ENSURED Kicks Off in Brussels

ENSURED Kicks Off in Brussels
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We got together to look ahead to the next three years and jumpstart our thinking around key academic concepts on global governance. Also on the docket: the view from outside Europe and a look at initial results from our consultations with civil society.

After months of preparation, the ENSURED consortium finally gathered in person to launch the project and look ahead to the next three years.

The main purpose of the opening conference, which was hosted by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels, was to offer space for us to jointly assess the academic state of the art regarding the three key concepts that underpin ENSURED’s analytical framework – robustness, effectiveness, and democracy – and to determine where the project can make a contribution to the research on global governance and EU foreign policy.

Based on an initial input from colleagues at the University of Potsdam, we discussed core aspects of the conceptual framework. Key questions that arose: To what extent do the three main concepts present us with trade-offs? Might there be mutually reinforcing pathways – for instance, between the democratic quality of global institutions and their robustness longer term? And what are we to make of the contested nature of all three concepts and of differences in how they are interpreted by different actors and audiences? Colleagues also noted that the notion of robustness in particular requires more attention from academia.

Another key objective of the conference was for us to develop a better sense and understanding of non-European views on the state of the global governance system as well as on efforts to transform it. Among other aspects, we touched on:

  • The global-level dynamics of contestation between the BRICS and the United States;
  • China’s views on the reform of global governance, with a focus on the WTO and international economic relations;
  • India’s perspective on multilateralism, including the country’s perception that key international institutions have a democratic deficit, as well the Indian case for state intervention in various domains such as climate action;
  • The position of Brazil, including a discussion of what the recent change of government from the Bolsonaro administration to the Lula government may mean for multilateral relations;
  • The fall-out of Russia's war against Ukraine and what it has meant for global fora and institutions like the G20, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Red Cross.

A public roundtable on the same topic is available online:

We also unpacked the initial results from a consultation with civil society actors, who weighed in on our proposed theoretical framework. Some key takeaways: the core concepts of the ENSURED project (effectiveness, democracy, and robustness) are generally considered relevant by civil society – as are some of the trade-offs between them. Moreover, some civil society stakeholders noted that the question of how effective international institutions are is especially important to them.

Equipped with this input, the coming months will see us finalising the conceptual phase of the project and lay the groundwork for a deep dive into our five thematic focus areas: trade, climate, health, migration and human rights, and digitialisation.


Read more about ENSURED’s approach and our different work packages.

(Photos: Sonya Sugrobova / GPPi)
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