'. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals are to be superseded next year by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are as a result currently dominating debates on development policy worldwide. A policy paper on this subject was presented to the German Federal Government today. (Source: WBGU Press Release)

WBGU Press Release (full)

WBGU Policy Paper Download Page

The Scale Argument: Clubbing for Ambitious Agreements

The Renewables Club was launched in 2013 as an initiative of the then German Federal Minister of the Environment Peter Altmeier and colleagues from 8 countries, spanning a considerable variety of economic and social conditions. Under the guidance of the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) a communique with ambitious commitments was released at that time (founding members were China, Denmark, France, India, Morocco, South Africa, Tonga, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom).

In the run-up to a recent meeting of climate-change ministers in Abu Dhabi in May an appeal was published addressing The Renewables Club and demanding 'a dedicated initiative' on behalf of Mr. Altmeiers successor, Germanys Federal Minister of the Environment, Barbara Hendricks. 

In their statement Dirk Messner, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Jennifer Morgan argue that a small group of ambitious actors could 'drive more ambitious aspirations in the multilateral process'. Considering the cumbersome and time consuming process of a 196-member UN convention on climate change, the authors argue that in the light of recent research on global cooperation the scale of a negotiation framework does matter and that the club format may have a potential for considerable improvements in efficiency of the process. 

A Renewables Club to change the world
Current Column of 28 April 2014 (German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, DIE). 


Dirk Messner, Co-Director KHK/GCR21, German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), German Advisory Council on Global Change  (WBGU)

Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute

Herbert Wulf

Alumni Fellow Herbert Wulf on the difficult and complex relations of the BRICS-countries India and China

Alumni Senior Expert Fellow Prof. Dr. Herbert Wulf, currently Senior Fellow at the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) and Adjunct Senior Researcher at the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF), University of Duisburg-Essen, analyzes the complex international relations between India and China in a recent contribution to the blog of the International Network for Economics and Conflict. Wulf contemplates these relations in three dimensions, labeled by him as the 'three C’s': 'Conflict', 'Competition' and 'Cooperation'. Given the ambivalent relations between both countries, he concludes that, on the one hand, these relations and existing cultures of cooperation provide great chances for more, successful and sustainable cooperation, whose benefits could be beyond the bilateral on an Asian or even global scale. On the other hand he recognizes a high conflict potential and ongoing economic and territorial power struggle between both countries. Even if, at the moment, China seems to be ahead and more powerful than India, Wulf states that India’s (democratic) development could be more efficient and sustainable in the long term.

Wulf, Herbert: 'China, India and the three Cs', post on 6 March 2014 (post is published as part of a collaborative partnership between SIPRI and Economists for Peace and Security (EPS)).

Dirk Messner

'Cooperation is the mother of human civilisation'

Professor Dr. Dirk Messner, co-director of the centre and director of the German Development Institute (DIE) and Dr. Alejandro Guarín (DIE) in German newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" on 'cooperation is human'. Given the premise that, conflicting interests hinder the global cooperation on urgent topics like climate change, Messner and Guarín assume that the transition from G-8-World into G-20-World de facto results in a G-0-World. Other disciplines than International Relations however identify cooperation as the motor of civilising development. A statement against common pessimism towards cooperation in International Relations.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 04.02.2014 (German)

Here you can find the research paper by Dirk Messner, Alejandro Guarín and Daniel Haun.

Siddharth Mallavarapu

‘Theory Talk’ with Siddharth Mallavarapu – How international is ‘International Relations’?

Alumni Senior Fellow Dr. Siddharth Mallavarapu in an interview on: ‘International Asymmetries, Ethnocentrism, and a View on IR from India’. Siddharth Mallavarapu talks about the problems of provincialism in IR theory and how scholars from the ‘Global South’ raise important challenges against it. 09.02.2014

Dirk Messner

Humans like to cooperate

In an interview on German radio broadcast „Politikum“ on WDR 5, Professor Dr. Dirk Messner, co-director of the centre and director of the German Development Institute (DIE) talks about the factors of successful cooperation and the future of development policy. Why does global cooperation fail so often, even though problems like climate change and financial crisis are that obvious and urgent?

Silke Weinlich

The UN – an obsolete model?

The start of the United Nations General Assembly moves the organisation back to the centre stage of world politics. But urgent decisions cannot always be achieved in the UN or are decided outside its structures. Silke Weinlich, Head of Research Unit 1 "The (Im)Possiblity of Cooperation" at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, explains in an interview with ZDF why we still need global cooperation within the framework of the UN.

ZDF, 24.09.2013 (German)

Dirk Messner

What to do? Answers for the future!

In the series „WHAT TO DO“ Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, co-director of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research and Director of the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), answers this question in an interview with Arte. During the 13-minute interview Prof. Messner speaks about the importance of Global Governance and cooperation, shared knowledge, and creativity. It is a thought-provoking impulse that prompts us to consider Kant’s categorical imperative at a global level.

Video, ARTE Future (German)

Explore Cooperation

Even two-year-old children can cooperate to achieve a goal. Also apes operate with each other, to gain bananas. If cooperation is rooted in our nature, it should also work between adults. Or between countries, across continents. The chances of global cooperation in the 21st century will be explored for the next six years by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research. Yesterday it was celebrating its start as a research centre at the Museum Küppersmühle.

WAZ, Duisburg, 30.10.2012 (German)

Ruhrtriennale 2012: A Cooperation between Art and Science

What the KWI and Käte Hamburger Kolleg can contribute to the Triennale

Interdisciplinary Science meets theatre study meets artist. The Workshop “Examples of Successful Cooperation (1) - Artistry Practice and Improvisation" was the part of the Ruhrtriennale, where the transferability of artistic and social processes were discussed. Rehearsals, presentations and work of artists like Cage, Goebbels, Bausch and many more were observed as case studies. The article gives an insight behind the curtains of this interesting mixture between art and science., 30.08.2012

Only with Cooperation We Can Survive

Destruction of the environment, protectionism, Euro crisis: "Are we merely utlity-maximising egoists? What hinders us from solving the problems of globalization?" Dr. Alejandro Guarin and Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner of the German Development Institute / Deutschen Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Dr. Silke Weinlich of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research asked in their guest article.

ZEIT ONLINE, 10.06.2012 (in German)

The Capitalism Can Be Reformed - Interview with Timothy Garton Ash

The British historian Timothy Garton Ash talked about foolishness of the financial markets, about the younger generation’s eternal wish for change and about the greatest existential crisis in his life-The European Crisis. The interview was conducted following the first Käte Hamburger Lecture „Can (and should) there be norms for freedom of expression” with Garton Ash on 11th June 2012 in Essen.

Frankfurter Rundschau Online, 2nd July 2012 (in German)

Martin Mosebach against Blasphemy

The “blasphemy paragraph” is considered by critics to jeopardise the freedom of expression and artistic freedom.  Buechner Prize winner Martin Mosebach expressed his opposite view. The state is obliged to protect god from dispraise and commits to references to god in the preamble of the constitution. On the occasion of an international workshop of the Centre for Global Cooperation Research on “Freedom of Speech in the Multicultural World in Essen, the Buechner Prize winner talked about blasphemy, art and their limitations.

Kölner Stadtanzeiger, 18th June 2012 (in German)

Global Problems and Their Solutions

The Centre for Global Cooperation Research has moved into their new home in H2Office building at the Innenhafen. Despite limited facilities due to the fresh start, the Käte Hamburger Kolleg team of 27 staff has recently taken up their work in the new office space of 1,000 square metres. The office is located on the harbour area in the city centre of Duisburg. But what would prominent researchers from social science and humanities be working on? “Political Cultures of the World Society: Chances for Global Cooperation in the 21st Century” is the leading title of the research. Markus Böckenförde, the Executive Director, gave a more detailed description of the project.

WAZ, Duisburg, 5th June 2012 (in German)

The Research Centre of the University Is to Occupy the Duisburger Innenhafen

The University of Duisburg-Essen shows its colour on the Innenhafen. The international Centre for Global Cooperation Research will occupy the H2Office Building with its 25 office units. The BMBF provides a financial support of 13 million Euro to the Centre. The official grant notification was handed over to Prof. Dr. Ulrich Radtke, the rector of the university, yesterday in Duisburg.

WAZ, Duisburg, 24th February 2012 (in German)

Martin Wolf
Head of Public Relations
Tel: +49 (0)203 379 5238