GIIS Research

GIIS was created in 2008. It focuses on three research fields: security & diplomacy, international political economy, and global governance. These research fields are cross-cut by two transversal themes: globalisation & multipolarity.


Security & diplomacy



Under the general theme of ‘Security and Diplomacy’, GIIS focuses on the twin European and Belgian dimensions. ‘Security’ covers in particular the EU Security Strategy, European peacekeeping operations and the Euro-Atlantic defense relationship, including the impact of the American pivot to Asia. In close cooperation with the Brussels-based Egmont Institute (Royal Institute for International Relations) it aims at contributing to the research and the policy debate on a new security concept for Europe in today’s multipolar world, where security is no longer limited to the military sphere alone. A holistic approach to security, combining comprehensive as well as human security, within a distinctive European paradigm, is probably the most appropriate summary of GIIS’s envisaged conceptual approach to security.


‘Diplomacy’ centers on Belgian diplomacy, where GIIS has been at the cutting edge of research on this topic, combining (the often neglected) recurrencies in Belgian foreign policy with present-day developments in Belgian diplomacy. Rik Coolsaet has compiled a bibliography on Belgian foreign policy, which is regularly updated. GIIS places a special emphasis on economic and business diplomacy, which has been an archetypical feature of Belgian foreign policy decision making – as  GIIS’ research has been able to establish and anchor in the research field on this topic.


The interplay between the domestic politics and external environment of Turkey fascinates many observers in the world. The GIIS has already been supporting master dissertations, hosting PhD projects, and publishing scholarly work dealing with the overall outlook of Turkish politics in its domestic and international dimensions, key bilateral relations, foreign energy policy, and the role of armed groups and other non-state actors. The GIIS will continue to follow Turkey from a pluralistic perspective and contribute to the public debate. 


International Political Economy


International monetary relations

Within the research domain of international political economy (IPE) the GIIS focuses on two research lines. The first research line centers around the political economy of international monetary relations in general and the implications of increasing economic multipolarity for the structure, stability and governance of the global monetary system in particular. We examine key issues in international monetary relations – such as the global imbalances, the regulation of international capital flows, international currency competition, contemporary central banking – from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

International tax governance

The second research line addresses the political economy of international tax governance. More specifically,  we examine the transformation of international cooperation and problems of collective action in harmful tax competition, avoidance and evasion as well as in introducing multilateral taxes on international financial transactions. Naturally, the IPE research line is also permeated by the transversal themes of globalisation and multipolarity. One of the central questions in this context is to what extent the BRICS and other emerging economies bring alternative ideas and practices to the global political economy. 

International energy relations

The third research line concerns the global political economy, the who-gets-what-when-and-how, of the changing world of energy. Energy issues were key in propelling the emergence of IPE as a scholarly field of study in the turbulent era of the 1970s. Today, however, energy issues are often overlooked in mainstream IPE works. The goal of this research line is to contribute to an emerging ‘IPE of energy’ research agenda. One contribution in this regard was the recent publication of The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy.


Global Governance


The architecture of the multilateral system

As regards the multilateral architecture, the research group examines the overall adaptation of the system to globalisation and multipolarity. Growing ‘intervulnerability’, multiple crises and ‘new’ issues have put tremendous pressure upon the multilateral system to expand and innovate. But political realities – including geopolitical shifts and the existing institutional design – produce mixed outcomes, such as institutional reform and innovation in some areas, gridlock in others, and by and large, deepening regime complexity. This agenda crystallises in the following research topics: 1) the innovative concept of regime complexes (e.g. in global energy governance), 2) the question of policy coherence, centralisation and political leadership (e.g. the potential leadership role of the G8/G20; policy coherence in the UN post-2015 development agenda), and 3) the adjustment of multilateral institutions to the rise of new powers.

GIIS acts as the coordinating group of REFRACT, an FWO-funded research network on fragmentation and complexity in global governance. 

Global energy governance

Access to modern energy services is an essential prerequisite to a decent quality of life. Yet, global energy production and consumption patterns have complex social, economic, political, security and environmental impacts. Many of these challenges call for global governance, both to complement action on lower political scales and to provide those energy-related public goods that neither a single state nor the marketplace can deliver on its own. Against this background, GIIS research focuses on the actors, interests, and institutions of global energy policy, which is conceived broadly to cover multiple energy sources (not just oil and gas), but also multiple themes (not just energy security, but also energy access, environmental sustainability and domestic good governance).