Diplomacy, great power politics, war and the state

obama putinCIPSS boasts a long tradition of research on the perennial security challenges posed by interstate competition. Our researchers have published important and influential studies of international practices, notably in the NATO-Russia relationship and in the ways diplomacy shapes world politics. Our scholars study diplomatic history in Canada and Quebec, in the Cold War’s great power relationships and its many regional fronts, and beyond. We study how states formulate grand strategies and search for status in world politics. In this context of tension and competition, we attend to the quest for peace, whether in the efforts of ordinary citizens or in states navigating the challenges of accommodating rising powers and restraining the use of nuclear weapons. And we examine forms of arranging power in the sovereignty regime and in states and their alternatives, notably in the ongoing team research project on Globalization and the State, funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture.


Global governance, justice, globalization and development

UN headquartersCIPSS examines how communities from the global to the local govern themselves. Our scholars uncover critical aspects of governance in international security, such as the evolution of international security institutions and the pecking orders of states within them, and the use of these institutions in the pursuit of the balance of power. But our interest in global governance goes well beyond security narrowly defined. We are especially interested in global and local governance in the face of the challenges posed by globalization and economic development. We have published leading-edge research on the politics of international trade especially, from the origins and dynamics of trade agreements to the inner workings of dispute settlement at the WTO, as well as on the impact of international institutions on economic reform. We engage deeply in crucial normative and theoretical debates about distribution and inequality in the world political economy, notably on the structural injustices of colonialism and its possibly enduring character. Our researchers underscore the critical importance of distributional questions in international politics, studying left-right debates at the global level and examining how developing societies achieve equitable development and local participatory democracy. Our innovative research in this field is supported by an ongoing team research grant on new research and data in international political economy, funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture.


Political violence, civil conflict, and new security challenges

Fighters at the battle of Bani Walid, September-October 2011CIPSS’ experts have a vibrant research agenda dealing with political violence and transnational security challenges. Our researchers have considerable expertise on armed groups and their strategies in civil conflicts. We have been on the forefront of studying the complex, shifting character of armed groups in conflict, with leading-edge research on how armed groups stay together and fall apart to fragmentation, side-switching, desertion and defection, drawing on cases from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East to the Spanish Civil War. We have published crucial work on the experiences of child soldiers in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Beyond rebel and state armies, our research examines the ethics and pragmatics of managing transnational crime, notably in international cooperation to control the drug trade and the practices of private security firms. We study the logics of radical, emancipatory rebellion in contexts as disparate as 14th-century Florence and the contemporary Philippines. And we study the human aftermath of conflicts, notably the psychology of war-affected children. We have a particular specialty in migration, such as in an assessment of how to assist those displaced by conflicts like the Libyan civil war, how to achieve justice and reconciliation for forced migration, and how to think about the political rights of diaspora populations. We maintain a strong agenda of research on peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East above all. Our research studies the strategic challenges of managing spoilers in the short run as well as the long-run challenges of peacebuilding, such as democracy and state-building, a peaceable and effective media environment, managing the challenges of collective memory, and using territorial arrangements and deliberation to promote reconciliation and peace in divided societies. Our research in these areas is sustained by Canada Research Chair in Political Violence, and by research grants including a group research grant on sites of East-West conflict in Eastern Europe.