I am Professor of International Security in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham, England, UK. A political scientist by background, I specialise in the management of contemporary security challenges, especially in the prevention and settlement of ethnic conflicts and in post-conflict state-building in deeply divided and war-torn societies. I have extensive expertise in the post-Soviet space, and I have also worked on a wide range of other conflicts elsewhere, including in the Middle East and in Africa, as well as in South and Southeast Asia. Bridging the divide between academia and policymaking, I have been involved in various phases of conflict settlement processes, including in the disputed territories in Iraq, in Transnistria and Gagauzia (Moldova), and in Yemen.
- Conflict Resolution in Moldova
- Perspectives on the Arab Spring
- Geopolitics and Confidence Building in the OSCE Region
- Latest Publications
Ethnopolitics is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal, which I founded in 2001 and have co-edited ever since with my colleague Karl Cordell. It provides a forum for serious debate and exchange on one of the phenomena that had a decisive impact during the last decades of the 20th century and continues to be of great importance in the new millennium.
Publishing original articles of the highest quality in the field of ethnopolitics, the journal gives a voice to established as well as younger researchers and analysts from academic as well as practitioner backgrounds.
Apart from research articles, we also publish symposia and special issues, as well as occasional virtual special issues that provide background reading to current developments.
Since the early 2000s, I have closely followed and been involved in various conflict resolution efforts in Moldova.
Between 2003 and 2009 I regularly visited the southern autonomous region of Gagauzia as part of a project run by the European Centre for Minority Issues on clarifying the competences accorded to Gagauzia in the 1994/5 settlement. In August 2008, I was part of a mission to Komrat with the then EU Special Representative to Moldova to help the local political parties to overcome a deadlock after parliamentary elections in Gagauzia earlier that year.
In 2003, and again since 2007, I have been involved in various projects concerning the settlement of the conflict over Transnistria, primarily as an advisor to successive Moldovan governments, the OSCE Mission to Moldova, the EU Delegation to Moldova, and the British Embassy in Chisinau. This has included regular visits to both Chisinau and Tiraspol.
Over the past several years, I have been reflecting on the Arab Spring from the perspective of the international community’s response, its implications for international security, and the violent nature of most of the transition processes. These posts have become more broadly focused on the Middle East and (North) Africa and more irregular as time has passed.
When pro-Western protesters took to the streets in Kyiv, Ukraine, in late 2013, over the refusal of the country’s president to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, nobody could predict the sequence of developments that followed. Following the events in Ukraine and the post-Soviet region, I have been reflecting on what the resurgence of geopolitical rivalries in Eastern Europe and beyond mean more broadly for international security.
Since 2016, this has also included more engagement with confidence building in the OSCE region as part of my engagement in the OSCE Network of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions, in which I represent the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security.
Together with my colleague Dr Nino Kemoklidze, I contributed a paper on “Trade as a Confidence Building Measure” to the 2016 OSCE Network Project on “Protracted Conflicts in the OSCE Area: Innovative Approaches for Co-operation in the Conflict Zones“. A revised and updated version of this paper was subsequently published as freely accessible article in Eurasian Geography and Economics.
In 2017, I directed a follow-on project on “Confidence Building Measures in the OSCE Economic and Environmental Dimension“. This involved two workshops: a brainstorming workshop at the University of Birmingham in July 2017 and a further drafting workshop at the OSCE in October 2017 at which initial findings were presented to officials from the OSCE Secretariat and the Austrian Chairmanship. Both workshops contributed to the final project report presented at the December 2017 meeting of the Economic and Environmental Committee of the OSCE in Vienna.
Building on the work done in 2016 and 2017, I wrote a report on “Economic Diplomacy and Connectivity: What Role for the OSCE?” which I presented to an audience of senior OSCE officials and diplomats at the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan in December 2018.
In addition, I have been working with my colleague Dr Nadja Douglas from the Centre for East European and International Studies in Berlin on a paper that examines confidence and security building measures in the context of the conflict in the Transdniestrian region of the Republic of Moldova. A work-in-progress draft of this paper can be downloaded here.
Most recently, I completed a report on China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Implications for the OSCE, which is part of a broader project that examines the challenges and opportunities that arise from the growing presence and activities of China for the Organisation and its participating States.
Mission (Im)possible? UN military peacekeeping operations in civil wars
European Journal of International Relations (with Darya Pushkina and Markus B. Siewert)
China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Implications for the OSCE
OSCE Network of Thinktanks and Academic Institutions
Subnational governance and conflict
The World Bank (with Simona Ross and Asbjorn Wee)